Paleo Diet: Pros And Cons

January 31, 2014

Today’s nutrition post comes from Amelia Winslow, MS, MPH of Eating Made Easy. Amelia holds two master’s degrees, in Nutrition and Public Health, from Tufts University in Boston. She and I are on the same page about the Paleo Diet, so I am excited for her to share some of the pros and cons of this way of eating.

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Paleo diets are based on the idea that for optimal health, we should eat what cavemen ate.  Sounds a little farfetched when you remember that most cavemen didn’t live beyond 30 (I know, I know – that’s what every Paleo critic says), but a closer look reveals that some of the diet’s recommendations make a lot of sense, and mirror the advice of most nutritionists and researchers.

Paleo Diet Picture No 2

Photo credit: istockphoto

Since it’s the beginning of a new year and peak dieting season, many of you – or people you know – may be wondering whether a Primal diet is the diet that will solve your weight loss issues once-and-for-all.

But before you swear off grains for good, let’s take a closer look at the Paleo Diet and its potential benefits and concerns.

What foods do people eat on the Paleo Diet?

Meat, fish, poultry, (some) fruits, non-starchy veggies, sweet potatoes and squash (in moderation)*, nuts, seeds, grass-fed butter* and coconut. The Paleo Diets emphasize choosing meat from pasture-fed or sustainably-raised animals who were able to engage in natural behaviors in a humane environment before slaughter.  *Edited to add

What foods are forbidden on The Paleo Diet?

All refined sugars, dairy products like milk, yogurt, regular butter and cheese; cereal grains like barley, wheat, corn, oats and rice; legumes, including all beans, lentils, peas, peanuts and peanut products and soybeans and soy products; starchy vegetables like potatoes, peas and yams; salty or cured meats such as deli meats, hot dogs, and salami; pickled foods, many condiments, and really all packaged or processed foods.

Paleo diet picture

Photo credit: istockphoto

What are the pros and cons of adopting this type of lifestyle?

 

 

PALEO DIET PROS AND CONS

 

PROS

CONS

Eliminates reliance on white refined carbohydrates Whole grains and legumes, which are not permitted on primal diets, are an important source of fiber and nutrients, as well as an eco-friendly source of plant-based protein
Encourages plenty of vegetables No large studies assessing Paleo diet for long-term weight loss and maintenance
No more processed snack foods, which are high in calories and low in nutrients Ultra-restrictive diets like Paleo almost never last
Paleo diets are naturally low in sugar Too hard for many people to maintain over a long period of time, which can lead to yo-yo dieting and poor overall health
Encourages careful selection of meats, poultry, eggs and fish that have been humanely raised or pasture-fed Large reliance on meat, which has repeatedly been linked to an increased risk of disease and is also very taxing on the environment
Weight loss is common, since fewer calories are being consumed, “empty calories” have been greatly reduced, and processed foods have been eliminated Weight loss from restrictive diets is very hard to maintain over time; weight will be re-gained if any “forbidden” foods are re-introduced into the diet.
Very little science backing up some of the Paleo diet claims
Heavy use of coconut oil & other coconut products, which are imported from across the globe and carry a huge carbon footprint
Time-consuming & expensive (which could also be considered a pro rather than a con)

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Would I recommend the Paleo Diet?

No. Though I think there are some major upsides to so-called Primal diets (see my Pro column above), I am not a proponent of restrictive diets of any kind. Here’s why: virtually no one maintains restrictive eating over a long period of time, and it’s healthy eating over the long term (a.k.a. decades) that leads to good health and a long life.

I’ve never met a single person, nor read about people in research, who has maintained a low-carb (which is what Paleo is, essentially) diet for more than a year or two.

Plus, I’m a huge fan of beans and whole grains. When you buy high quality grain products, eat a wide variety of grains, and make healthy meals with beans or other legumes, these foods actually improve your health as opposed to harm it. This has been proven in population studies (e.g. the Greeks & other Mediterranean populations) time and time again.

However, I will say this: Nearly all of us would benefit from taking some of the Paleo “themes” and applying them to our lives much of the time: Eat more vegetables, fewer carbohydrates (especially refined carbs), less sugar, and buy only sustainably-raised meats, poultry and fish.  These parts of The Paleo Diet are consistent with widely accepted nutrition research, and would help all of us – me included – achieve better health.

Amelia

 

Amelia Winslow, MS, MPH is a nutritionist, personal chef and mom who believes healthy eating should be simple and enjoyable, not stressful or overwhelming. That’s why she started Eating Made Easy, a blog that answers food questions, de-bunks nutrition myths and offers practical tips to make healthy eating easier. Next time you feel confused about what you should be eating or buying, head to Eating Made Easy to get Amelia’s trusted, science-based advice.

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{ 207 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Megan King January 31, 2014 at 8:34 am

Great article! I agree with this whole-heartedly!

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2 sally January 31, 2014 at 9:39 pm

Seriously? The author has terribly misrepresented this eating style, which is backed by significant research. The author doesn’t seem to have done the most basic fact checking on WHY these foods are being avoided. Really, really disappointing article full of biased opinions. Slim fast shakes are pretty restrictive, veganism is pretty restrictive. No one slams those.

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3 KathEats February 1, 2014 at 7:14 am

I would never ever recommend Slim Fast!

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4 Candice February 4, 2014 at 11:36 am

Totally agree Sally! This article does seem very biased. I follow a Paleo diet 90% of the time and have never felt better in my life. I try to eat protein, fat, and vegetables at every meal, 2 servings of fruit a day, 2 servings of starchy vegetables, including potatoes, and 2 servings of nuts. I’m totally satisfied and feel a ton better.

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5 Sara February 6, 2014 at 4:01 pm

I’m sorry, no one bashes Slim Fast diets?! You must be kidding. That’s the most ridiculous “diet” out there and people rightfully bash it all. the. time.

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6 Rebeccah January 31, 2014 at 8:37 am

The Primal diet and the Paleo diet are two different diets – they aren’t interchangeable.

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7 Maryea {happy healthy mama} January 31, 2014 at 10:08 am

What are the major differences?

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8 Amelia @ Eating Made Easy January 31, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Paleo is a type of “primal” lifestyle.

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9 Natasha January 31, 2014 at 11:37 am

Yep. I noticed that too.
Primal = grassfed dairy allowed, sweet potatoes, occasional grains like rice

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10 Maryea {happy healthy mama} January 31, 2014 at 11:10 pm

Thanks! I thought they were one in the same.

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11 Natalie February 1, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Sweet potatoes are more than ok in either Paleo or Primal. Primal is the umbrella, Paleo is a subset. It’s really just about dairy.

If you’re talking about some “safer” grains, that’s taking a more Weston A. Price approach.

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12 Tara January 31, 2014 at 8:43 am

What a great post! I couldn’t agree more about restrictive diets. My philosophy is nothing is off-limits, because I don’t like feeling guilty if I decide to have a bowl of ice cream on Saturday night. My family eats healthy foods the majority of the time, so I know a treat of what some would consider “forbidden” foods every now and again isn’t going to be the end of the world. I would love more pro/cons posts about other popular diets, because I do like hearing about the positive points and see what I might incorporate in my own life.

I do think the most surprising thing to me about the Paleo diet is the no legumes/whole grain portion. I can’t imagine never eating any type of bean, lentil, or whole grain again. They are a staple in our house!

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13 Jenny January 31, 2014 at 8:49 am

I found this to be very misleading. Sweet potatoes/yams, pickles, most condiments, deli meats, hot dogs and pickled foods (go to whole9.com or read “It Starts With Food” for more info) are all allowed on paleo, and many people (especially those who are very active) are still ok with eating white potatoes and even small amounts of rice in their diets. People who are switching to paleo are also encouraged to go 30 days without dairy and then reintegrate it into their diet to see how they react, and if they have no issues, can still eat dairy.

The paleo diet emphasizes a large amount of vegetables and a reasonable amount of fat and protein at each meal. Grains and legumes are discouraged because of their affect on many people’s gut, and the fact that you can get all of the fiber you need from vegetables and fruit.

Three of your cons are repeating the same thing (the idea of this being a restrictive diet) and all studies on meat and poor health are done with conventional/factory farmed meat so they don’t really apply to pastured meats. I also don’t find this diet to be any more time consuming than eating “healthy” any other way (not relying on processed foods means cooking no matter what). I personally don’t find this diet restrictive other than the fact that pasta and sandwiches used to be easy go-to meals for me.

Obviously you have every right to your opinion but I think that this post unnecessarily dissuades readers from a lifestyle that they might find works for them. Yes, it does take time to get used to not relying on grains, and if can definitely be a little pricey, but it works well for me. Obviously anybody that follows this diet will also not be perfect, and will still eat the occasional cupcake or ice cream sundae. If you’re interested in finding out more definitely read “It Starts With Food” by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, which I think is a great book about nutrition even if you aren’t interested in Paleo.

I hope you don’t find this offensive, I just felt like paleo needed a defender.

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14 Jenny January 31, 2014 at 8:53 am

Whoops, it’s Whole30.com, my mistake!

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15 Jen January 31, 2014 at 9:09 am

The meat point is so important. There are so many good nutrients in quality meat and the studies Amelia is trying to twist around are not done on this type of meat. The diet is also not meat heavy for everyone. We don’t sit around eating dino racks of ribs like Fred Flintstone. I eat reasonable portions from local farms. I buy beef by the 1/2 and it has generally traveled less than 100 miles from the farm to butcher to my freezer. Do you know where each of your grains has come from?

The coconut point is also absurd. I do not use coconut products anymore than vegetarians or smoothie drinkers. I use a wide variety of fats packs with vitamins – pastured lard, duck fat, butter, olive oil, ghee, tallow, and yes sometimes coconut oil.

This post is also very short on the pros. It’s missing things like gut health, digestive improvement, better sleep, lack of brain fog.

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16 Amelia @ Eating Made Easy January 31, 2014 at 12:49 pm

I hear what you’re saying, Jen and I completely agree that conventionally raised meat is different nutritionally, environmentally, and in composition than pasture-raised meat & poultry.

As far as coconut intake, that must depend on the person, because many Paleo & primal recipes rely heavily on coconut….and like you say, lard, pasture butter, etc. which carry many of the same “cons” I mentioned.

I’m glad you’ve experienced some of those pros as well….many of those are achieved by changing a diet away from processed foods & toward whole foods. But these pros are not documented in research, they are anecdotal, so I did not include them as benefits specific to Paleo.

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17 Jen January 31, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Okay, where are the research papers on who is buying all the coconut? You can’t say paleo junk food recipes written by people trying to get web site views and facebook likes define a diet, but positive stories and feedback on how actual human beings feel don’t. Scientific research is fine and dandy, but I still believe in learning by doing and self experimentation.

I just find it to be a super silly “con” point when people eating all types of diets include coconut. The health food store is filled with bags of raw vegan coconut macaroons All sorts of diets eat curries. Smoothies frequently contain coconut milk. Grocery stores have plenty of coconut based processed foods – hot pink sno-balls anyone?

The paleo diet completely supports local food. Eatwild.com. Localharvest.org. Farmer’s markets. CSAs. Seasonal recipes. Not to mention using parts of the animal that are frequently pushed aside like offal and bones. Buying a jar of coconut oil every few months should not negate that.

I don’t really care if people eat legumes and grains or don’t. In the absence of a food allergy most paleo follows do not follow the rules 100% of the time and I think that’s fine. Too many negative articles on paleo act like it’s some sort of cult of crazy people who don’t like ice cream and wine. I do agree that whole foods are best no matter what type of diet.

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18 Kimberly January 31, 2014 at 9:23 am

I was also confused about this as I also thought a lot of the foods that you say aren’t “allowed” on paleo (like sweet potatoes, pickled foods) were paleo “approved”. I’m also confused as to how time-consuming & expensive could be considered a pro to some people. I do agree with the overall message that paleo is too restrictive for most people but has a lot of good elements to incorporate in your diet. I was just confused on some of the points.

Thanks!

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19 Amelia @ Eating Made Easy January 31, 2014 at 1:06 pm

Sweet potatoes & squashes are allowed, according to most Paleo books & diet plans. But starchy veggies like peas, corn, snow/snap peas are not.

Fermented foods are allowed, too. Not condiments/pickled foods that contain other additives.

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20 Amelia @ Eating Made Easy January 31, 2014 at 1:12 pm

By time-consuming & expensive being a possible pro, I meant that when we get away from fast food & processed food and spend more time in the kitchen cooking from scratch, good things tend to happen…nutritionally, socially, emotionally, etc.

Also, spending more time paying attention to where your food comes from & buying it locally or from producers you trust (which is usually more expensive) is generally good for your health, for farmers, for local economies and for the environment.

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21 Margo January 31, 2014 at 5:19 pm

Amelia, I wish I could spend more time in the kitchen and that we could afford to buy amazing ingredients every week but that doesn’t always happen. When I buy cheaper food or spend less time on something its not because I don’t care about connecting or supporting local communities and I find it kind of hurtful that you would imply that. I find a way to eat close to paleo pretty much all the time, but its honestly really difficult some weeks, money-wise. I don’t think people who eat processed or fast food do so because they don’t care–I think there are difficult choices some families have to make. I would totally stay at home and cook delicious local food all day if it were an option but we can’t afford it. Maybe someday :)

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22 Jenny January 31, 2014 at 9:49 am

I also don’t really consider it a “diet” in the classical sense. I’m not doing it to lose weight, I just do it to reduce inflammation in my body, and to be healthy. Like any lifestyle choice, there’s gonna be cheats, but for me they’re very conscious. Like, if I’m traveling for vacation, I consciously eat sugary treats knowing that it’s a special experience and I’ll go back to my normal way of eating to get back on a healthy track, just like anybody else who just thinks of their eating as healthy, not as a diet.

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23 Amelia @ Eating Made Easy January 31, 2014 at 12:55 pm

I like this perspective, Jenny. I’ve heard this from many people who follow a Paleo lifestyle. Unfortunately, when any new way of eating is publicized in the media, Americans often use it as a weight loss diet. Gluten-free is another great example of this.

I’m all about choosing indulgences wisely and consciously – can’t go wrong here.

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24 jillian bean February 2, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Thank you Jenny! When my boyfriend first started following the Whole 30-I thought he was nuts. Now we both follow it, and here are some of the positive changes I have had with my health: no more stomach aches-I used to spend the evening on the couch with a hot water bottle-EVERY night. I have not had any stomach pain or gas since following the paleo diet. My blood sugar is more stable, I never get “hangry” and have never enjoyed food so much! When I have tried a taste of foods I used to rely on (protein bars, foods with sweetener, or low fat foods), I can’t even finish a bite-it tastes like chemicals. I eat a ton of fresh food every day, lots of fat, and a small-moderate amount of meat, and don’t miss anything. There is a paleo substitute for everything. And we do cheat every so often-a food we miss, or local beer. We drink red wine in moderation (not even one glass per week), and are both super active. I am a runner, and he is a gym rat-although we hike, ski, snowshoe, and eat out whenever we want. If you have ever had health troubles/stomach troubles or just feel that you could use more energy, a trial of the whole 30 may help you decide if a food is causing issues. After 30 days, you can introduce dairy, some grains, whatever you want-and just see what happens. If you hate it, go back to your old diet. But if you never try it-you would never know! Our favorite books/blogs are : practical paleo, everyday paleo, against all grain, well fed, and nom nom paleo. In general, I think if you find a diet that works well for you, and keeps you in wonderful health (no matter what it includes!), you are lucky:)

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25 Margo January 31, 2014 at 9:24 am

While I welcome the perspective, this post really unfortunately really missed the mark with me. I really disagree with this characterization of low carb diets as un-maintanable. I eat low carb/low sugar and have for the last few years or so, and know others who do the same. No, I don’t eat bread, but I find that filling up on veggies and protein is a lot more filling and doesn’t cause blood sugar spikes, so I don’t miss it. Also, I don’t think it was right to look at this diet from only a weight-loss perspective, because not everyone who is on a low carb diet is trying to lose weight.

