Counsel to Cavemen: Moderation in All Things
If the cavemen were here today, I think that they would jump on the easy food like the rest of us. With their children, they would probably go hog wild for awhile on foods new to them: potatoes in any form, soft white bread, lovely noodles, cheesy pizza. I imagine they would also gorge themselves on desserts—pastries, chocolate, ice cream.
Because it’s all so tasty and easy to get, they would get fat and feel terrible, and try to cut back to their original diet. Though they’d probably compromise on hunting and gathering it all, it would still be too hard to stick to in the face of so many other tempting possibilities. So they would give up, starting the whole cycle over again.
Somewhere between the two extremes is a broad and varied diet of Real Food—with moderation in all things—where the cavemen and the rest of us would do well to meet.
I would encourage our newly arrived cavemen families to eat everything they could get their hands on of their original diet, though I’d advise some cooking, especially the meat.
While I would caution our new arrivals against more than an occasional taste of those edibles developed by the current generations (manufactured, processed, imitation foods), I would suggest they not hesitate to include a reasonable amount of the decent Real Foods introduced by Neolithic humans, their closer descendents: whole grain rice, wheat (pasta and breads), beans and lentils, potatoes. Though less perfect than the diet of the cavemen, these foods were gifts to early humans, as they are to us. Though not to be abused, all Real Foods provide variety and nourishment.
I would tell the cavemen that the best diet is vastly varied, that it’s more important to eat a lot of different things than to work at avoiding the worst things. By eating everything under the sun, increasing the number of Real Foods you eat, you won’t be able to eat so many bad ones and won’t miss them so much. What we lose in eating the less-perfect Real Foods we gain in variety of nutrients, not to mention enjoyment, which counts for a lot for our health. Furthermore, variety is good insurance, in that we avoid too much of the bad effects from any one thing. We diversify our risks and multiply our streams of benefits.
The cavemen’s amazing health, rather than leading the rest of us to deprive and deny ourselves, should inspire us to expand our tastes and to discover other, more healthy and delicious foods.
More vegetables, and more of them raw. The unknown, the untried, the untasted. No reason for any of us to feel dispossessed. So many leafy greens await our attention: lettuces beyond iceberg, like arugula and endive, greens beyond spinach, like kale, Swiss chard, bok choy. And the root vegetables, the known—turnips, beets, radishes, garlic, onions, ginger—and the unknown (maybe even to cavemen): parsnips, celery root, rutabagas.
As for the cavemen, they may became a little less lean, a bit more slack, but moderation in all things, not a limited number of foods, will keep them, and the rest of us, in a healthy balance.
To read more about the Caveman Diet: http://www.earth360.com/diet_paleodiet_balzer.html
© Sacred Appetite / Anna Migeon / 2 February 2009 / All rights reserved