Guys, I think I'm on to something here.
So, the paleo diet, right? Pretty good. But let's be honest - is it enough? I think we need to do better. We need to go back farther. So here's what I've got:
The Mesozoic Diet: Eat the way your ancestor's ancestors ate for meta-optimal health.
Eating ungulates is SO Pleistocene. The real deal is dinosaur meat. And giant ferns.
Actually, scratch that. We can do even better:
The Permian Diet: Amniotes, cephalopods, and algae. In fact, I think we should go ahead and embrace a complete Permian lifestyle: Lots of rest, sunshine, occasional sprinting to simulate fleeing from giant cockroaches, and flooding the atmosphere with hydrogen sulphide to eliminate 99.5% of all life.
Look, the paleo diet is pretty good. No, really, it is. But keep your brains turned on. My friend Josh Leeger called it straight a little while ago - you need to recognize that the whole "paleo" and/or "caveman" thing is a brand - and it's being sold to you. Buyer beware.
I'm not going to call out specific products here, but have you tried any of these paleo branded foods? They're DISGUSTING. Just because it may have started as grass fed beef doesn't mean it's good for you. The one I'm thinking of was salty to the point of inedibility... and I eat just about everything. Further down into the package I hit the part that had been doused in cane juice - way too salty AND saccharin sweet. My cast-iron stomach was put to the test.
I think there's a simple but vital element missing from most of these brands, plans, programs, etc: Meaningful connection with your environment. The more you dissociate from your food, the less you'll get from it. Some thoughts:
1) FOR THE LOVE OF GOD COOK YOUR OWN FOOD. Start with raw ingredients, as close to their natural state as possible. End with a cooked meal. Yes, it takes time. Yes, you'll have to do more dishes. Yes, it's totally worth it.
2) Treat all branded snack food with extreme skepticism. Especially the "health bars," and "paleo snacks"
3) If you're going to eat animals, deal with the blood, guts, and bones. That animal used to be alive. Dealing with the less pleasant bits will make you more respectful towards the animals you eat. And more mindful of how much of them you might be wasting. Learn to use all parts - eat the organs, make gravy out of the blood, make stock out of the bones.
4) Relax and enjoy your meals. I know too many people who view their relationship with food as a battle. They agonize about their diet all the time. They count their calories and fret over every pound they gain and lose. I'll go into stress responses more in a later post, but this should be pretty easy to understand: If you have a pathological relationship with food you will get pathological results from it, no matter how "healthy" your diet. Food should be enjoyed - there's more to life than years lived. Eat that piece of cake if you want to. Don't eat the whole cake.
Oh, for a great take on modern paleo culture, check out Frank Forencich's article here.