Oatmeal is Paleo. What?

Have you heard?

Oatmeal is back in for the Paleo diet.

Yup, you read that correctly.

According to a new study[1], hunter gathers were, in fact, starting their long, physically exhausting days with a hot, steaming bowl of good old, stick to the rib oats.

OK, maybe that’s a wee bit of an exaggeration, but it’s not as though no one is taking research along this vein out of context.

Here’s a brief summary of the abstract:

“Residue analyses on a grinding tool recovered in Southern Italy have demonstrated that early modern humans collected and processed various plants. The recording of starch grains attributable to oats expands our information about the food plants used for producing flour in Europe during the Paleolithic and about the origins of a food tradition persisting up to the present in the Mediterranean basin. The particular state of preservation of the starch grains suggests the use of a thermal treatment before grinding, possibly to accelerate drying of the plants, making the following process easier and faster. The study clearly indicates that the exploitation of plant resources was very important for hunter–gatherer populations, to the point that they were able to process food plants and already possessed a wealth of knowledge that was to become widespread after the dawn of agriculture.”

I think it’s fantastic that this type of research is being executed and with every piece of knowledge that researchers discover and share with us, we are that much more wealthy in terms of knowledge, and better able to make even wiser decisions about what to eat.

I also feel that even if one is 80 % Paleo, to use one of the common approaches, their chances of being further along their path to achieving optimal health are better than someone who does no research on what Paleo is truly about and chooses to follow, for example, the Standard American Diet.

So why the jest in the opening paragraphs of this blog post?

It’s simple.

How many people will read about this after being Google alerted to this snippet of Paleo news and zip off to the grocery store to purchase that beloved instant oatmeal with cinnamon that they used to eat, ‘before they were paleo’, thinking about how glad they are to know that oats really are Paleo after all.

Yikes! I shudder the thought.

And this isn’t aimed at the millions of people who may be making the wrong food choices through no fault of their own; after all, it’s not like their undereducated, it’s almost as though they’re overeducated!

As if you know too much from too many different sources and without a sound foundation of how the body really works and what foods we should really be eating, it’s extremely easy to fall victim to any of the misinformation that abounds the media these days.

Admittedly, I do the same thing… only not with nutrition or fitness or Paleo.
Those things I feel confident in my own education and experience, both practical and textbook, to allow me to make the best decisions I can.

But take something I’m unfamiliar with, and all hell can break lose.

For example, a few years back, a close family friend found himself in the ICU with a mysterious “heart condition”.

I’ll share first of that he’s fine now, and his tests indicated adrenal fatigue, but for those 72 hours while he was in the hospital, and I was going nuts googling symptoms, I came up with endless horrible, frightening diagnoses as to what could be ailing him and worse…what his prognosis might be.

Now, you know that I’m not a doctor.

You may not know that I can be a worry wort.

And for the amount of terror and anxiety I caused myself going down endless rat trails online in the medical interweb… sheeseh! I’d have been much better off just chilling out reading a book by his bedside rather than trying to ‘help’.

But you see the point.

If you don’t know what you don’t know and you latch on to the latest and greatest catch phrase when it comes to health and fitness, you could be doing yourself a disservice.

So what’s the answer?

Learn who your best sources are and stick with them, their blogs, their newsletter and their books.

How can you tell what’s what and who’s who?

Look at their credentials, their testimonials, how they themselves look? It’s not a question of being rude or vain; but really, if someone’s giving you nutrition information and they’re fifty pounds overweight, how valid is what they’re saying?

Yes, this may sound rude and yes, there are certainly some amazing people who have lost tremendous amounts of weight and may still be on their own journey to their own ideal place.

This is not aimed at them.

It’s just one example of practicing what you preach. Perhaps a better one is a dentist with rotten teeth, doctors and nurses who smoke or a hairstylist with a mullet…unless, of course, that’s a look that one wants… on purpose.

So going back to that bowl of oats, the takeaway on this sort of thing is still the same: whether or not cavemen ate it doesn’t change how a certain food makes you feel.

If it is discovered at some point in time that paleolithic people did, in fact, bake gluten-based bread, does that mean anyone who has determined that gluten makes them ill should then begin eating it?

Paleo is part of the picture.   Consider it a starting point; a way to make yourself a clean slate. Do it for a month and if you’re so inclined to test not Paleo foods, if only to see how they make you feel, go ahead and try.

It’s only this that will allow you to conjure up your own, personal, perfectly Paleo (or paleo ish) lifestyle, one that you’ll be able to live with indefinitely.

[1] “Multistep Food Plant Processing at Grotta Paglicci (Southern Italy) around 32,600 Cal B.P.” Multistep Food Plant Processing at Grotta Paglicci (Southern Italy) around 32,600 Cal B.P. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 6 Aug. 2015. Web. 15 Sept. 2015