Finally, the author saying that she has “never never met a single person, nor read about people in research, who has maintained a low-carb (which is what Paleo is, essentially) diet for more than a year or two” is really not a fact–it’s just anecdotal evidence. I don’t really think it has a place in an article that is meant to be informative.

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26 Stephanie January 31, 2014 at 10:23 am

Agree on the anecdotal evidence. It’s because the circles of people she knows probably just aren’t into those lifestyles. I CrossFit and I know SEVERAL people who have maintained a Paleo diet for years successfully – including 2 people who have lost more than 100 lbs each doing so. This statement had no business being in a ‘science-based’ article.

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27 Claire January 31, 2014 at 11:02 am

I agree with Margo and Jenny. This article is inaccurate and misleading. This blog post from Robb Wolf is a great rebuttal to these arguments, it also contains links to 8 randomized controlled trials showing the health benefits of paleo http://robbwolf.com/2014/01/10/news-ranks-paleo-diet-2014-deja-vu-again/.

On a personal note, I have been following a paleo/primal/low carb diet for over a year now and never felt better. I do have the occasional piece of bread or beer (paleo actually recommends an 80/20 approach to the diet), I have never used coconut products, and I do consume full fat/fermented dairy.

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28 Sally January 31, 2014 at 1:18 pm

I too agree that this post misrepresents the paleo diet, particularly in labeling foods forbidden or not mentioning ones that are actually encouraged (i.e. sweet potatoes, all kinds of starchy squash, avocado). As with most diets, the paleo diet is more of a blue print to a lifestyle. Sure, being extremely restrictive on this diet (as well as on any diet) might be difficult for some people, but there are many variations (including dairy, white potatoes, etc.). I know many people that have voluntarily tried the paleo diet, fallen in love with the way it makes them look and feel, and choose to continue on that path, as with vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians and the like. The one issue I have with this review of the paleo diet is that this is really just the author’s opinion of a way of eating it does not seem as though she’d even tried (I apologize if she has). Yes, I realize that’s the point of a review, but as Registered Dietitians, aren’t we supposed to embrace the differences in cultures, preferences and desires of our clients and the public in order to provide them with correct, up-to-date nutritional knowledge that they can take and incorporate into their lifestyle? If people have read about it and/or are interested in trying it, I don’t see the harm in being a little more open to the idea of a way of eating that stresses whole, natural foods. Just because the author thinks this this diet doesn’t seem realistic to her, it doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t want to give it a try or benefit from it. I really am not intending to offend the author or Kath in ANY way. Thanks for your thoughts.

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29 Emma January 31, 2014 at 9:24 pm

It does seem really hard to argue with “eat lots of fresh vegetables, lean protein and fruit; avoid processed food.” That’s really primal in a nutshell (so to speak).

I’m also a little confused about the list up top: fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds … and coconut! Then what IS coconut? Is it NOT a fruit or vegetable or nut or seed?

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30 Amelia @ Eating Made Easy January 31, 2014 at 1:20 pm

It’s definitely anecdotal to say that I haven’t met anyone who has maintained a low-carb diet in the long-term, but it’s not anecdotal to say I haven’t read about long-term maintainers in research, which I haven’t. It’s true that research is sometimes flawed and often influenced by industry, but overall trends tend to ring true. And overall, low-carb is very hard to maintain – that’s proven in research, it’s not an opinion.

You’re right that many people do not look to Paleo for weight-loss, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s hard to maintain for many who attempt to shift their lifestyle. I’m glad your experience has been different – it definitely feels good to eat lots of veggies with some protein as opposed to overdosing on carbs! (as I say in the last paragraphs above)

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31 Andrea @ pencils and pancakes January 31, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Also Paleo is not necessarily low carb. I eat a lot of carbs because that’s what makes me feel good. The assumption that paleo means low carb is not true

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32 veronica February 1, 2014 at 10:18 am

In all your masters research, you likely haven’t read about ANY long-term maintainers on ANY diet, because the fact is that 90% of weight loss achievers regain their weight.

So saying paleo/primal is all bogus because the participants cannot maintain weight loss is to say that the entire world of healthy eating is bogus because 90% don’t maintain their weight loss.

South beach would be bunk. Vegetarianism would be bunk. Mediterranean would be bunk. If that is what you’re basing the legitimacy of a lifestyle off of.
Just because humans are imperfect and fallible does not make a lifestyle inherently bad.

How can someone with a masters of science and public health look at the concept of limiting carbohydrates and replacing them with high quality meats and vegetables and say that is wrong? You either fell asleep in science class, or you’ve been brainwashed by the “nutrition” elite – the same geniuses that made the food pyramid telling Americans to cram 14 servings of grains into their insulin-resistant bloodstreams every. single. day.

With 1 in 2 American overweight and 1 in 3 kids also overweight, shame on you for continuing to perpetuate the lie that humans were created to subsist on carbohydrates. They weren’t. And if you weren’t brainwashed by all your government-funded textbooks, you could see past your own biases and understand that.

Heretics unite! It’s time we get back to meat and vegetables instead of bathing in oatmeal and whole grain granola.

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33 KathEats February 1, 2014 at 10:50 am

Brainwashing goes both ways. If you are asking us to be tolerant of your diet then you should be respectful of ours.

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34 Jessica February 1, 2014 at 11:37 am

True words there, Kath.

Veronica- take a chill pill lady. Also, why are you on this website if your way of eating is so supreme and you don’t agree with Kath’s way of eating?

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35 [email protected] February 2, 2014 at 6:28 pm

Veronica,
If you think you’re smarter than a person who had extensive science and nutrition education, than you don’t need to read any nutrition information out there because you know better than them!

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36 Jessica January 31, 2014 at 10:05 am

Thanks for clarifying about the sweet potato and the deil meat.. I was shocked to see it wasn’t allowed when so many folks I know who follow Paleo do indeed eat them.

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37 Natalie February 1, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Thank you for posting this – now I don’t have to.

Squashes are in no way a food to be limited on a Paleo diet, unless for a medical reason you really need to be limiting carbs in general.

Grains and legumes are really taxing on the gut. Just because the nutrients may technically be there, it doesn’t mean they’re bioavailable. Even if you’re really healthy, people aren’t properly preparing their grains today. I would bet there is no one out there who wouldn’t feel better by removing them. But if you think you’re healthy and want to soak, sprout, and ferment, then go ahead.

Also, many people who were chronic yo-yo dieters get to Paleo…and STAY! Because it’s so much more than diet, it’s a whole lifestyle focusing on stress, sleep, and movement too. And they feel better and satiated and see results… but only if they start based on resources from the leaders in the Paleo movement, and not on articles like these, which have some errors.

Also, the Paleo diet is not supposed to be a meat-heavy diet. If anything, it’s about eating healthy fats much like our even much more recent ancestors did. It’s more about what you are replacing the grains and legumes and processed food with. People who follow a Paleo diet are replacing those things with more vegetables than meat. I, for one, though I’m not alone, eat significantly more vegetables following a Paleo diet than I did when I was a vegan. Also, check out the Savory Institute to learn about what’s really taxing the environment.

Finally, no leader in the Paleo movement would say we are trying to replicate Paleolithic man’s diet. We all know that’s impossible. It’s just a buzzword for the internet today that comes from the idea that in the past, the majority of humans were free from chronic diseases. It’s just about eating real food that makes you feel good and perform your best. Grains and legumes generally do not fall in that category.

Woops… guess I wrote it anyway.

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38 Ashley @ Coffee Cake and Cardio January 31, 2014 at 8:49 am

Great post Amelia!! I appreciate your insight.

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39 Amelia @ Eating Made Easy January 31, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Thanks, Ashley!

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40 Jorda K January 31, 2014 at 9:03 am

Sweet potatoes are perfectly acceptable for the Paleo Diet. http://www.paleoplan.com/2012/07-12/qa-are-sweet-potatoes-paleo/

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41 Joanne Willcox January 31, 2014 at 9:15 am

YAY! Finally found someone who doesn’t give the Paleo diet the credit it asks for. I’m not a believer in diets. I think moderation is key to maintaining any healthy eating plan. With all the information accessible EVERYWHERE, there is no excuse to over indulge on things that prove toxic to our bodies over time. However, if you don’t let yourself have a little cheat day once in a while, you’ll eventually want to over compensate and that’s when the urge to binge could occur. Moderation and a healthy eating plan that you can stick with is the only thing that works.

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42 Natalie February 1, 2014 at 6:49 pm

If you look to the true leaders in the Paleo movement, no one considers it a “diet.” It is a lifestyle that allows you to find the flexibility that makes it sustainable for you.

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43 Lauren @ Lettuce Eat Cake January 31, 2014 at 9:27 am

As mentioned above, this post contains quite a few inaccuracies. Almost all followers of paleolithic diets eat grass-fed butter, sweet potatoes, uncured bacon, etc (all foods listed as forbidden above). Personally, I feel best on a diet that’s essentially paleo (including sweet potatoes in limited quantities and occasionally oats) plus dairy. I don’t think there’s any question at this point that modern wheat is not a health food, and I continue to be shocked that so many health professional ignore the research on its effects. My main issue with this post, as is my issue with the advice from lots of dietitians, is that, at a systemic level, people who have been very overweight are not the same as people who have never been overweight. I would highly recommend the author check out the work of Dr. Barbara Berkeley (www.refusetoregain.com), a physician who has specialized in weight loss for over 20 years. Dr. Berkeley advocates a low-carb regimen, and she and her patients have followed low-carb diets for many years. (The author’s claim that she’s never heard of anyone following a low-carb program for more than a year or two is particularly ridiculous, given the countless members of paleo and low-carb online communities.) Additionally, Dietitian Cassie (http://www.dietitiancassie.com/) is a nationally-known nutritionist who recommends what she calls PFC Eating (protein, fat and carbs), but by carbs she means fruits and veggies, no grains. Both Dr. Berkeley and Dietitian Cassie adamantly oppose the calorie theory of weight loss and management, the predominant theory among dietitians these days. (Great posts about that topic: http://www.dietitiancassie.com/i-hate-calories-part-1/ and http://beachwood.patch.com/groups/barbara-berkeley-mds-blog/p/bp–a-calorie-just-a-calorie-no-way)

I’m worried by the author’s suggestion that there is no evidence to support the health benefits of reducing carbohydrate consumption, as that’s simply not true. The Western world’s weight problem escalated during the ’80s and ’90s, decades during which the low-fat, high-carb craze was at its peak. Based upon my personal experience and lots of reading, I feel many medical professionals are operating under outdated, misguided information–and if one thing is for certain, it’s that people whose bodies gain weight very easily can not follow the same rules as those who have never been overweight.

Do I think “strict” paleo eating is sustainable for the long term? Probably not 100% of the time for most people, including myself. But I think the 80/20 rule applies here, as it does to all dietary plans. I think nutritionists should be careful not to condemn paleolithic eating, especially for people who have been seriously overweight. No one can be expected to count calories for the rest of their lives; however, avoiding processed carbs and focusing on protein, fruits/veggies and healthy fat is a very simple plan that I do think could be sustained from an 80/20 perspective for the long term.

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44 Becky @ Life Outside The BOX January 31, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Well said!!!!!!

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45 Amelia @ Eating Made Easy January 31, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Hi Lauren, thanks for your thoughts.

There is varying information about butter & starchy veggies, but you’re right that I should have put sweet potatoes in the allowable category. Bacon is not mentioned above as forbidden. I know grass-fed butter is considered OK – I’ll try to amend this.

At no point did I say that reducing carbohydrate intake does not have health benefits. If anything, I said the opposite here (both in the Pro column and in the last few paragraphs. We are on the same page about this part. I just don’t agree that eliminating all grains & legumes is necessary or a good idea.

As far as the 80/20 rule – it’s one of my favorite rules, too. I think that no matter what eating lifestyle you’re following, if you follow this, you’re much more likely to have success than if you try to do something 100% of the time.

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46 Patricia February 1, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Very well said. I find it irritating for health professionals to make broad statements. I struggled for years with digestive issues and blood sugar swings. I found a nutritionist who really helped me. She never called her food plan recommendation a “diet”, paleo or otherwise. However I eliminated all gluten which meant eliminating most grains. I eat more animal protein than before and more healthy fats, including butter. I eat a lot of carbs but they are in the form of vegetables and fruit. I eat quinoa and rice occasionally. I have not tried to replace gluten bread with gluten free bread. I just don’t eat it. It took a couple of weeks to adjust–mainly I had to figure out what to have for lunch besides a sandwich. The result?? Digestive problems gone. Blood sugar issues resolved. Inflammation in my joints gone. Zero food cravings. I have not found it difficult at all to maintain this lifestyle. And my husband still eats bread and English muffins, etc. so it’s still around–I’m just not interested in eating them. And I must say I never thought I could give up bread.

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47 Amari @ Eat Chic Chicago February 2, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Interesting article – and even more interesting is the discussion it’s created here among the comments! I’m glad someone mentioned Dietitian Cassie as there are a handful of RDs in support of the Paleo movement – myself included. I’ve written plenty of articles on my site about the importance of looking beyond calories/the best way to fill your plate (http://www.eatchicchicago.com/blog/2014/01/16/the-best-way-to-fill-your-plate/) and also an important article asking the age-old question Is Fat or Sugar Making us Fat? (http://www.eatchicchicago.com/blog/2014/01/21/is-fat-or-sugar-making-us-fat/) that touches on a lot of these points mentioned above. There are a lot of educated researchers and doctors in the Paleo community that are doing research around the diet that prove its more than just about “eating like a caveman” – check out work done by Chris Kresser, Chis Masterjohn of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Robb Wolff, Diane Sanfilippo just to name a few. Thanks for all the great dialogue!

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48 Paige January 31, 2014 at 9:40 am

I’m a longtime reader who doesn’t eat like you anymore but I do check in from time to time for the kiddo pictures, and when I saw the word “paleo” pop up here in my blog roll, I had to come defend it. I think it’s awesome that your diet works for you. Clearly it does! It totally doesn’t work for me. That whole, everything in moderation thing? Not great for someone who has struggled with binge eating for over a decade. And I’ve definitely tried! With the “restriction” of paleo I actually feel peace – and it’s not hard to maintain something that makes you feel fantastic.

Also, what Jenny said re: which foods are paleo. Re: studies showing meat products are linked with disease, it is the China Study that is most often cited here, which has been thoroughly torn apart by people way smarter than me. Same w/ environmental effects, though I agree that the over consumption of coconut products from far away is problematic. Though I think most paleo people these days do eat butter or at least ghee.

I think it comes down to this: if you don’t have health problems, then keep doing what you’re doing. If you have autoimmune, weight, or other health priblems, a paleo type elimination diet can be incredibly enlightening since it cuts out the things that most often exacerbate these problems (dairy, gluten, soy, sugar, etc.). Then from there if your symptoms improve you can experiment with adding things back to see if you can tolerate more variety. See book: Your Personal Paleo Code by Chris Kresser for more details on this approach.

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49 Dana January 31, 2014 at 9:42 am

Thanks for pointing out both pros and cons. I think it’s true that all “diets” have parts that are really good, and parts that go over the top into very restrictive habits.
I’m sure everyone could eat healthier, I just wish that people could pick a healthy way of life that works for them and then NOT try to convert everyone to do exactly what they do. Different strokes for different folks.

