Paleo diet has exploded in popularity in recent years with endless amounts of people claiming its benefits for weight loss and overall health. Yet, does the diet actually live up to the hype? And, can berries be integrated into the diet? In this article, we’re going to explore the basics of the diet, some challenges it can present, and our opinion on how to make it successful.
Guidelines of the Paleo Diet
First of all, let’s delve into exactly what the diet is. The paleo diet is centered around eating natural, wholesome foods as opposed to many of the processed, and fast foods that are all too popular in our modern culture. In the paleo world, even items such as bread and pasta are avoided. Instead, the diet tends to be higher in fat, protein and fruits and vegetables. Here’s a quick overview of what the diet suggests you ‘should’ and ‘should not’ eat:
- Fruit (Berries)
Do Not Eat:
- Grains (Wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, etc.)
- Legumes (Soy, peanuts, kidney beans, pinto beans, etc.)
- Vegetable oils
- Soft drinks
- Added sugar
How it works:
The paleo diet applies an ancestral approach to consumption (think berries). And in doing so, suggests that we’ve strayed too far from what our bodies naturally need, and have adopted too many unhealthy aspects of modern life such as being sedentary and eating foods for convenience opposed to nutrition.
With an emphasis on natural foods, the body benefits from an increased amount of vitamins and minerals. Sources of vitamins, nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants such as berries, leafy greens, legumes, fish, etc, are an essential part of the diet while foods low in nutritional value such as sugary cereals, pastries, and bread are eliminated.
In addition to adhering to the food groups on the list, and we think this goes without saying for any diet, paleo followers should make efforts to be active, getting outside, and implementing methods for dealing with stress.
A great starting point is a very popular book called Paleo for Beginners – Essentials for Getting Started.
The paleo diet puts a lot of emphasis on what you can’t eat and forces many people to make a wholesale shift in their habits. Eliminating many of these foods can be a mental challenge for many as often these things we’ve come to enjoy. It can be a physical challenge too as the body tries to adapt to these missing aspects of regular consumption.
Also, while the paleo diet tends to promote a high-fat, high-protein, low-carb approach it can sometimes lead to a reduction of extremely healthy foods such as berries and greens that contain so many nutrients and antioxidants. It’s important to continue to pay attention to this aspect of the diet and continue to consume these items even though they represent carbs and contain natural sugars.
If you are going to follow the paleo diet, then our suggestion is to take a moderate approach (especially to start) and consider following the 80/20 rule where you eat paleo 80% of the time. Or consider another common approach by allowing yourself one day on the weekend to eat outside of the diet regime. This allows you to get most of the benefits of the paleo diet while keeping your sanity, and allowing some indulgence every now and again – mental health is important too. Also, it might be best to manage (or somewhat reduce) the higher fat approach in favor of focusing on natural foods. Berries. Berries. Berries.
There are several good sites and blogs that are worth checking out. Tina Turbin has a great site called Paleomazing in which she provides recipes and suggestions for paleo success. Loren Cordain’s Paleo Diet Website is helpful too – it provides everything you need to know about how to be successful. Marks Daily Apple is an inspirational site for people interested in paleo and offers literature, recipes, etc.
If you’re looking for a great cookbook then we recommend Paleo for Beginners – Essentials for Getting Started.
Good luck. And don’t forget the berries.
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