While my weekly meal plans service has successfully helped hundreds of folks get real food on the table, I've had an overwhelming request for paleo and grain-free meal plans.
So, even though I don't exclusively blog about grain-free eating, I'm super excited to share the new paleo recipes on Real Plans and talk about some good reasons to go paleo.
For those of you who live in a cave and have no idea what I'm talking about (pun totally intended), the paleo diet restricts modern processed foods, grains, legumes, and dairy . It's all the rage these days with everyday folks and celebrities such as Jessica Biel, Megan Fox, and Matthew McConaughey all eating like paleolithic ‘cavemen' for the sake of health and beauty. (If dairy is included, it's called a ‘primal' diet.)
Many folks jump on the paleo/primal bandwagon looking for yet another magic solution to weight loss or curing health problems. While this diet may seem like a fleeting trend, as a health professional, I find that paleo or primal diets can often be a useful strategies for steering health in a better direction.
What are the benefits of a paleo diet?
In a perfect world, we could all just ‘eat the food', feel good, and avoid chronic illness.
In reality, this isn't the case.
Our food supply is a mess, toxic processed foods are everywhere, and more and more folks are suffering from health issues as a result.
Personally, I've dabbled with grain-free diets (both paleo and primal) and have seen great success with healing my eczema, reversing dental decay, and slimming down my figure post-babies.
By eliminating processed foods and potential food allergens, the digestive system gets a chance to heal, inflammation reduces throughout the body, symptoms reduce and stubborn chronic conditions can even reverse.
Grains and legumes can be difficult to digest, even when properly prepared via soaking, sprouting, or souring. While raw dairy boasts many health benefits, pasteurized dairy can set some folks up for a whole host of health problems, even making raw dairy difficult to digest.
A paleo diet can have it's drawbacks – like cost, convenience, time – and should not be recklessly followed without heeding feedback from your body.
Contrary to the beliefs of its detractors, though, as long as you're careful not to over-restrict carbs or fat and you don't become obsessive, paleo can be pretty darn balanced.
Here are 10 GOOD Reasons to go paleo
#1 – You eat too much junk food – For me, one of the best reasons to go paleo is that it removes the temptation to eat junk. When your diet is limited to good quality meats, veggies, and some fruits and nuts, there's not room for internal chatter about whether or not to eat Doritos or chocolate chip cookies. You just don't.
#2 – You need to lose weight – Back in my perfect world, I would love to see everyone heal their metabolism and then be happy and healthy at whatever weight their bodies naturally find.
That said, for folks who need to lose weight, a good paleo diet can provide clear boundaries around what you should and should not eat without overly restricting any macro-nutrients (protein, fat, OR carbs) and probably helping your digestion to heal along the way.
Whether or not you decide to go paleo, I urge anyone interested in losing weight or healing metabolism to read Elizabeth Walling's ebook, The Nourished Metabolism.
#3 – You have food allergies – A paleo diet will eliminate many of the common food allergens (wheat, dairy, soy, corn) and give your gut a much-needed break from irritation. Also, by cutting out grains and beans your digestion will not further taxed by the anti-nutrient, phytic acid, that block the absorption of nutrients from your food.
#4 – You suffer from chronic pain – Many folks who go paleo notice dramatic improvement in back pain, joint pain, and chronic pain conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, headaches, and even fibromyalgia as inflammation reduces throughout the body.
#5 – You have chronic skin issues – Even if you don't think you have digestive problems, the best way to heal skin conditions – from eczema and psoriasis to acne and rosacea – is to heal the gut. Restored health to your digestive system will radiate outward with clear skin.
#6 – You have hormone imbalances and/or unexplained infertility – Your body needs the right fatty acids for maintaining normal hormone production, and if you are trying to conceive you'll need a whole array of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. By going grain-free you may reduce inflammation in your digestive tract, allowing proper assimilation of these essential nutrients for hormone balance and pregnancy.
#7 – You have PCOS and want to get pregnant – If you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are trying to get pregnant, eliminating grains, dairy, processed foods, and sugar will help to quickly circumvent the issue of elevated blood sugar and insulin resistance, improve ovulation, and increase the likelihood of a bun in the oven.
#8 – You suffer from anxiety, depression or other emotional imbalances – It all comes back to the gut, and psycho-emotional imbalances are no exception. From ADHD in children to bipolar disorders in adults, a paleo diet may help restore balance to your brain and nervous system.
#9 – You have tooth decay – More than just an issue of too much sugar or not enough brushing, cavities happen from a lack of essential fats, fat-soluble vitamin, and minerals being absorbed properly by the body. A paleo diet reduces the offending sugar and difficult to digest grains, while including the foods essential for reduced inflammation and teeth remineralization.
#10 – Paleo doesn't need to feel super restrictive or even permanent to be helpful. Paleo doesn't have to be all or nothing.You can go paleo as a seasonal cleanse, or just when you're body's feeling off-balance.
My husband can tell when he's tipped the scale with too many days that include pasta or beer with friends, and he then he goes into grain-free-mode. By including enough starchy fruits and veggies, and not getting obsessive about food ‘rules', you can customize your paleo journey and enjoy the benefits without creating a mountain of stress around your new way of eating.
What are your reasons to go paleo?
Share in the comments!