Friday, September 02, 2011

A serious note on the Paleo Diet

Knowing that dear friends have used this diet, and apparently to good effect (as others have used Atkins, cabbage soup, and so on), I figure I owe my "vast readership" a couple of thoughts on the Paleo diet.

I'll start with the good; the Paleo diet overcomes a lot of the weaknesses of other diets in that it does not demonize the eating of meat; as such, it has a degree of balance that many other diets do not have.

On the flip side, is it really "Paleo"?  Biblically, I think not; the Scriptures describe men as more or less fruit-eaters prior to the Fall, and than afterwards eating what grew in the fields--I would presume that this means grains and legumes primarily.  Hence, pointing back to "cave-men" does not really point to what is the oldest, as the true "Paleo" diet would be Adam's and Noah's vegetarian diet.

That said, I could envision people after the flood going to a "Paleo" diet--the modern version, not Noah's--by killing and eating most of the nastier animals whose physical traits would help humans to "assume environmental temperature," if you catch my drift.  Moreover, as people filled the earth and subdued it, they necessarily moved to places where grains and legumes would not grow, and thus necessarily became rather carnivorous.  They were still descended, however, from vegetarians.

Going to the New Testament, my take is that I have trouble with the idea that our Lord would include panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie (Give us this day our daily bread) in His prayer if that were indeed a substance harmful to most people.  Yes, there are people with gluten sensitivity and wheat allergy and such, but the fact of the matter is that almost all people get large portions of their nutrition from grains, and it hasn't exactly made us extinct yet.

So whatever its virtues and deficiencies, I'd simply encourage believers to recognize that Biblically, the "Paleo" diet is not really the paleo-diet, and when "Paleo" advocates decry grains, they're on dangerous ground, Biblically speaking.  And since my hungry monsters (and their father) have devoured today's batch of pain ancienne, I'm thinking I'd better get up to the kitchen to knead some more, 'cause we knead need some more.


pentamom said...

Overall, I agree with your points. And also, I agree with the point that we would not be given an ideal example of prayer including a request for bread, if bread were actually bad.

But you don't want to take that too far -- Jesus' immediate audience were people whose immediate expectation of daily food was bread, with some variants of something better on good days, but if they were really starving and there was only one thing to be eaten, it would probably be bread. Bread was "daily bread" in that sense -- it wouldn't have made sense to Jesus' immediate audience to make a prayer for subsistence to be a request for meat or vegetables.

So while absolutely bread cannot be condemned if Jesus used it as the figure for daily sustenance, you don't necessarily want to make that into a commendation of it as the kind of food we should all be eating lots and lots of. Not that you were, but just trying to be the moderate around here. >:-)

Gino said...

how much beef did Jesus eat?

Bike Bubba said...

The Bible doesn't say, Gino, but He did get lamb, mutton, fruit, and fish from time to time. I'm guessing that, like most in the Roman empire, not terribly much beef at all.

And Pentamom, well noted that we don't want to make the Lord's Prayer into a total diet recommendation; I was merely trying to point out that I can't bring myself to believe that our Lord would tell us to ask for something that is positively harmful to most of us.

Which means that the diets which say "bad bad bad grain" are really not very Biblical.

BTW, Challah yesterday, Ciabatta today.

Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

I have thought about this myself, Bubba. That in the garden, Adam didn't eat meat. I've considered Jesus' life and words in relation to bread as well as many of our fellow believers' visceral reaction to wine.

The thing with me though, is that I lost weight so much easier when I limited (never could bring myself to totally cut out) my bread intake, even as I paid no attention to calories or fat.

I still don't drink, but I harbor no feelings of condemnation for believers who drink an occasional glass.

I have never been a hardcore follower of the paleo style diet (for lack of anything else to call it), mainly because I can't afford to eat meat all day every day.

I have come to the conclusion that the biggest problem is not bread per se, but the type of bread we eat, the fact that the standard American diet isn't balanced, and that we eat far too much sugar.

I feel a nutrition post coming on. I'll put it on Breathing Grace to entice you to weigh in.

Bike Bubba said...

I remember a columnist back in the 1980s on this; he served whole wheat bread or something for a Super Bowl instead of white. His guests complained, and in response, he noted that when he served white bread, they ate a few sandwiches apiece, but when they ate wheat bread with flavor, they only ate one or two.

Or, put in dietician's terms, a bit of fiber keeps the food in the stomach longer, which suppresses the "need" to eat. Sugar and white bread, on the other hand, go through pretty quickly.