I hate dieting. I truly do! Just the idea of being restricted in any form or fashion regarding the foods I can or cannot eat makes me cringe. However, if I was forced to choose one diet to follow, Paleo would definitely be my go-to. Some diets emphasize restricting all carbs, all fats or greatly increasing protein- which are all very poor dietary choices! Paleo thankfully does not encourage any of those, yet promotes a healthy balance of all three macronutrients (carbs, protein and fat) which is a good basis for any meal plan. I love that the paleo diet encourages eating fresh, whole foods from nature with little, to no, processed items. I believe every meal plan should be built upon the foundation of whole fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and other foods found in nature!
However, where the Paleo diet (in my humble nutrition opinion) goes wrong is with the strict elimination of ALL grains, dairy and legumes. Several studies show that you CAN actually be healthy, and possibly even MORE healthy when you include whole grains, low fat dairy and legumes in a balanced meal plan! If you are allergic to grains, wheat, dairy, etc., then it is obviously best to avoid them. However, if you are not sensitive to these item, they don’t need to be eliminated in order to have a healthy, balanced diet.
These foods actually have many health benefits! Some which include:
- Whole grains (such as rice, corn, quinoa, oats and whole wheat items) all provide slow digesting carbohydrates which help stabilize blood sugars and provide the body and brain with energy. Whole grains also supply a great amount of fiber in the diet which helps regulate the bowels, promote satiety and sustains the full feeling after meals.
- Dairy (milk, cheese and yogurt) provide valuable nutrients including a significant amount of protein, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin B12 and many more! These nutrients help promote bone health, eye sight, nerve signaling and absorption of other essential vitamins and minerals.
- Legumes (beans, soy, lentils and peanuts) are a great source of protein, fiber, all B vitamins, iron and potassium. They are great for vegetarians as a primary protein source and can be used in non-vegetarian meals as well!
I have read lots of the scientific research behind the reasons for avoiding these food items in your diet. To sum it up- the paleo diet promoters believe that certain “anti-nutrients” in grains and legumes (specifically lectins and phytic acid), as well as lactose in dairy cause autoimmune responses in which the body produces antibodies that attack these “foreign invaders” therefore causing digestive issues, stomach discomfort, gas, bloating, inflammation and possibly even weight gain. I do agree that this immune response from wheat, dairy or legumes is present, but only to some extent and only in some (very FEW) people. Most people can tolerate grains, diary and legumes with no problem but by following the strict teachings of the Paleo diet they may be missing out on these valuable nutrient rich sources.
If you are interested in following the Paleo diet, I say go for it! But I want to encourage you to consider flexibility within its teachings. If you know you can eat a serving of brown rice with a meal and feel satisfied and energized, then please don’t feel the need to restrict it just because it would break the Paleo rules! Like I said, Paleo plans provide a great basis of nutrition, but any diet you choose to follow will come with restrictions and that is never a good idea for long term success, overall health or satisfaction in life! Don’t take the Paleo diet or any diet plan as the end all be all guide to healthy eating. These fad diets can be used as basic guides or ideas for eating plans but I don’t think anyone should feel the need to follow it 100%. Everyone’s body is so different and these all or nothing diet plans don’t take that into account. Listen to your body and decide what works best for you!
Katie’s Plates Take: We love providing you with REAL food- nutrient dense food that nourishes the body and supports healthy lifestyles. Mostly, this aligns with the Paleo Diet, and so we feel that is the best way to serve YOU. But we also include rice, corn, dairy, and beans from time to time, because we believe life is about balance. We will always make sure to label our meals as paleo-friendly if they are so that you have full knowledge of what you are eating.
If you have any questions or comments, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
-Happy Eating! Kristin-