When people see my transformation success story at Mark's Daily Apple, I'm frequently asked if I think eating a Primal or Paleo diet could be right for them too. It might be. Here’s my experience.
I ate food that was part of a strict Paleo diet for about a year. Eating the Paleo way has many health benefits as long as you completely cut out specific kinds of food — like wheat, corn, legumes, and dairy, to mention a few. That didn’t work for me because I really enjoy eating corn sometimes. I also like to have beans (aka legumes) on my salad once in a while and cheese on a grass-fed hamburger on occasion.
I understand and accept that these may not be the best food decisions for me. However, being rigid with my food choices is also not good for me. That's why nutritional plans like “Whole 30”, which didn’t permit me to eat any legumes, didn’t work for me either. The Paleo diet that I followed also had a carbohydrate threshold where you could only consume a very small amount of carbs each day. Being a very active person running and working out daily, I needed more fuel in the form of carbs to have the energy to do the activities that I enjoyed (and still do). It was a good versus bad battle when I felt good with exercising but bad when I exceeded my carbohydrates limit.
All those diets with lots of rules and were not working for me and lead me into deeper binge eating episodes. I was beginning to see a pattern. So, I threw in the towel on any diet that was too rigid and that didn’t work for my active and fit lifestyle! It was time to reclaim my choices. Truthfully, I was starting to really listen to my body and take better care of myself instead of letting rigid diet plans become the voice of what worked for me.
So, is the Paleo diet right for you? It depends on your mindset, your personal health goals, your fitness level, and how certain foods make you feel. For me, it helped me to realize that the gluten in wheat makes me break out in a rash on my elbows. So, it's easy to cut out certain foods if they make you feel sick. So, what is my best advice based on this experience? Try the Paleo way of eating. I am all for experimentation. If you don’t try, how will you ever know? You could take someone else's word for it, but they aren't you. The best outcome for me with Paleo eating was that it was very helpful to figure out which foods made me feel great and which foods made me feel tired. That's what elimination and Paleo diets are great for.
For long-term success, I recommend that you keep things simple. Eat real food! That's it. If it's organic corn and you like it, eat it. If is whole grain sprouted bread and it doesn't cause any digestive distress for you, eat it. Also, don't completely eliminate a food group (like carbohydrates) because of some new fancy fad diet. You will probably lose weight quickly but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy for you. If a way of eating is not sustainable for the rest of your life, it may cause other problems for you over time.
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