Motivations for “going paleo" vary – the desire to feel good, perform better, have a beautiful body. But none is more convincing than dire necessity, namely, to escape death from Ulcerative Colitis.
This was Adam Farrah\’s reason for going paleo, which he describes in the preface to his new book \”The Paleo Dieter\’s Missing Link.\” What resonated most beautifully with me about this book is Adam\’s search for common ground in what we conceive of as \”a healthy diet.\”
Too often the paleo \”movement\” fails in its desire for perceived exclusivity from both the mainstream and other diets, but \”The Paleo Dieter\’s Missing Link\” begins by searching for and finding common ground among the body of dieting literature. He concludes: \”There are solid, unchanging principles that make up a diet that is healthy for humans…We need to look at the 90-95% that healthy diets have in common and not obsess about the few percent that one group or author says is good and another says is bad or the million other trivial arguments going on in the diet world.\”
Using these principles as a base, Adam urges people to create diets taking into account their own digestive tolerances and preferences: \”Building a good healthy, successful diet is really about choosing foundational principles, creating an individualized basic diet around those principles and collecting techniques and methods that help you do the basic diet day after day, month after month and year after year.\”
The reason \”paleo\” happens to make up the majority of these foundational principles is that it includes the most foods that are healthy, and excludes the most foods that aren\’t. Another particularly helpful and unique part of the book is Adam\’s categorization of foods in terms of paleo: 1) The Foundational Paleo Diet Foods 2) Food of Early Agriculture 3) Paleo Foods to Use Sparingly 4) Supplements and 5) Modern Foods to be Avoided.
These categories give readers a framework to understand which foods they should and shouldn\’t be eating and why. Adam then uses them to show readers that the paleo diet can be flexible. Based on this understanding of the principles of healthy food and why foods are and aren\’t \”paleo,\” the latter half of the book helps readers create individualized diets and meals. Instead of preaching dogma, Adam presents reasonable grounding principles and allows for personal customization. This flexibility — the great contribution of this book — will help readers be consistent, and consistency will lead to success.
Other interesting topics include Adam\’s take on dairy, explanations of cortisol\’s role in the body, and the effects of caffeine.
One area I did take slight issue with was the section on food measuring and calorie calculation. While Adam does offer the caveat: \”going from a standard crap diet to Paleo is going to be a major step forward and at that point it’s probably better NOT to weigh and measure because eliminating all the grains and conventional foods and carbs will be difficult enough\” he believes it is mandatory to weigh and measure food for fat loss or performance.
My feeling, which I would hope he would agree on, is that any kind of diet documentation should not be inconvenient to the point of being a deterrent to eating healthy. In my case — and I compete in a sport with weight classes, muay thai — between buying and preparing healthy foods and training 10 hours a week, documenting my diet would simply take away from what is making me most healthy and competitive. Put simply, I just don\’t have time. That being said, I am also not a very meticulous person and don\’t like recording things in general. If you feel you can eat right and exercise AND document your diet, by all means do so, but don\’t put the cart before the horse.
All in all I can say I have never read a more accepting and open approach to the subject of paleo eating. With 70% of the population overweight, we need to do all we can to make paleo accessible, not the purview of a nutrition nerd club, and \”The Paleo Dieter\’s Missing Link\” is a perfect example of this philosophy of common ground and openness.