Paleo’s grown quite a bit over the years. Loren Cordain, the man who coined the term, defined a version of paleo that was quite different than the one we know today. In his first book, The Paleo Diet, he still held the notion that saturated fat was bad and instead promoted lean meats and canola oil for Omega-3s.
My how far we’ve come.
In his 2011 follow up, The Paleo Answer, he explained his flawed stance:
In 2006, I published a chapter in a scientific book that essentially overturned my prior convictions about saturated fat and health. The correct science behind the saturated fat issue and heart disease did not happen overnight, and had I used the evolutionary template as my guide quite a bit earlier, I would have known that population-wide recommendations to reduce saturated fats were flawed.
Loren Cordain, The Paleo Answer
Today I don’t think anyone in the paleo community would question the role of saturated fat in a proper paleo diet.
Yet there’s another war that’s raging within the community.
It’s the war on starch.
We have a confession to make.
We eat white rice.
We eat white potatoes.
And we’re still 100% paleo.
We’ve had so many people reach out over the years asking for help with their paleo diet. But as of late the biggest question that we’ve seen time and again is in regards to starch. Specifically why we’re eating it.
But the truth is, we’re not the only ones in the community eating more starch. We’ve been paleo since 2009, we reaped the benefits of going low carb, and we even experimented with keto for a bit. But, as it turns out, we function better with more starch in our diets.
And take a look around, you’ll find that most other long time paleo peeps have discovered the same. (Some of proudly wave the #teamwhiterice flag.)
I love a good bowl of white rice slathered in bacon fat, some salt, and possibly some hot sauce. I personally like the starch and fat combo and this is my go to snack when I’m training.
White rice is a grain, but it’s also an inoffensive starch. Although the general consensus when first starting paleo is to go completely grain-free you’ll find that most of us in the community, those who’ve been paleo for a while, have reintroduced white rice back into our diets.
It tends to be a polarizing notion for some when they’re first starting out, but white rice is a solid source of starch whenever we want or need to increase our intake.
What about rice flour?
We have tried foods made with rice flour and we do not experience any sort of adverse reaction from it. Our friend uses it quite regularly as her go-to flour and you’ll see many of the gluten-free products use it as well.
But, compared with other flours, it’s not our favorite.
Rice and potatoes are not paleo! Why are you sharing this recipe?!
Oh I hear you. And it’s possible that you’re reading this post because you left a similar comment on social media and I directed you here. Please hear me out.
It’s important not to lose sight of what makes paleo such an impactful movement. The power comes from the core that there is not one paleo diet. Paleo is instead a framework that can be applied to every facet of our modern, sedentary lives. Like minimalism it sparks us to question the inputs that we allow into our lives.
Paleo grants us the permission to not only take back our health, but encourages us to question everything we’ve been told.
Paleo is our diet, not a diet. We’re referring to the breadth of the foods that we consume, not a conventional ‘diet’ in the sense of an on-again, off-again weight loss trick with steadfast rules. Each of our paleo diets have been tailored to fit us best. And that’s exactly the point. No matter how our diets differ we all unite under a single banner: real food.
An unfortunate truth is that no matter the diet or lifestyle, dogma runs rampant in the health and wellness space. Paleo is not alone in this. We can bicker that a proper Paleo Diet should consist of only lean meats and that we should use canola oil simply because Loren Cordain said so in The Paleo Diet back in 2002. Or, as Chris Kresser did a couple years ago, we can find ourselves in heated debates over the healthfulness of legumes. But instead we should use paleo as the powerful framework that it is. We need to remove the dogma and remember that the science of nutrition is forever evolving. The power of paleo does not lie in a series of cut and dry binary answers.
Paleo is a hugely successful framework for addressing our larger problem. As a society we have become completely disconnected from our food to the detriment of our health. When removing the dogma paleo is excellent at addressing this issue.
When we focus on the core fundamentals of paleo we’re left with two simple guidelines:
- Eat plants, animals, nuts and seeds (in that order).
- Move frequently and lift heavy things.
After helping thousands of people over the years we’ve found the above to be the most effective way to affect positive change in a someone’s life. Sure one can and should dive deeper to better understand what works best for their body. But simply bridging that gap and helping people reconnect with food has the ability to change everything.
No one will ever be as invested in our health and wellbeing as we are. We have to hold one another accountable. And that is the true power of paleo.
Paleo is the spark to take the blinders off and realize that this is our one life and it’s up to us to take control.
More from the community:
Free The Animal (04/22/10): One Potato, Two Potato by Richard Nikoley
Chris Kresser (12/26/10): Food fascism and the 80/20 rule
Robb Wolf (11/03/11): Meat & Potatoes: Back on the Menu by Matt Lentzner
Primal Palate (01/23/12): Are Potatoes Paleo? by Bill Staley
Whole30 (07/17/14): Welcome Back, Old Friends
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