Paleo is Too…
Restrictive. High in Protein. Low in Carbohydrate. High in Fat. Low in Calcium. High in Dietary Cholesterol. Low in Fiber.
If you’re thinking otherwise, there’s a good chance you may have gotten some of your information from the many inaccurate sites, blogs, books and podcasts that are growing in number and becoming exponentially further away from what Paleo really is.
Not your fault. It’s very difficult to distinguish which approaches are Truly Paleo in nature versus which are an individual’s perception of what the lifestyle is all about.
Further, there are certainly many ways that one might try Paleo, or partly Paleo and some may find that adding some not Paleo foods sometimes is what makes it more doable.
I don’t think this is the issue; in fact, for many people, easing into Paleo in stages is what allows them to segue into it. If you’re coming from a model where you’re eating refunded, processed foods at every meal and now you’re eating mostly Paleo and having the not so healthy stuff two or three times per week, that is still a big step in the right direction.
The caveat is to make sure you’re not unnecessarily making Paleo harder than it needs to be.
Put simply, at each meal, a large portion of veggies (the more variety, the better) should be the starting point, and these healthy, unrefined carbs should be balanced out with some natural proteins and healthy fats.
To address the points above:
- Restrictive? Hardly. If you consider how many vegetables, fruits and different meats, fish and poultry there are, the list is abundant.
- High in Protein? Not high, just higher than what the USDA recommends. Where has that gotten us?
- Low in Carbohydrate? Again, not low, just lower than the MyPlate schematic.
- High in Fat? Wrong again- Paleo is actually very balanced; roughly a 40/30/30 model, with 40% of your food coming from healthy carbs found in veggies along with some fruit, and the remaining 60% balanced out equally between wild proteins and natural fats.
- Low in Calcium? A cup of spinach has 225 mg. A cup of milk has 250. The spinach is very alkaline forming in the body while dairy is very acidic. The body functions best when it’s alkaline. Adding acidic foods leads to degradation of the skeleton as calcium is needed to buffer the acid in the blood stream. Better to stick with the green, leafy veggies!
- High in Dietary Cholesterol? Yes, you’ll be eating red meat and egg yolks (gasp) but those are not what cause one to have high cholesterol levels. Refined sugar, grain-based products and dairy can, though!
- Low in Fiber? Fresh veggies contain 7 -11 times that which is found in fortified grain products, without the toxic anti nutrient bang.
Stick to the basics, read to your heart’s content and take away what you can from each and every piece of information you come across, but don’t forget to keep just a touch of the skeptical eye. If it sounds like it’s not healthy, it probably isn’t. A blog that suggests eating concoctions made of ‘Paleo’ foods like ‘Paleo brownies’ or ‘Paleo cupcakes’ with any regularity may be missing the boat.
Keep it simple: eat food. Don’t eat things that are not food. And move.
Wouldn’t you rather eat something like what’s picture above rather than a plate of colorless, deep fried junk?
Think about how energetic you’d feel eating the food in either scenario (if you want to call the latter food) and let that be your guide!