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50 Anele @ Success Along the Weigh January 31, 2014 at 9:43 am

I didn’t lose 200+ lbs by restricting myself and I wouldn’t start now. But I follow a few paleo sites just for inspiration on new recipes. Same with vegan stuff because I’m always looking for new ideas to perk up the food rotation. I think everyone should do what works for them as long as it’s safe and healthy overall and they do lots of research before jumping in.

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51 Amelia @ Eating Made Easy January 31, 2014 at 1:29 pm

I agree, Anele! Variety & trying new things is so helpful for maintaining long-term healthy eating habits.

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52 Elizabeth January 31, 2014 at 9:46 am

I agree 100%. I think too many people think the Paleo diet is an acceptable way to eat, but it restricts so much. I agree we should eat all natural, clean, whole foods, but if you take out certain foods I believe that you will start to crave those foods and products and want to actually indulge in those more.
Great article Amelia!

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53 Alex @ Kenzie Life January 31, 2014 at 9:47 am

This was really fascinating. Thanks Kath for hosting Amelia–I really loved this post. I’ve heard a lot about Paleo as I’ve progressed in my own health/fitness journey. As a mostly vegan (but always vegetarian) and someone in recovery from an eating disorder, I think a Paleo diet would be far too restrictive for me and I wouldn’t be able to get the proper amount of nutrients (like protein). Still, I totally agree that there are elements of the Paleo way of eating that we could all probably benefit from adding into our diets. I love lentils and my morning english muffin/toast/oatmeal too much to give them up!

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54 Kelsey @ Fueling Strong January 31, 2014 at 9:48 am

I agree 100%! I for one could never even attempt the Paleo lifestyle because I don’t care for meat, especially in excessive amounts. I have a hard time with a diet that outlaws healthy items like beans and whole grain. Definitely not sustainable!

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55 Jackie January 31, 2014 at 9:52 am

I’m not sure I could ever stick to it!

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56 Lacey January 31, 2014 at 10:02 am

Like others have said, a lot if this information is correct but some is just not. Also, this is not a diet for weight loss, it’s an eating plan for optimal health. How is it restrictive when you are avoiding food products that are not as good for you as a plate of veggies, healthy fat, and quality meat?

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57 Amelia @ Eating Made Easy January 31, 2014 at 1:37 pm

The restrictive part that I find to be negative, based on health & research & convenience, are whole grains and legumes.

As another commenter said, if you were to follow Paleo 80% of the time, and be flexible 20% of the time, it would not be extreme.

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58 Lacey January 31, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Thanks for your perspective! Believe me, one year ago I would have said… Paleo? Only rarely eating legumes and grains? Canola oil isnt healthy? That is crazy. Lots of research later and eating this way myself has changed my mindset. Never have I felt better. I won’t go back.

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59 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats January 31, 2014 at 10:10 am

Although I’ve never done much research on the Paleo diet, I have to agree. At least for me and my history of restrictive eating, I know the Paleo diet would be too much for me. I need a little wiggle room!

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60 Aubrey January 31, 2014 at 10:11 am

Great post:)!

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61 Maryea {happy healthy mama} January 31, 2014 at 10:14 am

I’m a “most things in moderation” kind of eater so I appreciate your perspective. I’ve not read extensively about the Paleo diet, so I don’t know the ins and outs, but I do think getting a big variety of foods is the key to long-term health so for many people I don’t think this diet is best if it is restrictive.

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62 Stephanie January 31, 2014 at 10:17 am

I agree that this post wasn’t researched very well. Paleo and Primal are not interchangeable. Primal allows for dairy, potatoes and rice (among other differences) and Paleo is to be done on a 85/15 proportion (where you eat non-Paleo things 15% of the time). I don’t think that’s any more restrictive than any other type of diet – be healthy most of the time, but allow for treats.

Also, I don’t believe that grains are as eco-friendly as you might think. You might want to do some research into that point as well.

Paleo/Primal diets put the emphasis on vegetables with a reasonable sized portion of meat for each meal. I don’t see how that’s relying on meat any more than any other diet.

And you really missed the mark with “weight will be re-gained if any “forbidden” foods are re-introduced into the diet.” That’s not true at all – as long as you stay at the same calorie deficit, adding in any food will not result in weight gain.

I’m not a hardcore Paleo/Primal dieter, but I’ve done my research on a lot of different diets for health reasons and I don’t see how you can go wrong with a whole foods (eating foods that are in their whole forms) diet that allows for treats 15% of the time.

I’m sorry, but it seems like you had a preconceived notion about the Paleo diet and just pick and chose data to support your thoughts without doing the full research. Not to be offensive, but I found this article to way off the mark and it did a huge disservice to the Paleo/Primal lifestyles.

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63 Emily January 31, 2014 at 11:35 am

I couldn’t agree more with Stephanie! This nutritionist needed to do some serious fact checking before posting this article! I think it’s funny how people are so quick to judge paleo/primal diets. I don’t see many bloggers these days talking about how restrictive being vegetarian or vegan is, or how your body may be nutritionally void from cutting out animal protein or large consumption of soy (GMOs are not good people!). Paleo/primal is taking it back to nature… real foods! Paleo makes sense to me because I believe it’s what humans are meant to eat… just like other omnivores in nature aren’t eating grains or processed foods. Grass fed beef is considered more healthy because cows aren’t meant to eat corn and grain- same concept. I take an 80/20 approach with my diet, and I don’t find it hard to maintain at all!

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64 Amelia @ Eating Made Easy January 31, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Taking an 80/20 approach is almost always a good idea, I agree.

If you read my whole article here, you will see that I point out the benefits of pasture-raised meats. There’s really nothing about the Paleo foods that ARE allowed that I find to be bad. I eat these types of meats, usually buy full-fat dairy, and apply many of the same themes to my own life. However, I believe – after much research – that whole grains & legumes are healthy.

I am not quick to judge Primal diets. I enjoy reading about the research behind all diets when they come out and begin to get trendy. I pointed out many of the benefits here too, I just find the restrictive parts to be extreme.

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65 Emily January 31, 2014 at 2:17 pm

I wasn’t trying to say that you suggested pature-raised meats were bad. I’m pointing out that if we just take it back to basics: just as cows aren’t supposed to eat corn/grains, paleolithic humans didn’t eat processed foods or grains, so we probably shouldn’t either. My point about the fact checking was more geared to not knowing the difference between paleo and primal, thinking that sweet potatoes were on the naughty list, and thinking that the diet is too restrictive when the paleo forefathers (Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson) suggest this 80/20 approach which wasn’t meantioned in your article. Also, weight loss may be a side affect of eating this way, but it certainly isn’t the reason these “rules” were developed.

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66 Stephanie January 31, 2014 at 3:18 pm

For someone who is not quick to judge Primal diets, you were very tongue in cheek about following a diet where “most cavemen didn’t live beyond 30″. For a science-based article, it’s misleading to say that without pointing out that those cavemen didn’t typically die from heart disease, diabetes and other obesity related diseases. Cavemen usually died from starvation, living amongst predators, infectious disease and the like (but nothing to do with the overall scope of their diet).

The paleo/primal diet includes the 80/20 balance in its paradigm, so I don’t see how its ‘restrictive parts’ are too ‘extreme’. Legumes and whole grains are not necessary to a healthy diet, many populations of people throughout time (the Masaai tribes in Africa, primitive Maori/Inuit/Seminoles) have gone without them and lived to old age in incredible health.

This article was definitely slanted in an anti-Paleo/Primal fashion. I don’t believe it was written neutrally to present facts to the reader. It had a derogatory undertone from the beginning with the statement about people cavemen not living past 30 and ended with the author stating that she wouldn’t recommend this diet as a nutritionist because she felt it was too restrictive. It would benefit more people if she presented the unbiased facts and allowed people to make their own decisions about what is too restrictive for their lifestyle and goals.

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67 Florence January 31, 2014 at 10:34 am

Thank you for this wonderful post. I thought Paleo would solve all of my health woes and for a year tried to implement the lifestyle, but it only caused me to binge and ultimately spiraled into a really unhealthy relationship with food. While there are some great things that I took away from the diet (mainly to eat more protein and less refined carbs and foods in their natural state) I know moderation is key to a healthy diet. Thanks for the reminder!

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68 Sandi January 31, 2014 at 10:43 am

Had to laugh at a recent recipe I saw – Paleo Red Velvet Cake, ha! Thanks for clearing it up with science ladies!

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69 Elena January 31, 2014 at 10:46 am

Thanks for the post. I don’t know much about Paleo but I wonder what are the similarities and differences with the Zone Diet? I’ve started it this week and am already feeling well (no sugar spikes/sweats, trembles and light-headed feeling) but I wonder if it is a good and safe diet to follow in the long run?

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70 Rachel January 31, 2014 at 10:46 am

As one commenter already mentioned, the poster does not mention any of the other non-weight loss reasons someone might follow a Paleo diet. The anti-inflammatory nature of the diet is very good for some people with auto-immune diseases. I have two friends, doctors I might add, that both have ulcerative colitis and are both off of the immune system suppressing drugs and using diet only to control their disease by doing Paleo. I started a Paleo diet to deal with constant digestive issues (IBS) and as long as I follow the diet about 80% of the time, I seem to be able to avoid the issues I experienced before. The Paleo diet helped me learn how different foods affect my body. It helped me learn that food really is medicine. I am very reasonable about it. For me, dairy is a huge culprit in my digestive distress and I have since discovered small amounts of cheese and butter are okay. Unfermented soy is also something I learned add to my digestive distress. A couple pieces of bread are okay, but a big plate of pasta will make me bloat. I eat lots of wild rice and sometimes brown rice. I would not say this diet is low carb either–I eat all kinds of starchy vegetables like carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, turnips and rutabegas. I would bet that I eat a greater variety and a greater amount of vegetables than most people who eat “normally.”

I will probably not be 100% Paleo, 100% of the time, but bread, pasta, soy and dairy are probably not ever going to be staples in my diet again. It is too bad that the people that criticize this diet cannot bring up the fact that it does help a lot of people experiencing a variety of health issues. I know you cannot call a diet a cure necessarily, but I think doctors and nutritionists alike do their patients a disservice by not opening up their eyes to a diet that may help them change their lives, while not harming them either.

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71 Christine Hazad January 31, 2014 at 1:37 pm

I also eat Paleo because of intestinal inflammation and it has helped so much.

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72 Amelia @ Eating Made Easy January 31, 2014 at 1:50 pm

I am absolutely in favor of trying different ways of eating when you are having any digestive distress, or experiencing excess inflammation in the body.

As I say in this article, reducing carbs (like skipping that big plate of pasta) can be a huge help to health and reducing uncomfortable symptoms (& to weight-loss if that’s a goal). I also pointed out that merely paying attention to what you eat, and making more things from scratch/experimenting in the kitchen, is often a very helpful nutritionally.

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73 Natalie February 1, 2014 at 6:57 pm

I think the general tone of this post would dissuade people who maybe are dealing with health issues to try the Paleo diet and by basically treating it as another fad diet.

I follow a Paleo diet with the addition of no dairy, no nightshades, no eggs, no nuts, no seeds to deal with autoimmune diseases. I don’t feel restricted in the slightest. You know what is restrictive? Illness. Anecdotal evidence can be more important than scientific studies which take years to complete. By having it brushed off as a restrictive fad diet, something to be “done” for 30 days so you can then fit into a dress and forget about it, you may lose people who could seriously benefit from it.

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74 Heather January 31, 2014 at 10:47 am

This is very interesting. I have been debating recently on whether or not to try going Paleo, but this convinced me not to. Instead, I’ll just continue eating my whole grains, yogurts, veggies, and watch my portions. I think that will be easier to maintain long term instead of completely eliminating grains and dairy. Thanks for this informative post!

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75 Ali January 31, 2014 at 10:59 am

This is great. I’m on the same page. I know there are definitely benefits to eating Paleo, but it’s not a long term thing and there are healthy foods in the restricted category. I do agree that refined sugar and flours, soy most of the time and processed foods are not healthy and need to be eaten less, but I’ve seen too many people on this diet crash and burn and get no where.

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76 Marissa @ Barefoot Colorado January 31, 2014 at 11:11 am

I myself see how Paleo could benefit others, but it’s honestly just not for me. I don’t really think eating a ton of bacon is healthy for you, but you can’t have whole grain bread. Again, I know that this diet WORKS for some people, but I prefer just the EAT REAL FOODS school of thought, and not the super restrictive way of thinking.

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77 hilary January 31, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Just curious what Paleo site tells you to eat tons of bacon? Seems like a gross misrepresentation.

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78 Jen January 31, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Just because people post pictures of bacon does not mean that paleo is all about bacon. Bacon is just trendy on the internet in general.

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79 Miz January 31, 2014 at 11:13 am

I hate to feel like a ranter, but I know that Kath’s blog is a place for great discussion and I would like to add some feedback.

1. Another pro of paleo is that it promotes healthy oils/fats and not using fake/rancid vegetable oil products.

2. Paleo is supported by science. I understand that you may have not looked up support for that argument but Paleo Mom and Chris Kresser are both creditable professionals with evidence to support a paleolithic lifestyle.

3. As others have mentioned, sweet potatoes and other starchy vegetables are entirely allowed.

4. For dairy, that is the difference between primal and paleo (not the same thing) and even non-paleo people acknowledge that dairy can cause provlems.

5. Paleo is not low carb. Yes, some may be low carb by choice but that is not the definition of the lifestyle. Check out Paleo Parents for a wonderful recent post on that.

6. Soy is not allowed on paleo, which is a pro because it has been shown to cause numerous problems for people.

7. Paleo is a great resource and lifestyle for people with digestion or other medical problems. I tried my increasing fiber from grains and vegetables. It irritates my gut and makes my health problems worse. Where is that taken into consideration? You may say “There are always exceptions” but with the increasing number of autoimmune diseased people, that is not the case. Again, scientifically it has been proven that for a majority of celiac patients a complete grain-free diet is needed to fully be free of the symptoms.

Thanks for letting me share. Any arguments for discussion are welcome!

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80 Ali January 31, 2014 at 11:43 am

No, the majority of Celiac patients do NOT need to be completely grain-free to be free of symptoms. Those with Celiac cannot eat wheat, barley, and rye (i.e. gluten) or contaminated foods, which comes in every form from oatmeal vegetables at a salad bar. However, those with Celiac can be careful and eat grains that do no have (or are not contaminated with) gluten. If they still have problems and need to avoid other grains, there is likely something else going on (such as Celiac + Ulcerative Colitis like my sister). Can you please provide the source of your ‘scientific’ information that ‘proves’ this? I am Celiac and I know many other people who are and not one of us avoid grains that are Celiac safe. I do not have any symptoms because I am careful to avoid gluten (not all grains), just as all those with Celiac are.

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81 Ali January 31, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Some good points here. Re: #2 though, there is a big difference between people who work in science-related field endorsing aspects of the diet for its potential health benefits (this is often called pseodoscience and is likely based on anecdotal evidence) and a statistically significant randomized controlled trial.

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82 Miz February 1, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Thanks for pointing that out about my comment regarding celiac patients and grains. I was typing that on my phone (and because of the small box) couldn’t go back and reread what I had written. I didn’t mean to say that a majority of celiac patients need to be grain-free to heal, although there are some who do believe that.

