The Paleo diet has gotten a lot of buzz over the past few years. Does all the hype make it sound like some fad diet? Are you confused about all of the conflicting messages out there? I’m here to share the truth about the paleo diet. No biased opinion whatsoever.
What Can’t You Eat?
In general I like to hear bad news before good news. Bad news is that there are some foods you can’t eat. Good news is that there’s a lot of food you can eat on the Paleo diet. Here’s what you can’t eat on the Paleo diet.
- Grains – This includes gluten-free foods like rice, quinoa, and corn
- Legumes – This is the trickier one. Sorry but peanuts are technically legumes. Hummus lands in this category as well because of the chickpeas. Soy is also a legume so no tofu or soy sauce either
- White Potatoes – I’m not going to define this guy for you
- Refined Sugars & Artificial Sweeteners – You should cut these out anyway because they aren’t doing you any good
- Dairy – This is a controversial subject in the paleo space. Some say that all dairy is out while others say that quality dairy such as some grass-fed cream in your coffee or no sugar added keir should be allowed. So it’s a personal call
- Processed foods – If it has an ingredient you don’t recognize, then it lands here
What Can You Eat?
I know that all the things that I’ve listed out sound like a lot but guess what? You can eat everything else! All the fruits, all the vegetables, all quality grass-fed meats, and as much seafood as your heart desires. Although you lose out on peanut butter, you get all the other nuts and nut butters. Want to bake? You can use almond flour or coconut flour. Sad about losing the grains? That’s where cauliflower rice, zoodles and sweet potatoes can be your substitute. Trust me, there are plenty of options. Try searching paleo recipes on Pinterest. You’ll get thousands of results.
My Experience on Paleo
I have had a sensitive stomach for a long time. The Paleo diet takes out a lot of foods that many people, myself included, are sensitive to. So when I eat Paleo, I get less…stomach issues (I’ll leave it at that).
My Paleo meals all have to be made from whole foods so I eat much healthier. It forces me to eat all real food instead of processed crap. When I am on the Paleo diet, I do not treat it like Atkins. A lot of people try to load up on the bacon and steaks thinking that it’s healthy (I love bacon but you can’t live off just bacon). I try to make sure that my plate is majority vegetables so meat isn’t the star of my meal. When I am off the Paleo diet, I tend to load up on grains instead of getting more vegetables in my meals.
Since I eat healthier on Paleo, my energy levels have improved and my skin cleared up. Because I’m not eating foods like legumes (or like all the cheese I can get my hands on) which upset my stomach, I have less bloating at feel better overall.
The Truth About the Paleo Diet
You may assume that I’m going to recommend that you go paleo. The truth about the paleo diet is that it works for some people and not for others. If you are eating a diet high in vegetables (not just eating meat sticks everyday) and you feel good on paleo, you should continue. If you aren’t feeling great after eating a paleo diet for a few weeks, then it probably isn’t a good fit. I’m a firm believer that everyone’s body is different. Your body will react differently on one diet than my body.
Israeli researchers have discovered the same. In their study, they found that when participants ate the same meals, their bodies had very different reactions. Through this 800 person study, which included healthy and diabetic people, young and old, they were able to create an algorithm to create tailor made meal plans. This algorithm requires hundreds of factors about a person to provide an output so don’t expect it to be available anytime soon.
This just shows that you have to really pay attention to what your body is telling you when you try any diet. If you are going to follow one piece of food advice with any diet, make sure that the majority of your food is plant based. That is the one quality that all the Blue Zone diets (Blue Zones are where the most people live over 100 years old) have in common.
P.S. – I don’t eat 100% Paleo all the time. I tend to cook Paleo meals the majority of the time but sometimes I’ll have some hummus or make a meal with lentils. Since I’m from NY, you better believe that I also have pizza and bagels every once in a while. I’m all about guidelines and not about restrictions.