Here’s some truth juice: everyone loves diet fads. The folks who invent them love diet fads because money. The people who follow diet fads love them because self-esteem and body image. The amazing thing is that every couple of years or so there’s a brand new diet fad that either (1) completely contradicts the previous diet fad, or (2) is exactly the same as the previous diet fad but with a different name. When did all this diet fad rigamarole start?
Probably in ancient Rome. If you were one of the poors, your diet consisted of:
- Grass baked into bricks but not considered sturdy enough for general construction.
- Water, by which we mean sewage.
- Fruit you stole from some Noble’s garden (e.g., Crassus Pinguis).
- Wine, by which we mean vinegar, by which we mean urine
- Some soiled animal/weather phenomenon that had been possessed by/mated with a god.
On the other hand, if you were wealthy, the purpose of meals was to show that you were willing to eat anything as long as it was ridiculously expensive, incredibly rare, and difficult to prepare. Dinner was an occasion to show off how decadent, rich, and don’t-give-a-fuck you were to your rich, decadent, don’t-give-a-hoot neighbors. Typical comment: “Larks’ tongue, Marcellus? Larks’ tongues are so last Dies Saturni. Anyone worth his gold-plated salt lick knows that only snail genitalia is the appropriate 7th course for a casual supper with friends.”
Let’s jump ahead (we do this a lot because we don’t know anything) to the United States. During the 19th century, the USA was a riot of competing food fads:
- Chew your food 2,318 times and then pass the liquefied mass through your nose to oxygenate it.
- Drink nothing but whiskey.
- Season your food liberally with arsenic, Nature’s sweetener.
- Eat only white food to preserve your privilege.
- Drink nothing but whiskey
Eventually, the fad diet industry was winnowed down and consolidated so that only one fad at a time was allowed. To convince you of a diet’s scientific basis, diet rules were written by and named after “doctors.” The Atkins diet. The Frankenstein diet. The Seuss diet. When people wised up to this (“Says here his medical degree is in huksterology”) diet names were made broader and impossible to prove. The Mediterranean diet. The Icelandic diet. The French Revolution diet, the Diet of Eternal Stench.
All of this brings us to the Paleo Diet, a diet based on the types of foods presumed to have been eaten by early humans. Even we have to admit this was a genius move, because unless early humans (who all had the same name, Paleo) ate nothing but rocks or stuff as hard as rocks, there isn’t going to be anything in the fossil record about what Mr. and Mrs. Paleowski had when they went to Paleobee’s for brunch that the average person knows about. (Except for fossilized poops, which we’re going out on a limb and saying nobody outside of a university is checking too closely for Twinkie wrappers.) The takeaway here is that paleo dieting is either going to be absurdly difficult, or absurdly easy. Let’s have a look at them in order.
Paleo Diet: The Easy Way
This method is about mind over matter. Or maybe delusion over reality. Or sine over cosine. We’re not sure. We just like things not to be lonely.
First, go through all the food you have in your home right now. Take a sharpie and scribble “Paleo” on everything. This includes loose, raw chicken breasts — the sharpie will impart a special tangy jouissance to them. What about Cheez Whiz? Yes, of course, Cheez Whiz — it’s what makes us human and distinguishes us from all other animals. If Paleo McMurphy didn’t have Cheez Whiz then he was still officially a monkey, and not a very smart one at that. Jeez, now you’ve made us sad for Paleo McMurphy. Are you happy? Quit asking questions and get scribbling.
If you’re male, employ the same mental powers you use to convince yourself you’re not racist or that women enjoy it when you hit on them. Tell yourself if it says “paleo” then it is paleo. And you’re on your way. For females, or non-binary genders, just say what the hell. You have bigger things to deal with, thanks to the males.
The main advantage of the easy way, besides being the easy way, is that it preserves the main reason people diet — telling people you are on a diet — without the fuss of doing anything different. YOU’RE WELCOME.
Paleo Diet: The Hard Way
Okay, let’s assume you have a shred of self-respect left, which, wow, thanks for slumming with our blog here— anyway, let’s also assume that you actually want to lose weight — not just tell people you’re on a diet. Kind of seems like a sucker’s bet, but whatever. You do you. Guess you look both ways before crossing the street, huh?
How can we guesstimate what Doogie Paleo was munching on while waiting for the Ice Age to be over? Hard, yes, but easier than you might think. First, go find some wilderness, preferably one that mimics the environment of prehistory, like 78 years ago. Take a look around. See any food? Of course you don’t. You’re not near death from starvation yet, like Doogie was 11 months out of the year. You’re gonna be amazed at what you will consider “food” after about 45 days of walking around in a delirium. Bark, dirt, grubs, ants, moss, dirt, something sticky on the bottom of your foot from a few days ago, maybe your own foot: it’s all going to look edible food to you.
Second, take this knowledge with you back to civilization. You can now follow an authentic paleo diet just like you did back in the woods, before that groundhog became your fiancé. One word of warning. Your co-workers may not be as into hearing about your ordeal as you might think. When Timmy asks if you want to catch lunch with the rest of the branch, try not to respond by saying, “YOU KNOW YOU CAN LIVE ON MAGGOTS IF YOU HAVE TO! MAGGOTS! YOU EAT THEM AND EAT THEM AND IT’S HORRIBLE BUT AT LEAST YOU DON’T DIE! BUT IF YOU DO, YOU’D JUST MAKE MORE MAGGOTS BECAUSE THE WORLD IS MAGGOTS NOTHING BUT MAGGOTS HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!”
Maybe just ask if Indian is okay with everyone.
Of course, given the nature of diet fads, the ketogenic (which is Atkins spelled backwards) diet is now working hard to supplant the paleo diet ever since you started reading this article. Given that, what have we learned? We could answer that question (answer: Fuck if we know) but are answers what life is all about? Okay, that’s another question, and we won’t answer that one either. Sometimes you need to see the forest instead of the trees, and not just because the trees were all clear cut six months ago. You’re just a small part — no matter overweight you think you are — of the cosmos, but it wouldn’t be the same cosmos without you. So, do you live to diet or do you diet to live? Boy, are we good with the questions, right? Maybe it’s time to think about the other, non-gender specific peep. If food be the music of…ah, something. If that hand pie was a song, it would be “Angel of the Morning” by Juice Newton. You can eat that song, or you can turn the page. And find an advertisement for Omaha Steaks. Or maybe a chance to love someone, just the way you both are. Or something. You know, probably eggs are okay, again. They didn’t used to be. They used to be the Devil’s Golfballs. But now they’re cool apparently, at least for the next couple of hours. But are the chickens grateful? What a bunch of ungrateful cluckers. We think that’s the big takeaway.