We all know that diet fads come and go quickly. The latest trend? The Paleo Diet. And I think it’s going to stick around for a while.
The Rules? No sugar, no grains, no dairy, no legumes. Basically, dieters can’t have anything a caveman (or woman) wouldn’t have had access to. Hence the name, Paleolithic.
You might read that and think, “what can I eat?” After your initial shock, you’ll realize the diet leaves a lot on the “can eat” list. All meats, vegetables, fruits and nuts are allowed. I know what you’re thinking right about now. “Potatoes! They’re a vegetable, right?” Unfortunately, white potatoes are not allowed; however, sweet potatoes are! They’re a great filler, versatile and very popular among Paleo dieters.
Giving up grains is the most difficult for people to cope with in the beginning. By now, we are so used to sandwiches, meat and potatoes, or even granola for a “healthy” alternative. Many people think they’d starve without the starch on the plate or without their favorite carbohydrates throughout the day.
Thankfully, nobody is going starve on the Paleo Diet. With all of that protein and fiber you’d be consuming, your guaranteed a full belly and sustained energy. Plus, there are no caloric rules or guidelines to follow. Simply put, you eat when you’re hungry, just as a caveman would.
To some people, giving up sugar will be a struggle. A couple days is one thing, but the Paleo Diet is, after all, a lifestyle. I do think (or wish) people would read the diseases and other negative symptoms sugar causes and turn away easily, forever. Unfortunately, we all want sweets. And it’s not realistic to say, “I’ll never eat sugar gain.”
The good news is, the Paleo Diet allows all fruits. You can cure your sweet tooth with berries or summer stone fruit all you want! You won’t feel so guilty about eating a piece of birthday cake when you haven’t been indulging in candy and cookies every afternoon.
With so many active people in Jackson, plus a number of new gyms popping up all over town, I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about this trendy diet. Brooks Woodfin, owner and coach at the new Gym 22, believes in the Paleo Diet and its benefits. “Our bodies are highly functioning engines, where output is directly related to the fuel it is being fed. Our style of training at Gym 22 requires movement patterns similar to what the cavemen did 10,000 years ago. I do feel that the Paleo Diet is a great stepping stone for those looking to experiment with a new diet, which isn’t like any diet they have done before. It’s simply making better choices with the foods they choose to eat and then you begin to feel better, look better and make better choices on an individual level. Their entire quality of life begins to rise. It literally can change your life.”
What other benefits come from the Paleo Diet? If you try it out, you can look forward to improved sleep, muscle growth, glucose tolerance, better absorption of nutrients from food, reduced allergies, clearer skin, mental health, sustain weight loss, reduces risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Most importantly and the reason I became interested in the diet is the fact that it is anti-inflammatory. Many people today suffer from conditions and pain caused by inflammation. The Paleo Diet is sure to reduce that. I preach this lifestyle to my clients. I’ve also lived by the diet myself and had amazingly positive results. Maybe the biggest question is, “how can you live this way forever?” As I mentioned, its never realistic to cancel out something completely. Woodfin says he lives by “the 80/20 rule. This means, 80 percent of the time, stick to the diet like your life depends on it. Twenty percent of the time, cheat like you’re a kid sneaking extra Halloween candy up to their room at bedtime.”
Balance is key when you’re considering eating like a caveman. So, what do Paleo dieters eat on a daily basis? Maybe steak and eggs with peppers for breakfast, a salad with fish for lunch, nuts and fruit for snacks, and chicken and vegetables with sweet potatoes for dinner. Stir fry and simple dishes are easy, but if you want to make it a lifestyle, it’s best to be fun and creative. For example, try chopping up your meat and veggies and putting them on skewers like the recipe below.
Recipe: Easy Chicken and Veggie Skewers
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1 red bell pepper
- 12 small buttom mushrooms
- 1/2 red onion
- Zest of 2 lemons
- Salt and pepper
- All Purpose greek seasonings (any brand)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Wooden skewers
- Soak your wooden skewers for a couple of hours. This way, they won’t burn on the grill.
- Chop the chicken in 1 inch cubes. Roughly chop the bell pepper and onion, large enough to skewer. Leave the mushrooms whole.
- Place the chicken and vegetables in a bowl and toss with oil, lemon zest, and a generous amount of seasoning. Then, skewer the ingredients.
- Heat up your grill and cook the skewers for 7-10 miutes on each side, or until cooked through. Serve with a salad or a sweet potato side dish (no sugar).
- You can make these simple skewers with any spices or herbs you have on hand. Don’t have a grill? Cook it up in a skillet!