What The Paleo Diet Gets Wrong
A lot of people are talking about the benefits of The Paleo Diet. All diets sounds convincing at first, but before you start eating mostly meat and giving up on your carbs, I invite you to consider the following:
1. Not all carbs are your enemy.
As humans, we actually need complex carbohydrates for brain health, muscle energy and emotional health. And women in particular will feel the urge for carbs at different times throughout their cycle. These cravings don't mean you are "bad" and out of control; they mean your body needs something specific for nourishment. The carbs you don't want are the simple carbs and those in processed food. Passing on the sugar, cookies and bread to avoid the refined carbs is a healthy choice for sure — but that doesn't mean you need to stop eating all carbs.
2. Our quality of meat is questionable.
The Paleo Diet is based on our heritage of being hunter/gatherers. The problem is, the meat we eat today is very different from the meat our ancestors used to hunt. Back then, cows were not roaming the woods. Factory farm animals are high in toxins and very inflammatory to the body. Unless you have access to completely grass-fed, free-ranging meat or wild game, it's best to stick to predominately plant-based sources of protein and fish low in mercury. The philosophy to take away from the hunter/gatherer approach is to eat seasonally and locally for the best quality of nutrients.
3. Whole grains and legumes also go way back in history.
Avoiding all starch may lead to quick weight loss at first, but it's not what's best for your long-term health. Working with emotional eating for the past 10 years, I consistently see how clients struggle to omit the carbs and instead end up binging on them. Choosing starches from whole-grains and root vegetables can be very nourishing for your sweet-tooth, not just your body.
Grains, legumes and root vegetables have been sustainable dietary choices for centuries. For example, the Gladiator Diet was rich in barley and legumes.
4. The most important thing to remember is how you eat does not have to have a name.
Diets that take a rigid approach to eating don't work long-term because they are "static", and you are a living organism. They don't take into account how your daily life changes last minute or how your body needs different foods at different times.
Sometimes your body will need more complex carbs. Other times it will need more healthy fats. Sometimes it will need more protein. At least everyone agrees on eating more vegetables and avoiding processed foods.
Letting your body guide you is much healthier than letting a diet guide you. Remember, a one-size-fits-all approach does not truly fit all. It doesn't even fit you all of the time!
For your future health, it is far more important to find a sustainable way of eating based on your lifestyle and long-term health goals as a whole. If you focus on health and self-nourishment, weight loss because a natural, healthy side-effect. And it becomes sustainable weight loss!
Choose what to eat because you want to feel good, be healthy, feel vibrant, and nourish your mind and body.
Photo by Torkil Stavdal