Anthropology P380: Prehistoric Diet and Nutrition

Project IB: A comparative nutritional analysis

This part of the project is due in class on Thursday February 12

The goals of this project are

  • to help you evaluate the nutritional content of the foods you eat, and
  • to give you an broader perspective on the relative quality of your own diet.

Part B:

In Part A of this assignment you have already generated records of the nutrient content of your diet using a nutritional analysis program. This part of the assignment asks you to take the next step, analytically , and formally compare your diet to alternative diets.

Turn in your original dietary analysis report with an essay of 3-4 pages that addresses the following three sets of questions:

a) Comparisons of your actual diet to the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA %'s reported in program)

  • compare your RDA %'s for each day -- how variable was your intake of different key nutrients?
  • were there any specific nutrients for which your diet was significantly above or below the RDA %'s? Are there any "danger signs" a traditional nutritionist might point you to, if this sample diet truly represented your daily diet over the long-term?

b) the recommendations for the Paleo Diet, as advocated by Loren Cordain in the book The Paleo Diet (or, more specifically if you'd like, in his scientific articles available online). In particular

  • How did your dietary intake compare to the general categories of foods Cordain feels would not have been included in a paleo diet (e.g., dairy, cereals, legume seeds, etc)? For example, what proportion of your calories and protein intake were made up from foods he classifies as "non-Paleo" foods?
  • Using the detailed nutritional analysis of each food type you ate generated by NATS, look at the composition of your diet in terms of the specific nutrients Cordain argues contribute to "Syndrome X" or the "Diseases of Civilization." (e.g. salt intake, proportions of different kinds of lipid, etc.) How would Cordain critique your diet, in terms of what he sees as health risks, from a Paleo-perspective?

c) Briefly compare the overall recommendations of The Paleo Diet to the recommendations of another diet, other than the RDA%s. Choose any other dietary model that interests you. (If you choose the Food Pyramid, you can access that information online. If you choose another diet, you will need to acquire your own source of information on that. Please reference the sources you use in a brief bibliography.).

  • Using your own dietary records as the point of comparison, summarize how your own diet would fit with the recommendations of one of these other sources of dietary advice. (Note that each different "diet" uses different measures of food volume... "serving size" etc. Just do your best to estimate these, based on the infromation you have available.)
  • Then summarize how the Paleo Diet is similar to, or different from, one of these other diets. If you had eaten for two days according to one of these other dietary models, would Cordain's critique of your diet have been any different?

      suggestions for comparative diets:

    • USDA Food Pyramid
    • The Atkins Diet
    • The Mediteranean Diet


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Last updated: 2 February 2004
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