One way in which homo sapiens pass the massive excess of time they possess in the 21st Century is to concoct, adopt and proceed to promulgate ‘diets’. Now, whilst I as much as anyone would espouse eating a healthy, balanced variety of foods, the sheer ridiculousness of the modern ‘diet’ almost escapes imagining.
From going gluten free by choice, to the variety of detoxing options (the most notable being the lemon detox), the liquid only options, the raw only options, a cookie only diet and even eating baby food – there is a diet out there appealing to every persuasion. Clearly, humanity has got too much time on its hands, which is especially dangerous when coupled with our bad habit of credulity. Indeed, if an individual can believe that not vaccinating their kids is a wise decision, it seems positively rational to only eat baby food.
One such exemplar of the modern ‘diet’ is the Paleo diet, which preaches a return to the roots of our species nutrition as the “way that humans are meant to eat”. The abstinence from such delicacies as dairy, caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and even salt are the foundations of this purportedly transformative experience. Essentially, it prohibits any item, or any new form of an item – such as oils, modern grains and breads – that wasn’t available to our Palaeolithic kin. Predictably, and despite grandeur claims of being informed by “evolutionary medicine”, no scientific data exists to support the claims made by proponents that the Paleo diet provides any meaningful health benefits over a normal, balanced diet.
What offends me most about diets in this vein, however, is the reasoning used to justify them. It is reasoning which is pierced about as easily as a thin sheet of wax paper. The underlying assumption – that humans would be better off eating as they did in the Palaeolithic period – is patently absurd. It is obvious that we are not Palaeolithic humans and as such, our digestive systems have different qualities when compared to our long lost forbearers. Yes, once upon a time everyone was lactose intolerant, but we have indeed progressed since that time, in much the same way that we no longer think that the earth is flat.
But even ignoring this, let us follow this logic to it natural conclusion. Today, humans do a variety of things that they couldn’t have dreamed of in the Palaeolithic era; we can fly around in metal tubes, we can communicate over a network of satellites, and we can cook up glorious memes of overlord Schmidt on Stalkerspace. Yes, whilst not all of them these are for the greater good, the vast majority are (although which exactly those are is up for debate).
Should we ignore every step we have taken? Should we disregard the last 2 million years of slow and painful progress because it isn’t “the way we were meant to be”? Should we walk around in furs and grunt at one another? I leave myself in your trustworthy hands as to the answers to these questions. Although, based upon their behaviour, some members of our political community appear not to have progressed so very far from our ancestors; perhaps a perfect candidate for the Paleo Diet has been found at last… but I digress.
Please, I appeal to your better judgement; avoid fad diets of any persuasion. Instead of placing trust in populist solutions to problems that don’t exist in the first place, approach your diet in a reasonable way. Oh, and maybe lay off the 2 minute noodles.