Paleo, typically referred to as the “Paleo Diet,” is gaining a lot of attention in recent years, but some confusion still exists about the nutritional philosophy and its apparent ties to the eating habits of humanity’s ancient ancestors. Below are answers to a few misconceptions of Paleo, written by Chris Kresser; NY Times best-selling author and globally recognized leader in the fields of ancestral health, Paleo nutrition, and functional and integrative medicine.
It’s best to consider Paleo as a template, rather than a “diet”.
A Paleo diet implies a particular approach with clearly defined parameters that all people should follow. There’s little room for individual variation or experimentation. A Paleo template implies a more flexible and individualized approach. A template contains a basic format or set of general guidelines that can then be customized based on the unique needs and experience of each person.
There is no single approach that works for everyone.
Just as there was tremendous variation in what our ancestors ate, there is also tremendous variation in what works for each person. Some people clearly do better with no dairy products. Yet others seem to thrive on them. Some feel better with a low-carb approach, while others feel better eating more carbohydrates. Some seem to require a higher protein intake (up to 20-25% of calories), but others do well when they eat a smaller amount (10-15%). The key is to personalize your approach to meet your own unique needs.
The Paleo approach is not just about weight loss; it can also prevent and even reverse chronic disease.
Paleo is remarkably effective for weight loss, but its benefits extend far beyond that. A Paleo-type diet and lifestyle have the potential to lead to dramatic results in people with a wide range of conditions, from type 2 diabetes, IBS and other digestive problems, to Hashimoto’s, MS and other autoimmune diseases, and even to infertility and hormone imbalance.
Eating a Paleo-style diet doesn’t have to be expensive.
While it’s true that real, nutrient-dense foods can be more expensive than highly processed and refined junk food, a Paleo-type diet doesn’t have to break the bank. With a little planning and some smart shopping, there’s no reason that Paleo should cost more than your old way of eating.
Paleo is not just about food.
There’s no question that a nutrient-dense, real-food diet is the cornerstone of health. But it’s also true that lifestyle choices like physical activity, sleep, and stress management play an equally important role in determining our health.
At Verve Health, our integrative approach challenges our program participants to take control of their health to prevent and reverse chronic health problems and achieve an overall state of real health. Nutrient-focused eating philosophies such as those outlined in Paleo are only one piece of the greater health puzzle, but represent an effort in building up a healthy foundation for a happier, healthier life. If you’re considering Paleo or other similar diet or lifestyle changes, remember to always do your research and consult with a physician prior to starting to ensure that your body can handle the changes and that you’ll use the correct approach for your needs to receive the greatest health benefit possible.