Gimmick diets are everywhere with what seems like a new one popping up almost daily. And most of them can work. For the short term. But what about long term? What about your health? What about keeping the lost weight off permanently? Or an eating plan that you can stick with over the long haul without so many obstacles that you eventually throw in the towel?
After all, we all have lives to lead, and we can’t spend all our time figuring out what we can eat, preparing the food, measuring, counting calories, as well as grams of carbohydrates, protein and fat! It can be exhausting! No wonder so few people stick to diets long term!
On the other side of that, who wants to eat grapefruit or cabbage soup and nothing else?!
If you’re reading this, you’ve heard of the Paleo diet but maybe you’re not quite sure exactly what it entails. Or you know simple descriptions like “low carb” or “no sugar”, but you want to know more. Good for you because one big reason many people stay away from nutrition plans like Atkins or Paleo is that they hear generalizations and think that’s all there is to it!
SO WHAT EXACTLY IS THE PALEO DIET?
At its core, Paleo is a lot more lifestyle than it is a diet. A Paleo lifestyle is about eating real, whole, natural foods and avoiding all processed foods. You see, the modern diet is exactly that, it’s modern. Humans ate in a Paleo style for hundreds of thousands of years (some estimates say two million) before starting to eat grain and sugar-based foods, as well as processed foods, as recently as 10,000 years ago.
The idea behind Paleo is to eliminate those processed foods, chemicals, vegetable oils and other new additions to the modern diet that can be detrimental to our lifestyle, from how we move to our energy levels to how we feel on a daily basis.
For all those years that we ate Paleo, humans were hunters and gathers. They ate meat, and they ate fruits such as berries when they were in season, which also meant they moved a lot and were very active. They needed to be robust and fit to survive. Their bodies were conditioned to use fat as fuel and energy, not carbohydrates efficiently.
Eventually, agriculture came into being, and the human diet changed dramatically.
The Agricultural Revolution occurred about 10,000 years ago and introduced grains, such as wheat, and breads into our diet.
OUR MODERN DIET
Today’s modern diet contains things like significant quantities of gluten. Gluten was non-existent in Paleolithic times. Things like wheat, rye, many kinds of cereal and barley, contain gluten. Gluten has been recognized to cause inflammation in the gut and has been given widespread attention through celebrities like Kelly Ripa, who have famously gone gluten-free.
It’s also been theorized (not proven) that gluten could play a role in an increased risk of some cancers as well as heart disease.
Lectin is another ingredient in the modern day diet that has been linked to possible health problems. Lectins are present in grains. They cause wear and tear on our gastrointestinal tract, making it tough to heal.
Let’s not forget sugar! Sugar is everywhere and in everything nowadays. We need to burn all of the sugar that we are consuming, but another aspect of modern times is how quiet people have become. Everyone sits. They sit at work, they sit on the couch watching television, and then they sit at their computers, and they sit checking out social media and texts on their smartphones. People do not move the way they used to, and so they don’t burn calories the way they used to. This lack of physical activity becomes a big problem when talking about sugar consumption.
In the Paleolithic period, humans were lean, active and fit. They moved, pretty much all day every day. They didn’t farm or grow crops. As I mentioned above, they hunted and gathered. They followed the food. They didn’t sit around playing on their Apple iStone Tablet. If they did, they’d starve!
We are consuming way too much sugar in the modern diet, which is bad enough, but it isn’t burned off because of our sedentary lifestyles. Which means energy spikes and crashes, and related health problems such as diabetes and blood pressure issues.
One of the big myths that the Paleo diet has helped to dispel is the outdated notion of eating fat makes you fat. This myth was a big deal when the high carbohydrate craze started in the eighties, and you had everyone obsessed with the number of fat calories they were eating. Almost every food in existence ended up with a low-fat or no-fat version. But most of that fat got replaced with sugar!
Fat is a crucial nutrient when it comes to our health. Our bodies require dietary fat for an optimal, well functioning and healthy body. It’s all the chemicals, preservatives and added sugar in our diets that lead to the weight gain, health issues, energy problems and more.
With the Paleo diet, you are going back to, well, basics!
The Paleo diet has been referred to as the “Caveman” diet because that is how you are asked to eat. The Paleo diet mainly consists of meat, fish, turkey, chicken, fruits, vegetables and nuts.
Eating Paleo eliminates the negative aspects of the modern diet, such as sugar, trans fats and preservatives, while nourishing your body with much-needed vitamins, minerals, proteins and healthy fats such as essential fatty acids. Essential as in your body needs them! Get it? It needs these fats, such as Omega-3’s, which are almost non-existent in the modern diet, especially amongst people who are mistakenly but severely limiting the consumption of fats in their diet.