Paleo Schmaleo, What’s in it for Me?
Paleo eating continues to grow in popularity, so here are a few things we thought you might like to know so that you can decide whether it might make sense for you.
Paleo eating is pretty straightforward and easy to understand. The simple premise is that we eat foods or food groups that our bodies were “designed” to eat. Basically, we should eat the following: vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, honey, lean meats, eggs, and fish. We should avoid these 4 categories of foods: refined sugars, grains, dairy and legumes (e.g. peanuts, soy, beans, etc.).
There is a lot of medical science to support the Paleo eating style which I won’t try and tackle here. The basic belief is that our bodies aren’t genetically designed to digest the modern grains, dairy products, sugars, legumes and much of the processed foods we exist on today. There is a belief that our bodies have not evolved to efficiently handle the “modern” agricultural diet, including the engineered and/or highly processed foods that have become so popular over the last several decades. Many medical professionals attribute the “diseases of society” (e.g. diabetes, stroke, heart disease, cancer, etc.) with our bodies’ inability to digest “modern” foods.
Some people incorrectly equate the Paleo eating style with the Atkins diet. They think it is all about eating lots of meat and protein and skipping the veggies. Our Hunter-Gatherer ancestors would disagree. The pre-agricultural diet consisted of a balance between the nuts, seeds and vegetables that could be gathered and the occasional meat/fish protein that could be hunted. The modern Paleo eating style encourages the same balance and fortunately allows us to do all of our gathering at the local grocery store.
The Benefits of Eating Like a Caveman
Many people find they ‘naturally’ lose weight when they shift to a primarily Paleo eating style. This is a nice side benefit. But the primary benefits include:
- Improved Heart Health – the lean proteins and healthy fats are essential for heart health
- Improved Digestive Health – by eliminating grains and legumes, diseases such as colitis, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease are less likely to develop and those with these illnesses may find the symptoms reduced
- Maximized Immune System –many see the reduction of allergies and other immune system issues. The Paleo diet is naturally gluten and lactose-free, both substances some people’s bodies treat as allergens
- Reversing/preventing Metabolic Syndrome – this is a group of risk factors that increase the odds of developing diseases such as type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
Soup Nazi or Go with the Flow
Many people ask if you have to be 100% Paleo to get the benefits. The answer is that you should do what works for you. Find an eating style that you can sustain. For many of us, it means being “partially Paleo”. Becoming more Paleo conscious will make it easier for you to avoid the “bad” stuff and seek out the “good” stuff. There are plenty of tasty options out there that qualify as Paleo and most restaurants are happy to make the substitution of rice for salad or to take the bread basket back to the kitchen.