I did mean to say that a majority of celiac patients do not heal from a gluten-free diet though. Here are some of the scientific studies that I was referring to:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19302264
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20145607
http://www.journal-inflammation.com/content/5/1/19
http://www.scielo.br/pdf/bjmbr/v41n12/7265.pdf
http://www.cureceliacdisease.org/medical-professionals/guide/treatment (<< granted that last one does admit that their results could be from not 100% adherence to a gluten-free diet)

While this one just studied a subset of those who did not get better on a gluten-free diet, the cross creativity idea is interesting: http://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?PaperID=26626#.Uu0j9_ldX8Y

Great point Ali about the cause possibly being another autoimmune condition!

You also make a great point about pseudoscience. That brings to mind quite a few so called "experts" in both the paleo field, as well as the usual "healthy living" or even "plant-based" fields. I do not agree about The Paleo Mom and Chris Kresser basing their science on anecdotal evidence. I do think sometimes that it is required to use anecdotal evidence when there is a lack of randomized controlled trials as not everything can be tested (especially those where this not much profitable gain to be had from medication!) Just as an example, Kresser wrote a very intriguing article on B12 Deficiency: http://chriskresser.com/b12-deficiency-a-silent-epidemic-with-serious-consequences And as you will note, the first source he sites is a scientific study.

Again, I'm not saying I'm correct, just my thoughts! Thanks for the helpful feedback Ali.

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83 Liz @ Tip Top Shape January 31, 2014 at 11:16 am

I completely agree with this. I went on the official paleo website a few weeks ago because I was curious about what the diet was about, and all I could think as I read through is how it seemed to restrict the very foods I thought were healthy. I think some aspects of it may be beneficial, but like this article said, definitely not the entire diet.

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84 Matt January 31, 2014 at 11:45 am

I don’t understand why the diet has this 80/20 recommendation. The diet almost gives itself a bad name by defining itself as the 80% – I would likely be a supporter of Paleo if it simply placed an emphasis on eating less packaged and processed foods. But any diet that shuns basic foods like grains just seems silly to me.

I understand that some people need rigid boundaries to lose weight, but to me it’s almost a psychological trick you play on yourself. Somehow it’s easier to say to yourself “that food is not allowed” versus “I really want that but shouldn’t eat it.” Will power is easy to break but rules aren’t! I don’t know if I’m making sense anymore, it’s been a long morning.

One personally negative association I have with Paleo is the heavy emphasis on meat. While I don’t see that in general descriptions of the diet, most of the Paleo people I encounter eat a surprising amount of meat. I can’t imagine eating huge amounts of anything is good for you, and I especially feel wary of eating lots of meat. I mean, isn’t a normal serving of meat supposed to be about the size of a deck of cards? How much animal protein can our bodies actually process?

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85 Jessica January 31, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Many commentors have stated that Paleo is not so much a diet they follow for weight loss but a way of eating that greatly helps their digestive issues. Then its not at all a “psychological trick” they play on themselves or a matter of willpower. Its simply not eating foods that make them feel bad. I see your point, but it seems that there are many other reasons people follow Paleo besides just weight loss.

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86 Rachel January 31, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Matt, I can answer the 80/20 question for you. It’s recommended for people who do not have autoimmune disease or are trying to heal other serious gut disorders. If you are a person who can tolerate grains, dairy, etc fairly well and are doing Paleo for other reasons, the 80/20 rule is recommended so that your body is still accustomed to digesting those things. Life happens, and the thought is that if you go to a wedding, family gathering, or just simply WANT a plate of spaghetti, you should be able to indulge in those things without worrying about having a bad reaction. I do follow 80/20 mainly because although I do not have an official problem with grains, I can tell a huge difference in how I feel when I eat them. Again, this is just me, I’m not speaking for everyone.

Also, I think the heavy dependance on meat is a common misconception about paleo. If you read Loren Cordain’s book, he makes sure to say this is NOT a diet where you can eat a ton of bacon and steak all the time. He emphasizes portion control and making sure to eat lean meats. My boyfriend will grill me a 10oz steak and I eat it in two meals. I eat one chicken thigh, or a thigh and a leg if I’m really hungry. I also have at least one green smoothie a day, cabbage, kale, apples, zucchini, sweet potatoes and carrots.

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87 Jenny January 31, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Though some people may use the idea of the diet as an excuse to eat a lot of meat, if people are truly following it, at least based on the whole9/whole30 idea that I follow, a portion of meat at your meal (which also includes eggs, it’s just any animal protein) varies from person to person. For example, it says, depending on your size and activity level you should eat 1 to 2 palm size portions of animal protein. So for me, a fairly small woman, I eat one small palm size, no more meat than I ever ate before I went paleo. The rest of your plate should be filled with vegetables and maybe a small serving of fruit. I think that most people (who eat meat of course, if you don’t I have nothing against that, especially as an ethical choice against factory farming) would agree that that’s a reasonable amount of meat.

Grains and legumes are an issue because many people do have issues digesting them completely (I, for instance, have found that beans really mess with my digestion), but mostly because the beneficial nutrients are hard for humans to actually digest because of phytates (phytic acid) which are an anti-nutrient that non-ruminants (humans) lack the the enzyme to break down. Soaking and sprouting grains and legumes help make the actual nutrients in them easier to access, but the reason paleo/primal diet followers choose to skip them is because all of the nutrients and proteins and fiber that you get from grains and legumes, are easily accessible in produce without having to do any soaking/sprouting.

Like I said before, I don’t find this to be a rigid “diet”, but rather a guideline to eating real food that humans can thrive on. Like anybody else’s healthy diet, theres also room for the occasional treat.

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88 Paige January 31, 2014 at 1:08 pm

I think the 80/20 principal is over-quoted, but I believe it boils down to the idea that doing anything inflexibly 100% of the time will cause more harm than good. While industrial seed oils, sugars, etc. can be shown not to be good for health, avoiding them 100% of the time without fail might mean that you miss out on a shared restaurant meal with loved ones, and the anxiety and stress caused by having to be perfect would negate the health benefit of not consuming these foods. Obviously many people have some non-negotiables (i.e. celiacs who would never eat even a little wheat), but most tend to find the things they can slide on from time to time that allow for all of the health-promoting aspects of shared human experience while not completely destroying their gut. I don’t think that the 80/20 rule is evidence that the diet is difficult to follow or that it leads to cravings (quite the opposite in my experience), just that we live in a very non “paleo” world and we have to make the best of it.

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89 Rachel January 31, 2014 at 1:26 pm

I do not think that my meat consumption changed much once starting Paleo. The two changes I did notice was I was buying and eating more vegetables and fish. The side of pasta on my plate turned into a side of mashed turnips. A dinner that would have been perhaps another serving of chicken, became salmon or tuna. And believe it or not–eggs and meats are the easiest proteins for our bodies to digest.

I have also never tried Paleo for the purpose of weight loss. I do it because I was constantly dealing with unexplained digestive issues. Paleo doesn’t feel rigid to me because it makes me feel good. I think if you try any diet that isn’t going to be a real lifestyle change for you, it won’t work. However, I do think Paleo can be a legitimate lifestyle change for a lot of people.

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90 Emily January 31, 2014 at 1:35 pm

As someone who eats paleo and has been a long time reader of Kath’s blog, I wouldn’t say that I eat more meat than Kath. Paleo has more of an emphasis on not eating grain than eating a ton of meat. The “rules” of paleo are not set up to lose weight… there’s a scientific reason why each food is not included in the good things to eat, i.e. grains contain lectin proteins which contribute to leaky gut syndrome rather than grains make you fat. In my experience, paleo is less about dieting to lose weight- it’s dieting to live longer and healthier. I know that you enjoy science and learning new things about food- I encourage you to read books like The Primal Blueprint, The Paleo Diet, and The Paleo Solution. I think part of the reason why so many paleo/primal advocates are speaking up about this post is because it doesn’t seem like it’s based in real research or experience.

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91 Ann January 31, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Matt – you just voiced my own concerns about the Paleo diet. We don’t need THAT much animal protein! Also, it’s not like cavemen would have had 24/7 access to meat. If you read any books on ancient eating habits that predate the Paleo diet crazy, for most people meat was eat only a few times a year because that’s the only time it was available. For the rest of the year they were eating butter made from animals in the spring, and breads (gasp).

I am also writing this post as a woman that desperately turned to Paleo to heal some digestive issues, and 1.5 years later I can honestly say that it is not a long term approach. I really wish I had tried something less restrictive. My hormones were a mess, and I know all the Paleo folks would like to tell me that I was “doing it wrong,” but I know that it just didn’t work for me, and besides…if it’s the panacea for all our health problems, it shouldn’t be something to be done wrong. I’ve found a lot of studies that do implicate an excess of animal protein in hormonal imbalances in women, and I can back that up with my own experience.

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92 Amelia @ Eating Made Easy January 31, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Great points, Matt!

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93 anonymous January 31, 2014 at 1:56 pm

matt, i think you are projecting things onto the paleo diet that do not exist. i have read extensively about the diet, and it’s not any more into “rules” than any other diet, far less so than some diets.

also, i don’t understand what you mean about the 80/20 rule. isn’t that pretty much the same idea as your wife’s squiggly line effect? i don’t see the problem. do you think it’s too restrictive, or do you not think it’s restrictive enough? i feel like you’ve said both in this comment.

and nothing paleo i have read recommends eating a “huge amount” of meat. meat is only one part of the diet, along with a higher percentage of healthy fats than many diets and vegetables and various other food. just because some people might eat more meat than they should and follow the paleo diet does not mean that is a tenet of the diet or that it’s proponents recommend doing so.

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94 Meghan January 31, 2014 at 1:56 pm

It doesn’t have to be a meat-heavy diet, and many people I know don’t eat much more meat than “regular” people. They eat WAY more veggies, however! Eggs for breakfast, salads with some protein at lunch (avocado for fat), a standard serving of meat at dinner along with sweet potatoes and 2-3 other veggies…that can be a typical Paleo day, and it models nothing more than healthy nutrition. The only thing it doesn’t include is a vast quantity of processed or simple carbs….and nobody really needs those, not if you’re getting some carbs from vegetable sources. It’s wrong to presume people are chowing down on nothing but meat 24/7.

I don’t believe grains are necessarily all bad (though modern wheat is not the same as wheat from many years ago), nor dairy, and that’s why I think you’ll find people commenting on an 80/20 attitude. Eating with a focus on quality protein, fat and vegetables 80% of the time allows for enjoyment of other foods that remaining 20% of the time. How is that any different than an 80/20 approach to calorie counting (be conscientious 80% of the time, relax a little for the remaining 20%)?? That’s how eating this way (or any way, really) is sustainable for the long-term. And, as others have mentioned, there’s no denying the many health benefits of eating this way to people who suffer from immune-related illnesses. Not every diet is about weight loss or body image, many are about simply feeling better.

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95 Mari January 31, 2014 at 4:07 pm

I’m not a follower of Paleo, but nobody can make a lifestyle change without some degree of “willpower” and starting with some basic rules in order to make long-term changes. I used to drink diet soda every day and made the decision a few years ago to stop…at first, it was really hard, but after awhile I didn’t miss it and my body felt so much better.

I’m sure you’d have to agree, given that you and Kath used to eat a lot of processed foods and have totally different diets (and documented that transition). Don’t knock anybody’s diet with that argument. I’m sure you guys have foods that aren’t allowed — artificial sweeteners, Doritoes, fast food, etc.!

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96 Sars January 31, 2014 at 5:10 pm

Wow, I have to say I am shocked Matt, that one issue you have is with the 80/20 rule, when that is exactly what Kath promotes so often! We all know that you and Kath do not eat Real Food all the time, and she is perfectly happy with that, and defends it vigorously! I also don’t see this as a meat heavy diet, or that Paleo followers are eating “huge amounts of meat”. ???

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97 S February 1, 2014 at 3:56 pm

“Wow, I have to say I am shocked Matt, that one issue you have is with the 80/20 rule, when that is exactly what Kath promotes so often!”

Yup. I’m very confused, too:

KathEats June 13, 2011 at 7:48 am

I’m not quite sure what you mean… no one is perfect, including me. I eat by “guidelines” not rules, which are meant to be broken! I definitely follow the 80/20 rule when it comes to eating guidelines, but the ethics of animals is something I take more seriously than say, cake for breakfast.

Read more at http://www.katheats.com/over-the-weather#r7oMdTFztGFFam5o.99

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98 Ashley January 31, 2014 at 11:34 pm

Matt, your own wife recommends 80/20 or 90/10 when discussing her own diet- and she has recommended it to others on this site, several times! She, and other RD’s, have made a point that 80/20 can help someone commit to a lifestyle, be it “real food” or paleo or “primal” or what have you.

I’ll be interested to hear what you say about the meat eating after the Paleo week of Cook Smarts!

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99 Matt February 1, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Sorry for the late responses here, great points raised! Also apologies if my post was incoherent – I had been awake for a long time.

I’m NOT critical of the 80/20 thing – I absolutely support it. What I don’t support is pretty much any label you give your diet. The way that the Paleo diet is portrayed is “if you’re doing Paleo, you eat this (the 80% stuff).” But I would be much more enthusiastic if it simply promoted balanced, less processed eating habits. Hell, I may be Paleo already… except for the approximately 1 pound of bread I eat per day (this is not an exaggeration).

I despise giving any label to your diet, and restricting any food. I’d call it the “Pollan method” except, well, there’s another label. Everything in moderation.

Lastly, I’ll admit that I’m not very empathetic towards people with digestive issues. It’s impossible for me to imagine people cutting X out of their diet and “I just felt so much better!” It honestly sounds like the placebo effect to me. The one thing that maybe helps me understand is that I do feel bloated after eating too much salt. Not in a gassy way, just plumply full (hey I can’t believe my spellchecker didn’t underline “plumply”). But it doesn’t stop me from eating salty foods… consider them my ice cream – I’ll take a pile of salty cheese fries or all the chips & salsa in the world any day! But in actuality I only eat this stuff occasionally.

Every single diet or eating program that has sprung up in the past 40 years has some truthful root to it, I just don’t think taking any one study as the final word is wise or effective. How about we just combine all the diets together? Oh wait, that’s what I eat now.

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100 Natalie February 1, 2014 at 7:11 pm

I agree one hundred percent about the labeling issue. Due to many food intolerances (which I will get into later), it quickly becomes obvious, when eating out for example, that I have strict requirements for what I can eat. If I explain, someone might say, “Hey, that sounds like a Paleo diet…” And I say, “I follow a Natalie diet. I eat only the food that makes me feel good, that tastes good, and is actively doing good things for my body.” It technically falls under the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol, with a few extra things taken out that bother me (rutabaga and turnips in general, go figure). That said, it’s really offensive to say you are not empathetic to those with food intolerances. It must be nice to have a GI system of steel (and I guess those around you don’t complain of anything less than that), but many are not that fortunate. This can be figured out through Ig tests or a strict elimination diet, as I did, keeping a detailed food and symptom diary. A lot of these things are really common food allergens; it’s fairly naive to say that it’s just placebo effect. If it was just placebo effect, I don’t think it would have such a high success rate for those who actually do try it and feel better.

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101 Matt February 1, 2014 at 8:59 pm

Don’t confuse the words empathy and sympathy. I’m extremely thankful that I can eat the foods I love, and I’m sorry for those who can’t. But I literally have a problem empathizing, or understanding, digestive issues since I have none. I’m trying to say that it makes me more skeptical of all the various diets and labels out there because I haven’t experienced anything to make me want to eliminate a food.

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102 Ashley February 3, 2014 at 12:21 am

I guess this explains why you don’t offer GF bread at your GH when other locations do? I sincerely hope you can learn to be empathetic to others’ digestive issues without having to experience them.

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103 Matt February 3, 2014 at 8:41 am

I’ve been on the fence about this for a long time – how can we simultaneously mill whole wheat flour in our bakery and also bake a gluten free bread that we’re confident is contaminant free? If you leave anything in the bakery for even a week, it will have a layer of flour on it. So even if I isolate all the gluten free ingredients, what about when I open the container to make the bread? These are the things we have to think about.

