Knowledge is a funny thing. If you ask philosophers they’ll tell you that it takes three things to “know” something:
- You have to believe it.
- You have to have a rational reason to believe it.
- You have to be right.
Someone who has a fear of heights can read the statistics about airline safety (reason) and sees that it is objectively safer than driving (it’s right) but they don’t believe it in their gut.
Another person might have a “system” for playing the lottery. They’re convinced it’s going to pay off (belief) and maybe it actually does (they were right) but there was no rational explanation.
A third person can go on a low-fat diet that they’re sure will work (belief) because they’ve read the My Plate guidelines from the USDA (reason) but they gain weight anyway.
That’s a lot of “knowing”
So what does this have to do with food and fitness? Read some diet blogs online and you’ll think you traveled back in time to the middle of the Inquisition. (And nobody expects that.)
I mostly follow paleo-focused blogs, but I’m betting it’s the same on the vegan ones. People get really specific about what’s “allowed” and what’s “not allowed” on paleo, and get really offended when someone disagrees with their interpretation of “the rules”.
The question is usually, “Is this paleo?” But what it means is, “Can I eat this?”
Dude, we’re omnivores. We’ve got sharp, pointy teeth up front for tearing into meat and wide, flat ones in the back for grinding harder stuff. We’ve got a really long digestive tract for extracting as much as we can from whatever we put into it. We’re a little choosier than goats, but not by much.
What I’m saying is …
Yeah, you probably can eat it
That’s doesn’t mean you should.
Paleo isn’t a law, like a speed limit that you have to obey because it’s the law. It’s more like the law of gravity, a description of how things are whether anyone likes it or not.
And “how things are” is that we’re still built just like primitive man, who learned through trial and error what was good to eat. When your errors are fatal, your family tends to remember to avoid those red berries with the yellow spots.
Where some people go wrong is in thinking that just because something never was, that it never should be. “Cavemen never ate cheese!” Well, okay. But if they had would it have been bad for them? “Cavemen never ate potatoes!” No, but … okay you know what? Cavemen never took aspirin, either. Or penicillin. Or any of a thousand vaccines that have wiped out countless deadly diseases.
The point is, paleo is pretty good at telling you what you probably should eat. It’s not as good at ruling out things you shouldn’t eat.