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The Pros and Cons You Should Know About Paleo

Paleo Diet Meal Plan
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Last week, Select Stores’ Oliver McCabe schooled us on the super foods we should consider in our day to day diets. Now, he’s back to simplify the often complicated world of paleo. Fully qualified in nutrition, Ollie is a fan of keeping it simple. From eating egg yolks to forgetting all things ‘low fat’, here he talks us through what we should and shouldn’t do if it’s a hunter/gatherer life we want to lead. Over to the man himself…

1. Back to basics.

The paleo diet, or as I prefer to call it “the hunter/gatherer diet”, shuns processed foods, so the emphasis is on eating closer to nature, the need to eat more whole, fresh, nutrient-rich foods that don’t come in a packet.

2. Return of homemade.

Since so many foods are off-limits, and you can’t always get paleo-approved items when eating out, paleo followers are cooking more at home.

3. Low-fat is gone.

Paleo is not a low-fat diet. In fact, it celebrates certain fats. For too long, people thought all fat was bad, so I’m glad to see the emphasis on olive oil, nuts and avocado. The avocado has especially enjoyed a boost from the paleo trend at Select Stores Dalkey– served up in smoothies, mashed with peeled boiled eggs, smashed in puddings and chopped in salads.

4. Permission to eat the yolks.

Goodbye, egg white omelettes. Now it’s on trend to eat the whole egg. The paleo diet relies heavily on eggs, which are hard to beat as a versatile and affordable source of high-quality protein and other nutrients such as Vitamin D (which is found in the yolk, and more specifically in free range and organic hens as they are allowed out in sunlight for longer periods of time, soaking up that famous Irish sunshine.)

5. Keen on nut butters.

While peanuts are off-limits (as they’re a legume), tree nuts are fully bear hugged in the paleo plan. That’s got to be one of the reasons why we’re seeing so many new nut butters on the market – creamy and crunchy spreads made with almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts, pecans and other nuts. You can also find lots of recipes for making your own nut butters – which are terrific as a spread on crackers, sandwiches or used in baking.

6. Veggie Mayhem!

Paleo followers have turned to vegetables to create new veggie pastas and rice. You don’t need to be paleo to enjoy spiralized veggie courgette noodles or rice alternatives made from cauliflower. These new vegetable creations are quickly gaining mainstream status.

7. Increase in protein snacks.

It’s so much easier now to find grab and go protein-rich snacks due to the paleo trend. Most snack foods tend to be high in carbohydrates and sugar. But now health stores, gourmet delis, convenience stores, airports, malls and other places are stocking individual bags of nuts and seeds, proportioned nut butters with crackers and homemade protein balls.

8. Love your exercise.

The paleo lifestyle emphasizes exercise – after all, hunter-gatherers were always on the move. So I like that nutrition and physical activity are getting equal acceptance. You do need both – so that’s good. We’re all equal now!

The downsides to Paleo. 

Even though there may be some positive outcomes of the paleo trend, the diet has several blemishes that I can’t get over. If people feel better following this lifestyle, then it’s hard to argue with that. I’m all for people doing what feels right. But could the reason behind the brand new buzz diet be that they got rid of the junk food? Of course you’ll feel better and likely lose weight if you refuse refined carbohydrates, artificial processed meals and sugary treats.

Yes, we should be eating more whole, fresh foods. But the reasoning to completely eliminate dairy, grains and beans just doesn’t hold up for me. Why miss out on natural yogurt in the morning or grated local cheese on your omelette in the evening? And no freshly baked toasted bread either.

Maybe it’s good to cut down on white, refined grains, but why miss out on oats and the vast selection of tasty, nutritious whole grains, such as buckwheat, quinoa, bulgur, millet and spelt. These are all amazing ancient grains – are they just not Jurassic enough?

Beans and legumes are wonderful fibre-rich plant proteins. I can’t imagine forbidding these nutritional fuel foods. That means no hummus or falafel, no stew with beans, no bean or grain veggie burgers, no lentil curries and no bean salads. Oh, and I love beans and whole grains together – why disregard these nutritious plant-based foods that have tons of research demonstrating their health protective properties? We should be eating more of them – not following a plan that forbids them.

Some paleo followers explain the diet restrictions differently and allow for some of these foods, but why have so many strict rules? Why spend time stressing yourself out trying to determine if a food is truly paleo or not? Stress and food don’t mix well; it’s not what trying to have a healthy diet is about.

My biggest problem is the idea of putting a label on the way we eat. Nutrition shouldn’t be a limited fashionable food revolution. It shouldn’t be about what we delete – but what we eat. It’s easy to fall into the hole of blaming foods as good and evil. Paleo has some things right, but I think the diet gets a lot wrong, too. I’d rather have people pick the best of paleo and skip the rest. Bon Appetite!

Have you tried a paleo diet? Do you think it’s too extreme?

Select Stores 

@SelectStores @NutritionOliver

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