I have been living the paleo lifestyle for seven years now. It truly changed my life and I want to share some of the common questions I have gotten over the years about my transition. Check them out!
1. What is Paleo?
Often referred to as the Caveman diet, paleo is short for Paleolithic when humans ate what was foraged, and moved many distances to find food. The concept of consuming a diet based on what Paleolithic humans ate was first promoted by Walter L. Voegtlin in his 1975 book The Stone Age Diet. He suggested that there’d been little genetic change in human digestion since the Paleolithic era and yet large changes in human diet, much to the detriment of human health (Dictionary.com, 2021). The man responsible for the more recent popularity of the paleo diet, however, is Loren Cordain. His 2002 book The Paleo Diet popularized the diet’s most common name and helped it become the nutritional phenomenon it is today. Essentially, Paleo is a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet that focuses on quality proteins and fats with a large variety of vegetables.
2. What can you eat?
This is the most common question, although what it really means is, “What CAN’T I eat?”. The truth is you can eat all the amazing food your body needs to function at its best. That does translate to removing refined/processed foods, grains, dairy, legumes, and most things in a box or bag. Sure, there are great options out there for grain-free and dairy-free foods, but the key is to check the ingredients before you buy anything. Marketers like to use buzz words (organic, natural, healthy, etc.) to get you interested. Then you flip over the product and you can’t read half the ingredient list or the first ingredient is some sort of sugar derivative.
Please enjoy: quality meats, seafood, and eggs; all the vegetables, lots of fruits, edible fungi; nuts and seeds, healthy fats; herbs and spices, probiotic, and fermented foods. See! Not so bad!
3. What are the benefits?
While there is no one-size-fits-all diet for anyone, the Paleo diet does have some amazing benefits that most people experience after transitioning. Once you remove known allergens such as, grains and dairy, you will start to feel the effects. Your digestive system will begin to improve as you are feeding it nutritious foods, like reduced bloating and nausea. Another benefit is reduced inflammation by eliminating those allergens and a supported immune system as you start absorbing essential nutrients. Blood sugar regulation is a major benefit to those that are battling with pre-diabetic or diabetic symptoms, such as, high blood pressure and cardiac dysfunction. Once you get your digestive system functioning more optimally, you will start to see a change in your bowel movements and perspiration levels. This means your body is being supported for detoxification appropriately. An unintended benefit of transitioning to Paleo is weight loss. I am sure you have heard of or experienced weight loss from simply cutting out soda. Imagine what could happen if you cut out all the other SAD foods?
4. Are there any negative effects?
While there are some unpleasant effects in the first couple of weeks, they are temporary and the benefits far outweigh them. In the first week, some people have experienced headaches, fatigue, and flu-like symptoms (known as carb-flu). Our bodies react to changes in diet three ways: digestive, allergic, and healing. A digestive reaction occurs within minutes to 12 hours, when the body is not equipped to handle the change, and examples include: diarrhea, cramping, heartburn. An allergic reaction occurs within minutes to days, when the immune system reacts to a specific food or substance, and examples include: rashes, swelling, rapid heart rate, congestion. A healing reaction looks like the symptoms you are trying to support, occurs within minutes to weeks, when the byproducts of pathogens die-off, and examples include: flu-like symptoms, nausea, diarrhea (NTA, 2019, p.72). If you make small changes over time, you can mitigate the body’s reaction to those changes.
5. What makes Paleo better than other diets?
It’s not better, it’s comprehensive and easy to maintain over a long period of time. If anything, eating a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet is what is better. Call it whatever you want! Transitioning to Paleo doesn’t require a strict diet or counting anything (calories, macros, your sanity level), like some of the others. I wouldn’t even call Paleo a diet because it is a lifestyle change not a short-term diet. With that said, there are some programs out there that can be beneficial for some people as a jump-start. Keto has gained a lot of traction for its weight loss benefits and blood sugar regulation(great for diabetics); however, over the long-term this way of eating can become overwhelming and plateau at a certain point. I would only recommend keto for someone that needs significant blood sugar support as it reduces carb intake and increases protein and nutrient-dense vegetables.
The main point to transitioning to Paleo and why it is beneficial is that it is not so much a diet as a lifestyle. When you change the way you eat your body changes: you gain more energy, you lose weight, you lose the bloat, you feel more alert, you gain confidence, and you tend to want to have fun learning who the new “You” is. I would love to be the person that helps you discover who that is. Keep a lookout for my 5-day Kitchen Detox Challenge later this month. If you participate you can get my Everything You Need to Know About Transitioning to Paleo Guide for FREE! Drop me a line and let’s talk!
BibliographyDictionary.com. (2021, 03 02). Paleo Diet. dictionary.
Macri, I. (2021, 02 03). Paleo Diet Benefits. irenamacri.com.
NTA. (2019). Immune System. Student Guide, 1(1). NTA.