Happy Monday Readers! We’re continuing our look into the more popular diet/lifestyles that are out there. Today I am taking an in depth look into the Paleo lifestyle. Let’s get started!
Followers of the Paleo lifestyle believe that the optimal diet is one that is based on fruits, vegetables, and meats that could be found in the Paleolithic Era, before modern agriculture came into play. They avoid grains, dairy, legumes/beans, sugar and processed foods that are results of modern agriculture. They try to eat as close to nature as possible, meaning organic fruits and vegetables, grass fed meats, unprocessed oils, tree nuts/seeds, eggs, fish and shellfish. Anything that modern man has meddled with or made in a factory is off limits. Here is a really great list of foods that are allowed in the lifestyle as well as those that should be avoided. While it sounds like there are a lot of food that they do not eat, there are a ton of foods that can be eaten within the parameters of the Paleo lifestyle. Simply put, if cavemen didn’t eat then neither should you. Paleo followers believe that many of today’s modern diseases and ailments, such as diabetes or cardiovascular diseases, are a result of modern food.
Just like with every lifestyle I look at, I offer my own opinions on the pros and cons of each diet. These are only MY opinions, I am not a doctor/dietician/nutritionist/health professional. If you would like more in depth information, please contact your health professional.
The big thing that I really like about the Paleo lifestyle is the belief that real food is the best for our bodies. I have made it fairly clear that I do not think that processed food has any nutritional benefit and is a cause of a lot of our health problems. When people hear about the Paleo lifestyle, many people instantly think of piles of meat and weightlifting, but this is just a stereotype. Yes, the Paleo lifestyle does endorse meat, but not processed meat and not pounds and pounds of it at every meal. They advocate for organic, free-range, and grass fed meats, which can be a very nutritional part of a diet. But they also promote eating a ton of fruits and vegetables. The other myth that you have to be a weightlifter or be a part of Crossfit if you go Paleo is just that, a myth. There is a large variety of people that follow the Paleo lifestyle. From runners, to those who practice yoga, old, young, mothers, grandparents, being Paleo is not limited to one type of person. I like this aspect as well, but I feel that those who do follow Paleo need to help propel the idea that it is not all about eating meat and doing crazy exercises.
One of the things that I don’t like about Paleo is one of the things that I don’t like about a lot of lifestyles out there, the thought that their way of living/eating is the ONLY way to be healthy. I mentioned this last week when I talked about the vegan lifestyle, but it is very off putting for someone who is still searching for the best way to be healthy to come across a hardcore Paleo follower. While these people think they are promoting their lifestyle, many of them are causing people to find other means of being healthy. Again, just like with the hard core vegans, not everyone in Paleo is like this. In fact it is a very small group, but they have unfortunately been a big force and are what many people assume all Paleo followers are like. My other concern about the Paleo lifestyle is that it can be very restrictive and if someone is just starting out they might feel so overwhelmed with all the food they are cutting out, they will just quit. This can happen with many types of diets, so it is important to ease into any new lifestyle and realize it is ok if you are not 100% perfect 100% of the time.
Overall, I think that if done properly, the Paleo diet can be a healthy lifestyle for many people. Just because I do not eat meat doesn’t mean that I think all meat is bad. I understand that every body has different nutritional needs. My body thrives without animals in my diet, but that doesn’t mean that others are exactly like me. I am a BIG advocate of finding what works for you and your health and if that just so happens to be Paleo then great! If your focus is on eating real, whole foods, whether that includes meat or not, I guarantee you will feel better and your health will improve!
In other news, this past Saturday I participated in a 5k race held by our local animal shelter, TAILS Humane Society. This was my third time running a 5k race and my fourth race overall. I went into it pretty much like every other non-professional runner out there, expecting to have a good time and not planning on winning. Apparently my body had other plans and I ran 3.1 miles in 23:23 and finished first for all females and fourth overall. I was pretty proud of myself as this is the first time that I have ever really won anything for an athletic type event, I even got a medal! I thought it would be fun to share my excitement with you guys and encourage you to go out and have some fun with any events you might be thinking about joining! Have a great week and come back next Monday for a look at the Weight Watchers diet.