QUESTION: What’s the deal with the Paleo diet? Is it all the rage or just another fad?
That’s an excellent question, friends! When it comes to assessing a diet or fad you have to look at a few things: what is it, how restrictive is it, is it sustainable, is it evidenced based? The following are some bullet points to help you navigate through it.
So to understand Paleo, we must define Paleo:
What are some of the concerns regarding Paleo:
Is it evidenced based?
Are there any pros?
To learn more, this article by Precision Nutrition breaks it down well and provides resources for further nutrition: The Paleo Problem: Examining the pros and cons of the Paleo Diet.
In summary and my professional opinion:
As a dietitian, I think following a strictly Paleo diet in it’s original form can be harmful physically as what is removed from the diet actually limits nutrients the body needs. It can also have mental consequences as food restriction may lead to negative relationships with food and in turn our bodies and have negative health consequences down the road. I also think this diet ignores the lifestyle differences between 21st century humans and 10,000 years ago (no digital technology, more physical activity, more exposure to the natural elements, etc.).
That being said, there are elements of it that can be beneficial: more fruits and vegetables, choosing lean protein, incorporating healthy fats like nuts and seeds. If I’m being honest though, these are elements of the basics of eating well. No need for titles, or for restricting oneself. On a personal level, I am a fan of the push towards pasture raised meat from an ethical perspective (but you don’t have to be Paleo to do that).
I follow a very non-restrictive approach to nutrition in my practice because restriction can be harmful and can create unhealthy relationships with food and body. If you’re looking to make changes that you would like to sustain and take with you for the rest of your life, I’m your dietitian. We’ll drop the labels and just focus on the nutrition. Reach out to me today!
– Dua Aldasouqi, MA, RDN, Certified Health Coach