What advice do we give to the Paleo-Curious?

Earlier in the week, I received a comment about one of my Paleo articles that argued the point that following a Paleo Diet or Paleo Lifestyle is a strict black or white proposition.

In the commenter’s own words, “Don’t be a poser. Either live the life or shut the hell up, because those of us actually doing instead of talking are living healthier, more productive lives. If you are too, great! Congrats, how do you feel? If you aren’t? Get off the bandwagon”.

After I finished wiping up my giant puddle of tears, I started to think about how our tiny little Paleo community has changed & evolved over the past year or so.

Still clinging to it’s anthropological roots, Paleo (or Primal for the Sissonites amongst us) has ever so tentatively begun to shift towards the mainstream. And as more “normal” people begin to investigate the benefits of eating ala Paleo, some Paleo diehards are freaking out.

  • Maybe it’s out of concern that the strict Paleo menu of  meat, vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruit is going to be watered down and spoiled by the newbies.
  • Maybe it’s because they like being in an exclusive club and they don’t want to share with others.
  • Or, maybe they’re just assholes who think they’re better than everybody else.

Who knows?

But it got me thinking.

How do us Paleo eaters want the message of Paleo to be distributed to the rest of the world?

  • Currently, they are three big voices in the Paleo universe – Cordain, Wolf & Sisson. Do we crown one of them king and proceed to proselytize their version of Paleo?
  • Do we blend their messages into a hybrid Paleo?
  • Do we promote an ultra-orthodox version of Paleo that doesn’t allow for my morning Starbucks Venti Bold with a splash of cream?
  • Or do we adopt a more universal “coat of many colours” version of Paleo that leads people towards eating Paleo at most meals with occasional Neolithic baked delights?

Seeking some feedback, I posted a link to the above mentioned comment on my favorite Paleo facebook group – International Paleo Movement Group – to see what they had to say abot the comment and how they envisioned the evolution of the Paleo Diet.

The word zealot came up a few times.


What’s your opinion?


  • Should Paleo remain an exclusive club?
  • Should we welcome newcomers into the club?
  • If we do welcome newcomers, do we insist on 100% compliance to Paleo doctrine?
  • Or is 90% okay…or 80%…63%
  • Or are we happy when the people we care about eat fewer Pizza Pockets and more real/Paleo food?

As I said to the IPMG group, I realize that the vast majority of people are highly unlikely to ever give up grains, dairy, french fries, etc

What they may do, however, is to learn from us that Paleo eating is the healthiest way to fuel our bodies….and that while 100% adherence is unlikely, they may be able to be 90% or 80% or 60% Paleo…thereby…

  • improving their nutrition,
  • improving their health,
  • reducing the spread of lifestyle disease (diabetes, etc),
  • reducing the cost of healthcare around the globe,
  • improving economic health,
  • reducing taxes and
  • ultimately improving the quality & quantity of life for all us “modern” humans.


Thus endeth the rant.



  1. Since first learning about Paleo/Primal on this site over a month ago, I’ve been pretty much 90% paleo/primal. I’ve cut out all grains and processed sugar (apart from dark chocolate which I have on a regular basis), but I still have milk in my tea (because I live in England). I’ve read A LOT – just about every blog on Primal/Paleo/Archeovore. I’ve lost weight and feel like a more alive version of myself. All I want, and I’m sure most people who follow paleo/primal, is for my friends and family to feel as good as I do. Isn’t the whole point to spread the word that conventional nutrition wisdom isn’t as wise as we were all lead to believe? I’ve lent my copy of The Vegetarian Myth to several friends because the truths revealed in that book made me angry and made me want to tell everyone I care about the real cost of industrial food production: our health and our planet.

  2. I do not personally adhere to a paleo diet, although, in many ways, my diet may resemble a paleo diet. I think the strength of the paleo diet is the fundamental principles about eating that it embraces. The truth is our ancestors ate the way they did because they had no other choice. On the other hand, I personally believe the mass manipluation of our foods is contributing to obesity among other things. Our food system has gotten out of control. So in that sense, I think one can embrace the spirit or at least certain aspects of a paleo diet without adhering to any one strict menu.

    For instance, I eat grains. I happen to think they can be part of a healthy diet. But I also eat tons of fruits and veggies, try to avoid added sugars when I can, try to buy organic, eat fish and shellfish, try to avoid processed foods with added sugars, oils etc. I rarely drink alcohol, I love nuts and seeds etc. But I also drink milk because I think it has a place in our current diet, and I like it. I also love peanut butter.

