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Eating healthier: Is paleo the way to go?

Paleo power has activated. Many people are eating paleo diets these days. In fact, you can find people who earn a living by cooking and delivering paleo meals to your home. And though it’s about going back to caveman-like simplicity, eating paleo is no walk in the park. So is eating paleo really the way to go?

What does eating paleo mean?

Eating paleo is more than a diet. It’s a lifestyle change. You need to avoid many packaged goods, find new ways to eat on the go and spend more time shopping and cooking. You will inevitably have to give up some of your ol’ favorites. No more potato chips with cottage cheese or pizza as we once knew them.

When eating paleo, you need to avoid:

  • all grains, especially wheat and gluten but also rice and corn.
  • dairy.
  • legumes and starchy vegetables, including alfalfa, beans, carob, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts, peas, potatoes and soybeans.
  • refined sugars.
  • processed foods.
  • additives and chemicals — if a food contains an ingredient you can’t pronounce, don’t buy it.
  • alcohol.

Shew. So what can you eat?

paleo fish with saladWhen going paleo, you may eat:

  • fresh caught wild fish, lean and clean organic meats and eggs, all in moderation.
  • organic vegetables.
  • organic fruits.
  • organic, raw nuts, nut butters and seeds.
  • certain oils, only at recommended temperatures to avoid making them rancid.
  • spices without additives, gluten or anything else non-paleo.

When is eating paleo right for you?

If you don’t digest lean meats easily, paleo is probably not for you! If you’re not willing to spend extra time looking at labels, grocery shopping and preparing foods, it may not be the right time for you to adopt a paleo eating style.

However, eating paleo makes sense in several instances:

  • You have lots of sensitivities to foods and need to find substitutes. I’ve been eating paleo-like (sans nuts) during my version of an elimination diet the past couple of months and it’s helped me find alternative recipes for many things I thought I had to totally give up, such as tortilla shells, tortilla chips, cookies and even a carrot cake. Hello tapioca, coconut and many other flours I never knew! What a great way to get more foods into my rotation, so I’m truly able to eat all things in moderation. Follow this adventure on Facebook — even join me with your own eating healthier challenge!
  • You want to lose weight. Duh. Look at all the foods and carbs you give up when eating paleo! When you want to lose weight, improving your lifestyle is always better than dieting, because results from diets are so temporary. Maybe you would find it easier to delve in full-blown paleo first and then add some foods back as you determine which ones really help you feel good?
  • You have chronic inflammation. This could include allergies or arthritis to heart disease, because many health issues begin with inflammation.

If you decide that eating paleo is for you, remember a few key notes.

  1. If you suffer from chronic inflammation, you may want to avoid the nuts, too, because they can cause inflammation for many. Peanuts are technically a legume, are not paleo and may be the least healthy of the nuts. If you eat them, choose organic. Coconut is a fruit, so that is an option if your body tolerates it and you like it. You may still tolerate seeds from sunflower, pumpkin or sesame — think as flour or as spreadables — not just by the handful.
  2. Make sure you are getting enough calories and nutrients, especially vitamin D, calcium and healthy fats.
  3. Eat lean meats and fish in moderation. When I did this diet before as a 3-week cleanse, I was eating hamburgers for a snack. NOT ideal! But this time, my appetite has leveled out so I don’t need as much protein to feel full or satisfied.
  4. Every body is different and our bodies change with age (I am blaming my surge of food sensitivities on hormones in the 40s!). If you eat paleo and feel great, it may be your ideal lifestyle — for now. Listen to your body and review your blood work, especially as it relates to your vitamin D. You can always add foods back as you learn what works for you.

We definitely have a place for paleo in this world. Paleo or not, we all should avoid packaged foods with additives, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and refined sugars. Most of us could eat more vegetables and more organic foods.

Even if paleo is not perfect for you, try embracing some paleo beliefs!

For more ideas about eating paleo-like, including a shopping list and meal plan, read Digested – eating healthier made easy 3 ways.

 

*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. 

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