My fad diet is working!

Reading anything about food in the media or online these days makes me feel like a criminal. That’s because I

Reading anything about food in the media or online these days makes me feel like a criminal. That’s because I changed my eating habits a couple of years ago and I no longer eat processed foods, grains or anything out of a packet. I only eat fresh vegetables, fruit, meat and fish.

My crime? Well, when people ask me how come I look so healthy, I tell them I am on a permanent diet which is very close to the paleo, or caveman, diet. The word paleo never fails to get a reaction, usually a disapproving or distasteful expression, but a growing number of people are becoming interested. The unfavourable reactions are very odd, because they confirm that acceptable eating standards have sunk so low that a balanced diet of fresh food is now considered by many to be a fad.

I think the negativity stems from fear. I heard a comment from an American doctor who said that people would rather change religion than give up eating bread. And this fear makes people focus on what they can’t eat instead of what they can.

I say my diet is close to the paleo diet, but I haven’t gone ‘full paleo,’ as I still eat potatoes and a little bit of dairy, and I still drink coffee and wine (separately!) but the main difference these days is that I predominantly eat vegetables and fruit and I eat more fat but less meat than I used to. I also eat organic produce when possible, but I’m not religious about it.

The health benefits have been enormous. All those stomach aches, niggles, pains and discomfort I accepted as normal for years have gone. I rarely get sick. If I catch a cold, it’s mild and goes in a day or two. My weight, which used to fluctuate between 90 and 100kg, settled on 85kg a year and a half ago and hasn’t moved, even when I neglect my exercise. I have a full blood test every six months and everything is bang on where it should for my age (57), or better. Physically and mentally I have never felt better or more energised.

This is a very common result for people who follow a paleo-like lifestyle, who find that many long-endured ailments completely disappear after a simple diet change. So why all the bad press and the vilification of people like (Paleo) Pete Evans?

My thoughts are that the hostility stems mainly from three sources:

  1. The Food Industry. The widespread and growing popularity of healthy eating constitutes a huge and very real threat to the processed and fast food industries. People are turning away from packaged products which are disguised as food, but which are actually delivery systems for corn syrup, wheat and added sugar. Fresh food is the enemy, as people can consume far less – and avoid unhealthy addictions to sugar infused products – to stay healthy. It’s no surprise when mainstream newspapers, which are filled with food industry ads, run negative stories about paleo.
  2. Nutritionists, Dietitians and GPs. It’s very hard to embrace a huge shift in the way people need to eat to remain healthy when all your years of training say otherwise. A growing number of practitioners are seeing the light, but when I still see ‘qualified’ people recommending white bread as healthy in a Sunday newspaper, I am dismayed. But it is understandable as there have been so many recent developments, no wonder many of them are out of date and can’t keep up.
  3. People who listen to 1 and 2 above are often violently opposed to paleo. They presumably believe eating fresh food is harmful. They are the foot soldiers of the food industry, which is quite happy to sacrifice them in the same way that the cigarette industry used its addicted customers for years. Ignorance is easily overcome by knowledge, but don’t expect education from the media.

Another interesting aspect of my diet is that I have gone back to a variation of my childhood eating habits of meat and two veg, pretty much like anyone in the western world who grew up before the 1980s, before the serious large scale additives began infecting our foods. I even use lard and butter in my common sense diet, just like my parents and grandparents.

To me, it is no coincidence that people born since the 1980s suffer far more from a huge number of allergies, complaints and illnesses which were virtually unknown to previous generations. Research into diabetes, Alzheimers’, rheumatoid arthritis and other auto-immune diseases has shown diet plays a big part. As Hippocrates so aptly put it, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Should you eat more fresh food? Well, that’s a no brainer. Should you go part or full paleo to improve your health and wellbeing? That’s up to you. I wouldn’t recommend a radical change to your diet without research.

All I ask is that when you get the urge to stick the boot into paleo, don’t knock it unless you have tried it.

In my case, the proof is in refusing the pudding.

Tell us your thoughts about Steven’s lifestyle change.

