Food should be an easy thing to figure out, but in today’s environment, it’s not. In fact, it’s gotten pretty tricky and there’s always some new diet out there promising to give us all the answers. It seems we’re always looking for the perfect ‘diet’ to answer all of our dietary concerns.
One of the latest diet trends making a comeback is The Paleolithic (Paleo) Diet. It’s promoted in various fitness centers and is catching on because of its focus on whole foods and ‘getting back to basics’. People often ask me what I think about the Paleo Diet. Well, as a nutritional consultant, I never have a ‘one size fits all’ response. We all are very different people. We have different tastes, physiques, professions, hobbies and we each process foods differently. There is never a blanket answer, which is exactly why people need help to find the right individualized nutritional plan.
The Paleolithic (Paleo) Diet is the caveman or hunter-gatherer diet – it consists mainly of high protein with low amount of grains, refined sugars, starch, bread and processed carbohydrates. I am a big fan of whole foods. So, at first glance, this type of diet makes a lot of sense to me. After all, this is what our ancestors ate and when you look at images of the hunter-gatherers they seemed like they were healthy and in good shape.
It definitely makes sense to look back at what our ancestors ate, but we also have to look at lifestyle. When I compare my lifestyle to a hunter-gatherer, they are two very different lifestyles. I am pretty sure the caveman did not wake up and hop in his SUV and drive through Starbucks on his way to Costco to hunt and gather. My guess is he had some different requirements on his body than I do.
For the caveman, different times of year (the seasons) put different strains on his body. He only had access to certain foods certain times of the year. Different types of foods may have played a role in keeping him alive in his environment. It might have made sense (certain times of the year) for the caveman to have higher blood pressure or to have a little extra body fat.
In comparison to the caveman, my environment is nearly constant and my food choices are very different. My home is 70 degrees all year long. I can get ‘seasonal’ fruit all year round. My meat is raised on factory farms and has a much different body composition to that of a lean wild animal. My fruits have been engineered to grow larger and sweeter. I sit in front of my computer all day. So, maybe my diet should be slightly different than the caveman?
There are a lot of ‘diets’ out there and they all will help you to lose weight initially. However, the goal is to find a ‘diet’ you can live with; one that optimizes your health and leaves you feeling satisfied. The underlying commonality you’ll see in all of the latest fad diets is that they usually limit or eliminate sugar and processed carbohydrates. That’s a great place to start, but don’t stop there. The ‘perfect diet’ is something unique to each of us and once we eliminate the sugar and processed carbs, we can begin to pick up on the signals our bodies send us that point us toward the perfect diet for each of us.