Can a Protein-Heavy Diet Like Paleo Restore Your Health For the New Year?
Many Americans are beginning the new year with resolutions to lose accumulated weight and get fit and healthy. Buzzwords and catchphrases echo scores of diet trends and fads, but how does one really sort it out to become a new you?
A lot of experts think the modern diet simply has too many sugars, including corn-based sweeteners, and carbohydrates. For many, the answer is to beef up the protein factor to trim these empty non-nutrient calories.
While nutritionists express differing opinions about the amount of protein humans require, they do all seem to agree that Americans should be eating better. Three years ago, the United States Department of Agriculture created the MyPlate nutrition guide to replace the 1960s Food Pyramid in response to rising incidences of heart disease. Whereas grains made up the base of the Food Pyramid, suggesting six to eleven servings per day, MyPlate now suggests that grains should make up only approximately 30 percent of the diet.
Grains have been controversial for the past 40 years, and many now argue that they are not necessary at all if one is consuming a diet that is filled with plenty of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. The argument against grains comes from the idea that primitive humans simply did not eat them. It was during the agricultural age, when we transitioned to farming, that we began to consume grains such as corn and wheat. Even though it was approximately 10,000 years ago that we existed as hunter-gatherers, the argument is that our genes havent changed much since then, meaning that our bodies simply may not be designed to process grains.
The man who grew up corn-fed in the Midwest may have sculpted his body, but a secondary outcome is a new lease on life.
We cook more now, Barth says. We dont really deprive ourselves. I am 45 and am in better shape than I was in high school. There is no better time than now, and you want to enjoy the rest of your life and why not do it being healthy, adds Barth.
Paleo proponents say a meat-heavy diet proves to be healthy for people in the long run and is not a fad, but a lifestyle.
Clean Eatz owner and competitive bodybuilder Evonne White learned of the diet from Cowden when she first relocated to Wilmington and spent time at his gym more than a year ago.
At the cafe, White and her spouse, Don Varady, provide a menu of eat-in and to-go cuisine at reasonable prices. She says eating less white and refined flour, more whole grains and fewer processed and genetically modified foods, while controlling portions and adding more protein, is the key.
Everyone is looking for their magic pill, White says. It starts in the kitchen. It is diet and exercise.
Whites menu follows the Paleo Diet with the addition of oats and sweet potatoes to many of the dishes.
We created the menu to fit anybody, and everything on the menu stays under 500 calories, she says. Its a guiltless ordering menu so we really are making a safe place for healthy people to eat.
Paleo diners may order one of the cafes build-your-own bowls with brown rice or quinoa. There is even a point-based menu for diners on Weight Watchers.
White says she could never go back to her former way of eating and over-eating. She swapped her processed hamburgers for meals like bison in a lettuce wrap and a savory salmon bowl.
Without endorsing a Paleo or any other diet, psychotherapist and wellness coach Jen Johnson, MS, LPC, CRC, RYT, coaches her clients to eat mindfully, which means approaching eating with awareness, learning to eat when hungry and to stop eating when full.
Diets can be a temporary approach to weight loss, Johnson says. People must first learn how to feed their emotional needs and then change their behavior and lifestyle in ways that support sustainable weight loss.
In her practice and mindfulness eating workshops, Johnson empowers clients to reconnect their mind and body by making sustainable lifestyle changes that support wellness, happiness and success.
Many of the diet trends like Paleo are designed to remind their followers to eat healthfully --theyre not intended to change behavior alone.
Johnson says, Get support with learning to cope with stress and addressing the underlying emotional issues that are contributing to your difficulties with eating and weight. Learn regular practices that can reduce stress. Get help with working through whatever is holding you back from having a peaceful relationship with food and your body. Practice relating to yourself with compassion. People who approach themselves with compassion have a greater chance of success with weight loss programs.
All agree that before starting any new diet regimen or lifestyle change, it is important to seek out a physician who can help one assess for and address any underlying medical issues.
Its worth the investment. As Johnson says, Each moment is a gift. Dare to live well.
Fresh fruits and veggies
Tree nuts and seeds
Healthful oils (macadamia, walnut, olive, flaxseed, avocado, coconut)
Legumes (including peanuts)
Refined vegetable oils
(listed in The Paleo Diet Cookbook and The Paleo Diet for Athletes)
Source: Dr. Cordains website