Originally published here


  1. Couldn’t agree more. People should try it and feel the benefits. They have nothing to lose but everything to gain. There’s some great books full of ideas and delicious recipes out there to help you get started

  2. I haven’t gone fully Paleo either,but I’m also embracing the fresh food only regime,and refusing sugars with the occasional treat only if I eat out. No more fizzy drinks even if they’re diet! We don’t get colds either and I’m mostly full of energy,so it has payed off.

  3. A sort of paleo diet sounds to me like being a little bit pregnant, or half dead. Whilst eating fresh foods and avoiding processed sounds sensible, excluding dairy is problematic. Apart from loving dairy, the amount of kale or other vegetable needed for calcium seems prohibative.

    • Apparently in the ever changing world of food scientists, they now say that we do not absorb much calcium at all from dairy. I say, just listen to your body.

  4. Totally agree I have been following a Paleo like diet for almost a year to combat adrenal fatigue, energy levels picking up and food is great. No proceeded or packaged food either. Fantastic

  5. Good for you Steven, I also am eating mainly Paleo and reaping the benefits. Firstly I gave up sugar but kept honey, then all grain other than rice, finally I said goodbye to my beloved dairy & embraced coconut. My weight loss is slow but steady, just like my exercise. My brain is clearer than it has been for many years, my problem with an autoimmune disease has become almost non existent but there must have been an imperceptible change in me because of the many friends & family that keep saying how well I look. I decided to go Paleo 3 months ago after I saw a clip on Utube where Pete is talking to a neurologist about a book called “The Grain Brain”. The thought that I may be able to prevent dementia & other neurological disorders by simply eating the foods that my grandparents did was my initial motivation. My Dr. has ordered a series of tests to see how my type 2 diabetes is travelling, I haven’t mentioned Paleo to her and I can hardly wait to see the results.

  6. I haven’t gone paleo but I have gone back to what I was raised on . I lived on a dairy farm and we only ate fresh what we grew a lot of meat and cooked with butter . I lost 32 kg in a year and have been the same weight for a year I didn’t set out to lose weight I just didn’t feel well so now I don’t eat processed or packaged food eat lots of veg but cheat when I go out lol but feel fantastic

  7. It may work for you but I don’t believe any food group should be removed from your diet unless allergic.

    • So agree. This was stated by dieticians recently in regards to people going gluten free or dairy free. Self diagnosis is not good. Their feeling better is more likely from cutting out sugar and processed foods etc.

      • Suzanne  

        try what works for you – I find when I cut out flour products I have lost the bloat and aches and pains. I was addicted to bread and found it hard to give up – still would love it – but not happy with the side effects. Choices are ours to make.

    • I agree with both of you. My sister and some other relatives live with coeliacs so gluten has to be cut out. It bothers me that some of the places that serve food may think it is just a fad so it is ok to accidently put a some flour in that dish and the true coeliacs suffer. It also worries me that just at the age when our bones need adequate calcium to ward off oesteoporosis some might skip the calcium rich foods.

  8. I have no argument with the paleo diet.
    However, it is described as the caveman diet yet it forbids grains and dairy. Both these foods were a mainstay back in caveman days. Look at the Asian countries who have grain and dairy as their sole diets and they live to their late 90’s or early 100’s and very seldom get sick.
    Plus, Pete Evans who pushes this diet also fronts a television program where these non paleo foods are eaten and praised for their taste and health.

    • They also had a life expectancy of 30 – 35 years. Not something I’d want to aspire to. I also doubt that many of our foods now resemble the foods caveman ate.

    • Sue Erlangsen
      I guess you didn’t read the bit about the asian diet and longevity of their luves due to their diet of grains and dairy……

    • I thought that was the whole basis of excluding dairy – that Paleolithic people didn’t eat dairy as they were hunter gatherers and did not keep domestic animals. Clearly I am mistaken and Paleolithic Asians were different.

    • Exactly, grains are not what they were in those times and there were no chemicals. Animals were grass fed which is what paleo promote.

    • Asians eat mostly rice, rice noodles etc. modern Asian foods do include wheat noodles but I question that they existed in historic Asian foods. There is vertically no dairy in Asian foods.

    • Susan Bell  

      Eggs were also eaten from the time humans could first stand up and reach a nest so why would anyone cut out eggs. Starches from potatoes, yams and sweet potatoes were also a major part of early human diets. They now feed many millions of people and are essential for health.

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