I’m also worried about the litigious customer who will make a big deal when (not if) they consume more gluten than their body can handle. No matter how many clarifications and warnings we put on something, I’m not confident that the person will accept responsibility for their choice.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to make money while providing a great product – the GH gluten free breads are the best I’ve ever tasted. What would you do?

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104 Marie February 3, 2014 at 10:36 am

Just curious how you rationalize the “pound of bread” you eat each day with your “everything in moderation” philosophy? It’s somewhat insulting that you call those who cut out grains to be extreme, yet you eat what is for many (including the FDA) an unhealthy and extreme amount of bread/carbohydrate.

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105 Matt February 4, 2014 at 7:52 pm

What can I say – bread’s the best food and mine’s amazing!

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106 christina February 5, 2014 at 11:51 pm

I just stumbled upon this post and seriously could not stop reading. Oh, the drama! I admire you both for handling some of these nasty comments with such class. But your comment about your bread was hands-down the best line on this whole page. Hysterical. And now I want a slice of that bread!! Hahah

107 Ashley February 4, 2014 at 1:37 am

Well my local GH has been around for around 24-25 years, and they’ve offered GF bread, cookies, muffins, granola, and brownies for as long as I can remember. I think people have common sense and realize that cross contamination is a factor. I think all it takes is a sign or a sticker that says “these breads are baked in our facility which mills, mixes, and bakes wheat flour. We unfortunately cannot accept responsibility for trace amounts of gluten in these products.” Or simply say “if you have Celiac, these products may not be for you.”

I’m kind of confused about “if you leave anything in the bakery for even a week…” uh….why are you leaving food or products out in the open, let alone for a week at a time? I don’t think it’s that hard to make GF bread first thing in the morning so that it’s the first batch with clean equipment- clearly most bakeries have embraced this lifestyle option and clearly that helps them profit! I’d be more afraid about not offering those items and driving away that customer base.

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108 Matt February 4, 2014 at 7:42 pm

I’m talking about leaving something like a cup or a clipboard in one location for a week.

Our first employees currently arrive at 3:30am. For a baker to arrive, mix GF bread, bake it, cool it, and bag it, they would probably have to get to the bakery at 10pm and work alone. It’s not unfeasible but I’m not 100% sure it’s the route we want to take. It’s difficult finding reliable people to work crazy hours but at least with 3:30 you are able to stay on a fairly regular schedule. To hire a 10pm baker is asking someone to flip flop their sleep/awake schedules.

Again, it’s all possible – just trying to think of what we want to do. I just wanted to point out that it’s not small feat to just make it first thing. And without going into it here, there are reasons we start the regular bake at 3:30 rather than 10pm which is probably more traditional for bakeries.

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109 Cassie February 4, 2014 at 5:32 pm

Matt, if this is something you wish to pursue, have you asked other GH owners how they’ve done it? Obviously it’s practiced in other franchises, maybe that could provide you with their tips and tricks on how they try to keep cross contamination to a minimal.

I think you’d have to decide if the risk that a client may ignore the warnings you post and GH has posted about their GF breads is worth the reward of providing this alternative to your clients. There are different degrees of severity for the different reasons a client might avoid Gluten or Wheat-some people can handle some cross contamination, some people can’t. I would imagine the people who a severe allergy would be wise enough to avoid anything made in a bakery, or to inquire about a cross contamination. Like I said, I would think other GH owners who DO provide gluten free products would have some advice on how they handle this product.

also-here’s an study that looked at people who claimed to have a gluten intolerance, that utilized placebos in it’s methodology. Just thought it might be a good read! http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22825366

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110 Matt February 4, 2014 at 7:50 pm

You have to remember I have to think about the worst case scenario – not the likely case. It’s very likely that most people would read the warnings, make their own decisions, and live with the consequences. But then we have people winning lawsuits because hot coffee is hot. As I typed this, I had this vision of ten, twenty years from now when there’s a new law for food allergy discrimination in restaurants and we all have to provide ten different alternatives for every dish we make. Sounds crazy but really, how much would it take to enact something like this? Maybe not that extreme, but something that suddenly turns the generally accepted idea of “buyer beware” into “producer beware.”

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111 Cassie February 5, 2014 at 4:51 pm

I can understand your concerns. And that’s a very real possibility, since a lot of restaurants get razzed for not providing a gluten-free menu, a vegetarian menu, a low calorie option, etc. However, there’s a logistical side to it, and that’s a bakery can never be free of gluten/wheat cross contamination (the only comparison i can draw to the hot coffee incident, is if you didn’t include a warning on the bread that said it could be cross contaminated, since the law suit was based on negligence of securing the coffee cup.)

That being said, that doesn’t stop people from providing a GF option (like other Great Harvest providers do), since, as you stated, it provides revenue with a great product. I did state it would be a risk, but that is a decision you would have to make, and maybe if you were actually considering it, you could talk to other GH owners. if you don’t choose to provide a GF option, then great! It’s not really a big enough population to have a huge impact on sales.

Of course, this whole interaction is slightly negated by the fact that I’m a crazy Paleo eater ;) so I don’t really know much about bread!

112 Nina February 5, 2014 at 10:21 pm

Matt, you’re not referencing the hot coffee case correctly. Here’s just a bit more detail you may find helpful:

The McDonald’s hot coffee suit was filed merely because the coffee was hot. The coffee in that case was so hot it resulted in third degree burns to the thighs of the plaintiff. She required multiple skin grafts due to the severity of her burns. Hundreds of other burn complaints had previously been made to McDonald’s. McDonald’s was aware the coffee was too hot and yet continued to brew it to dangerous temperatures because it saved them money since they weren’t brewing new batches as frequently.

The damages awarded in that case were so high because it was the only way to get the attention of McDonald’s and other corporations that engage in similar behavior. The amount was eventually overturned on appeal and the parties settled for a smaller amount. You can read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liebeck_v._McDonald's_Restaurants and check out the citations, or you can check out “Hot Coffee” on Netflix if you don’t feel like reading digging through the info.

Perhaps it would benefit you and Kath to have a consultation with an attorney regarding potential risks you’d be taking on by selling gluten-free bread. It may cost you some money up front, but then you could make a more educated decision about products you’re willing to sell in store instead of fearing lawsuits at every turn.

113 Cassie February 6, 2014 at 9:50 am

^ I wasn’t aware of the previous complaints! I thought they won the case based on negligence; I guess it can be a mix of the two (coffee was to hot AND lids weren’t put on properly, resulting in several burns).

I agree with Nina. Consulting an attorney would be a great step IF you choose to sell GF bread. I guess you would also have to do some research on the wants and needs of your locale clientele to see if GF bread and products would be worth the investment.

114 Jessica February 1, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Having suffered from severe IBS in the past, I must say that if you HAD struggled with digestive issues you would have no problem being more empathetic. And trust me when I say that cutting out certain foods is not a placebo affect. Its extraordinarily judgmental and offensive to assume that it is, especially when you admit that you have no experience whatsoever with anything beyond salt bloat. (Which is not comparable at all to digestive disorders such as colitis or IBS.)

Its fine to not be empathetic; you really can’t be without having gone through it yourself. But please save the judgments and assumptions for things you are educated on.

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115 Sars February 1, 2014 at 9:50 pm

Matt, please keep in mind that feeling bloated after eating salty food is not anywhere near the same as someone suffering from a food allergy or food intolerance. And while an allergy, like to peanuts, soy or tree nuts can be life threatening, a food intolerance can be life altering. And ridding yourself from the food you are intolerant to, but not deathly allergic to, has a significant impact on an individual’s life that should not be poo-pooed as a placebo effect. My son has an intolerance to casein. That means, HE CANNOT DIGEST IT. Therefore, he cannot drink cow’s milk. No, he will not have a life threatening reaction if he does drink cow’s milk, but what will happen is it will sit in his stomach for hours, cramping him, making him uncomfortable and miserable, remaining undigested, until he vomits up the rancid, sour milk, usually projectile, and uncontrollable. He is 12 years old. It’s not in his mind. It’s not placebo. It is real and significant. But thankfully, not life threatening, which as a parent, TRUSTME, one becomes very, very thankful for not having a child who is deathly allergic to a food that can be accidently, or carelessly, or thoughtlessly given to them.

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116 Rachel February 2, 2014 at 12:17 pm

I actually realized I had a dairy intolerance before I started Paleo. I also cannot eat most legumes and knew that prior to Paleo as well. With all the blogs, cookbooks and tools out there, following the Paleo diet made it really easy to cut dairy and legumes. I have always eaten grains, but never as much as in the typical American diet. While adding them back in I realized a couple of pieces of bread is okay and doesn’t send me into digestive distress, but if I eat a typical serving of pasta, I bloat and feel awful. Do I still have pasta? Sometimes, but not often. I can also tolerate some cheese and butter. I thank the Paleo diet for allowing me to in tune enough with my body to figure these things out, because I really do like the occasional piece of pizza. If you read “the science” behind the Paleo diet, you will see the restricted foods cause inflammation in some people and that inflammation can lead to digestive distress. My friend, a doctor, was about one ulcerative colitis attack away from having part of his intestines removed. He did some research and took charge of his health and started Paleo and he got to go off immune system suppressing drugs and got to keep his intestines. Placebo effect indeed!

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117 Lacey February 2, 2014 at 8:51 pm

I didn’t think I had reactions to any food either… Until I cut out most bread and other grains. I went from wanting to nap at my desk every afternoon to easily getting through the work day.

I just hope this article doesn’t persuade someone who might benefit from more paleo/ primal eating not to at least give it a try…or do more of their own research before deciding for sure.

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118 strawberry February 3, 2014 at 9:30 am

Imagine the worst food poisoning you’ve ever had. Times two. That’s me after developing celiac disease. My doctor had to force me to go off gluten. many people’s doctor’s tell them to change their diet. Some people have health issues and would MUCH rather eliminate a food than take pills. I really wish you’d try to develop some empathy, it’s an important aspect of being a good parent and good person.

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119 Tonya February 3, 2014 at 1:38 pm

http://www.diffen.com/difference/Empathy_vs_Sympathy

For help in understanding/not confusing the two terms. :-)

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120 Patricia February 3, 2014 at 3:26 pm

I hear you, strawberry! A friend of mine thought she was suffering from early onset of arthritis (she was only in her late 30s at the time). She was diagnosed with Celiacs Disease, and since cutting gluten out of her diet completely, her symptoms have totally disappeared. It’s amazing how different we all are — right down to the way we digest and physically tolerate certain foods. Even though she’s thrilled that her symptoms are gone, I know she’d much rather just be able to take a pill and be able to enjoy whatever foods she wants.

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121 Marcy February 9, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Matt, I am late to this discussion but I am actually baffled that you can’t empathize with someone who removes a food from their diet and feels better. To say it’s a placebo effect…is literally baffling to me. Do you live under a rock? Your random bloating from salt is not the same as someone who has an autoimmune reaction to grains and spends weeks in the hospital because of it. It’s exceptionally insulting to say that, when recently so many people have spoken up about how SCD, Paleo, or even Gluten Free have improved their AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE. I would consider looking into the author of the great blogs Against All Grain, or Living Loving Paleo for personal accounts of two women who removed foods such as grains from their diet and felt better. The proof of this is that they are off their medication and/or no longer spending weeks in the hospital. I’m sorry but what other proof do you need? For the record, I am not Paleo but grew up with severe digestive distress and had a very bad stomach flare in the summer from suspected Colitis, and after spending my summer on a paleo diet, and healing my gut, I am able to enjoy grains in moderation and no longer suffer from debilitating stomach aches. Anyway, I could go on and on but I won’t, I’m just so shocked at your ignorance for something that has been proven time and time again to help people with diagnosable diseases, and the improvement is measurable not just from how they “feel” but through tests such as blood work and colonoscopies. I would encourage you, and the author of this article to do more research and look into the healing benefits of specific diets…. and consider the fact that just because you can eat a pound of bread doesn’t mean everyone else should be able to without a problem. We are all different.

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122 Caroline Hurley January 31, 2014 at 11:48 am

This is such a fantastic article! Great information. I’ve heard so much about the Paleo diet, but it’s not something I could ever stick to. I love too many things that are not allowed!

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123 Natasha January 31, 2014 at 11:55 am

There is so much misinformation here in this post. I enjoy reading this blog but I’m not impressed with this post or the misinformation presented. I know the meaning is good, but better research needs to be done.
Paleo = whatever you want it to be. You are encouraged to omit all of the things that can cause inflammation (dairy, legumes, starches) and reintroduce (everything but gluten) these items slowly to see if anything causes inflammation/discomfort.
Paleo is also a lifestyle–not a diet! It is called the Paleo diet by many, however; it’s actually a lifestyle change because once you reintroduce things that cause inflammation, you’ll become inflamed! However, not everything causes inflammation and sickness in everyone so you tailor it to your needs.
Additionally, there is a fundamental flaw in this argument: just because the author personally doesn’t know anyone who hasn’t maintained the lifestyle, doesn’t mean it’s not true. In fact, paleo is growing and there are plenty of people who have followed it for years. We tend to surround ourselves with like-minded people so it would make sense that if we believe a whole grain based diet is the best, many people we know will think the same, or we’ll teach that as dietitians.
Paleo is NOT a strict this or that. You do what works for you. I also wouldn’t call this ultra-restrictive. It’s actually much easier as you aren’t meandering down many aisles of the grocery store :)
My husband is a registered dietitian. When I first argued for going paleo he got really offended and upset because he was taught (probably a lot like most dietitians) that whole grains are ESSENTIAL. However, he came around once he saw the inflammation I had go way down. I suffer from thyroid and insulin issues (not lifestyle related, but the rare diabetic-due-to-genetics that I’m fighting!) Ever since he is open to talking to patients about the paleo diet and he follows it himself. In fact, we took it a step further and are doing the ketogenic diet (which is an actual diet, meant for a short period of time and NOT a lifestyle like paleo!) I still enjoy wine, cheese, dairy, cider and occasional carbs like rice–which according to the author’s definitions aren’t allowed.
Please, as academics and professionals, it’s SO imperative that we do good research before spreading misinformation that can cause people to overlook things that might help them. I have NO doubt that this post means well, but whatever helps people should be promoted. If this were dangerous, yes it should be discouraged, but it’s not! You don’t get emaciated on this diet–it’s not restrictive in caloric intake–it’s full of veggies and protein and some fruits.

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124 Emily January 31, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Love this!

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125 Lauren @ Lettuce Eat Cake January 31, 2014 at 11:59 am

Also, because I forgot to say this before, obviously I completely support everyone making their own decisions about what type of eating plan works best for their own lives. I would never judge anyone’s eating choices, either in person or online. I just get a little riled up about this topic because, for me personally, conventional diet advice has not worked to regulate my weight, and being told “yes, as someone prone to being very overweight, your body does NOT work the same way a thin person’s does” actually felt really comforting. Gretchen Rubin has done some fantastic work on the subject of moderators vs. abstainers, and how for some people saying no to certain food groups entirely is actually easier than just eating moderate amounts.

In short, I think finding the right equation involves a lot of trial and error, and if a more primal way of eating helps me to maintain a healthy weight and feel great, that’s what I will do. And for anyone struggling with moderate consumption of carbs, cutting out majorly addictive sources like bread, pasta and rice entirely can actually be freeing.

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126 Kate Nielsen February 1, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Moderators vs abstainers would be an interesting topic.

