IS THE PALEO DIET SUSTAINABLE?
The Paleo diet eliminates most foods that were introduced to the human diet after the introduction of agriculture, which eliminates all grains, legumes, dairy products and sugar. The Paleo diet focuses on natural and unprocessed foods, such as seasonal vegetables and fruits; natural sources of protein, such as free-range eggs, free-range chicken, wild-caught fish and grass-fed meat; and healthy fats from olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, nuts and seeds. The Paleo diet can be defined as a low-carb, moderate-protein and high fat diet, in addition to being gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, legume-free and sugar-free.
The Paleo diet is restrictive compared to the standard American diet and eliminates some food groups. Some critics of the Paleo diet claim that it is not possible to live healthfully on a low-carb diet, but the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine clearly states you do not need carbohydrates if you get adequate protein and fat. The Paleo diet is also nutritionally adequate. On a calorie-by-calorie basis, the lean meats, seafood, vegetables and fruits promoted by the Paleo diet are better sources of fiber, B vitamins and minerals when compared to whole grains, as explained by Dr. Loren Cordain, author of “The Paleo Diet.” Cordain states that “an average 1,000-calorie serving of mixed vegetables contain 19 times more folate, five times more vitamin B-6, six times more vitamin B-2 and two times more vitamin B-1 than a comparable serving of eight mixed whole grains.”
Adopting a new diet is never easy, no matter what kind of diet it is. When starting on the Paleo diet, you will need to get used to preparing meals and snacks in a Paelo way and make this diet fit with your lifestyle. It is important to try the Paleo diet for a minimum of 30 days to first see whether it can work for you or not. Robb Wolf, former research biochemist and author of “The Paleo Solution,” claims that the Paleo diet can help you look, feel and perform better. If you see results after 30 days, you will have the motivation to keep following the Paleo diet to maintain these benefits.
Eating out may be tricky if you are following a Paleo diet and trying to avoid all sources of gluten, grain, dairy, legumes and sugar in your diet. Instead of giving up and ordering your usual burger or pizza, consider it as a challenge. You may need to ask a lot of questions to the staff to find options that accommodate your dietary requirements, but it can be done. For example, if you order a steak in a steakhouse, ask for the steak to be cooked on the grill without oils or gluten- or sugar-containing sauces. Ask for vegetables instead of the french fries and you have a Paleo meal. Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions and if you always go back to the same restaurants, it will become easier and easier to make good Paleo choices and stick to this way of eating.
Getting Back on Track
If you eat some non-Paleo foods, whether it is consciously or unconsciously, there is no need to go back to your old eating habits — simply get back on track. The Paleo diet is sustainable in the long-term and although you may make some mistakes once in a while, your body is likely to let you know that it doesn’t tolerate these foods well, says Wolf. Learn from these slips and go back to Paleo eating.
- Robb Wolf: Paleo Overview
- “Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids”; Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board; 2005
- “The Paleo Solution”; Robb Wolf; 2010
- The Paleo Diet: Frequently Asked Questions