The Paleo Diet As A Lifestyle Choice

November 1st, 2016
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Matt Poteet, Pharm.D.

Paleo Diet Lifestyle Choice

Our caveman ancestors were hunter-gatherers and were in shape. Eating what they could hunt or find, and doing a lot of walking in the process, kept them lean and muscular, athletic and versatile. That was their lifestyle. Although they did not choose it, we can choose it for ourselves today.

Paleo Diet For Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyle

I know a woman who started the Paleo Diet because she wanted to lose a bit of weight she had gained. It was difficult at first, not having any desserts or other sweets, but she stuck to it, even started jogging. After a few months of the new “diet”, she felt ambitious enough to enter a 5 km run nearby. That was three years ago.  She now runs many different marathons of 20 to 50 km and some even on mountainous terrain. And won a few! She has kept up the Paleo Diet, modifying it for her and her family’s needs and it has become their lifestyle.

Now, I am not saying we all need to run marathons to keep the Paleo lifestyle for us. But doing Paleo will make us feel better, gives us more energy, helps us lose weight and definitely helps build muscle.  You can start walking the dog more often, rather than the dog walking you or just sitting there, forlorn. You will have the energy to keep up with your kids or your grand kids and might even be able to surprise them a time or two. Maybe the exercise regimen you have now can be upgraded or done more often! The possibilities are endless!  A few tips to remember:

  • In order for any “diet” to work, it must be a lifestyle choice. In other words, we need to change our way of thinking and do the “diet” for the rest of our lives. Many diets do not work well this way. The Paleo Diet does.
  • NO PROCESSED FOODS! NO DAIRY! NO SUGAR! Fresh fruits and veggies, good (grass fed, properly raised ) meats, eggs, fish, fowl – anything with wings, oils – coconut, avocado, olive, nuts (yes, peanut butter – no sugar added!!), sweet potatoes and yams (no potatoes!)
  • Use common sense. A moderate portion of meat and lots of veggies for dinner with sweet potato fries. Omelets with lots of veggies and apples dipped in almond or peanut butter. You can also go out to eat. Just substitute sweet potato fries for regular fries or potatoes, and if you’re craving a hamburger, just get it “Caveman Style”. The options are out there.
  • Remember where I said my friend had modified the diet to meet her needs? She loves cheese. She used to eat cheese on a daily basis. Now she eats it once a week. Oh, and chocolate? Dark chocolate is allowed on the Paleo Diet! It’s better for you anyways than milk chocolate. Once you have gotten used to eating Paleo; that is, much less carbohydrates, you can start modifying it to fit your needs. Or you can ease into Paleo by eating less and less carbs until you are doing pure Paleo.
  • With the Paleo Diet, the thing to remember is to eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full and not eat when you’re not hungry. You get your carbohydrates through your nutrient dense vegetables and fruits, as well as getting natural sugars (also carbs). The Paleo Diet is stress-free eating. You can eat a big breakfast, a couple of snacks and then a big dinner; eat a small breakfast and a lunch and snacks for dinner and a late pick-me-up. As long as you are eating Paleo, you can eat when you want and as much as you want. No counting calories!

The Paleo Diet is not for everyone. But those of us who could lose a few pounds or more, or are stuck in a rut or stressed out from yo-yo diet fads, or just want to feel healthier; this might be something to look into. Our bodies were never really meant to eat all those breads, cereals and sugar.

We were hunter-gatherers for 140,000 years and only in the last 10,000 have we had agriculture which has given us all those grains. Our bodies haven’t gotten used to all those fancy things. Maybe it’s time to go back to our roots and eat what we were meant to eat.  There are many websites and articles you can look up to learn more about the Paleo Diet. Do your research and get the facts. One of the better sites for finding out more is http://www.marksdailyapple.com/

The leading expert on the Paleo Diet is Dr. Loren Cordain. His page is at http://thepaleodiet.com/  I believe the best way to figure out if the Paleo Diet is for you is to try it for 30 days and see if you feel any better, have more energy, or lost any weight. To start you off, here is a recipe for Paleo Spaghetti:

Paleo Spaghetti

For the “Spaghetti”:

1 Spaghetti Squash, halved and seeds scooped out

¼ cup olive oil

Salt, pepper

For the Sauce:

1 lb fresh ground turkey

1 small onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon coconut oil

1 tomato, chopped

1/2 jar tomato sauce

½ teaspoon Italian seasoning

Salt, pepper to taste

Sprigs of basil for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Rub the olive oil on both halves, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put in a rimmed baking dish cut side up and roast the squash for 40-45 minutes or until a fork can easily poke it. Remove from oven and let cool until you can handle it. Using fork, scrape inside of squash shredding the inside into strands.

While the squash is roasting, melt coconut oil in a pan, add minced garlic and chopped onion and cook for 4-5 minutes, until onion is glassy. Add the ground turkey and brown, stirring occasionally. Add the chopped tomato and tomato sauce, season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the Italian seasoning. Simmer on low, stirring occasionally until the spaghetti squash is done roasting.

Once the squash is shredded, place on plates, add sauce, garnish with the basil. Bon Apetit!

There are so many variations you can do with this recipe! Since the spaghetti squash can be a pasta substitute, use a pesto sauce instead! Or make your own homemade spaghetti sauce. Use Beef or ground chicken instead of turkey.  As long as the ingredients are Paleo, the sky’s the limit! And if you’re not quite ready to go Paleo all the way, you can still use Alfredo sauce or add a bit of Parmesan on top!

Bottom line is: at least do some homework on the Paleo Diet and try it for 30 days. The only thing you have to lose is weight!

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About Matt Poteet, Pharm.D.

Matt Poteet graduated with a B.S. in Biological Science from Lee University in 1998, and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Mercer University in Atlanta in 2004. Professionally he has been fortunate to hold positions on staff at two of the leading private, academic teaching hospitals in the southeast; Emory University in Atlanta and Vanderbilt University in Nashville.