A Dietitian Explains the Paleo Diet | You Versus Food | Well+Good

– You know, me and paleo,
we have major history. (groovy music) HI, I’m Tracy Lockwood Beckerman. I’m a registered dietician
in New York City. And it’s my job to help you figure out what to eat and why. Today we’re traveling back in time to cave dudes and dudettes,
the hunters and gatherers, to take a deep dive into the paleo diet. You might have heard of this trendy diet. But today I’m explaining what it is, what it entails, and the pros and cons to consider before starting. (groovy music) Although this way of
eating dates back decades, the paleo diet was popularized by Doctor Stanley Boyd Eaton, in 1985. It was designed to resemble
what our hunter gatherer ancestors ate thousands of years ago during the paleolithic
era, under the argument that our bodies were not
built to consume foods produced by modern farming practices. So paleo’s all about
eating strictly whole foods and avoiding processed foods. That means you’ll be
cutting out sugar, dairy, bye ice cream, grains,
alcohol, and legumes. A disclaimer, all of the
studies that I reference were completed short-term, and therefore the long-term effects
of paleo are unknown. Here’s what we do know about
the benefits of the diet. (groovy music) One thing I think all of my
fellow RDs can get behind is cutting back on processed foods. We know that packaged foods
usually sneak in sugars and additives that are
not so great for our bods. In fact, in a study by the
Harvard School of Public Health, about three quarters of the
average American sodium intake comes from commercially prepared foods. Mind blown. Eliminating processed foods
and eating more whole foods will help to manage blood pressure, potentially stave off disease, and avoid empty calories and added sugars. (groovy music) What’s the buzziest buzzword in food and health right about now? Inflammation. Well, because you’re cutting
out foods that have sugar, alcohol, and gluten,
paleo can potentially help reduce inflammation in the body, which can help mitigate the
symptoms of chronic illness. (groovy music) In general, if you follow
a diet rich in lean protein and plant-based foods you
will feel fuller longer, which will help to control blood sugar. Reducing those spikes in blood sugar is great for keeping our energy levels and stress hormones in check. (groovy music) The major RD red flag is that this diet could poke some nutritional
holes in your diet if you don’t do it right. Limited or no grain
intake can diminish levels of B vitamins like niacin, folate, as well as magnesium and fiber. All of the nutrients your body wants and needs to run properly. Cutting out major food
groups such as dairy can lead to a lack of
nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus. Dear diary, I mean dairy, will
you Swiss me when I’m gone? I said it about keto and
I’m gonna say it now, diets that eliminate a whole food group raise some serious concerns because really there’s no substantial
evidence that supports the exclusion of dairy,
legumes, and grains from an average consumer’s diet. Sorry not sorry. (groovy music) The diet also focuses on a higher quantity of saturated fats coming from meat, which has been shown to increase
the risk for heart disease. I always recommend reducing
foods high in sat fat, which is why I’m team
olive oil when possible. (groovy music) Aside from the nutritional question marks, I always look at the
practicality of a diet, as would any diets with big restrictions and too many nos. It can be difficult to
incorporate into your daily life. Especially when it comes
to eating on the go. Do yourself a favor and
don’t jump into a diet without planning ahead
and doing your research. (groovy music) Now for some tips on how
to make paleo work for you. Focus on green leafy
vegetables for calcium, like bok choy, Swiss chard, and spinach. Incorporate plant-based protein sources such as hazelnuts and hemp seeds, to reduce the focus on meat. There are so many cooking oils out there it can get confusing. Use olive oil when possible
and avoid using a ton of coconut oil, which
contains extra saturated fat. Don’t treat fruit like it
is gonna send you off track. While fruit isn’t the center
focus of the paleo diet, you should still include
one to two servings of fruit per day into your diet for an extra punch of
nutrients and antioxidants. Although paleo is
restrictive, it is pretty easy to keep track of since you’ll just be looking for whole plain foods. But, that could be tricky when
it comes to eating on the go. While my first go to is just
to grab a plain old apple, you can also look for
pre-packaged paleo snacks when you’re in a pinch. Hu Kitchen, Siete, Primal
Kitchen, and Lesser Evil are great options. But, a friendly reminder,
just because it’s paleo doesn’t mean you should polish off a bar of yummy chocolate every night. It can be daunting to
eliminate dairy and grains. However, get creative with veggies and experiment with nut cheeses. Try roasted squash
boats with almond cheese and zucchini ribbons, aka zoodles, with velvety cashew
Alfredo to fill that void. Get to know your mylks. No, not milk with an I, milk with a Y. That’s right, dairy-free alternatives are gonna be your BFF on the paleo diet. Whether it’s almond mylk,
banana mylk, or coconut mylk. Be realistic about the
sourcing of your food. While some super-strict
paleoites are particular with the quality of meats,
don’t put too much pressure on eating organic and grass-fed all the time, for your wallet’s sake. As always, pay attention to your body. If you start to feel funky
consider making some adjustments. On the flip side, track improvements in your stress and energy
levels, as well as sleep quality, rather than focusing on weight loss. Lastly, there are a few health conditions that may be compromised by this diet. Continuously check your
blood levels with a doctor, especially if you have a family history of cardiovascular disease,
kidney disease, or osteoporosis. (groovy music) If you can’t tell by
now, diets that eliminate entire food groups are
never my go to recs. While there are aspects of the paleo diet I can definitely get behind,
like cutting down on sugar and processed foods, there is not enough substantial evidence that
eliminating grains and dairy from your diet will have a
positive long-term affect. This diet was designed
to emulate our ancestors, but the thing is we’ve come a
long way since the cave days and we can’t turn a blind
eye to the health benefits of a diverse diet that
touches on every food group. See you next time for another
episode of You Versus Food. You know what’s also trendy? Subscribing to Well and
Good’s YouTube channel. Yes!

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Reader Comments

  1. Laura Long

    What a bunch of uneducated , uninformed non-scientific crap. This paleo craze is Atkins renamed and supported by pseudo science.
    Our ancestors did not eat much meat. GRIANS & root veggies along with fruit , seeds and other foods that one might โ€œGATHERโ€ is paleontologically established. Our progenitors were gatherers.
    A real โ€œpaleoโ€ diet = go to real scientific explanation.

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