Are you getting caught up in too many trendy diets, and what’s with the Paleo Diet? Just like, with many new food trends, the paleo diet should be considered carefully if you want to adopt it as a long term way of eating and particularly if you are responsible for influencing others to take it on, especially children! Don’t get me wrong, any way of eating that is all about whole food eating (that is using clean, unprocessed foods), has my attention, but when lots of food groups start to be removed long term we should seriously be asking ourselves, more than a few questions!
PROS AND CONS
Paleo eating is basically a grain (rice, wheat, oats, barley, rye) and dairy free diet and includes meats, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. The up side to paleo is thats its great for people who have intolerances to grains and dairy, and its a fantastic way to learn many new recipes that you may never have thought up yourself without these two major food groups. Let’s face it most people eat too much of both! The down side is that many people with intolerances may not have an issue will all grains, but rather only with some and therefore it may be unnessasary to eliminate them all, this can be true with dairy products, for example, some people can tolerate yoghurt but not milk. The point with any diet that restricts food groups, is that nutrients are restricted too, so for long term use, you must really be clear on which nutrients these are and how you have to eat to ensure this dosent become an issue. FODmaps is another commonly used diet that is restrictive and should be reassesed and challenged.
What To Look For When Changing Your Diet
In saying that the paleo way is healthier than a lot of processed western diets, but lets try avoiding, moving out of the fire and into the frying pan. I have put together a list of things to ask yourself and consider, when you are looking at taking on a new way of eating, weather that’s paleo, gluten free, dairy free, salycilate free, FODmaps, atkins, vegan, vegetarian etc etc!
- Why do you want to change your diet? Get really, really clear on this!
- If its for weight loss then paleo is one of many choices, the restrictiveness of it may not be nessasary. My key favourites for weight loss are quantity reduction, learning to love whole foods ,not tolerate, but love them! If you don’t its because you don’t know how to prepare them so they taste great – check out cafes that know how to make great whole foods such as Nutrition Republic. Learning how to delay gratification and making movement part of your life – are great places to start.
- If you have food intolerances or a chronic illness, then make sure that you have a way to measure your progress. For example if you are a diabetic, then make sure you track your blood glucose and insulin levels prior to starting for a week or so and then again after 3 to 6 weeks. There are many markers that can be measured to assess your progress, these include but are not limited to – blood glucose, triglycerides, cholesterol, antinuclear antibodies, blood pressure, inflammatory markers (c reactive protein etc), weight, waist circumference, constipation or urgency, headaches etc.
- You must check in on how you feel, this is one of the most important aspects, while it seems obvious, I have clients who go on healthy diets for months, even years, only to tell me that they don’t feel any better! Most diets after 3 to 6 weeks, will have began influencing your health and therefore your symptoms ( please note this is not true in a few instances, where longer is needed). Many believe that, if they eat healthy then they are healthy, this is not always true, the whole food diet you have adopted may not be right for you and other things may need to be rectified.
- Use the elimination and challenge method, employ the new diet for a set time (3 to 6 weeks is usual) then bring in each eliminated food one at a time and pay attention to what happens.
- Any diet that causes you to become constipated IS NOT HEALTHY FOR YOU!
- Understand that what is right for you may not be right for someone else – we are all different biochemically and emotionally.
- Your diet is not who you are! Whilst we know that food can and does effect how we behave, this is not what I am talking about – many people refer to themselves as the diet they are adopting, this rigidity can block healthy scepticism ( veganism is good, does not equal I am good!).
- Most diets can be “healthy” and “unhealthy” and it depends entirely on how you put them together eg people can eat paleo and be consuming too many nuts or too much meat, or vegan eating can consist of many refined carbohydrates. This is a major reason why many do not see the benefits they may be looking for. Many healthy eaters are overeating!
TAKE HOME POINTS
If you have any health issue, your current diet definitely needs to be reassessed!
Any new diet you take on, give it a start and end date and review your progress
Long term use of any diet, demands you to have a complete understanding of the pros and cons
Not all diets are suited for everyone – so don’t push your views on those who are not interested, as it may be wrong for them anyway:)
Restricted diets can be extremely beneficial in the short term, not so much in the long term
DO NOT CONSIDER ANY DIET WHICH DOES NOT CONSIDER WHOLE FOODS!
Implement your diet correctly – how much should consist of meat, how much nuts, how much fruit, veg etc
Don’t become attached to the diet – avoid “psychological bias”
Most importantly remember why you have changed to a new way of eating, if it works, find ways to enjoy it, so it can become a source of pleasure