The new paleo – Clean eating
Two words – bone broth.
If the words instantly bring shudders or a horrifying cult image to mind, it’s no surprise. Bone broth was the official start of the end for paleo.
Because of the bone broth versus Pete Evans versus breast milk debacle (and let’s not forget the activated almonds), paleo officially became the most hated diet of the last few years.
Yes it’s grain free, dairy free, sugar free – essentially, it’s the exact same as the new clean eating trend. Except unlike paleo, clean is cool.
So where did it all go wrong? And is paleo even that bad or any different from clean eating?
Scott Gooding, personal trainer, health coach and co-author of the Clean Living cookbook series which advocates both a paleo and clean eating diet believes the two go hand in hand but paleo’s messaging has been its demise.
“It’s the same beast but the focus on food is different,” says Gooding. “The clean eating philosophy is that we shouldn’t eat grains, dairy or sugar – but rather than hashtagging #nograins or #sugarfree and shoving it down people’s throats, we’re shouting from the rooftop how amazing lamb shoulder or turmeric is.”
Gooding believes clean eating offers a more positive approach, while paleo’s emphasis is on cutting food groups and the harm they can do to our body.
“I felt for Pete – he was put on a pedestal as the pin up boy for paleo and people got the wrong end of the stick – the whole ‘don’t breastfeed, give them bone broth’ story travelled a lot quicker than the truth,” says Gooding.
Kara Landau, a Sydney-based dietitian (@thetravellingdietitian) also agrees that clean comes with a more positive spin. “While it can have varied definitions – from removing artificial ingredients such as additives, preservatives or sweeteners to the complete removal of food groups, the less restrictive nature of clean eating offers a more attractive, positive outlook that focuses on nutrient-dense wholefoods.”
For Gooding, the paleo demise has led to him staying away from the term, in favour of a clean approach that offers more inclusive messaging.
“The ‘us or them’ mentality is the main reason I don’t hold myself as paleo – you’re either in or out, as if you can’t be on the fringes,” says Gooding. “It doesn’t have to be like that. We’re born into different cultures, with different gut microbiomes and tolerate foods differently so ‘all or nothing’ doesn’t wash with me.”
So how does the paleo diet weigh up health wise? Is it dangerous?
Landau says there are some studies coming out in support of paleo – from its ability to assist with weight loss, blood sugar and also lipid level regulation.
“However, they are based on very small sample sizes, so compared to the copious amount of studies that show the benefits of consuming a holistic diet with a large number of food groups, I don’t believe the evidence is present yet to recommend everyone consume one particular diet such as paleo.”
We should, however, be wary of phytic acid argument, pushed by paleo advocates, says Landau.
“The discussion around phytic acid being present in food such as legumes, nuts, seeds and grains and blocking nutrient absorption (which is where the whole activated almonds thing comes from), has no valid scientific backing. It actually plays an antioxidant role in the body and is known to offer many benefits from a health perspective. So, from where I stand, rather than completely removing food groups, I believe we should look at the proportion of our total diet that is coming from different food groups and make sure we select the healthiest options from each category.”
“There are a number of beneficial nutrients that can be obtained from legumes and probiotic rich dairy products, so unless you have an intolerance which results in gastrointestinal issues following their consumption, I don’t believe in cutting them out of the diet.”
Gooding shares his top tips for getting clean and nourishing our bodies, the less-daunting way.
1. Suss your sugar consumption
“Your first port of call should be to look at amount of sugar you have each day. Start reading labels and understanding the 40 odd names for sugar like glucose, sucrose, fructose and alcohol sugars. Coke zero is a perfect example – they take the sugar out but add other sugar substitutes,” says Gooding.
2. Don’t ditch dairy lightly
“You might jump ship on cow’s milk and join the almond milk bandwagon but take a look at the back of their labels too. They’re often not particularly healthy either. We’re geared to a sweet palette so while there are some great nut milks out there others can contain sugar, don’t just accept the new latest thing without looking at it,” says Gooding.
3. Pick the food our primal ancestors would have
“Eat real food. Whether opening the fridge door or walking down supermarket aisle, ask yourself – ‘could I have picked, foraged or hunted for it?’ Chances are if it’s highly processed it’s synthetic,” says Gooding.
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