You have probably heard people raving about the paleo diet, but you might not understand all the implications that come from following this type of diet. Where did the idea for this diet come from? What are you allowed to eat? What should be avoided when following a paleo diet? Like any strict meal plan, the paleo works great for some people while others will struggle to follow the detailed guidelines. Learn more about the paleo diet to find out whether or not it is right for you.
Origins of the Paleo Diet
The paleo diet is designed to mimic the eating habits of early humans, dating back to an era that began approximately 2.5 million years ago and ended nearly 10,000 years ago. During this era, humans formed hunter-gatherer societies that roamed the forests and plains, following herds of wild animals and picking any edible plants or seeds that they came across. This lifestyle ensured that their diets consisted solely of foods that could easily be caught in rivers or streams, hunted on the plains, or gathered in the forests these nomads called home. Because of this nomadic lifestyle, a member of a typical hunter-gatherer society consumed a diet rich in fish and lean meats, vegetables, fresh fruits, nuts, and seeds.
This lifestyle quickly died out with the advent of traditional farming. Once humans began to raise their own livestock and grow their own fruits and vegetables, small villages sprung up all over the countryside. Villages, towns, and later larger cities became the norm and the traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle became a thing of the past.
Why Support a Paleo Diet?
While the nomadic societies are gone for good, many modern-day people believe that these early humans were on to something when it came to their eating habits. This caveman diet is rich in essential vitamins and minerals and low in artificial sweeteners and saturated fats. Many people believe that American society as a whole would be healthier if they embraced the eating habits of these early nomadic people. While it is possible to maintain a healthy diet without embracing the paleo lifestyle, many experts agree that a paleo diet would be an improvement over the typical diets of many Americans.
Foods You Should Include
A paleo diet is not as restrictive as it sounds. Those following this diet can enjoy a diet rich in lean meats, such as grass-fed farm animals or wild game such as deer or duck. Fish, nuts, and seeds are other popular sources of healthy fats and proteins. When cooking meat on the paleo diet, you should try to always use healthy oils from nuts or fruits. Olive oil and walnut oil are both popular choices.
You should also supplement your diet with plenty of fresh vegetables. Many vegetables are low in calories and can be consumed in high quantities without any negative repercussions. Fresh fruits are great for breakfast or as a sweet treat later in the day.
Foods You Should Avoid
The main thing to remember when following a paleo diet is to avoid highly processed foods at all cost. Refined sugars are one of the worst offenders when it comes to American health and a paleo diet cuts this out entirely. You should also avoid grains (wheat, barley, oats, etc.) and starches such as potatoes. Dairy products and legumes are also a no go. Note that while most vegetables are allowed in the paleo diet, peas, beans, lentils, and peanuts should be avoided. You should also limit your salt intake. While this might seem strict at first, most people report that after a few weeks on the paleo diet, they no longer crave processed, salty, or sugary foods.
Who Should Try the Paleo Diet?
The paleo diet is popular with those looking to lose weight or live a healthier lifestyle. A wide range of people, including everyone from bodybuilders to stay at home moms, have found success following this eating plan. The paleo diet works best for those that have a lot of control over their eating habits. If you often eat at restaurants or in the cafeteria at work, decide whether or not you will be able to find paleo-friendly options or bring your lunch from home.
Also, note that following this diet filled with grass-fed meats and fresh produce will likely be more expensive than a diet heavy in processed foods. Make sure your budget can handle these increased food costs. To learn more about creating a healthy diet that will work for you, browse our website or sign up for A New Me.