Paleo Diet: Fact or Fad?

What may be considered as just “caveman eating” is actually the most searched for paleo diet that is leading in the top diets for the past few years. More and more people are gearing towards eating healthy, gluten free, unprocessed foods. This new trend has actually stemmed from the paleolithic era of the hunter and gatherer diet. Basically which a caveman could not eat back then, we would follow the same diets eating what was available to a hunter or gatherer. This “caveman eating” is controversial between food experts with arguments between the health benefits of eating like our ancestors in a previous era compared to our eating habits today with processed foods and foods like bread from farming.

Klaudia Nosal, college student at Moraine Valley, even has her own chickens to eat paleo. She gets fresh eggs nearly everyday and ripe vegetables from her own garden. Other people, like Grok in Ferris Jabr’s article “How to Really Eat Like a Hunter-Gatherer, who take the paleo diet to the extreme, lives like the caveman with his family eating vegetable, roots, nuts, and berries. He also happens to be in top shape at thirty years old, living off the land as did our predecessors. Obviously, Grok and his family are not the typical people you see today, though there is nothing wrong with living his down to earth and peaceful life. However for others you do not need to take to the woods to have a paleo diet.

Put simply, the paleo diet is to eat like a hunter/gather before agriculture. Berries, roots, vegetables, fish, meats, eggs, and fruit are all paleo friendly foods that prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. The latter: dairy, processed foods, sweets, and starchy vegetables (potatoes) are foods to stay away from to stay on the paleo diet. Breaking it down like this doesn’t make paleo so unattainable, in fact reasonable. Although there are many health benefits to some of the food we provide today like dairy and whole grains that provide essential vitamins (vitamin D, fiber, magnesium), the paleo diet can be another healthy alternative.

A string of restaurants in Chicago have opened serving paleo dishes due to this growing interest. Down Halsted in Chicago sits a paleo friendly restaurant called “mEAT”, with an atmosphere just as unique as the paleo foods they serve. The outdoor patio is lined with swings instead of chairs to sit and eat, serves kale chips instead of bread as an appetizer, a clearly marked paleo and gluten free menu, and knowledgeable staff to serve you. Places like these appear all over Chicago to feed the paleo hungry people living there. It’s clear that the paleo diet is more than just a fad, that people are actually biting into it.

This low-fat, fresh, homemade diet has gained some attention over the recent years becoming one of the most searched diets from 2013. However, according to CNN reporter Jacque Wilson, the paleo diet ranked last on the U.S. News & World Report’s top ranked diets of 2014. Although it may have ranked last, it does not mean that the paleo diet is inadequate just impractical for some. The paleo diet relies heavily on diet and exercise; our ancestors had to move around a lot to get their food which explains the focus on exercise as well as the hunter/gatherer diet. It’s restrictive diet is what may draw some people away especially with the kind of processed foods we may eat daily that are out on the market.

If you are not sure about trying the paleo diet consider the facts over the myths. Paleo is not an “all meat diet”, it will suit you if you are vegetarian considering that most of the meals in a true paleo diet consist mostly of vegetables and even fish. The thought of paleo being an “old diet” may be thrown out as well as people may have been eating paleo without even realizing it. If you eliminate any fatty foods or foods high in sodium which are mostly processed and grains like bread and dairy, you have yourself a paleo diet. You will not have to go out into the woods to find your food either and tackle an animal to eat, you can still buy your food from the grocery store and cook healthy, delicious meals.

One easy way to make a full meal is through your crock-pot. Its easy to do if you’re just beginning starting a paleo diet and looks delicious. This recipe for balsamic roast beef on paleoleap.com consists of beef, sweet potatoes, and fresh herbs soaked in red wine and vinegar. Even the busiest people will be able to create this tasty dish since it sits in your slow cooker, and you may even have enough for leftovers or multiple people! You can even roast some vegetables for a quick healthy snack or help yourself to some guacamole. It may be difficult at first to get used to finding a paleo friendly meal plan that suits your busy lifestyle or tastes, but you can quickly find easy to make paleo recipes that do not require you to stay home all day in the kitchen.

You can weigh the pros and cons of eating a caveman diet but you cannot deny the growing popularity of this intriguing diet. It may not be that hard to eat paleo and fit it into an everyday, busy lifestyle without having to find paleo recipes that acquire your attention for several hours. You can easily fit in a paleo snack in between classes or on break at work by toting a few veggies with you. Happy Eating!

Swordfish with fresh herbs and tomatoes, perfect paleo dinner!
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