If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last couple years you would have heard of The Paleo Diet and also The Paleo Café, which has opened up in the city. You might have even walked past, and seeing the good looking crowd inside, gone in for a look and tried some of the tasty items off the menu.
But do you know what the Paleo Diet is all about, and how can it help you?
Or have you just gotten in on all the hype and wanted to be where all the cool people hang out?
First, a little bit of an intro into the diet itself.
The Paleo, Paleolithic or Caveman Diet is a set of food guidelines which at the base level only allows foods which were around 20,000 or so years ago. If it wasn’t considered a food then, then it’s not a food now. This means things like bread, wheat, gluten, grains, dairy products, refined sugar and salts as well as processed oils are all out. And for other reasons, white potatoes and legumes (peas, beans, chickpeas, lentils etc.) don’t make the cut either.
So with the list of foods NOT to eat looking like what the typical Australian would eat in a day, what can you chow down on? Think mainly grass fed, pasture raised and free range meat, eggs, poultry, fish, seafood, wild game, vegetables, fruit, nuts, berries, some roots and fungi. Anything that could be hunted, picked, caught before the onset of agriculture and farming.
The diet as we know it today was devised in the 70’s by a gastroenterologist who used it to treat many of his patients illnesses. Since then it has grown in popularity hugely with it becoming mainstream in the last few years.
And for good reason.
I have to say, I’m a huge fan of these guidelines for the most part. With so much confusion about what people say is healthy and what’s not, this framework would have to be the easiest and one of the most straightforward set of rules to follow. One huge reason why I like it so much is the fact that it cuts out many of the most common foods that most of us are intolerant to without even knowing it.
There is a statistic that only 2% of the population are considered gluten intolerant, that may be the stat for Celiac disease but there is such a thing as Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. Combine that with sensitivities to wheat and dairy and the percentage of the population affected is closer to 70%.
See the importance about cutting out all these aforementioned foods, as well as processed oils and sugars, is due to the inflammation they cause within the body. You can read all about the dangers of inflammation in article I have written, but what you should know is that inflammatory foods are to be avoided whenever possible if you want to lose weight easier, be in optimal health and avoid chronic disease.
One problem I do have with the Paleo Diet is the exclusion of some foods such as legumes and white potatoes. The reasons given for this is that they contain a number of compounds which our stomachs are supposed to have a hard time breaking down as well as also containing ‘anti-nutrients’ which can interfere with the bodies absorption of other nutrients.
My view on this is that these foods are natural, healthy, nutritious whole foods that for the most part we have eaten for thousands of years without many problems. The scientific view on this is that the beneficial nutrients outweigh the effect of the ‘anti-nutrients’ so you are better off including them in your diet. There are better ways you can prepare these foods to limit the effect of anti-nutrients such as soaking beans and grains overnight before cooking with them.
Overall I think it is a fantastic way of eating, myself having a lot of success with improving my health when following this diet. But like anything, you don’t have to follow it to a tee all the time. If you are on track towards your goals and go out and want a sandwich or get desert at dinner, it won’t kill you. Listen to your body though, if you go Paleo for a few weeks then start to add some foods back in which cause your body to have a reaction then you’ll know what is good for you and what is not.
While the Paleo diet has come under alot of ire recently and copped a fair amount of flack, I really think that the reasons for this unfounded. You can either be a hardline Paleo eater with absolutely no room for movement, or you can use it as a base and get a bit flexible with it – within reason. A lot of the new style of Paleo eaters are including things like high quality dairy (grass fed, ethically produced, organic etc.) and also some grains (rice etc.) and some legumes in beans and chickpeas etc.
At its base Paleo can be seen as just cutting out processed and low quality foods, taking an interest in where your food come from. If it was raised ethically and of high quality. A lot of those who are bagging it are just pigeon holing it as ‘low carb, high fat’ or ‘too restrictive’ when really you can customise it however you want to suit your beliefs or lifestyle. It’s not a coincidence that it is gaining so much popularity in health conscious individuals.
I highly recommend going down and checking out the Paleo Café, as it proves that ‘health food’ can be delicious.
Thanks again for reading, feel free to share this with your friends and family.