    Time and time again the healthiest foods seem to be the ones that are the least manipulated. In that sense, I think that diets like the paleo diet offer people a healthier alternative even if they aren’t adhering to the diet 100%. To me the benefits that people get from a paloe diet are not the direct result of excluding all grains and/or milk etc (although I am sure those who would like to argue that point), but instead in the emphasis on eating more natural foods and staying away from all the processed crap.

    In that sense, I would be willing to bet any diet that focuses on eliminating processed foods along with added sugars, fat and salt, will produce a multitude of measurable health benefits, period.

  3. I’m 100% Paleo and my girlfreind is about 80% I don’t think she’ll ever be totally Paleo, but she is eating much healthier and that makes me happy.

  4. I have to say that I am about 90% primal, eating the best quality that I can afford. Some weeks that means raw milk, brewing my own yogurt and grass fed steaks, other weeks it is store bought red cap milk, frozen veggies and hamburger. Once in a great while I will have something off program, either because I really really want it, or I am hungry and there is nothing else to eat where ever I happen to be.

    Don’t sweat the small stuff.

  5. I recently had the opportunity to see Robb Wolf discuss his Paleo Solution at a seminar in Toronto. He was fascinating by the way. The one thing he stressed is that we CAN NOT make PALEO a cult, because that would ruin the movement.

    I was introduced to Paleo/Primal through Marksdailyapple, and have been about 80% Paleo for most weeks over the last 14 months. I have lost 50lbs and am in the best shape of my life! So while I am not in the hardcore group, I still experienced great success, and was able to enjoy my Birthday Cake without guilt.

    My opinion, similar to yours at the end of your post is that Paleo rocks! Realistically though, only a small percentage of people will be able to fully comply 100% of the time. So instead of vilifying those people that cheat a few times a week, let’s welcome their change with open arms!

    Enjoy reading your posts Doug.


  6. heres how i do the paleo, i eat nuts, seeds all types of meat all fruits, the only thing is i cheat by eating some sauces that are not paleo and fatty meats is this so bad? please reply to me thank you

  7. I think all the comments here show that many (myself included) are benefiting from the principals of the paleo diet.
    I’m a PT an just started adopting the paleo principals and it really suits my food likes – so I love it. I reckon I’m 90% and like most here adopt a common sense approach. That means including the odd non-paleo meal or including a food I like such as a glass of milk or cheese.
    Ive dropped weight and feel pretty good. I’m actually looking forward to visiting my butcher to see what game meat is available. I live in Australia and am looking forward to some lean high protein kangaroo!

  8. So I’m new to Paleo and am doing all the research I can on the subject. Growing up and living in the South, healthy eating was not always a priority. Now that I am in my 30’s, I have made a commitment to living healthier. Is there one website or book that is comprehensive and accurate on the basics of Paleo? All help and advise are welcomed!

  9. I believe that, as long as the intent is their to live a more paleo lifestyle, it is great for everyone to jump on the bandwagon. A higher percentage of people that have the intent will have a bigger impact on the masses than a small population conforming 100%. As time goes by intent will turn into a higher percentage of conformity IMO.
    Most people that i tell about the paleo diet are thankful because it is a logical diet and they were completely unaware of it, due to the bullshit we are fed by western society.

  10. The funny thing is everyone always talks about the Western grain-based diet…but when compared to the rest of the world we eat a lower percentage of grains than most. While I personally like the emphasis of eating more whole foods, there are many diets besides the paleo diet that involve eating less processed foods. For example the large China study suggests the less animal based product the better, but this would seem to challenge the paleo philosophy.

    Thought this was interesting. A book that discusses what people around the world really eat. In this review they give some examples. http://www.npr.org/blogs/pictureshow/2010/08/10/129107806/whatieat

    Also thought this was interesting. It may be a little outdated but I think it says a lot about what people are eating around the world. I think the main difference between then and now is people are probably eating more everywhere and more processed foods grains and meats alike, but I wonder if the consumption of grains as a percentage has changed at all or if the processing of those grains has changed. I don’t know but would love to see how our diet really compares to other countries then and now. For example, I know that Japan currently has a grain-based diet…a refined grain, white rice, yet they have the lowest incidence of obesity. http://www.fas.usda.gov/info/agexporter/2000/Apr/diets.htm

    Many cultures also eat lots of beans and dairy.

    And obesity is not a western problem. http://www.forbes.com/2007/02/07/worlds-fattest-countries-forbeslife-cx_ls_0208worldfat.html

    I really don’t know and I am not choosing sides. Just adding to the conversation. I do think “grain-based” and “western” aren’t very well defined in this discussion.

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