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Paleo lifestyle key to health salvation?

Friday 17 Oct 2014 7:45 p.m.

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In 2013, the world's most Googled diet was what some would call caveman food – the paleo diet.

But Australian celebrity chef Pete Evans loathes the word diet. He has become the public face of paleo, and in some quarters, public enemy number one.

Mr Evans' fiancée, Nicola Robinson, formerly known in New Zealand as model Nicky Watson, says the paleo diet has helped her sleep better, given her more energy and has completely changed her life.

Nora Gedgaudus says the paleo diet is no fad, and if it were, it would be the oldest known fad diet in human history.

"It's a commitment to eating food that is unadulterated, eating food in its most natural state."

Paleo proponents believe our most natural diet is that of our Palaeolithic cavemen ancestors.

"We are 99.99 percent identical in terms of our genetic expression to our ancestors who lived to 40 1000,00 years ago," says Ms Gedgaudus. "We have the same nutritional requirements that they did - we're designed to eat the very same foods that they did."

Our ancestors ate seafood and grass-fed meat, nuts, seeds, organic fruit, vegetables and fat.

Yes, fat. For 50 years we've been told to avoid it.

So what won't you find in Mr Evans' pantry? Just about anything processed or containing sugar, milk, legumes or grains and it's that avoidance of whole food groups that has some dieticians in a spin.

He wants to see paleo principles adopted in childcare centres, school and hospitals.

He has recently secured a television slot and his series will soon screen in Australia.

So, could our health salvation really lie in our evolutionary past?

There's no denying Mr Evans looks healthy enough living the paleo way - he says his recent blood tests came back fine and in Christchurch, Elora Harre says the same.

The 20-year-old has lost a whopping 52kgs in the past two years. She is sharing her success online and today showed her fat pants to reporter Jendy Harper.

Otherwise known as The Shrinking Violet, at 18-years-old Ms Harre was a size 24. She is now a size 14, having dropped 10 dress sizes.

She says she dropped her weight by cutting out processed, sugary laden foods and drinks, as well as sweet treats.

Instead, she's filling up on fat, or what she calls good fat.

"I get to eat bacon and eggs for breakfast, I get all the meat," says Ms Harre. "Lots of fat keeps you satisfied you don't really miss out."

Ms Harre's eating habits are enough to get some dieticians hearts racing in panic.

"I worried at first, I would think 'oh my god I'm having butter, I'm having cream, surely this can't be good for me', but I was still losing 2kgs a week at some points and not doing any exercise."

Her latest blood tests her cholesterol levels all came back fine.

She doesn't divulge her peak weight, but says it was well into triple figures.

Takeaways were a diet staple and she suffered from severe headaches, anxiety attacks and vision problems.

"After looking around, I came to the conclusion that I might have type 2 diabetes. For someone at the age of 19 to be facing is really not a nice thing."

She says she tried every diet under the sun and then found paleo, though says she is not a hard-core follower.

"I try not to sweat the small stuff because life's for living and you're not going to sit there panicking in the supermarkets over four grams of sugar in something."

She is still a fan of the occasional treat - she even makes them herself in her own range of Indulge Dessert Sauces.

"Coconut cream, coconut sugar, butter and salt and that's it," says Ms Harre. "Nothing nasty and nothing you can't pronounce."

Watch the full report from Jendy Harper. 

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