Eating is not like choosing a school, where you select an option and enrol. It should be flexible and allow you to enjoy a variety of nutrient-rich foods.
It should vary from season to season and have enough slack to work around different phases of your life. Rules can create ‘eating failure’ and promote negative food relationships for you and your children.
Research around the ‘blue zones’, the areas of the world where the healthiest, longest-living people live, shows there is no formula for the healthiest lifestyle.
These groups simply eat food that is readily available – some include plenty of bread, others rice or beans. The common factor is a focus on more vegetables, fruit and whole foods instead of processed foods.
What Is A Paleo Diet?
It’s based on foods supposedly eaten by our early ancestors, including meat, fish, vegetables, seeds and fruit. It excludes grains, dairy, soy and other legumes.
Critics argue that increases in metabolic disease and overweight populations began before the use of whole grains and dairy foods.
There are benefits in cutting out sugary, highly processed foods and eating more vegetables.
But refusing whole grains and legumes limits a range of highly nutritious, high-fibre foods that have been linked with decreased heart disease. And the heavy reliance on meat in the paleo way could increase the risk of some cancers.
Vegans exclude all animal products, while raw food vegans only eat food in its natural state. Many advocates follow a #rawtil4 rule, eating only raw food until 4pm, then cooking rice or potato for the evening meal.
Again, there are benefits to eating more fruit and vegetables, avoiding processed foods and reducing packaging waste.
But any diet should be carefully planned to make sure the body meets all its nutritional needs.
Fussy toddlers and children are particularly at risk from this diet, and may not get enough protein, zinc and iron.
Both paleo and veganism cut out dairy products, which are a good source of protein and calcium and are often associated with healthy body weight and good recovery from exercise.
According to the latest Australian Health Survey, less than six percent of Australians eat the recommended servings of fruit and vegetables.
Go For Two And Five
Rather than complicate things, maybe we should start with the simple message ‘go for two and five’.
When it comes to raw versus paleo diets, I say go for neither and both. Eat more plants, buy less packets and eat everything in moderation.