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127 Jacki January 31, 2014 at 12:04 pm

I was vegetarian for 5 years, a vegan for 1, and I just wanted to add my perspective. Following paleo eating habits has made me feel LIGHT-YEARS better than when I was vegetarian.
I never feel the blood sugar crashes anymore. When I was vegetarian, I was very thoughtful as to what I ate, to ensure I had plenty of fat and protein. Nevertheless, I was still experiencing horrible sugar spikes and crashes. Within an hour of eating breakfast (usually with egg or peanut butter), I would be shaking and starving.
At night, I would be hungry before bed, even though I had a complete meal for dinner. I would also frequently experience bloating and heartburn, despite never eating processed or prepackaged food.
On paleo, when I do get hungry, it is gradual and not as intense as when I was vegetarian. I eat way more fruits and vegetables, and feel satiated for hours after eating a meal. I no longer snack, and I never get heartburn. Any time I stray away from paleo eating habits and eat a bagel, a bowl of cereal, or slices of bread, I get horrible heartburn and acid reflux for days afterward. I also spend less on groceries now, because I’m no longer buying jars of peanut butter, boxes of oatmeal, bread, milk, beans, or cheese.
This diet is not about losing weight for most people. It is to help them physically feel better after perhaps years of feeling “unwell” eating processed grains. I don’t miss beans or most grains. If I know I’m going to be straying from the diet, I make sure I fill up on food that makes me feel good, like fresh veggies, grass-fed beef, cage-free local eggs, organic butter, or olive oil.
I think this post really ignores the fact that for many people, eating multiple servings of grains a day does not improve their health. Many people could not care less about eating beans, grains, or dairy. To say this form of eating is unsustainable just because you can’t imagine sticking to it is ignorant of the health needs of many people.
I eat about 2 servings of meat a day. The rest of my meals are filled with vegetables, fruit, eggs, almonds, and sometimes Greek yogurt. I have never felt better. I wish this post was not so biased, and was better researched. I was hoping an article like this would actually analyze the pros and cons of the paleo lifestyle, rather than ignoring much of the research and simply applying your own conclusion to something that has helped a lot of people.

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128 Celina February 2, 2014 at 10:39 pm

EVERYONE please read 801010 diet by dr Douglas graham. Fruits and veggies supply our bodies with all of the protein, fat and nutrients we need!

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129 Lauren @ Lettuce Eat Cake January 31, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Oh and last comment, I promise. Like any other eating plan, you can follow a paleolithic plan healthfully, or not. Two people could be striving to eat 1800 calories a day, with one eating whole processed food and the other eating 100-calorie packs. The same goes for Paleo. Eating tons of meats, lots and lots of coconut, tons of bacon is not a healthful diet. But moderate amounts of lean protein, healthy fats from lots of different sources, limiting consumption of processed meats like bacon and sausage, getting plenty of carbs in the form of all kinds of veggies and fruits? That’s a solidly healthy plan by anyone’s definition. I don’t follow blogs that try to take the Standard American Diet and Paleo-fy it, such as the Paleo Red Velvet Cake example above. Those recipes give the whole Paleo movement a bad name.

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130 Anastasia January 31, 2014 at 9:45 pm

I take issue with the idea that sausage is the paradigmatic processed food. My husband and I buy the loveliest meat we can afford (which varies, we’re poor students) and regularly grind and case our own sausages. We freeze them for busy nights and they make an savory, meaty, hearty dinner. They’re quick to prepare, delicious, and I eat them without a second thought. Same goes for our breakfast sausage. I’d encourage others to try grinding your own (it’s cinch if you have a KitchenAid mixer and grinder attachment). You can also ask about what’s in the sausages at the butcher counter (if you have one).

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131 Julie January 31, 2014 at 12:22 pm

I also think this article misses out on some important points about Paleo. I think of it as similar to a medical elimination diet- scale down what you “allow” yourself to eat for short time (focusing on anti-inflammatory food choices) then gradually add foods (eggs, nightshades, grains, etc. etc.) back in, paying attention to how you feel while adding foods back in. When treated that way, Paleo “dieters” have a way of figuring out what foods their bodies tolerate and what foods irritate them. The benefit of knowing this information is twofold: 1) once you know what irritates your body, you can avoid it, and 2) know how “irritants” make you feel is great motivation to stay on any kind of diet that restricts them. The individuals I know who are consistent with a Paleo diet do so because they feel terrible when/if they wantonly eat foods that bother them.

I would consider myself a “Paleo” dieter in that sense, too. Luckily for me, though, my body tolerates soaked or fermented grains, legumes, and fermented or raw dairy just fine. Just because I eat these foods doesn’t preclude me from being a member of my local Paleo community and encouraging other people to adopt the Paleo diet as a way to start eating real foods from responsible and sustainable sources.

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132 Sarah January 31, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Great post! I think this is a very level-headed and fair approach. I appreciate the “50,000 foot” perspective.

The proponents of this variety of diet can get very bogged down in the details, as demonstrated by many of the comments here. Many folks don’t see the forest for the trees. Paleo/primal/whole30 is a diet for most people and a lifestyle for the very few whose bodies respond to it and they find it natural and easy.

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133 Christine (The Raw Project) January 31, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Great post broken down to the important points of the diet in a fast read, thanks. Agreed the diet seems too restrictive, more so than my vegan diet and I’ve seen family struggle with similar diets for years without health improvements and possibly relying on it too much to replace physical activity.

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134 Dana @ Conscious Kitchen Blog January 31, 2014 at 12:38 pm

I enjoyed this article and felt it showcased two sides of the argument well. For me personally, a “diet” such as Paleo is too restrictive and I would want to binge on every cupcake in sight after 2 days. However, maybe having a structured plan works for some people. I don’t think it would be sustainable in the long run, but if you try Paleo it does teach you some principles such as only choose high-quality meats, eat lots of veggies and to buy high-quality meats, you can carry those throughout your eating for the rest of your life. That’s the “pro” for me which I think just mostly reflects the need in our country to shift from highly-processed diets to eating more whole foods and cooking more.

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135 Patricia February 1, 2014 at 4:03 pm

That cupcake comment made me laugh. I know it may be hard to believe–I had a hard time believing it until I removed gluten containing grains from my meal plans. I have NO cravings for cupcakes. Or bread. Or cookies. Etc. I chose to eat this way–not to lose weight, but to feel better. I eat normal serving of meat, fish, and eggs. I eat a LOT of vegetable. I eat fruit and nuts in normal serving sizes. I do NOT Count calories. My weight just does not fluctuate anymore–it stays at a healthy number. I cannot ever imagine going back to digestive issues and blood sugar issues

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136 Eryn January 31, 2014 at 12:44 pm

I guess my problem with this article and many of the comments is the assertion that as someone following the Paleo way of life I don’t know what’s best for me and my body. I would never tell another person what to eat, mostly because I’m a firm believer that there is NOT one way. “All things in moderation” works well for some people – I’m just not one of them!

There is no such thing as me ‘moderating’ a loaf of sourdough bread in my house! Ha! What I’ve experienced in the last yearish of eating Primal and occasionally Paleo is a freedom from my obsession with food. I will always enjoy food, trying new recipes, celebrating over a special meal, but ridding myself of the constant battle of balancing blood sugar spikes has been liberating to say the least, and the health benefits I’m experiencing make me unable to come up with a reason that I would return to the “all things in moderation” way of eating anytime soon.
Will I ever eat a piece of bread or an amazing dessert again? Of course I will. But I will make sure it’s the most delicious perfect piece of bread that I can enjoy as part of my 20% and not as part of my daily or weekly routine.
There are also several straight up incorrect things mentioned (sweet potatoes are encouraged! too bad I haaaate them ;)), just wish Amelia had done some more research – http://www.marksdailyapple.com is an amazing resource.

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137 Tatum @ Eats From The Oil Patch January 31, 2014 at 1:06 pm

Great article! I agree that the paleo diet has some strengths but from experience restrictive diets absolutely leads to binging. I have incorporated a lot of the paleo diet principles into my eating habits and have seen many positive results :) eating more veggies, more healthy fats and little to no refined sugar has done wonders for my insides :)

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138 Ali January 31, 2014 at 1:10 pm

I love the chart! There’s also no research showing low carbohydrate diets of any sort are good for heart health.

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139 J January 31, 2014 at 2:10 pm

But there is research linking inflammation to cardiovascular disease and research linking grains to inflammation.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16470012

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2821887/

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140 Dana January 31, 2014 at 1:25 pm

I’ve dabbled in Paleo dieting and it’s tough. I will say that I did feel amazing and had the flattest belly ever while eating Paleo. Primal is much easier to maintain.

On a random note, have you seen the Majon Jar Measuring Cup? http://www.worldmarket.com/product/mason+jar+measuring+cups.do?&utm_campaign=11410997%3ACJ&camp=Aff%3A4441350%3A11410997%3ACJ&utm_source=4441350&utm_medium=affiliate

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141 KathEats January 31, 2014 at 1:56 pm

That is SO CUTE! I might have to venture over there and buy it : )

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142 Denise January 31, 2014 at 1:42 pm

As a Mediterrenean gal, my hairs rise whenever i hear the word “paleo”. As the author mentioned, not only legumes and grains but surprisingly high in dairy. Yogurt and cheese are staples. No way in a million years will I ever choose coconut oil over olive oil.

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143 Denise January 31, 2014 at 1:45 pm

My bad it should be “Not only is the Med diet rich in legumes and grains, it is surprisingly high in dairy too”. Gosh I am so glad to be of a region of people who have discovered how to eat a very very long time ago and I will never fall into these paleo traps.

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144 Angela January 31, 2014 at 1:52 pm

Interesting post. I’m curious what your personal take us on this, Kath. I remember you mentioning in one of your recent posts that you were going to do a Paleo week soon (I believe it was in relation to the Cook Smarts service). It appears that you would not recommend this diet since you published a post with that sentiment on your blog. Can you speak to this to help out us confused readers? :)

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145 KathEats January 31, 2014 at 2:18 pm

The Paleo week was just a part of the Cook Smarts new year “diets for fun” series. I ended up with some noodles and I think bread one night. I honestly could not go a week without eating whole grains. You’d have to pay me a lot of money.

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146 Ashley January 31, 2014 at 11:35 pm

Wait, isn’t Cook Smarts only for dinner? It’s not like you’d go the whole week without eating grains, just a whole week of dinners, right? I definitely couldn’t go a week cold turkey with no grains at any meal, but just at dinner? I could see that- breakfast like a king, dinner like a pauper, as you said recently!

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147 KathEats February 1, 2014 at 7:16 am

Yeah a week of all meals would be even harder. I just didn’t feel like cauliflower rice or all zucchini noodles

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148 Ilane @cultiv8health February 1, 2014 at 6:47 pm

What a wonderful post, Amelia and Kath! I agree, agree and agree.

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149 Janelle January 31, 2014 at 1:57 pm

I agree with the commenters who say this post is misleading and inaccurate. I won’t list all the ways, because others have already begun to do that (sweet potatoes, grass-fed dairy etc.). It’s also NOT essentially low-carb (though sometimes that is a by-product of choosing to only eat whole foods), as the focus is on the inflammatory nature of grains not on the reduction of carbs in and of itself. You could consider yourself “paleo” and eat a lot of sweet potatoes and fruit and definitely not be eating a low-carb diet. Also, most people who eat this way (temporarily or long term) do it for health reasons (esp. autoimmune diseases, digestive health, etc.) – not because that’s what cave people ate. Finally, people seem to get so hung up on the meat aspect of paleo, but many paleo people eat more vegetables and salads than the average person and eat normal sizes of meat/seafood/eggs. Simply because they don’t have a roll alongside their salmon salad doesn’t make them any less healthy or more carnivorous than someone who eats a diet like Kath demonstrates on her blog. Additionally, many people on this diet see a huge reduction in their cholesterol and lipid levels, despite eating a fair amount of meat and healthy fats, suggesting those items aren’t the problem. I’m not saying that everyone should choose to eat this way, but I definitely think that this post could have been researched better and presented in a less biased way.

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150 Kaila @healthyhelperblog! January 31, 2014 at 2:02 pm

I love this post for its content as well as the fact that it comes from an expert in food and nutrition! I’ve always been against the paleo diet as I see it as very restrictive and limiting of key nutrients. I believe it’s best to eat moderately from ALL the food groups and to not cut any specific one out unless it is medically necessary. Happy to see my opinion backed up with scientific fact!

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151 Rachel January 31, 2014 at 2:20 pm

What nutrients are missing?

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152 Andrea @ pencils and pancakes January 31, 2014 at 3:55 pm

I don’t see any scientific evidence backing up this article actually

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153 Jackie January 31, 2014 at 2:04 pm

I disagree that following a paleo or primal diet needs to be restrictive to the point of causing yo-yo dieting. One can eat grass fed meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and high-quality dairy most of the time and still allow themselves to get non-paleo meals that they aren’t allergic to.

I think the biggest difference between what conventional wisdom considers healthy and what the paleo/primal camp considers healthy is the particular foods each encourages. Both allow for moderation. For example, higher fat cuts of grass-fed beef are considered healthy paleo foods, while conventional wisdom would recommend leaner cuts or avoiding meat all together. I would be more convinced by this post had it attempted to tackle the nutritional science issues in these differences.

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154 Meagan January 31, 2014 at 2:25 pm

I think this posts lacks a firm look at the science behind both ways of eating.

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155 Kim January 31, 2014 at 2:52 pm

To say that the science isn’t there is incorrect. To say that whole grains are a necessary source of any nutrient that can’t be found elsewhere is the same logic touted by the USDA for the past few decades that has lead to a significant increase in heart disease, autoimmune disorders, incidence of cancer, and gut disorders such as IBD/celiac disease. These are not nutrient dense foods and any nutrients can be found in many vegetables and other whole food sources. They lead to glycated, oxidized LDL (the real cause to heard disease), huge triglyceride production, large blood sugar fluctuation which can lead to insulin resistance or type II diabetes, chronic inflammation that alters gut microbiome which are the underlying causes for nearly every disease with the exception of a few genetic disorders. Making a blanket statement that promotes regular grain consumption is dangerous. Yes, there are individuals who are able to subsist rather well on such a diet. These individuals are rare and it would be much safer to make a blanket statement of the reverse, that whole grains should be avoided unless you have determined for yourself that they are not gut disrupting, causing autoimmune disorders, chronic inflammation, or leading to dangerous blood sugar fluctuations. And to say paleo is restrictive is like saying an alcoholic getting sober is restrictive. When you do something awful for yourself for years, decades even, and then you change that habit, it’s hard, it’s restrictive, but it’s worth it. I also understand that the environmental/sustainable concerns are valid but they can be minimized or eliminated by making specific choices for our food quality and sources when possible.

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156 KathEats January 31, 2014 at 3:02 pm

You are going to the extreme a bit with the pro-grain examples. I don’t think anyone would say they are the ONLY source of nutrients, but they are a GOOD source of nutrients from plants. They are nutrient dense when you think about everything that’s packed into a whole grain along with the energy they provide. There is tons of research supporting the health benefits of whole grains.

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157 Kim January 31, 2014 at 3:18 pm

But does one actually absorb/utilize those nutrients? Are they available to be utilized for cellular processes? Grains/Seeds/Nuts have all derived defense mechanisms for predators. The research suggesting health benefits of whole grains is only saying that it is healthier than white flour or other refined grains. Saying something is less bad for me is not sufficient. At least promoting sprouting your grains to minimize the influence of the so called ‘anti-nutrients’ and disruptive proteins in the protective shell would be more responsible.

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158 KathEats January 31, 2014 at 3:22 pm

The research says that those who eat whole grains have a significant reduction of disease – cancer, heart disease, stroke. And this is across tons of studies.

