Updated: Jun 7, 2018
I recently told a friend about Paleo, and referred him to a well known, widely respected website. A few days later I checked in for his impressions.
"Oh, I didn't read too far," he said," the guy was obviously trying to sell me something."
I realized that as a 24-year marketing pro I automatically filter out the ubiquitous selling on most web sites. I went back to several sites on our resource list and tried to see them with a newbie's eye...
...and I admit, sales and hype obscure vital information on most of them.
Paleo internet marketing: shiny & grimy...but a fact of life
Most Paleo authors (more specifically, their "marketing teams") use the same website template. You know it well: splashy graphics, "sign up now!" for updates, new books, blog posts, recipes, blah blah blah.
A few sites quickly offer the basics, but many bounce you from landing page to landing page with confusing or repetitive offers.
Some sites are, sadly, little more than exercises in Paleo-themed carnival barkery.
You get the feeling you have to buy something to learn anything new...and this is, of course, the point.
Does this cheapen or dilute the message?
Despite my buddy's sales-aversion, I would say NO--or at least that we need to look beyond it.
Why we NEED the Paleo ballyhoo
People need to hear about Paleo. The health benefits are too important to ignore--and they've been ignored pretty much since the Industrial Revolution.
It may be too bad that we all have to be "sold" on commonsense health habits--but at least it's win-win. The sellers profit and we lucky buyers drop pounds and gain years on our lives.
And there are a lot of sellers: google "Paleo" or "Paleo Diet", and you get plenty of hype, but information is easy to find. I just got 3,680,000 responses in 0.37 seconds with "Paleo Diet."
This is huge--what if Paleo wasn't a hot button (profitable) topic? Would most people even hear about it?
Your (doctor, school, favorite government agency, nutritionist, insert your other "respected source" here) certainly isn't telling you about it.
Without this marketing surge, the "paleolithic diet" might just be considered another fad diet, a footnote behind Atkins, Jenny Craig, and Weight Watchers. "Eating like a cave man" sounds a bit extreme, right? Too fringe for most consumers?
Instead, we have physicians (Dr. Terry Wahls), biochemists (Robb Wolf), biophysicists (Dr. Sarah Ballantyne), respected professors emeritus (Dr. Loren Cordain) and a host of others falling over each online to promote Paleo.
Mark Sisson is opening Paleo restaurants. He and others are training "diet coaches" to mainstream these previously obscure concepts.
Why? Because Paleo WORKS. It really does help us lose weight, gain energy, and FIGHT CHRONIC DISEASE.
People need to know about Paleo--especially those of us over 50.
If we have to endure a sales pitch or two to get the details...so be it.
Your long-term health is worth a little patience
While Paleo promoters make money and pester us, they also push back against the years of pervasive dietary misinformation we all grew up with.
Do you tend to rely on government dietary "guidelines?"
Sold on the "miracles of modern science?"
Think "better living through chemistry" is big deal?
Well, modern science is now proving that our old friends refined carbohydrates, industrial seed oils, sugars and "hyper-palatable" processed foods are NOT the miracles we've been led to believe.
They're convenient, cheap and tasty--but they also kill you.
The obesity and diabetes epidemics are just two examples of how 50-plus years of food-pyramid based SAD (Standard American Diet) conventional "wisdom" have failed everyone.
Did you know that scientists increasingly associate Alzheimer's disease with "sugary, Western-style" diets?
Going Paleo instantly removes this time-bomb junk from your life, and gives you a fighting chance at lasting health and vigorous, clear-minded advanced age.
The marketing may be in-your-face, but at least you're HEARING ABOUT YOUR OPTIONS.
You just need to be willing to sort through them.
Flying under the marketing radar
Does this mean you need to take "Paleo masterclasses" or haunt Facebook and Twitter? Should you pay for a constant feed of podcasts, recipes, Paleo gossip and updates? Do you really need a diet coach--or even a diet buddy?
Start with a book.
That's what I did. I didn't even discover Paleo online. I literally stumbled over a hard copy of The Whole 30 one Christmas.
Then of course, I bought several more books. Please see the resources page.
Inbox clutter tip: the books have all the information you really need. My experience with endless updates, feeds and emails from these authors? They often just send snippets or repackaged info from their books.
Sure, you can stay up on events in the ancestral health community this way (not a bad thing), new studies (probably worth it) and snag a recipe or two--but if you're genuinely curious and willing to take the time, read up first. Buy a couple of these books and dive in.
You get to go at your own speed, and everyone has an online community if you need that support.
Remember, the basic idea behind ancestral or "Paleolithic" living has been around for thousands of years. It is not a newly developed dietary system.
Once you've educated yourself, you can decide how much Paleo social media support or coaching you need.
Advisory: there is a new trend in Paleo circles trumpeting the Ketogenic diet (which I am trying right now). You do NOT need to get lost in that before you master basic Paleo...unless you want to, of course. Think of "Keto"--which has been around since the 20's--as Paleo with different ratios (fat to carbs to protein.)
Naming names: more or less useful Paleo websites (David's opinion only)
I had sent my friend to my favorite site, Mark's Daily Apple...which is not a real hype-fest. Yes, there is marketing there, but you can get DEEP info on any related topic.
I proposed Dr. Terry Wahls' site as an alternative, which is (or was at the time) more straightforward. Her book is a MUST READ, but I've found less useful info on the site itself.
Kudos to The Whole 30, which still has the quickest-engaging, informative Web presence.
Dr. Sarah Ballantyne's The Paleo Mom is cute (by design) and not too hard to mine for info. If you want molecular-level detail, this is the place.
I find Robb Wolf's site a tad confusing--but you can find good info with some patience.
Oddly, Dr. Loren Cordain's site is a bit tricky to navigate too, unlike his groundbreaking, take-no-prisoners book. You have to dig a little. Better to go straight to his books. He is a pivotal figure in this movement.
Take a look at these and others, see what you think.
Remember, no Paleo website is "bad" if it gets you thinking about how to live longer and better by changing what you eat.
And don't forget:
DAVID WHITESIDE IS NOT A DOCTOR and does not give medical advice or treatment. He offers information and personal experience only. Nothing you read on this website or blog should be construed as medical advice or as intended to supersede information you get from your medical professional. Following the advice given here or on any recommended resource site does not create a doctor-patient relationship or create liability for David or anyone else. David is not liable for any loss or complication you experience from following any diet or taking any action. You should check with your properly accredited medical professional if you think you are injured or ill.