The Paleo Hype

Check out this post I wrote for MDA (mass dietetic association)! Yes- even though my blog is about paleo and I enjoy eating semi-paleo- this is still what I believe: 

The Paleo Hype

Shelby Keys, RD, LDN

Last October, I took the plunge, and attempted what is known as the “Paleo diet.” Everyone, from bloggers, CrossFit fanatics, overweight chefs, and even dietitians, seems to be hopping on the bandwagon and following this hunter-gatherer diet trend.

The Paleo diet consists of a diet that is grain-free and dairy- free, leaving the sole sources of energy to come from fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish. Critics argue that that the diet is too high in saturated fat and leaves out essential whole grains. On the other hand, enthusiasts argue the benefits include lowering inflammation and blood pressure, allowing dieters to consume a more natural, holistic diet.

While strict eating guidelines may make the diet tricky, I must admit, it was a great way to evaluate all the processed food I was consuming. I find that it helps consumers to focus on real food, while finding an overall balance. The diet promotes intake of healthy fats, does NOT focus on calories or carbohydrates, and promotes whole, natural food. Dietitians may agree this diet may not be all that bad for increasing nutrient density in the lives of a fast-food nation as the diet’s foods are typically high in protein and protein, fiber and antioxidants; and low in refined carbohydrates.

While all of this may be beneficial, the diet should be followed with caution. As a dietitian, I do not believe it offers a nutrition- ally balanced way of eating, as animal fats (such as bacon), should not be consumed in large quantities. There is also no need to avoid dairy , which can be a great source of vitamin D, calcium and protein.

My bout with the Paleo diet was short-lived and lasted about two weeks. While I did not fully adopt the Paleo diet, I did take on what I call “Paleo with a twist.” I needed to show that I could truly challenge myself and stick to something difficult. I needed to understand the diet through the eyes of my clients, and the best way to do that was experience it for myself. “Paleo with a twist” meant that I allowed myself to include healthy dairy and the occasional peanut butter and jelly sandwich, oatmeal, and granola bars.

As a health professional, how do you go about navigating this complex diet you will most likely encounter with your clients? If there is anything I hope you gain from this article, it is to keep an open mind and continue educating by offering the pros and cons, while remembering that the best diet for your client is the one that works with their lifestyle. 

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