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159 anonymous January 31, 2014 at 3:41 pm

but what was their diet before this reduction? was it the standard american diet? because that would mean, like kim was saying, that the studies have only confirmed whole grains are better than more-refined grains.

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160 KathEats January 31, 2014 at 4:10 pm

The reduction is in comparison to those who eat less grains – not necessarily the same person on a different diet. I don’t know the specifics because I don’t have the primary studies in front of me, but I doubt it is always in comparison to a previous SAD. A lot of the evidence is epidemiological.

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161 Jenny January 31, 2014 at 3:57 pm

But with that type of research we have to think about the difference between correlation vs. causation. There could be other factors in those people’s diet like high vegetable intake, lack of processed foods, etc., that explain those reductions in disease. This is why nutritional research is very tricky and unreliable. It goes both ways, but that’s why I would encourage personal experimentation.

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162 KathEats January 31, 2014 at 4:02 pm

I totally agree with your points. But I do think that the grain studies have accounted for that. Had there just been a handful of studies maybe not, but the research on whole grains is so widespread.

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163 Ali January 31, 2014 at 3:31 pm

The incidence of Celiac is likely not increasing, the ability to diagnose the disease and understand the varying ways the disease can manifest (along with more and better education of health care professionals) is what is causing the physical number of cases to increase. You can eat all the gluten you want or none at all and still have Celiac – it is hereditary. It’s a little funny that you say to not make a blanket statement that promotes regular grain consumption but then you make a blanket statement that eating grains is the underlying cause for nearly every disease except a few genetic disorders. No blanket statement works for everything food and illness related. To say that every cancer, cold, and diabetes cases are caused by eating grains is extreme. There are so many other factors to take into consideration. Grains are not evil. They may not be the best for you, personally, but for others, they are just fine.

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164 Ellie@Fit for the soul January 31, 2014 at 2:53 pm

In my opinion, this is very well put together, and bottom line for me is that unless we have health issues with food, anything in balance and moderation is key. Too much restriction in the long run can’t be healthy, but I guess we’ll see the results in long term studies years from now, since a lot of these ways of eating are still somewhat new and it’s too soon to tell. Thanks for sharing!!!

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165 Angelica January 31, 2014 at 2:55 pm

I’m so confused as to why certain goods are allowed or restricted from the paleo diet. For example, why sweet potatoes but not regular potatoes? Why grass-fed butter, but not regular butter or even milk? Some of these choices seem rather arbitrary, but I’m not looking to diet, anyway.

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166 Kim January 31, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Sweet potatoes have higher nutrients per calorie. But many people on Paleo who are in need of higher carb intake due to activity level or simply not looking to lose any weight, consume white potatoes. The reason grass-fed butter and dairy products is so much better is because cows are ruminant animals and what they consume ferments. This fermentation process when fermenting grass leads to increase of antioxidants (CLA is of special concern) as well as a better Omega 3 to 6 ratio. Additionally, just as grains are inflammatory in humans, they are also inflammatory in cows which do not properly digest grain feed. Thus consuming their dairy products and meat means we consume those same inflammatory proteins we try and avoid creating in our own bodies (along with having an imbalance of Omega 3:6 and about 1/3 of the CLA content). None of the choices made are arbitrary and it isn’t a diet to lose weight it’s a way of eating to improve healthfulness, if one loses weight in the process and that was the goal, then awesome. But no one that eats in a paleo (or primal) manner and truly understands it’s merits is doing it to be skinny.

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167 Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs January 31, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Interesting post — lots of information to think about!

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168 simple green moms January 31, 2014 at 3:38 pm

Very interesting point of view. We are all about balance and agree that Paleo +whole grains (mostly rice!) is still perfctly balanced! =)

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169 AmyR January 31, 2014 at 3:40 pm

People DO get passionate about their food rules, that’s for sure. As a big fan and follower of Dr. Furhman, who has hundreds of studies cited about the dangers of eating too much meat, I find it best to avoid it. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at 10 years old, and being on a plant/grain/bean diet for 30 years have never had a flare up, pain, or any issues. My colon is scoped every three years and looks calm and inflammatory free (despite the grains and beans). So, you definitely can’t say people with auto immune issues do better on Paleo, because I’m proof that’s not always true, and I have the scopes to prove it. :)

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170 KathEats January 31, 2014 at 4:12 pm

Thank you for sharing. This is important to note – the plant-based (and grain-based) group is just as passionate about the health benefits its way of eating has shown. (I have listened to some of Dr. Furhman’s podcasts). That’s why I am still all about diversity of food! You just gotta eat what makes you feel good.

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171 Ima February 3, 2014 at 5:49 pm

Chocolate cream pie makes me feel good. Dems good eats y’all.

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172 Christine February 1, 2014 at 9:49 am

I agree with this – I have IBD and I would NOT do well on a paleo diet. A lot of my diet depends on what I can tolerate (usually low fibre, and I’m lucky enough to be able to eat dairy consistently). I also don’t eat very much meat at all. I think the key is that people assume that what works for them will work for everyone and get really militant about it, when a patient’s diet with IBD is so individual.

Plus, it’s autoimmune. What I eat doesn’t make any difference if my body decides to go into flare mode – I can only ease or exacerbate symptoms with what I eat. I can be on TPN and still flaring!

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173 Andrea @ pencils and pancakes January 31, 2014 at 3:52 pm

I hVe been eating paleo for almost a year now and I have no plan on ever going back, I get pastured and grass fed meat and eat a ton of vegetables. I’m sorry but there’s no way that’s not healthy, I don’t feel deprived in the least. I eat delicious food all day long. It’s not a bout weight loss either.also, where does this ‘no studies have been done on the paleo diet’ come from? There actually have been any proving that it’s effective for weight loss,insulin management and to reduce inflammation. So I have no idea why you would say there are no studies. Also there are no nutrients like fiber in grains that you can’t get from vegetables, sorry- this argument is weak.

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174 Courtney January 31, 2014 at 4:29 pm

This is a GREAT post–thanks for the information. I am not supportive of the Paleo diet because life is way too short. Cutting out certain food groups for long periods of time seems unhealthy (unless of course you have allergies or medical issues). I have always felt that good for you whole grain carbs = energy. One of the many reasons I follow this blog is because it’s not restrictive in any way. Kath shows how you can have balance and moderation in your diet and still maintain a happy weight. I love her food philosophy !

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175 Christine January 31, 2014 at 6:46 pm

Sorry, I’m not impressed. This article is not very well researched and pretty biased. To say that paleo/primal principles aren’t backed up by science is downright wrong. Actually, there’s a LOT of research on this topic (as well as on the health effects of grains). Just go ahead an read it (other posters have mentined some good resources).

Paleo isn’t necessary low-carb, nor does it have to be meat-based or overly restrictive. Also, saying that it encorages the use of coconut products is like saying that vegetarianism encourages the consumation of broccoli: totally random.

Personally – I did “everything in moderation” including all the whole grain stuff and i do Primal (Paleo + some dairy) and I do feel a lot better without the blood sugar spikes. I dont feel deprived, there are no “strict and complicated rules” to follow and theres SO MUCH delicious food – and never ever the need to curb myself! It has helped my relationship with food a lot, and it relieved me from the constant need of snacking. I don’t have any weightloss or GI issues, but it has helped my husband with his stomach problems. I’d recommend it to anyone, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution: if you want to look into it, just read Chris Kresser’s current book “The Paleo Code”.

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176 Adam Parsons January 31, 2014 at 9:18 pm

First time I really gave it the 5 minutes to read something on this topic. On one hand I like the strong position of meat in it because it should provide enough protein for an active-living person who sports a lot (e. g. me :)). But on the other hand it forbids too many completely harmless kinds of food (Even beans? What have the beans done to you, paleo-founders?!) and the lack of science really got my mind off even thinking of it. This helped me orientate a bit, thank you!

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177 Suz January 31, 2014 at 9:20 pm

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BMOjVYgYaG8

I found this really interesting to watch.

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178 KathEats February 1, 2014 at 2:16 pm

This was great!!!! She is such a great speaker, and I loved the presentation. Real food for the win.

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179 Ramon Smith January 31, 2014 at 10:33 pm

free from the chronic illnesses and diseases that are epidemic! Great blog!

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180 Don Wiss February 1, 2014 at 12:35 am

“when you remember that most cavemen didn’t live beyond 30″

Sorry, but that isn’t mathematically possible. It used to take about 16 years to reach sexual maturity. Then another nine months to produce a baby. They breast fed for years. This keeps the prolactin level high, which makes it hard to get pregnant again. Then include infant mortality. If the life extended only to about 30, as a race we would have died off.

We know two things about their life expectancy: One is looking at their bones and teeth they look like bones of a 40 year old today. This does not mean they were 40! They did not have the diseases of civilization that now plague us. So no reason to expect their bones to degenerate like ours do today.

And second, based on menopause being nature’s way to not have a woman waste the effort of raising a kid and dying before they were self-sufficient, one can assume that they lived to about age 70. Female elephants also go through menopause — at around 50. It takes about 20 years for an elephant to be on its own. And you will find that their life expectancy is 70 years.

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181 Leah February 1, 2014 at 12:49 am

I am a registered dietitian and figured I would throw my 2 cents in. I am a fan of REAL food and local foods, but it doesn’t always happen. I love freshly made whole grain bread so strict Paleo isn’t for me. And since Kath and Matt own a bakery, I wouldn’t expect them to be promoting Paleo, that would be bad for business. Kath, we do have similar ways of eating and your posts inspire me to eat better. Back to my 2 cents, I do out-patient counseling and my approach to weight loss (or healthy eating but most everyone I see is overweight or obese) is really based on each individual patient. I always promote eating more vegetables but I listen to the patient and see what they want and what will work for them. I think Paleo is one of the better diet/lifestyle modifications out there. What I like about it is that it is full of REAL food and gives structure, which most people need when making dietary changes. Plus since it is so popular right now there are lots of support systems, bloggers, websites, cookbooks, etc. I have no problem if Paleo is the route a patient want to go, as long as they don’t go deficient in any vitamins/minerals. And I provide the education to make sure they don’t go deficient. I think most people do the 80/20 or some sort of modification to fit their lifestyle. No science to back it up (so no criticizing) but I feel that going Paleo will improve at least 9 out of 10 people’s diet in the long run. Even if they don’t stick with it they will have likely learned better eating habits and will eat better than they originally did. I do have a friend who went Paleo and his snack food now instead of potato chips is pork rinds, not what I would recommend but he likes them. Overall he is happy, feels better, lost weight, likes eating that way, has a support system, is working out regularly, and is proud of himself. I’d say those are all pros, and probably the ones that matter the most to him.

As a dietitian I have to say I am disappointed in my profession at times. As a whole it can be behind in terms of research or stuck on approaches that don’t seem to work (anecdotal observation). I do have a gallon container of ultra cold pressed coconut oil (yes, non-local) that I use along with grass-fed butter and olive oil. I won’t touch canola oil. But my profession still says I need to educate my patients (esp those with high cholesterol) to limit saturated fat and to use the “healthy” oils like olive and canola. Don’t tell the FDA but I also will do raw dairy when I can get it, gasp! There are some dietitians that will go against the grain (haha, pun intended) and Aglaee Jacob is one. She wrote Digestive Health with REAL Food and believes you don’t need grains. It is interesting that it was her own major digestive issues is what led her down that path. The book is a great read for anyone with digestive issues and is willing put the hard work in to heal with food.

People are passionate about food, it is something everyone can relate to. Amelia, I like your approach that eating should be simple, enjoyable, and not stressful. I also think your post was good, some people were way too critical, but that goes back to the passionate about food thing. Thanks Kath and Amelia for posting this blog!

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182 Rachel February 1, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Really like your perspective a lot! I have a doctor that is very tolerant of my eating choices and sees that I am healthy, even though I’m not filling my body with whole grains and dairy, so she tells me to continue with whatever is working for me.

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183 Amari @ Eat Chic Chicago February 2, 2014 at 1:54 pm

Love hearing some real food incite from another RD! The field of nutrition can be a tough one to navigate at times and you can find you there’s a fine line about what you can recommend to patients depending on your place of employment. Glad to hear I’m not the only RD with grass-fed butter, coconut oil, and raw dairy in my fridge!

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184 elyssa February 1, 2014 at 9:02 am

wellll….. the PRINCIPLES of the pleo diet are good for

1) restructuring people’s ideas of what is ‘bad’ and ‘good’ in terms of fats— shifting them to a more accurate use of ‘good’ fats such as well treated animals, REAL butter, REAL cheese, and using animals fats like lard that have been used for years over synthetic vegetable oils that are toxic to the body
2) it is great for people who need a liberation from dietary restrictives such as calorie counting.
3) it can get people focusing incorporating more vegetables into their diets and overall become more conscious and aware of what they are putting in to their bodies- as alot of diets tend to do- inherently making you more conscious of what you are putting into your body
4) can be freeing if you have certain ‘rules’ or ‘bounds’ to work within, so ultimately if you can not have something (grains) the temptation is not THERE because it is not even available for you to follow the diet/eating lifestyle

I recovered from 14 years of anorexia by using the paleo and then primal diet (dairy/white rice/potatoes) because mentally i needed the liberation of ‘its OKAY to eat alot of these nutrient dense foods/im recovering the ‘right’ way with the ‘right’ foods’ and for somebody who had an ingrained fear of eating it worked well with my psyche to eat fats, proteins, and eliminated the ‘guilt’ often associated with recovery because i felt in my heart i was nourishing my body with a good eating lifestyle- it helped me recover HOWEVER, and its a big however, i wouldn’t recommend it for recovering anorexics/orthorexics or to be honest anybody with obsessive eating issues or anxiety unless you can approach it with a relaxed attitude and understand it for what it is- a great template to work around. It wasn’t long into the paleo diet that i developed an anti-social fear of eating out for fear of omega 6 oils in foods, or use of flour, or i just generally wondered about the state of the meat- whether it was grass fed and so on. alot of the sites I turned to to make sure I was following the right lifestyle when I got : skin peeling, rashes, flare ups, stomach gripes, digestive issues, depression, dry skin, bloating, emotional issues- were paleo websites, and often i felt a touch a scaremongering existed on these sites that pushed me further into paleo even while my health was suffering. ( of course recovering from anorexia could be the main factor causing all of these issues and nOT the paleo diet, however I relapsed and recovered throughout the 14 years of anorexia and it was usually on a diet that included sprouted bread, rye bread, yoghurt, cheese, hummus, fish chicken nut butter and beans) Once I decided to include white potatoes and rice into my diet I started to feel better. After a long while I realised that my high intensity training (I practically have trained like an athlete for most of my life- even when I was severely underweight I would train with intensity) I do not think the paleo diet efficiently fuelled my cardiovascular exercises- but it was fine for weight lifting. I believe that nourishing my body with nutrient dense foods was a good decision in terms of avoidance of foods with a high phytate content that may have been anti-nutrients when I needed as many nutrients as I could get- however- i was actually causing my stomach more damage than good wit heating sweet potatoes- I siply dont ‘do well’ with them, white potatoes are far better for me, in term of replacing rice noodles for ‘zooodles’ or spiralised zucchini- i was having – im sorry bfor the tmi- but horrendous stomach problems every morning eating a plate of ‘raw spaghetti’ with whatever but still i ploughed on, skin flares and all-and the every day red meat – in the form of stewed lamb or grass fed steaks because i was scared of the high omega 6 content of chicken but am – (anaphylactic/epi pen needd) allergic to other omega 3 foods like salmon, mackeral, cod- so i ate omega3 rich red meat most days- eventually played havoc with my training, energy levels and digestion, most of the time i felt sick…. i think my main point in all of this IS-

