Is Paleo healthy for you?
- What is one to do with so much contradictory nutrition advice?
- Research will not change the fact that vegetables are the best foods out there for us
- We need to start viewing our healthy lifestyles in a different light
There are many hot debates in nutrition nowadays, and one of the major ones that I come across often is whether to adopt a caveman, or Paleo diet, or a more plant based, vegetarian, or vegan diet. I’ve dabbled in both lifestyles, and firmly believe that both have something to offer to the nutrition and health world.
I’d like to share my thoughts on these dietary dogmas and hope to shed some light or clarity to anyone who gets overwhelmed and confused about the nutrition news out there!
For those who are not familiar with either diet, let me give you the short and sweet versions:
The Paleo diet…
Essentially cut out all grains, dairy, sugar, legumes, and soy from your diet. So, no bread, pasta, rice, oats, quinoa, beans, cheese, milk, tofu, or desserts.
The vegan diet is even simpler…
No animal products. Not even eggs or cheese.
Both of these diets have benefits and also have drawbacks, and being at both ends of the spectrum, I have experienced quite a bit with these two lifestyles.
Many people believe deprivation of any kind is not healthy, and while that is true for the majority of the population, some people thrive on rules, restriction, and clear cut do’s and do not’s. This is where nutrition advice can get fuzzy: one lifestyle may work for one person, but not the other. There are studies coming out daily that are for or against many foods such as animal products, sugar, gluten, dairy, and red meat.
What is one to do with so much contradictory nutrition advice?
With my knowledge and experience, what I advise my clients (and myself) is to focus on what will always be TRUE in nutrition: the benefits of vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats.
Research will not change the fact that vegetables are the best foods out there for us. Fruits are filled with antioxidants and vitamins. Healthy fats such as almonds, avocados, and coconut oils help strengthen our hair, our skin, and regulate our hormones and hunger levels.
So, being at both end of the spectrum, I’ve learned the following principles:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables, mostly vegetables, and add color. This is without a doubt the best foundation from which to build your diet.
- Vary your proteins, whether they are chicken, lentils, beans, grass-fed beef, or fish.
- Don’t fear food. You are stronger than you think. There are so many healthy choices out there. Be aware of your choices, and pick the healthy choice 80-90% of the time.
- Do not be afraid of healthy fats. Fats are what keep us full and satisfied, and they regulate many important functions in our bodies. So add in.
- The best diet is the one you will stick to. So if Paleo is easy for you, then do it. If being Vegan works for you, then be Vegan. You don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself.
I realize now that the benefit of both the Paleo and Vegan diets is not necessarily what they OMIT, but what they INCLUDE, which is a lot of whole, plant based, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats.
We need to start viewing our healthy lifestyles in a different light, not in the light of restriction, but through the lens of what we can add into our lives.