The paleo diet (also nicknamed the caveman diet, primal diet, Stone Age diet, and hunter-gatherer diet) is hugely popular these days, and goes by one simple question: What would a caveman eat? Here, we explain what the paleo diet involves, its pros and cons, and, ultimately, what a modern person needs to know to decide whether or not to take the paleo diet plunge.
By the second week I started to notice that my face and my stomach looked less puffy. Score! I saw this as a sign that inflammation in my system was going down. One of the most remarkable changes was in my mood. I felt generally happy and positive. I would say I’m a positive person in general, but I do get stressed out easily. The margin for getting really stressed got a little thicker, and I was simply able to deal better.
Still, it was a tad depressing to watch my boyfriend eat whatever he wanted while I was on the sideline sipping tea. "I miss sharing food memories with you," he said at one point. Sigh. So the next day, we headed to a local brunch spot, and I ordered a Whole30–compliant dish from the menu. I got a bunless burger topped with a fried egg, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and onion plus a side salad instead of fries. Let me tell you, this bunless burger tasted like the juiciest thing I'd eaten in my entire life. After nearly two weeks of cooking every meal, it was nice to have someone else do it for me.
^ Hou JK, Lee D, Lewis J (October 2014). "Diet and inflammatory bowel disease: review of patient-targeted recommendations". Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology (Review). 12 (10): 1592–600. doi:10.1016/j.cgh.2013.09.063. PMC 4021001. PMID 24107394. Even less evidence exists for the efficacy of the SCD, FODMAP, or Paleo diets. Furthermore, the practicality of maintaining these interventions over long periods of time is doubtful.
ICYMI: Whole30 is an elimination-style diet that asks dieters to ban all soy, dairy, grains, alcohol, legumes, and added sugars from their diet for 30 days straight. The point is to flush your system, so when the 30 days are up, you can slowly add different food groups back and get a sense of which ones have been secretly affecting your physical and mental health. The creator, Melissa Hartwig, also says Whole30 will change your entire relationship with food.
Plus, I feel like the way I eat directly affects my mood. If I eat sugar, I almost always feel like garbage. If I eat protein and veggies and tons of avocado, I feel stable and much less like I am going to have a stage-four meltdown. Blood sugar swings are also real — no one wants to deal with me when I am hangry. It’s a nightmare. This program is supposed to help with all these things. I desperately wanted to feel better, so I dove in.
The Whole30 program is only 30 days, but it’s a very restrictive 30 days. You’re urged to eat real, whole foods, including lots of veggies, while carving out things like sugar, grains and dairy. There is no “cheating” – even a chew of sugar-free gum or splash of skim milk in your coffee sends you right back to day one so the body can completely heal from inflammatory foods, diet co-creators Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig say.A couple things you don’t have to worry about on the Whole30 plan are counting calories and weighing or measuring yourself. In fact, the plan forbids the latter in order to bring participants’ attention to the benefits of healthy eating outside of weight loss. If you usually go out to eat or order take-out, you’ll need to learn to meal prep, grocery shop (with a plan!) and cook. If you’re a social butterfly, you’ll need to strategize how to order water and carrot sticks at the bar instead of beer and wings – or stay home. Fortunately, the program’s resources suggest solutions to these and other conundrums that may pop up. What’s more, the program’s strong emphasis on social – much of it virtual – support can keep participants inspired and accountable.The Whole30 program is outlined neatly online, where followers can read FAQs, lists of foods that are and aren’t off-limits and download a program guide. Melissa Hartwig’s latest book, “Food Freedom Forever: Letting Go of Bad Habits, Guilt, and Anxiety Around Food,” details how to stay in control of food, rather than allowing it to control you, for a lifetime.
The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy by Mark Sisson is a journey through human evolution, comparing the life and robust health of our hunter-gatherer ancestors with a day in the life of a modern family. The author offers a solution in 10 empowering Blueprint Lifestyle Laws: eat lots of plants and animals, avoid poisonous things, move frequently at a slow pace, lift heavy things, sprint once in a while, get adequate sleep, play, get adequate sunlight, avoid stupid mistakes, and use your brain. The reader learns how the right high-fat diet can actually help one lose weight and how popular low-fat, grain-based diets might trigger illness, disease, and lifelong weight gain. The author presents a comprehensive, well thought out paleo style eating plan in a humorous and organized manner. He backs up all his work with research, natural wisdom, and historical timelines. He disputes the role of dietary saturated fat in causation of arteriosclerosis, the role of cholesterol in promotion of heart disease, and the costly over-promotion of expensive, potentially toxic statin drugs. He criticizes our massive overeating of refined carbohydrates and urges avoidance of grains, cereals, bread and sugar. There is specific recommendation for "primal" food including more natural healthy fats and meats, fruits, veggies, and nuts. Some reviewers consider this to be the best of the various paleo books. The many Amazon reviews average to 5 stars. The author's popular and worthwhile web site: Mark's Daily Apple. The 2nd Edition was published January 14, 2012.
As someone who isn't a "sweets person," I was surprised at how much I craved sugar during my first Whole30 — until I started reading condiment labels. "So much of our food is filled with sugar and unknown chemicals and substances, and it falls on each person to find out what is in the food and make an informed decision on whether or not they want to consume those substances," says Cohn. "Read all food labels and ingredient labels, and look up any of the ingredients on a label that you have not heard of to find out what it is."
I recognize these drawbacks. But I still kick off the first month of each year by waving goodbye to alcohol, sugar, and yes, the aforementioned healthy food groups. While I've kept the majority of the weight off, I'm still guilty of putting on those extra 4 to 5 pounds throughout the year. But while that would've caused me anxiety before, I'm now okay with it. I enjoy some frozen drinks by the pool during my summer vacation and loosen the reigns a bit during the holidays. Come January 1st, my body desperately wants a break from the late-night holiday parties that cram my calendar from Thanksgiving until New Year's Eve, which is why I do another round of the Whole30. Starting the new year this way helps to reset the habits that I tend to lose track of towards the end of year (moderation and meal-prepping) and it reminds me how good my body feels when I'm treating it right.