Paleo Diet 101

Paleo Meal
By Be Well Health Coach Jenny Sansouci

Lately, you’ve probably heard a lot of people talking about eating “Paleo.” People are really into it. Here at the Wellness Center, we are big fans of Paleo and we recommend it to a lot of patients. We’ve witnessed people having great success with a number of conditions — weight loss, clearing up digestive/gastrointestinal discomfort, skin issues, hormonal imbalances, joint pain and even autoimmune issues. What’s all the hype about?

The Basics of the Paleo Diet

The basic premise of the diet is that originally, the human race thrived off of animal protein, fat, and vegetable based carbohydrates – but that all of this changed during the Agricultural Revolution 10,000 years ago – when foods like grains and legumes were introduced and we went from hunter-gatherer to farmer. The idea is to eat nutrient-dense foods that work with our genetics.

The Paleo diet excludes gluten, dairy and sugar – which is why we love it, because The Be Well Cleanse excludes those things, too. In fact, all grains (including quinoa, rice, corn, etc) and legumes (including peanuts) are out on the Paleo diet. For many people, grains and legumes can be gut irritants.

Processed vegetable oils like canola, soybean, safflower and sunflower are also excluded in favor of coconut and olive oils, and anything with artificial or processed ingredients is definitely avoided.

So What Foods CAN You Eat?

Most of the time when we mention Paleo to someone, they say “isn’t that a lot of meat?” The truth is, you don’t have to eat a t-bone steak at every meal (or ever, actually) to eat Paleo. A Paleo diet focuses on whole foods — high quality meats, eggs, seafood, healthy fats (like avocado, coconut and olive oil), tons of vegetables, and smaller amounts of fruit and nuts.

What about vegetarians and vegans?

Although the Paleo community definitely suggests animal products, you can lean towards a Paleo way of eating without eating animal products. Many vegetarians and vegans who lean towards Paleo do choose to keep beans and legumes in their diet. All you really have to do is get rid of grains, sugar, dairy and anything artificial. For vegetarians, that just means beans/legumes if you choose to eat them, vegetables, eggs, healthy fats, fruits and nuts (and for vegans, same thing without eggs).

Resources we love

I always direct people to Elana’s Pantry for recipes and the Whole 30 site for more information on how to eat Paleo. Those sites are both fantastic resources!

What do you think about the Paleo Diet? Have you tried it? We’d love to hear your experience!

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