My goal is to eat foods that maximize my health and make me feel my absolute best. An “Anna” diet if you will. After lots of trial and error, I’ve found some great benefits from following a paleo inspired diet. I feel great, my autoimmune symptoms are under control and I stay at my fighting weight with very little effort.
I used to think paleo was a fad diet of deprivation found mostly in cross fit gym. I pictured buff guys drinking protein shakes and eating loads of sad, dry chicken breasts. Boy, was I misinformed!
Here are some common myths about Paleo and the truths I’ve learned along the way:
Myth: Paleo is the same thing as a low carb diet.
Totally not true! Remember, fruits and vegetables are carbohydrates and Paleo encourages a very high intake of vegetables and moderate intake of fruit.
I’ve heard Stacy, and Sarah on The Paleo View recommend at least 100 grams of carbohydrates a day and speak against low carb diets for women.
Myth: Paleo isn’t good for the world because of the environmental impact of eating meat.
Yes, the amount of meat we eat is problematic and contributes to climate change. However, the vast majority of the problem comes from conventionally raised animals and the distorted portion sizes in which the average American eats meat.
A paleo approach to eating meat emphasizes eating high-quality meat (organic, grass-fed red meat or pasture raised poultry, wild fish) and in correct (small) proportions.
It also advocates eating the whole animal and using less desirable cuts of meat like nutrient-rich organ meat. This approach is far more sustainable for the world and better for your body as well.
The new spin-off from paleo is Pegan, which advocates even less meat and more vegetable intake than a traditional paleo lifestyle. Some might even argue this is just a “regular” Paleo diet done right. Whatever you want to call it, I love eating this way!
Myth: Paleo is so restrictive you can’t get all the nutrients you need.
Oh my gosh, this is just SO wrong. Let’s start with meat. High-quality meat and fish are incredibly good for you. I remember when I was a dairy-free vegetarian I felt cold and anxious all the time. Little did I know that I was missing key nutrients like vitamin A, D, DHEA, and B12.
Paleo also advocates eating lots and lots of vegetables, especially nutrient powerhouses like leafy greens and crucifers: broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, kale & Brussels sprouts.
A balanced paleo meal– 4 oz. Wild salmon cooked in ghee, ½ an avocado, ½ cup roasted butternut squash and 1 cup steamed broccoli– is incredibly nutrient dense.
This (400 calorie meal) packs almost 25 grams of protein, 14.5 grams of fiber and is a great source of vitamin C, B12, E, Calcium (to name a few!).
A lot of members of the paleo community think “Paleo” could be renamed as “the nutrient density diet” because it’s all about maximizing nutrient intake!
Myth: Meat is the main food group.
Just wrong. In a correctly balanced Paleo diet vegetable intake exceeds meat intake.
Myth: Paleo is inflammatory whereas vegetarian diets are anti-inflammatory.
Vegetables are anti-inflammatory. Period. So a vegetarian diet high in vegetables AND a paleo diet high in vegetables can be anti-inflammatory.
If you’re eating high-quality meat in small proportions along side your veggies, you don’t need to be as concerned about inflammation. Chicken might be the exception because it’s higher in omega-6 fatty acids. Trust me when I say occasional 3 oz. servings of grass-fed beef are good for you! If you’re still on the fence, wild seafood is the way to go.
People don’t always consider the inflammatory impact of non-animal foods. Research suggests that foods like grains and dairy can be inflammatory for people, especially those with autoimmune conditions. The autoimmune Paleo approach was developed to treat autoimmune conditions. Trying this diet (and learning to like organ meat) is one of my new years resolutions.
Myth: Paleo is a fad diet.
Paleo, or eating nutrient-dense, high-quality vegetables, meat, healthy fats and some fruit, is truly a lifestyle that maximizes health. The word “diet” implies that it’s a short-term commitment, usually with weight loss as the goal. However, a Paleo approach to eating promotes long-term health.
Many people just follow the parts of the Paleo diet that help them. For example, some people include some grains or eat non-gluten free treats on special occasions. Figure out which foods help you feel your best, as there’s no “one size fits all” way to eat.
Interested in learning more about a paleo lifetsyle? Check out these resources below:
Join the conversation:
What do you think about the paleo movement? Do you follow a special diet designed just for you?