The Paleo Diet — an eating plan designed to mimic the type of foods our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate, which is supposed to improve your health, reduce your risk of disease and help you shed pounds — doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. But, as with most strict diets, sticking with it isn’t so easy.
Enter nutritionist Leanne Ely’s new book, Part-Time Paleo: How To Go Paleo Without Going Crazy, which offers tips on how to make the anti-inflammatory diet more workable for modern living (rather than leaving you hungrier than a caveman).
Here are Ely’s four real-world rules for Paleo eating:
Paleo Diet says … ditch dairy. The diet claims that dairy products — we’re talking to you, milk, yogurt and cheese — have the potential to promote allergies, inflammation and even autoimmune diseases.Simple solution: If you can’t bear to part with cheese, you don’t have to drop it entirely. Instead, go for aged (100 days old or more) cheeses, such as Parmesan. Because they’re packed with flavor, a little goes a long way so you can use it sparingly, such as sprinkling crumbled cheese over a salad. Plus, hard-to-digest lactose is already broken down in aged cheeses, which means that even most lactose-intolerant people can enjoy it.
Paleo Diet says … kiss gluten goodbye. “Gluten is a wheat protein that makes bread so wonderful,” said Ely. “The problem is that gluten acts almost like wallpaper paste in your gut.” For people with celiac disease or those who are gluten-intolerant, gluten causes inflammation in the small intestine, limiting the body’s ability to absorb important proteins, vitamins, minerals and fats from the foods we eat.Simple solution: Forgoing gluten couldn’t be any easier, thanks to a plethora of gluten-free products on the market, from bread to pasta, as well as alternative gluten-free flours, including quinoa and almond flours that make baking and more a snap.
Paleo Diet says … back off eating beans and legumes. They’re rich in lectins (a type of protein) and phytates (antioxidants), which the diet claims causes intestinal distress and even leaky gut problems.Simple solution: Soak dried beans overnight, which will get rid of 70 percent of the lectins and phytates, Ely suggested. Plus, we’re not big fans of ditching beans and legumes entirely since that means missing out on an excellent source of vegetarian protein and fiber.
Paleo Diet says … pass on potatoes. “White potatoes have a huge impact on blood sugar — they’re worse than a little piece of birthday cake,” said Ely.Simple solution: Skip white potatoes and go for purple ones instead, which have a bit more fiber, potassium and anthocyanins — the same flavonoids that give antioxidant-rich blueberries and blackberries their blue hues. Sweet potatoes, which are loaded with antioxidants such as vitamins A and C, are another good alternative.