What is the Paleo Diet? - Slender Kitchen

What is the Paleo Diet?

The Paleo Diet is becoming more and more popular. Some of this can be attributed to its popularity in the Crossfit community but it also appeals to a wide range of dieters looking to cut out processed foods, gluten, grains, and sometimes dairy. Learn more about the Paleo diet and if it is a good fit for your healthy and weight loss goals.

The Paleo Diet, short for the Paleolithic Diet, is essentially a diet that focuses on eating fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, proteins, and other naturally occurring foods that hunters and gatherers could have eaten during the “Paleolithic” era. For this reason, the Paleo Diet is also referred to as the caveman diet, since basically your goal is to eat just like a caveman would have before the introduction of processed food.

Also despite what you may have heard, there are lots of variations of the Paleo diet that vary in terms of what you can/can’t eat and how strictly you must follow the plan. Like any diet, it is important to find something that works for you and that you can follow in the long term.

The basic rules of the Paleo diet are simple

  • Eat whole, unprocessed foods that are full of nutrients and nourish the body. This can include fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, seafood, nuts, natural oils, and tubers (sweet potatoes and yams).
  • Avoid eating any types of processed foods or grains including dairy*, wheat, legumes, sugar, beans, corn, pasta, bread, rice, and other processed foods that normally come in a box or bag and are created in a factory.
* A note about dairy: There is a lot of controversy about whether or not people should consume dairy on Paleo. True Paleo purists normally stay away from all dairy. However there are also a number of people who do consume limited amounts of dairy on the Paleo diet.
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Why Paleo?

Before we dig into exactly what you can and can’t eat on the Paleo plan, let’s talk about why eating Paleo has becoming increasingly more popular. According to proponents of the Paleo diet, humans were built and evolved over 40,000 years to eat what they could hunt and gather – fruits, vegetables, nuts, meats, eggs, and naturally occurring oils. During this time, humans were long, lean, and agile. They ate what they could naturally find around them and didn’t suffer from many modern day ailments including heart disease, obesity, dermatological problems, auto-immune problems, and other common illnesses.

Then the Agricultural Revolution happened and people’s eating habits began to change dramatically. Instead of eating what they could hunt and gather, people began to farm and process food for the first time. Humans started to base their diets around grains – pasta, rice, bread, corn - and sugar moved from being a luxury to a commonly used ingredient. All this “new food” fundamentally changed how people ate and the rates of problems like obesity, heart disease, and many other preventable ailments skyrocketed.

So what does all this mean? Well according to the proponents of the Paleo diet, this means that if we go back to eating like our ancestors did for almost 40,000 years, we can experience not only weight loss but also a myriad of health benefits including more energy, better skin, and fewer overall health problems.

On the other hand, Paleo does eliminate some healthy food groups, mainly whole grains and dairy. According to some, this can be bad for your health in the long term, especially if you are not careful to ensure you are getting enough vital nutrients. Also going Paleo can be expensive and with such a strict routine, some people find it hard to stick to.

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