1)stress surrounding any diet – IE my particular stress was- whenever i had recovered (2 times for bout 1 year at a time before relapse began again) i was an ‘insitnctual/intuitive’ eater and whatever i wanted i put it otgether and ate it- no thoughts other than the anorexia guilt thoughts about actually eating- but now i was getting that stress plus the stress of having to eat foods within the ‘primal’ realm, therefore, i was going against my intuition- i wanted hummus or chicken skin (its considered omega6 high) or sprouted buckwheat and rice flour pizza- but i literally was rattled by fear, i became fearful of apples because of the fructose content- fructose in paleo is less than ideal whereas starchy carbs like bananas and low fructose fruits like blueberries or blackcurrants are OK- i began thinking TOO MUCH about it – i remember craving quinoa but knowing it wasn’t ‘right’ to eat it, this is ME- my experience, i will be totally different to every body else but I just want to say that
2) i became fearless about grass fed butter and cheese, i knew my gravitation towards full fat yoghurt was always right for me, and i didnt really worry about eating red meat like i used to when i was anorexic- so it was liberating in ways but restricting in others

3) i discovered websites like 180 degree health matt stone, go Kaleo, your eatopia and the f*%! (swear word) it diet websites…. and also melissa ‘hunt gatherer love’ site- all these sites i read and read and researched and i also did research on forums to see if i was the only person who actually craved phytate foods like almonds (considered to eat minimally coz of omega 6 content) and somtimes rye sourdough- i discovered longitudinal studies that like the ‘blue zones’ research that pointed towards various countries with the highest rate of centenarians and good health- there were sardinians who ate raw cheese, fermented yoghurts, fish, meat, wheat enriched with nutrients, olive oil and legumes— beans– there were the okinawans who ate buckwheat, white rice, pork belly and purple sweet potatoes, there were the masai tribes who ate blood, bones and meat and then there were the bama people who ate millet, some grains, beans and lima beans- there were people who thrived soleley on cultured butter nad sourdough rye bread– weston price’s finding s found this too

4) my conclusion was- guess what, not ONE diet suits every BODY. WE DO NOT ALL THRIVE ON THE SAME FOODS. somebody may thrive on red meat or meat- another person may find it toxic to their system or not have enough hydrochloric acid in their stomach to digest it all, some people may need the phytates in beans and chickpeas for whatever reason- maybe they have TOO HIGH IRON? for example, i still do not menstruate- a result of anorexia and still having to gain some more fat- and therefore the amount of iron in my body is likely to be quite high- perhaps thats why i do not need to replace my iron levels with red meat very much- or why it was making me sick and have skin itching….

5) i found there were other people like the website ‘health bent’ who discovered just eating intuitively to how she felt was her best gage on how to eat for her individual health. I think principles from most diets that advocate wholefoods and an emphasis of minimal ingredients, eating local, fresh, good quality and ENOUGH protein rathe than carbs on carbs- is by no means bad advice! However, the body constantly changes and what an athlete needs to what a recovering anorexic, or a pregnant lady or a raw food eater or a rugby player to a ballerina to the office guy will always be different.

6) the paleo and primal template in my conclusion is fantastic with room for manouvre- all im saying is it is a good template for good health but there is also alot to be said for self experimentation and going with your gut instinct on foods and knowing how you FEEL during and after that particular food.

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185 Cristina February 4, 2014 at 5:55 pm

I too had a terrible experience on Paleo, from my hair falling out to skipping my monthly cycle to constant yeast infections. But of course in the Paleo community, that means you must be doing something wrong because they believe it is the cure all to health. I also developed severe food fears from doing Paleo for 2 years.

I’m just one month into a simple, whole foods lifestyle including grains and still healing. But my cycle has regulated, my hair is doing better and I sleep like a baby, just as I did when I cut out sugar. But guess what- now I eat sugar! (raw honey). I agree, I like the premise of knowing your food where it comes from and how it was raised. But the same principles can be applied here. I make my own bread and condiments! I know what’s in it. I’m more label and ingredients conscience than all around frightened of a food group and the damage it could supposedly have on my body.Sadly, it will always be a “I’m right:” “You’re wrong” outlook on diets and “studies”. Can’t we all just have some pizza and call it a day?!

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186 Kimberley O. February 1, 2014 at 10:16 am

Many paleo eaters got there because of health issues. I love Kaths blog and drool over some of her lovely pastries and sandwiches, but grains do bad things to me and legumes do even worse. So, for me those things are pretty much out, but I like to focus on what I can enjoy and not so much on restrictions.

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187 elyssa February 1, 2014 at 10:19 am

s if what i wrote wasnt enough but just to add (!) my hair was brittle and falling out during paleo- so im not saying it was BECAUSE of paleo i am saying its not a CURE ALL for every BODY, and its not the ONLY answer to achieving optimal health but it is ONE in a sea of many … okay, done :)

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188 Liz Dean February 1, 2014 at 10:25 am

I’m a regular reader of yours but don’t comment often, but thought this was right up my alley….I’ve been eating a primal lifestyle for almost two years now and I can’t see myself ever going back. I see this from kind of a different perspective because I needed to lose well over 60pounds and the Primal way was by far THE best way to not only feel amazingly better on the inside but also lose the weight in a steady and healthy way. I’m down those 60pounds and have come to appreciate, adapt and learn how to eat this way. It just works for us. (my four year old included) My husband cannot have gluten, so it was just natural for me to leave that out of my daily eating. Now, I’m not apposed to a really good treat or piece of REALLY good bread or something with gluten in it especially if we are traveling for fun, but by not eating that everyday, I’ve cut out all the junk and processed foods that are out there and were very tempting to me. Plus, when you have so much weight to lose, eating veggies and fruit as your main source of carbs is the way to go (I was eating no more than 100grams of carbs, but felt FULL all day, everyday).
My Primal eating lifestyle is this: chicken, beef, fish, bacon, sausage, eggs, nuts in moderation, nut butters, greek yogurt, some aged cheeses, all the veggies out there, fruit, coconut milk, almond milk, good for you fats (coconut oil, evoo), all the spices you can think of, dark chocolate. This is what I eat on a daily and weekly basis and I’ve never been more satisfied.
I recently went to get a physical and my numbers have dropped significantly. My good cholesterol was up, bad was down and my total was significantly down(it was over 200 before).
I’m also on my second round of the Whole30. Holy cow I feel amazing!
I say to each their own and this is not for everyone, but until you actually try it for at least 30 to 60 days, you cannot say it won’t improve your insides and out for the better…you just can’t. I wish I could bottle up my energy, better sleep and how I feel and give it out to everyone!
I have more lean muscle mass now than ever before.

Anyway, I’m a huge supporter of the Primal lifestyle and it just works for me.

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189 Kathryn K February 1, 2014 at 1:20 pm

love your blog, but this diet is a joke. I totally agree that processed foods are unhealthy and unnecessary. . But whole foods is the only food that will truly serve us. We don’t need meats in center of our plates. Plants contain all the nutritional value we need. Studies show time and time again, that animal products cause chronic disease and that a diet high in veggies, fruits and grains is best Also try eating several little meals a da,y at 5’5 and 99 lbs it works for me as far keeping weight off

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190 Ella P February 1, 2014 at 1:56 pm

What an interesting discussion! Thank you Amelia for the post.

Let me put in my two pennies worth. At the end of the day I LOVE Kath’s & Matt’s way of eating: balanced, varied and packed with nutrients. And portions are under control. It reminds me the way people in countries with long culinary traditions enjoy their daily food (France, Italy, Japan…) – a bit of everything and in moderation, even wine and beer.

Ella

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191 KathEats February 1, 2014 at 2:20 pm

I agree Ella – I wonder what France and Italy think of the Paleo diet?

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192 Ella P February 1, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Dear Kath,
I could never imagine the French dining without a crunchy piece of their fabulous baguette, a slice of quiche, a piece of fromage; nor the Italians getting through the day without two elegant forkfuls of spaghetti or a couple of generous spoonfuls of risotto…
Take those foods out of their plates and you’d get a revolution!
I think the word “paleo” in their minds refers to a time that is well bygone, nothing to do with the present way to enjoy a healthy life.

A warm hug,
Ella

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193 Tess February 2, 2014 at 9:28 am

I may have missed earlier comments on this, but counting the carbon footprint of coconut oil as a con does not seem like a fair criticism to me. On a per calorie basis, coconut oil has a MUCH lower carbon footprint than lots of fruits and vegetables that many of us buy. Apples, lettuce and strawberries flown from west to east coast have a horrible carbon footprint per calorie. I’m all for trying to eat locally, but none of us can do it 100% and buying a big jar of coconut oil every few months will have a minimal impact on the overall carbon footprint of an average healthy diet.

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194 Phoebe W February 2, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Another RD here!

As Paleo is certainly the trend of the moment, I have to say I am curious to see where it is in another 5-10 years.

From my experience, a significant number of those choosing Paleo did so because of CrossFit or another physical fitness program. We can’t ignore the fact that most of these people increased physical activity in addition to positive dietary changes. To say the Paleo diet alone is making all the difference is inaccurate. What were these people eating before trying Paleo?! The general population in the US is unaware that “servings” are completely different than “portions”. This is where we as nutrition agencies and professionals fail to get the right message out. Allowing grains, in the appropriate portions, can be very beneficial.

To me, the real issue at hand is that we are all searching for the magic cure for everyone. We are all so different – that will never happen. An individual approach is crucial. That means, there is no one perfect diet. The common theme in all popular diets (meaning habits, not a means for weight loss) is add more fruits and vegetables. Add physical activity. Get plenty of sleep.

Thanks for the great posts, Kath!

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195 KathEats February 2, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Great point!

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196 Cassie February 4, 2014 at 5:58 pm

The idea of eating as those existing in the Paleolithic era was popularized by Walter L. Voegtlin when he published “The Stone Age Diet: Based on In-depth Studies of Human Ecology and the Diet of Man”. It’s been studied in other cases since then, most notably the “Kitava Study”. If anyone here is interested, this is a wonderful read if you really are interested in seeing how this type of diet effects a population which knows no other way of living (i.e. not a “trend”)

It’s JUST NOW become more well known in media because Crossfit has popularized it-however, it’s been studied and followed in other places and for other reasons prior to this.

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197 Phoebe W February 5, 2014 at 9:55 pm

I was referring to its recent popularity in the United States as a trend.

It also seems that there are MANY variations that are followed, some as described in the blog post and others less-restrictive.

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198 Whitney February 2, 2014 at 3:24 pm

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199 sarah @ hairwaytovegan February 2, 2014 at 3:33 pm

I love love love this! As a vegan, paleo is pretty out of the question, especially since I adore beans. But I like to think that paleos(not all of em) and vegans(not all of em) can be pretty similar! Many share the same ideas about eating loads of vegetables and getting the bulk of your food from them. And while I wouldn’t eat meat, I can at least appreciate that there are people taking the time to find them more ethically raised.

However, with every single paleo that I have met personally, they do not strictly eat grass fed meats. In fact, I would say that most of the meat they eat is not grass fed (probably because its so expensive).

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200 Matt February 2, 2014 at 8:29 pm

This author misrepresents the Paleo Diet as it is practiced by most people. She is describing the version of Paleo recommended by Loren Cordain, which very few of us still use as a framework. Most people on the Paleo diet I know (including myself) do eat dairy, especially if it is fermented and grass-fed. Starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, winter, squash, etc. are not only permissible, but staples for many of us who are active and need healthy carbohydrates. The Paleo Diet is not necessarily low-carb, although many people trying to lose weight use low-carb Paleo as an intervention, and then add Paleo-friendly carbs back into their diets. Thus, no macro-nutrient is forbidden on the Paleo Diet, as the writer contends. Paleo simply holds that certain carbs (fruit, root vegetables, squash) are healthy, and more nutrient-dense that grains.

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201 Lisa @bitesforbabies February 3, 2014 at 7:27 am

I completely agree with you with NOT recommending a Pale diet…I myself hate to be defined by a restricted diet. The problem for me is my diet HAS to be restrictive because I’m intolerant to dairy and gluten. I believe we need to eat everything in moderation AND exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I worry more about portioning and what I CAN eat as opposed to what I can’t eat! People need to find what way of eating works for them without it being too restrictive! I’d like to think that the recipes on my Blog (www.bitesforbabies.com) offer a enough variety that people can enjoy all types of food…at least, that’s OUR mentality in my home ;-)

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202 Caitlin February 3, 2014 at 11:19 am

When I heard you couldn’t eat legumes/beans on the paleo diet, I was aghast. I’ve never heard of a diet that forbids these super nutritious foods!

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203 Julie February 3, 2014 at 12:58 pm

This is a great post – I learned a lot trying Paleo, but I often felt bloated without the fiber from some veggies and grains.

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204 Monique February 4, 2014 at 3:23 pm

As someone who gave Paleo a shot, I have to say that it was the only time I was able to stick to a “diet” for 90 straight days. While I feel restrictive diets are terrible, I think doing Paleo helped me focus more on nutrient dense foods. I also developed a better understanding of how my body tolerates certain foods. (whole grains and beans give me terrible stomach pains, before AND after Paleo) Most of the pro-paleo bloggers I follow choose a paleo regiment because of food allergies and illnesses (i.e. against all grain blog).
Did I jump on the crossfit band wagon? No. But I did moderate exercise. In the past when I would count calories and exercise, I had little to no success. My addiction to sugar was made real when I cut it out of my diet. Now that my 90 days are over, I still [try to] keep to a clean diet.
great and honest post.

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205 Cristina February 4, 2014 at 5:46 pm

Kath and Amelia- I just applaud you both for even bothering to put up a post with more cons in Paleo than pros. Because if there is anything pro about Paleo, it’s that they travel in packs and they attack when they feel threatened.

I did Paleo for 2 years and it was very unpleasant. I now eat a whole, clean and nutritious diet chalk full of whole grains, fresh bread, red meat, full fat dairy and peanut butter by the bucket. I sleep just as well as when I did a “21 day sugar detox” and don’t feel deprived. I am just as successful in Crossfit. And I don’t over eat. I don’t feel the need to binge. I don’t feel food guilt. My monthly cycle and health problems have all regulated. (gasp- health problems on Paleo- no that’s not even possible it’s scientifically proven you don’t get sick on Paleo and all of the followers have their superman health to prove it). I think something works for everyone and they should find what fits. I also think as a society we should really respect all the options and choices and realize your (or mine, or his or hers) isn’t like, the 11th commandment.

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206 Lacey February 4, 2014 at 8:14 pm

Woah! I wonder if this is a controversial subject!? I think it is pretty awesome that people can have vastly different “diets”, and do really well with them! Im not really understanding why people get worked up either way.. everyone is soo different. Do what is best for you and focus on feeling good! — If only the focus was on the way you felt( energy level, satiety, regulating disease, sleep, etc) rather than the way you looked, I think people (particularly women) would be much happier :0)

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207 Elyse February 8, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Very disappointed in the bias of this article. Most commenters already stated the important concerns, but I want to echo what some have pointed out: to say that a con to the Paleo or Primal diet is that it’s not sustainable 100% of the time, is silly. A diet consisting of whole grains, lean meats, whole fruits/veggies and organic dairy isn’t even sustainable 100% of the time. You indulge in the occasional white flour-laden desserts (as you should!) and so do I. I eat primal 80% of the time and indulge in other foods about 20% of the time. In the long run, I am healthier, more energetic and happier than ever before through the primal diet.

And when I say “diet” I’m not referring to a short-term change in eating habits; I’m referring to the foods I eat to sustain myself.

I appreciate the article, I just wish it was truly informational, not biased info.

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