The Paleo diet: everything “old” is “new” again.
If you haven’t heard of the “Paleo” diet you soon will. I first heard the term seven years ago while attending a Crossfit gym.
It was a new diet plan that the Crossfitters were enthused about. The diet consisted of foods that our Paleolithic ancestors might have eaten. In very simplistic terms, the idea is that our genetic makeup has not evolved much from our Paleolithic Era ancestors. Agriculture is a relatively new procedure and our bodies cannot effectively process the “new” foods we are consuming. Therefore we should be eating like our ancestors.
The idea is probably sound. But at this point in this article I should make it clear that I am an ordinary person. I am not paleontologist, dietitian, medical professional or professional bodybuilder. I am just a person who has tried many diets and eating plans throughout the last 45 years and has noticed one thing, if you wait long enough everything old is new again!
If you are old enough to remember the late 1960s and 1970s you might remember a diet plan called the Stillman Diet, by Dr. Maxwell Stillman, introduced in 1967. The diet consisted of protein and very few carbohydrates. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?
Then came “Sugar Busters,” “South Beach,” “Zone” and many other diets. Many of diets include some wheat products. They all work on the concept that the modern food pyramid and the consumption of sugar and processed foods cause unstable blood sugar levels. High levels of glucose in the blood causes high insulin levels which in turn, causes a wide range of known health problems. Excess weight is only one of health problems causes by high and unstable insulin levels in the blood.
Even though the Paleo diet, or Caveman diet, seems to be a new idea, it was being developed and studied in 1970s. In the search for some new “hype” it has surfaced as a new concept and many people are needlessly spending their hard earned money for the information.
Just do an Internet search and you will find blogs, books, recipes, and products and “kits” all touted as “Paleo”. In reality that doesn’t make good sense. If it is truly something our ancestors had access to it didn’t come from a blog, book, product or kit made by a third party. All these products are money making schemes and you don’t need them to eat “Paleo.”
In modern society we can never be truly “Paleo”. We are not going to give up cooking and baking our food. But, we can embrace some of the healthy concepts offered by the “Paleo” enthusiasts, at a reasonable price. All you need to do is think about what our ancestors had access to. They ate what they could catch or find. While we have the luxury “catching and finding” our food at the Supermarket, we can try to mimic our ancestors' diet.
Common sense in all matters will you a long way toward your quest for health. If you eat wholesome meats, vegetables, fruits and healthy fats you will be getting the macro nutrients you need and be near the “Paleo” ideal.
The main difference in this style of eating and some other “balanced” diets is that there is no wheat or dairy allowed. If you have any food allergies or intolerances this might be a viable option for you.
Before trying this way of eating I ate a balanced diet and my weight, blood pressure and other health indicators were under control. But, I experienced gastric upsets, restless leg syndrome and pain from degenerative disk disease.
I have since eliminated wheat, all sugar and nightshade vegetables. I eat eggs, beef, poultry, pork, green vegetables, squash, a small amount of fruit, avocado, coconut oil, nuts and water. That’s it! If I am hungry I can eat at any time in any amount.
As for my own experience it seems that by cutting out grains, sugar and nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers) my hunger has subsided and intestinal disturbances have diminished. Also my restless leg syndrome has, strangely, been absent since embracing the diet.
In time I may reintroduce some of the foods I have eliminated. But for now I am happy with the results. My goal has not been weight loss but it is obvious that weight loss is a side effect of this eating plan.
My best advice is “don’t buy into the hype” or fall for the newest thing. Just wait long enough and it will come around again, maybe with a new name.
10 Healthy Eating Tips
Healthy eating is not hard to do:
- Don’t buy or eat processed foods.
- Don’t eat sugar or products made with it. This includes brown, organic, raw or any other kind of sugar.
- Eat meat, eggs, vegetables (no corn, peas or potatoes).
- Eat healthy fats, coconut oil, olive oil avocado nuts (not peanuts which are a legume).
- If you think you may have any food intolerances try an elimination diet.
- Try abstaining from wheat and nightshade vegetables for a few weeks and then evaluate how you feel.
- Drink plenty of water. You don’t have to drown yourself in water. Cavemen didn’t lounge at the water hole, that’s where the danger lurked!
- Eliminate all forms of artificial sweeteners if possible.
- Don’t try to make substitutes for cookies, cakes etc. Just eat real foods when you are hungry.
- Hang in there; it just takes a day or two for your cravings to subside. You will be surprised at how good real food tastes!
This may seem like an insurmountable feat but you will be amazed at the simplicity and effectiveness of this plan, no matter what the name.
What you eat is one aspect of your life that you can control.