The Paleo or Paleolithic diet, also called the Caveman, Stone Age or Warrior diet is based on eating in a similar way to cavemen are presumed to have eaten around 10 000 years ago. The idea is that this is what is biologically appropriate to promote health and prevent disease.
The diet is based on foods that could be hunted, fished and gathered during the Paleolithic era i.e. meat, fish, shellfish, eggs, tree nuts, vegetables, roots, fruits and berries. Because wild game is not readily available and most modern plant food is cultivated rather than wild and meats are domesticated, at best, you can eat a modified version of the original diet i.e. a gluten-free diet that includes lean meat, organ meats, fish, poultry, eggs, vegetables, fruits and nuts. The diet also includes water, coconut water or organic green tea to drink and raw honey or coconut palm sugar, in limited quantities, for something sweet.
Foods to be avoided include: dairy, grains, sugar, legumes, potatoes, processed oils, salt, any drinks other than those listed above and any foods that were grown after agriculture started.
Some versions of the plan encourage fasting, eating raw foods and eliminating nightshade vegetables (e.g. tomatoes and brinjal). Others allow a little more flexibility e.g. including processed oils from fruits and nuts such as olive oil and flaxseed oil.
– The plan encourages people to be physically active.
– It includes whole, unprocessed foods.
– It eliminates whole grains, low fat dairy and legumes.
– You can satisfy your dietary requirements on this plan, but it requires careful planning and supplementation (e.g. calcium and vitamin D).
– It may be difficult to follow long-term due to the diets strict nature.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics position is: “This diet has some great aspects, but the limitations make it another diet that people go on but can’t sustain for a number of reasons, including a lack of variety, [cost], the potential nutrient inadequacies” due to the elimination of certain food groups.
Based on this, and the large body of scientific evidence to support the health benefits of a diet that includes low fat dairy, legumes and whole grains along with lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits and nuts, I would recommend that you rather follow a varied, healthy diet. It is more about a balanced approach than a list of good and bad foods and should produce more sustainable results. Healthy eating isn’t so much about cutting out foods and only having certain wonder foods – it is about balance. In that all foods fit! That means 80% of the time eating the foods that are good and nutritious and 20% of the time including small portions of treat foods.