What is the paleo diet?

Also dubbed the ‘caveman’ diet, the paleolithic way of eating is based on evolutionary medicine. It’s all about approaching food as our pre-agricultural hunter/gatherer ancestors did – eating clean, unprocessed foods found in nature as we were intended to do. Now, we don’t endorse fad diets at NZ Real Health, but we do think it’s important to address popular eating styles and look at the good and the bad so you can make better informed choices in your daily living.

What you should know about going paleo

This diet endorses ‘clean’ eating, so generally speaking, if it’s out of the ground or out of a tree it’s pretty likely to be on the menu. The only other thing is, this way of eating goes on the basis that our bodies are not adapted to agriculture, so grains are out. Adopting this approach whenever possible would likely hold health benefits for anyone willing to give it a go – especially for weight loss and management due to cutting out refined sugar, salt and processed food which all go hand in hand with high calorie Western diets.

However, there are, of course, arguments both for and against paleo eating. While all things mentioned so far have been relatively positive points, paleo doesn’t allow much in the way of ‘everything in moderation’ which has proven to be a healthy approach to avoid binge eating blowouts, is more manageable in modern society, and also helps prevent feelings of deprivation.

One of the nutrition experts evaluating a number of diets as part of the 2011 US News & World Report said a ‘true Paleo diet might be a great option: very lean, pure meats, lots of wild plants. The modern approximations… are far from it.’ Also adding, ‘duplicating such a regimen in modern times would be difficult.’ To add to the confusion, despite the paleo diet ranking as the least effective in this list of weight-loss plans, thousands of people responded to advise that for them, it delivered great results.

What’s in your paleo food cupboard?

– Nuts & seeds
– Meat (preferably free-range/grass-fed)
– Fish
– Eggs
– Fruit
– Mushrooms
– Herbs & spices
– Veges (leafy and root vegetables)

What’s not in your paleo diet

– Grains
– Dairy products
– Refined sugar
– Salt
– Legumes
– Alcohol
– Processed oils

The verdict

While much of the paleo diet is about making better choices, we still like the ‘everything in moderation’ approach. The strictness of the regime and lack of carb options in this diet are unrealistic for most people. The majority of going paleo sounds pretty good, but we’d say add in the legumes, grains (try to stick to wholegrain options as much as possible) and low-fat dairy in moderation.

What do you think about the paleo diet?

Image / Flickr – Lord Jim

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