There are a billion and five ways to get skinny if you read the National Enquirer. If you buy into these diets that claim to tone belly fat, lift the butt, and give you the breasts of Kim Kardashian—all by eating only five Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups a day and jogging 45 miles—you’re probably going to be having a bad time.
It’s so incredibly easy to fall into these traps because we’re an impatient culture that values undercutting effort to save time.
That’s why magazines and their fad diets are always placed at the end of the checkout aisle; you just want to figure out how to be skinny long before the bag boy can ask you, “Ten-cent paper bag?”
Apparently, this whole food thing used to be pretty simple for us. Cave dad would waddle out of the family den, all built and buff (OK, to be fair my only reference points for cavemen are Fred Flintstone and Ringo Starr in the 1981 classic, Caveman), scrounge up some Paleolithic squirrel with a crudely fashioned spear, head back to the cave, and watch his family chow down on a feast of rodent meat.
It’s sad that we need processed junk in our bodies now. It’s sad that we get life-threatening diseases by having too much food, but it’s the saddest thing in the world that scientists had to coin the phrase diseases of affluence to describe what basically amounts to deadly laziness.
There is a recent diet sensation that seems to have some compelling arguments on its side: “The Paleo” or “Caveman” diet.
The idea behind the Caveman diet is that we’ve been genetically predisposed to eat a certain way (the way of the caveman), and innovations like animal husbandry and food processing totally go against that genetic predisposition.
The diet allows for foods that don’t include processed sugar, wheat, or other modern-man-made goods. Instead, you eat a lot of organic, lean meats, nuts, and veggies.
You might be saying to yourself, “But that’s evolution; that’s how it has to be!” And many scientists would agree with you to some extent.
Proponents of the diet argue that the food eaten by cave dwellers kept cancer and other diseases of affluence at bay, but scientists and anthropologists argue that there was in fact cancer and other serious illnesses during the Paleolithic period—and let’s face it, if you made it to 25 back then, you were considered retirement-age.
But there is something to be said about the care and the effort our cave-dwelling ancestors took to nourish their bodies. We no longer obsess about food to fuel ourselves, we obsess about food to placate ourselves and keep our hands busy when they’re not on the TV remote or iPad.
The jury is still out for me on this diet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do your own research. Thepaleodiet.com is a great place to start your diet sleuthing.
Calendar Editor Maeva Considine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.