A few days ago, I shared photos and stories from when the local Fox affiliate came to our house to talk dino-chow. Now we’ve got bootleg video of the piece that aired last week. Enjoy!
What I’d Like to Say to Deirdre Earls
I didn’t get to respond to Deirdre Earls’ comments in real time, but if I had the opportunity, this is what I’d like to say to the points she made in her interview. With all due respect, of course. I would even try not to raise my voice.
1. Grains are staples.
This is a common question about and argument against paleo: “But millions of people around the world eat lots of grains an beans, and have for centuries.” Ms. Earls even went so far to say those people eating beans and rice in third world countries are “lean.” I would argue that they’re not “lean,” they’re malnourished. This is my response to the argument: Yes, a person can live on grains, but they cannot thrive.
2. Atkins vs. Paleo
There are some significant differences between Atkins and Paleo, but the ones that I find most compelling are these:
— Atkins is very low carb and doesn’t put much of an emphasis on vegetables. The Paleo framework, in general, and Whole30 guidelines, in particular, do place an emphasis on consuming large quantities of vegetables to help keep the body in Ph balance and to ensure plenty of vitamins and minerals.
— Atkins allows for processed foods, including Atkins-branded bars. Paleo is all about real food.
— Atkins is pretty high fat. The Paleo framework doesn’t define macronutrient ratios and encourages finding the right balance for our bodies, and that allows for higher carb, lower carb, higher fat, lower fat, and everything in between.
— I’m not sure how much lifestyle plays into Atkins, but in my experience, Paleo proponents also encourage looking at other aspects of our lives that affect health, longevity, and quality of life: sleep (quantity and quality), stress management, physical activity, and playtime/socialization.
3. Quick weight loss?!
I have never, ever, in all of my experience in three years of eating paleo, attending seminars, reading blogs, and talking about this subject endlessly with trainers, coaches, nutritionists, and doctors heard anyone say this is a quick weight loss plan. Ever. In fact, most of what I’ve heard is the opposite: this is a lifestyle change that can sustain you throughout your life. You might lose weight, and there are habits you can adopt to help that process along, but eating Paleo is about more than weight loss: it’s about optimal health and quality of life. If it happens, weight loss is the side effect of healing and supporting the body with proper nutrition.
4. Amount of meat
I turn into the incredible Hulk when I hear people say that Paleo is a high-protein diet. Seriously. (Hulk, smash!)
Paleo can be high protein, sure, but the framework does not say, “EAT MORE MEAT!!!” The framework says “eat enough animal protein to support your activity level, given your age, health, and other environmental factors.” I’ve spent a lot of time in the last 20 years on both Weight Watchers and the Zone — and paying attention to the guidelines you can find online about how much protein to eat to support muscle development. All of them gave me the roughly same recommendation: about 4-5 ounces cooked protein per meal. If I follow the “eyeball” guidelines recommended by paleo practitioners, it comes out to about 4-5 ounces cooked protein. That is not “too much meat” or “high protein” or “Paleo diet eat meat eat meat eat meat;” that’s adequate protein for my size, age, activity level, and environment.
5. The whole “Atkins had a heart attack” thing
Yes, Dr. Atkins died of a heart attack, but reports say it was due to a chronic infection, not his diet. I feel like Ms. Earls’ reference to this was a bit disingenuous, and I find those kind of scare tactics distasteful.
Atkins’ personal physician and cardiologist, Dr. Patrick Fratellone, confirmed this assertion, saying “We have been treating this condition, cardiomyopathy, for almost two years. Clearly, [Atkins'] own nutritional protocols have left him, at the age of 71, with an extraordinarily healthy cardiovascular system.” According to reports on CNN at the time of Atkins’ convalescence, Dr. Clyde Yancy, a cardiologist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and a member of the American Heart Association’s national board of directors reported that “despite the obvious irony, I believe there is a total disconnect between [Atkins'] cardiac arrest and the health approach he popularizes.” [source]
I’m not sure why the Paleo diet seems to make Deidre Earls so angry, but, happily, I don’t need her stamp of approval to continue to eat this way. And I will continue to eat this way because I generally feel better, think more clearly, and sleep more soundly. That’s all the evidence I need that this is the way for me to take care of myself.
What do you say, good people?
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