The world has seen its share of silly, dubious, and downright dangerous fad diets, but usually the kids are spared.
Paleo, though, is no mere diet; it’s a way of life. If you’re not familiar with the paleo (a.k.a. caveman) diet, its followers mimic what they believe were the eating habits of hunter-gatherers of the Paleolithic era, before the advent of agriculture and domesticated animals. That means pasture-raised meat and nuts and roots are in; milk, beans, potatoes, and cereal grains are out. The movement recommends going barefoot, getting dirty, aligning sleep to sun cycles, and workouts that involve less running and more heavy lifting.
Paleo enthusiasts like to point out that humans back then didn’t suffer from problems like diabetes, arthritis, cancer, or cardiovascular disease. They argue that it’s because early man had an inherently healthier diet, a leap of logic that ignores a slew of pesky factual details. At the top of that list would be the paleolithic life expectancy marked by ungodly rates of infant mortality and bodies riddled by infectious diseases and parasites. Few adults made it out of their 30’s leaving little time for any age-related ailments. Still, the diet has made it into the mainstream with a big boost from celebrity adherents like Megan Fox, Uma Thurman, and Tom Jones, NBA players Grant Hill and Steve Nash, and a good-sized chunk of the NFL.
Now comes Bubba Yum Yum from a notable pair of paleo-proponents: famed Australian chef and fluoride-denier Pete Evans (left) and the autodidactic toddler nutritionist Charlotte Carr (below left; that’s her son Willow with the let-me-out-of-here countenance). The book is currently cooling its heels in a kind of publishing limbo, its release date held up to allow further review by the medical community and public health agencies. Promotional materials describe the book as “a treasure trove of nutritional information and nourishing paleo recipes that are guaranteed to put you and your little one on the path to optimum health.” Some in the press have described that path as leading to “loss of appetite, dry skin, hair loss, bone pain, fissures in the corners of the mouth and failure to thrive.”
The book contravenes most national health guidelines with ingredients like undercooked eggs and added salt. It excludes highly recommended protein sources like beans, grains, dairy, and soy. In its most controversial passage, the book asserts that a recipe for a beef bone and liver broth is the best available alternative to breast milk.
It’s not all dubious evolutionary science and crackpot theories.
Paleo-style eating appropriately emphasizes whole foods, lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats. And who couldn’t benefit from less processed food? Even so, the likelihood of a release date is waning as health professionals pile on to accuse Bubba Yum Yum’s authors of ignorance and irresponsibility. The head of the Public Health Association in the authors’ native Australia went even further: “In my view, there’s a very real possibility that a baby may die if this book goes ahead…”
Don’t expect to see that as a blurb on the back cover.