Can “Paleo” and “Plant Based” Diets Live In Harmony?

Confession: a few years ago, I jumped on the paleo bandwagon. During that time, I used to bristle at the advent of plant based diets and things like “Meatless Monday,” mainly because they became so conflated with the vegan diet. I felt tired of people pushing the no meat thing, annoyed that vegetarian diets are always deemed healthier despite the fact studies supporting this diet are essentially comparing a group who has made a conscious decision about their health to “everyone else” – a wider group of many who haven’t. I was (and still am) also concerned that many people do it wrong, substituting meat with things like pasta, rice, and bread. And THAT IS NOT HEALTHIER, I ranted.

The Plant Based Diet 

Given that I’ve just written much of the above paragraph in the past tense, most of you have correctly guessed that my attitude has changed. The more I look at my own diet, at the paleo diet, and at research, the more I’m convinced that plant based diet IS the way to go. The key question here is what is a “plant based” diet? Based on a Google search, “plant based diet” is poorly defined (kind of like “fitness” before CrossFit). So, I’m making one up. According to the dictionary of Alexandra Black MPH, RD, LD, a plant based diet is:

A diet in which plant are the foundation of the diet. This diet consists primarily of non-animal nutrient sources. This includes vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, and grains, although some animal foods – meat, eggs, dairy – can be included from time to time. 

Of course, as with any diet, there are healthy and not-so-healthy plant based diets. Eggo waffles with Aunt Jemima syrup for breakfast, vegetable pizza for lunch, and a rice and beans Lean Cuisine for dinner is plant based, but not so healthy. Whereas a banana with peanut (or almond) butter for breakfast, vegetable stir fry with quinoa for lunch, and grilled chicken with vegetables and baked sweet potato for dinner is much healthier (and still plant based). Continue reading Can “Paleo” and “Plant Based” Diets Live In Harmony?

Fish Oils

SalmonOmega 3 fats – also known as “healthy fats” and monounsaturated fats – have gained wide attention for their potential health benefits. Omega-3’s are found in fatty fish like tuna, salmon, trout and herring. You can get about 1 gram of omega-3 fats in a 3.5 ounce serving of fatty fish.

 

Types of Omega-3 Fats

There are 3 types of omega-3 fats. Continue reading Fish Oils

An Acquittal Of Sorts For Saturated Fat

4931201391_6c72177b4f_zGrowing up I learned that fat was bad. Butter, beef, nuts, avocado – all “fattening” (seriously, we never had guacamole in my house growing up for this very reason). Lean meat lean beef lean lean lean has been drilled into us for the past thirty or so years. Even the American Heart Association – trusted resource for all things heart disease – recommends limiting saturated fat to just 5% of daily intake If you eat a 2,000 calorie diet, that leaves you with about 11 grams or  less than a tablespoon of coconut oil per day. (Although as a side note I somewhat question AHA’s wisdom after learning they endorsed Subway as a healthy meal option. But I digress.) Heck, I even learned it in college, and told I don’t know how many patients while I was working in the hospital to “choose lean meats and avoid foods high in saturated fat”. There has been questioning of this saturated fat-heart disease link recently, with a lot of it coming from the Paleo camp (Robb Wolf, etc). Continue reading An Acquittal Of Sorts For Saturated Fat

The Deal On Dairy

118970265_b42657315c_mDairy isn’t paleo. Most people who have read about/heard of the paleo diet know that. But WHY isn’t dairy allowed? Is it really that bad for you? I like looking at pros and cons so I’m going to break it down that way.

Dairy Pros

1. If you buy the right stuff, it’s pretty natural. I’m not talking about cheesecake flavored yogurt, ice cream, or strawberry milk. I’m talking about grass-fed milk and butter, plain Greek yogurt, etc. Whole milk is removed from a cow, heated to 145 degrees F for 30 minutes or 162 degrees F for 15 seconds (that is the Pasteurization process) and then bottled. Of course, this can be different at a big factory farm type dairy. But if you are buying organic, grass-fed milk, you’re getting a pretty unprocessed product. Continue reading The Deal On Dairy

Why Aren’t White Potatoes Paleo?

I know, it’s confusing. There are a bazillion different iterations of the paleo diet – some include dairy, some allow dark chocolate and added sugars in dried fruit, some are OK with paleo baked goods and some aren’t, etc. One thing most paleos do, though, is eat plenty of sweet potato, pumpkin, and winter squash but avoid the white potato. Why no love for the white potato in the paleo diet? Two words: glycemic index.

What Is the Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index is a number based on an equation developed by scientists a few decades ago to quantify the effect of various foods on blood sugar. Continue reading Why Aren’t White Potatoes Paleo?

Spicy Chili with Bacon

Awesome Paleo food can be hard to make sometimes. Changing how and what you cook can be a huge challenge, and a lot of first-time Paleo eaters end up eating the same chicken, vegetables, eggs, and fruit everyday. BUT, sometimes we forget that some of our favorite foods are already Paleo! One example of this is chili. And, since it’s October and finally getting cold again, it’s time for some awesome chili! Continue reading Spicy Chili with Bacon

How to Fail at ANY Diet – Even Paleo!

© Dole | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

OK, I’m not really going to tell you HOW to fail, but I will talk about a few ways you might have in the past, and how you can fix it. This may surprise a few people, but you can be overweight or at your ideal weight on any diet. I have seen a vegan patient who was very obese, while on the other hand a professor in Kansas lost 27 pounds eating nothing but Twinkies, Oreos, Doritos, and sugary cereal. While I don’t recommend this “Twinkie diet” – professor Haub was doing it to make a point about energy balance – I will say that maintaining a healthy weight and getting the best performance out of your body is based on many factors. Research has shown a variety of eating patterns including the Mediterranean diet, Paleolithic diet, and low fat diets can help people lose weight and improve health markers like cholesterol and blood sugar. No matter what type of nutrition plan you follow, there are a few key things that will help you maintain optimal weight and perform at your best. In this post, I’ll talk about some of the common mistakes people make, and how you can fix them. Continue reading How to Fail at ANY Diet – Even Paleo!