Paleo diet or Paleolithic diet (sometimes referred as Stone-age diet) is the food that is known to be consumed in the paleolithic era which dates back 10,000 years ago. Nutritionists when recommending someone to shift to a paleo diet would tell them to decide whether a certain food substance would be consumed by cavemen or not.
This type of diet normally contains fruits, vegetables, meat, nuts, and seeds. In other words, whatever could have been obtained through hunting or gathering.
Why consume Paleo Diet?
Dr.Loren Cordain, who works as a Ph.D. professor of health and sciences at Colorado State University, feels that paleo diet is more aligned with the evolutionary process that took place ages back. By consuming it we abide by the genetic transformation that shapes us into who we are as today which in turn has a positive effect on our health and well being.
To make it short, according to Dr.Cordain, the cavemen diet is supposedly a healthy way of sustaining the proper functioning of our body systems. It lowers a high glycemic level in the body, provides with the required nutrient consumption along with numerous other benefits.
How to go Paleo?
For some nutritionists, paleo diet appears to be one strict way of maintaining a healthy lifestyle however the benefits that it entails are tremendous. Anyone deciding on shifting to a paleo diet will cut on a lot of unnecessary food contents particularly on processed and frozen food including some of the dairy products like yogurt. As the saying goes, “they were not consumed by cavemen.”
Though restrictions may be hard to follow at times, nutritionists agree on cheat days at regular intervals.
Following are some of the ways of going paleo:
Having a strict start
A paleo diet is about starting off with the elimination of all unhealthy food contents. Particular emphasis on removing sugar, starch, and grains from the diet. Although the restriction may be made less lenient gradually, the purpose of having a strict start is to prepare the body to adjust itself to the paleo diet. And eventually making it a habit.
Saying YES to proteins
Often people shifting to paleo will initially face the problem of strong cravings for sugary foods, which needs to be fought to stick to the principles. In her book, “Cavewomen Don’t Get Fat: The Paleo Chic Diet for Rapid Results,” Dr. Esther Blum argues on taking 10 ounces of proteins every day to fight sugar cravings.
They may be taken as 4 to 6 ounces after each proper meal and 2 to 3 ounces after eating snacks. Proteins help increase dopamine in the body and raise serotonin which keeps the body in a relaxed state. Blum in her book also argues, that despite all this, if a person still has an urge for sugar contents, that might be dismissed as being an emotional craving.
A paleo diet is about preparing yourself psychologically for a healthy lifestyle. This means exercising adequate amount of self-control as well as acting “normal.” A common mistake which people shifting to paleo will make is that they will tend to empty most of their kitchen shelf, getting rid of all sorts of food substances.
Nutritionists suggest otherwise. It is important that restocking of kitchen takes place with the right amount of essential dietary intakes like fruits and vegetables. For example, nutritionists would recommend restocking chocolate bars by replacing it with apples and oranges.
Although a strict paleo diet will require an immense amount of effort, it is still possible to continue going paleo without all the restriction. In other words, what one might find easy to do and at the same time is cost-effective. If a paleo lunch meal is difficult to sustain, the dietitian would recommend having a hearty breakfast that is both healthy and readily available (eggs, oranges). On another level some people find it extremely difficult to go grain-free, in that case, gluten-free can be a suitable alternative.
The rule remains: doing 80 percent of the diet 100 percent of the time is better than doing 100 percent of the diet half of the time.
Cheat Day is still an option!
Like athletes make it a point to keep a strong check on their diet and workout, most of them will still have a cheat day every week. The same principle tends to be applied to a paleo diet as well. A cheat day once every week remains a possibility and can be a way of getting rid of all the craving one might have during the time.
However what still remains important is to make sure that overeating is avoided at all cost and the food taken should not cause any sickness over the following days.
What to take when on Paleo?
As mentioned earlier, the best judge of a paleo diet is the person himself by answering the question as to whether a certain food substance is likely to be consumed by the cavemen or not.
Though to make things easier, nutritionists still identify certain characteristics of certain food elements that may possibly classify as paleo. Following are some of the examples
Paleo Diet Meat: All meats are known to be part of the diet, however, caution needs to be taken to avoid meat that contains an excess level of trans fat or is deep fried. Meat can include chicken wings, turkey, pork, goose, beef jerky and even rabbits!
Nutritionists would strongly recommend against hot dog due to a high level of fat content present and unhygienic way of processing the meat.
All sorts of seafood are acceptable though fish like sardines, red snapper that contains omega-3s are advisable.
Paleo Diet Vegetables: As a high amount of starch intake is not recommended, all vegetable except for potatoes and squashes can be taken on a paleo diet. Green vegetables should be preferred as they are enriched with essential minerals and vitamins required by the body.
Oils and Fats: The common misconception that people have is that all fats make you gain weight. Which is essentially untrue since natural oils and fats, contrary to food containing trans fats, can be part of a healthy living. They may provide with additional energy especially in winters when the body needs to be kept warm. Nutritionists recommend coconut, avocado and olive oil as part of the paleo fat.
Furthermore, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts are also known to be incredibly paleo friendly. However, for peoples seeking to lose weight, they may decide upon limiting the number of nuts and seeds intake.
What to avoid?
There is an exhaustive list of dietary substances which one may need to avoid when on a paleo diet. For starters, it is important to cut back on the high amount of sugar and starch intake but at the same time, there are other elements which need to be avoided as well.
All dairy processed products like skim milk, cheese, frozen yogurt need to be eliminated and often nutritionists would advise on limiting the quantity of whole milk.
Moreover, though fruits may be taken in their raw form, their juices significantly increase the fructose content hence diminishing the purpose of a paleo diet. It is important to particularly avoid mango, starfruit and orange juices.
Legumes and beans along with the majority of peas may initially appear healthy but unfortunately aren’t paleo friendly.
Needless to say, a person should stay away from all sorts of soft drinks and liquors. They contain a high sugar content and contribute a major portion towards an unhealthy lifestyle
Should I go Paleo or not?
Paleo diet or the diet of cavemen in recent times have gained a significant importance. A person deciding to go paleo can make use of numerous benefits and can sustain a healthy lifestyle. However, critics of paleo would argue against the strict regulations which a person may have to follow that at times can be difficult to manage. Therefore the question of managing this sort of diet should be answered as the first initial step before pursuing a paleo diet.