When it comes to diets, every trick in the books has been implemented, from eating grapefruit every day, to replacing meals with smoothies, to eliminating animal products, and on and on. We’ve been through the Atkins, Mediterranean, Raw Food, and Southbeach diets.
Some strategies have successful results. We lose weight, feel more vibrant, and are proud to be so disciplined. But these results are usually short-lived, the lifestyle becomes unsustainable, and thus the cycle of deprivation -followed by disappointment- continues.
The newest rage is the Paleolithic Diet, composed mostly of vegetables, meat, and a bit of fruit. You’re probably wondering what all the hype is about, and if it’s really worth trying.
So, should you go paleo?
Let’s start with the basics: What is the Paleolithic diet?
The premise of the Paleolithic diet is to eat exclusively pre-agrarian foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, meats and fish, while excluding grain, dairy, and refined sugars entirely. In other words, anything that nomadic hunter-gatherers could easily come-by is fair-game (pun intended), all else must be left aside.
Though there are discrepancies between the philosophy and the actual practice of eating paleo, the overall intention is not entirely off base.
The average consumer of the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) eats an excess of refined white flour, sugar, pasteurized dairy, factory-farm meat, and processed foods, indulging in meals that are distinctly lacking in fresh vegetables, fruits, and overall nutritional balance.
By eliminating grains and dairy, the Paleolithic regimen forces participants to find more nutrient-rich alternatives to their usual caloric fallback plan of fast-food and sandwiches.
However, just like any other fad-diet, the modern Paleo lifestyle implies a certain amount of deprivation.
Enthusiasts will boast that they don’t have to count calories or go hungry on this diet, but ask them honestly if they enjoy going to dinner parties or restaurants, and they will admit that the challenge is a drawback.
For some people, a high-fat, protein-rich diet like the Paleolithic diet may indeed be ideal, but those with a different constitution will actually feel better if they sprinkle in some whole grains, in addition to other natural carbohydrates like beans and potatoes.
So should you “Go Paleo”?
Experimenting with the Paleolithic diet for a month or so is a great idea if you want to learn to integrate better habits in your day-to-day food choices.
After all, including more fresh vegetables and bone-broth, while reducing refined foods and sugars, will absolutely benefit everybody. Lots of us also have bad food habits like drinking soda on a daily basis, or eating food that is more convenient than healthy, so a heavy focus on vegetables and good meats might be just what you need to get healthy.
However, unless you have a food allergy, I don’t recommend attempting any strictly restrictive diet long-term, including the Paleolithic diet.
Our digestion is a wondrous mechanism that can handle small amounts of most any food we introduce. And inextricably linked to our bodies are our spirits, which cannot thrive when they are fettered.
So if you eat mostly vegetables, interspersed with a bit of grass-fed meat and sustainable fish, complimented by occasional fruit, don’t feel bad about tying it all together with a cup of rice, some barley, or even indulging in a pasta dish every once in a while if it makes you feel good.
The right balance is key, and you have to learn what that means for your body.
Have you tried the Paleolithic diet? Have you tried other diets? What do you think? Leave a comment below to tell us your story!