Millions of people are turning to the Paleo Diet to help them with many health issues, but is it safe?
The Paleo Diet focuses on eating when you’re hungry rather than counting calories.
The Paleo Diet has been hailed as one of the most natural, normal diets that anyone could follow. It doesn’t ask you to buy a whole lot of brand name, pre-made food which makes it appealing to people who don’t like getting their meals out of a cardboard box. It just asks you to focus on whole foods and healthy living. What could be so bad about that, right? The problem is, if you don’t do it right, you could end up with some unintended consequences that could hit you down the road with unforeseen health problems. Read on to find out of the Paleo Diet might be safe for you.
Paleo Diet 101
Basically, the Paleo Diet focuses on eating real, whole foods, just like our Paleolithic ancestors. Of course, we cannot eat just like our ancestors; that would be impossible because of the way we live and the foods available to us today. However, the goal is to get as close as possible. This means that you need to buy fresh foods and prepare them yourself. You also should avoid foods our ancestors didn’t have access to: dairy, rice, grains, corn, legumes, and sugars. This leaves the focus on meat, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. You don’t count calories on the Paleo Diet either; just eat when you’re hungry. When you eat less junk, your body processes the good stuff quicker, so calorie counting doesn’t matter anymore.
Unsafe Paleo Dieting
Of course, eating whole foods that aren’t pre-packaged sounds like a great idea and very, very healthy. However, if you aren’t careful, the Paleo Diet can get unhealthy quickly. With no dairy, you run the risk of a calcium deficiency. With no grains, bread, and corn, it can be difficult to keep your energy up. Also, if you are on this diet to lose weight, the tendency is to eat much less than normal because you’ve cut out a lot of the fillers you used to use to keep you full. Such a significant reduction in calories could cause many health issues.
Ways to Keep it Healthy
First and foremost, make sure you are eating enough. Eat when you are hungry rather than at certain times of the day. Listen to your body; if you are starving, you need to eat. Also, don’t shy away from fats. By cutting out many of the carbohydrates you used to eat, you’ve depleted an energy source for yourself. You need to replace that with protein and fat to keep your body fueled. Also, be sure you are getting good nutrients. You’ve cut out dairy, for example, so find another source of calcium like almond milk. Finally, remember there is a transition period where you’ll feel like you don’t want to keep going. That’s totally normal; stick with it and you’ll start to see results as long as you are careful.
The Paleo Diet also encourages cheating. In fact, when you are full Paleo, you actually can cheat during three meals per week. That means if you are dying for some pizza, you can have it. Just don’t overdo it. After a while on the diet, you probably won’t want it anymore anyway because you’ll realize how bad it makes you feel.
Why it Fails – Sometimes
Making all your own food can be incredibly difficult. To avoid this, pre-make as much of your food as you can on weekends and evenings. Also, use leftovers to your advantage. Finally, find some easy recipes that don’t require a lot of ingredients or prep work. Also, depriving yourself of the things you love, like candy and cheese, can be very hard. Try to find alternatives where you can, or know that you can cheat a little bit. Paleo eating is more about overall health than each meal you eat.
In conclusion, the Paleo Diet can be a very healthy diet to follow if you do it right. People on this diet see great results both in their appearance and their overall health. Just be sure to keep track of the nutrients you are taking in, to ensure it is healthy for you, and talk to a doctor if you have any concerns.