‘The Cave Man Diet’ focuses on foods that our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate and advocates avoiding the processed foods which make up 80% of modern day grocery shelves.  The idea behind the Paleo Diet, the Primal Diet, and most other variants is that ‘man’ evolved to thrive on a caveman diet and we would all be healthier if we adhered more closely to it.  Need convincing? Novak Djokovic went gluten free and began to dominate tennis!

Even if you don’t go all ‘urban caveman’ like John Durant, profiled in the New York Times, you may still benefit from reexamining a few of your assumptions about what constitutes a ‘healthy’ diet. Journalists like Gary Taubes are building an argument that the real cause of the heart disease that plagues our society may not be caused by cholesterol after all, but rather by refined sugars. Maybe our ancestors were on to something?

What to eat

Animal protein, and yes, animal fat

Suspend your disbelief.  People report that bad cholesterol levels go down on these diets.  High quality, grass fed beef, free-range chicken and eggs, wild caught fish and all kinds of game.  These meats have high omega-3 to omega-6 ratios, so they cause less inflammation in your body.

Vegetables in season

We all know that a January tomato is nothing like an August tomato – this just follows common sense.  Summer and fall are easy for fruits and vegetables.  In other seasons, you’ll eat root vegetables and nuts.  Always choose locally grown and organic produce.  Your caveman forebears were not importing lettuce from Chile!

Coconut oil

Both diets recommend this – I have no idea why.

What not to eat

Grains, gluten, sugars, processed foods, beans, lentils, soy, peanuts and all chemicals – yes, they are talking about all those sugar substitutes.

What is different about Paleo and Primal?

Paleo diets exclude dairy products, especially for the first few months until you have re-balanced your system and you can introduce them slowly to test your tolerance.

Primal diets include full-fat dairy products (yes, say good-bye to Fat Free Half and Half) like butter, full-fat yogurt, whole milk and cream.  Choose dairy from pastured animals and be unpasteurized.

Getting started

The Paleo approach is to dive straight in and exclude all ‘non-paleo’ foods for at least 30 days to see how you feel.

The Primal diet takes human nature and busy lives into account and suggests eating ‘Primally’ 80 percent of the time and give yourself a little comfort food for the other 20%.

Paleo Resources

Loren Cordian wrote The Paleo Diet $11.04.

Robb Wolf, a biochemist, co-authored The Paleo Solution with Cordian, $19.86.

Elana’s Weekly Paleo meal plan with recipes.

Primal resources

Mark Sisson wrote The Primal Blueprint- Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy, $14.35.

Mark Sisson writes a daily Primal blog called Mark’s Daily Apple.

Gluten sensitivity

WSJ article on Gluten Sensitivity.

Novak Djokovic goes gluten free and dominates tennis, WSJ.

Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health by Gary Taubes. In his book, Gary Taubes suggest that many of the ‘truths’ most people believe about what constitutes a healthy diet may be wrong.  $12.90.