Paleo: A Clean Feast, Even for a Cave(Wo)manJune 16, 2015
What is it?
The Paleolithic Diet: so easy a cave(wo)man can do it? I’ve fallen victim to many of those gimmicky, diet fads, only to reach for the Costco-sized bag of Doritos two weeks into my “lifestyle change”. So of course when I heard about this new, hunter-gatherer style diet, my immediate reaction was to scoff at it while devouring my Haagen Daz pint of Caramel Cone ice cream (totally underrated in my opinion, by the way… y’all are missing out).
But after seeing my friends’ pictorial results of their new lean figures on my Facebook feed, I decided to research more about it. Also known as The Caveman Diet, this plan adopts the notion that our meals should solely consist of what our ancestors ate 10,000 years ago: plants and wild animals… basically, if a cave(wo)man can’t eat it, neither can you. This nixes all the processed oils, sugars, dairy, grains, and preservatives that typically riddle our food. The claim is that by eating what cavemen ate, we can potentially reduce our risk for “diseases of civilization”, such as heart disease and Type II diabetes. With the advent of agriculture, Paleo supporters argue that our bodies did not learn how to adapt, thereby leading to increased dependence on grains, rising numbers in obesity, and a more lethargic, sleep-deprived society.
According to The Paleo Diet, written by founder Loren Cordain, PhD, there are different levels that allow for better transition into this lifestyle. The entry level permits three cheat meals a week, two on the Maintenance level, and one on the Maximal level. The diet also lets the individual to have “transitional” condiments (certain salad dressings) and drinks (coffee, wine) to help ease into it. It’s far less daunting than the other low-carb plans out there, like the infamous Atkins diet.
- Most of the proteins listed in this diet have higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help fight inflammation
- Greater encouragement to load up on veggies… admit it, when you have the option of a side of salad or fries, which one do you USUALLY go for?
- Ridding your body of refined sugars, which can increase your waistline and number of cavities
- Energy levels skyrocket: a diet richer in whole meats and vegetables stabilizes your blood sugar levels, leading to elimination of the mood swings often seen in diets high in refined sugar and processed carbs
- High protein and fibrous vegetables satisfies hunger levels faster
- There is no concrete evidence that it helps you lose weight. However, if you normally consume a relatively processed diet, you WILL be more likely to lose weight when you ban processed foods and refined sugars.
- Pricey: It can be difficult to find certain foods, especially meat, at your local supermarket. Some farmers markets, however, do carry these items at more reasonable prices.
- Misperception by the ill-advised that it is a purely carnivorous diet. Too much intake of meat can lead to ketosis.
- Imbalance of nutrients without proper research and planning: because dairy is eliminated, it can be difficult to find a dietary substitute for calcium. This can actually be found in kale and spinach!
- The inconvenience factor: in our highly processed world, it’s much easier to grab a burger on your way home from work than to plan out and prepare your meals for the next week.
What You Can't Eat
- Refined sugars (including substitutes)
- Processed foods
What You Can Eat
- Grass-fed animals
- Chicken, duck, turkey
- Wild fish, not farm-raised
- Natural oils: olive, coconut, avocado
The Bottom Line
Whether or not you choose to adopt this plan, there are a couple take-home messages you can take with you:
1.DO YOUR RESEARCH! Don’t just dive into a diet without reading up on it. Not every plan is appropriate for you. Diets are not only drastic physically, but they also involve mental and emotional investments. Plan accordingly
2. Cutting back on processed foods is always a good idea.
3. Eat more veggies!!!! Because your momma said so.