Why eating a primal or paleo type of nutrition plan is not a diet

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I have covered many aspects of dieting and nutrition, almost to the point of information overload. There is one bit of information that stands out when you talk about diet programs and that is the high level of failure most people have when attempting to diet. Year after year the stats continue to hold that roughly 98 percent of people on diet programs fail.

In the last 10 years, a new trend has emerged. Some call it a lifestyle, others a diet fad and that is the primal or paleo movement. This nutritional movement is based on eating like our ancestors and sticking to whole, unprocessed foods that limit dairy, sugars and remove grains from your nutritional plan. I have spent a number of years in a primal deep dive of sorts working with the limitations of these food choices. From this, I have found that primal and paleo meal plans are less a diet fad and more of a common sense way to select the foods you eat.

In the last few years, I have been asked many times why I do not consider these primal and paleo food plans a diet program and the answer is simple. Our food supply has changed dramatically and it’s time to get back to basics. Over the course of the last 60 years which is a relatively short amount of time, our nutrition has shifted more then in the last 1,500 years or more. With industrialization of agriculture, high volume food processing, genetic modification and the advent of chemicals added to our food supply, it has become pretty unhealthy.

Whole organic food selection and eating simply as our ancestors did just makes sense. This is not to say primal or paleo enthusiast don’t take this lifestyle to the extremes, which in itself may be unhealthy for some. However, I do believe that one can still be very healthy without grains, reducing carbohydrates to a select few and dropping processed sugars from your diet.

Keep in mind that in a primal or paleo world, carbohydrates are not the enemy as there are a large assortment of great carbohydrate based foods to choose from. Everything from broccoli, sweet potatoes, beets, arugula, pumpkin and all kinds of squash, bananas, plantains, nuts and seeds along with a vast array of fruits. So a primal or paleo eating plan is less about nutritional restrictions and more about eating whole healthy foods that omits only grains and reduces your exposure to processed foods.

For example, farmers have been preparing whole healthy meals for a very long time and these meals were mostly primal. Generations of people have known for a very long time it is best to eat whole organic foods that nature provides. This includes meats, fish and other animal products which most of us rely on as part of a good nutritional program. Vegan and vegetarian eating works for some, but it is not the foundational platform for primal or paleo eating. This fact sometimes gets confusing for people who are looking for a healthy nutritional regimen and get stuck on yet another set of limitations tied to structured eating programs.

The food you eat and its effect on your body is wrapped in a complex series of issues that can either be a healing nutritional path to wellness or lead to poor health. If we drop the trendy marketing titles and recognize that eating simple whole unprocessed foods is based on ancestral meal choices, I think you will find your way to a healthy nutritional plan. Limiting grains, sugar and high refined processed foods from your diet is just common sense and these choices were not options during our evolution, so why make them one now?

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Judd Jones is a director for The Hagadone Corporation in Coeur d’Alene.

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