They say that diets are more successful when you approach them as a lifestyle change. But what happens when that lifestyle change turns into replicating the lifestyle of a caveman? That’s the idea behind the trendy Paleo diet.
“It is a diet that is based on the Paleolithic period of human ancestry, a period that was marked as a hunter-gatherer period of time,” says Duarte, CA, dietician Sharon Palmer. That means eating a diet that consists of grass-fed meat, line-caught fish, seafood, seasonal fruits and vegetables, seed, nuts, and healthful oils like olive, coconut, and avocado.
The theory behind the diet is that our guts haven’t caught up with our new modern diet of processed foods, sugar, grains and dairy (i.e. the good stuff). And that’s why we suffer from chronic illnesses and other health issues.
So is it a good idea? Many fans of the diet claim that it has helped them lose weight, reduce acne and ease symptoms of chronic diseases like asthma and diabetes. “It gets folks back to eating real food and not junk that is over processed,” says Bonita Springs, FL, dietician Karyn Capozzo. “Also it encourages organic foods, which I think is great for reasons like supporting local or small farms.”
However, there are some things about it that make experts a little hesitant. “I do not usually recommend diets that restrict any food groups because it may be challenging long term to stick with,” says Capozzo. “The diet also says that fasting is okay, which for some people on medications or with certain disease states could be dangerous.”
Both experts agree that healthy foods like grains and beans aren’t typically problematic when eaten in moderation. “I think it’s better to be more selective in choosing grain foods, rather than to eliminate them altogether,” says Palmer. “People lose weight on the Paleo diet because it is so restrictive. Any time you cut out foods, than you cut out calories and lose weight.”
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