This particular lifestyle has begun to receive a fair amount of hype over the last couple years, while just recently exploding into major trendiness. Both receiving lots of good as well as bad press. Is there any meat behind the supposedly life changing claims? What are the benefits along with the potential pitfalls? While not personally following a Paleo diet (though I do dabble), enough of my recipes fall under the umbrella of this particular lifestyle that make it fitting to post a short and sweet descriptor of what Paleo is and why it seems loads of people are jumping on the bandwagon.
Note: the word “diet” is misleading. Its essentially a lifestyle, much like being a vegetarian.
The overarching mantra of Paleo is this: if a caveman didn’t eat it, neither should you. Essentially the lifestyle mimics (supposedly) the way humans are naturally meant to be eating. Therefore, it includes meat, fish, berries, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats like avocado, coconut and olive oil.
Back in the day, grains and sugar were not a part of our diets. We didn’t eat breads, pasta, sugary snacks, chips or drink things like soda. Now, we consume these in abundance and our weight continues to climb as a collective whole. Long story short, our bodies do not process grains well. Sugar is toxic to our systems. And the overconsumption of both these foods is leading us to a plethora of health problems.
Supposedly on the Paleo diet, you will experience an increase in energy level, clearer skin, finding yourself less prone to colds and sickness, able to work out longer, sleeping better, the list goes on.
However, there are some potential problems and apparent “dangers” in eating Paleo. First off, the evidence for excluding dairy and legumes doesn’t hold as strongly as Paleo enthusiasts like to believe. This diet is also an extremely restrictive one, making is unrealistic for most people to follow strictly for a long time. Additionally, a one size fits all approach to nutrition is usually a flawed one.
We have all seen the evidence with our own eyes that some people can eat one food and feel great, while another might eat the exact same food and feel awful. We each have different genetic makeups, internal enzymes, allergies, nutritional needs, etc. The way one food reacts in someone will produce a totally different reaction in another. Therefore, the Paleo diet being touted as the new golden standard cannot possibly be true, when put to this type of logic.
As for myself, I found the following of this diet to a T all of the time to be generally expensive, a tad too restrictive and somewhat unrealistic. However, giving such a lifestyle a shot has the potential for altering your approach to food in life changing ways regardless, even if you don’t stick to it rigidly over the long run. Paleo can introduce you to the joys of eating whole, raw, healthy, unprocessed foods, and in finding yourself surprised with how awesome they can taste. I find myself eating Paleo dishes roughly 30-40% of the time, whereas otherwise I just tend towards healthy eating in general. This being the most realistic, happy and healthy fit for myself. However this will of course differ for each individual and you should tailor your diet towards what feels best for your body and mind. The human body is an intricate, finely tuned mechanism that knows when and what it needs. You will know, sense and be able to feel what is the best diet/lifestyle for your own body, based on how you feel.
For a list of my own Paleo recipes, you can click here to be brought back to the main page of Sweet. Raw. Free. Then scroll down a bit until you see the box on the right titled “recipe categories.” Within there, click the “Paleo” category and you’ll be taken to a list of several healthy recipes made with whole ingredients, which are grain/gluten free, dairy free and free of refined sugar. In the meantime, check out the short slideshow below for a small smattering of a couple of my Paleo friendly recipes…though there’s a lot more where that comes from under the category title as mentioned above.
However, as every lifestyle has draw backs in addition to benefits, to read a bit more on the Paleo diet regarding both its benefits and pitfalls, take a look at this article.
Reading both sides of the argument can help one in molding their own diet and lifestyle needs in a way that both works and feels best for them.