Is honey paleo?

Honey is one of those borderline Paleo foods that falls into the golden and gray area of foodstuffs. It’s natural, much more nutritious than other forms of sweetener (like, say, sugar), works in some unconventional ways, and is literally eaten by hunter-gatherers to this day. It is at the same time an insulin-spiking danger food that could help you torpedo all of your hard Paleo work. Where honey fits into your day-to-day eatery is a nebulous game. To help, I’ve come up with a quiz that will let you know if honey has a place in your diet.

Q: Are you trying to lose any amount of weight?

If you answered yes, then put the honey down and back away slowly; It’s not for you, Pooh Bear. Before we go any farther, remember that sugar is sugar, regardless of its Paleo-ness. Fruit is sugar, honey is sugar, sugar is sugar. But honey is technically Paleo, and is one of the more interesting foods we’ll talk about. Sometimes it even works for folks watching their FODMAPs intake. The most fascinating thing I find about honey is that so many people employ it as a nickname for their significant other, regardless of gender or how sweet that person is. I probably won’t call you honey. If I call you honey, it’ll be a really special thing.

Honey is a treat, although one hunter-gatherer tribe, the Ache, obtains almost 10 percent of its calories from honey and the little bug larvae floating in it, making it the highest-protein honey on the market. Honey’s high glycemic index, fructose and overall sugar content make it something even the leanest of non-Ache people want to consume in moderation. If I call you honey, I’d want you to think about the great lengths people go to in order to obtain it. Some people have to hike for hours just to climb trees and fight off swarms of angry insects for a handful or two. Others have a very ritualized process and special protective suits. Every metaphor has its limits.

If I call you honey, it’d be because I’d rather think of you as a complex sweetener, rich and dense with minerals and micronutrients. The multitudes of nutrition found in honey very with the location, color, even the flowers used by the bees (but it’s still mostly sugar). If I call you honey, I’d want you to know that infants can’t eat honey because it can give them botulism, that it can be used to treat certain kinds of wounds, and that it’s more effective than some cough medicines for treating sore throats.

Honey is sometimes useful, sometimes dangerous. There are a lot of interesting things about this ancient syrupy gold, from its hazardous harvesting to the delicious Paleo treats available on the web that employ it (I recommend the paleo cookies from Paleo Treats because, you know, they’re awesome). But all that being said, I probably won’t call you honey, even if honey is paleo.  :)