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Paleo Diet?

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Old 05-17-2013, 01:42 PM   #1
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Default Paleo Diet?

i'm confused with this. it says NO GRAINS. but the food pyramid emphasizes grains, it's the largest part of the food pyramid! and i'm so used to hearing "whole grains help you lose weight" and i've even switched from white bread to multi-grain/whole wheat. i'm also not good with knowing what has carbs and what doesn't. can anyone give me a sample day on the paleo diet? like, what do you eat for breakfast if you can't have cereal, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, or toast? why can't i have a damn sandwich? and ramen... my fallback when i am out of food stamp money and have no food left. plus my grandmother is always making pasta salads and spaghetti and eating things on bread and in pitas... yet she's RAIL-THIN. like, my thigh is probably nearly as big around as her entire waist. she also thinks the paleo diet is total bullsh*t, and tells me "watch your portion sizes and you'll lose weight" but even that is bull. i have cut down to half sandwiches and single chicken breasts with steamed veggies instead of 2 legs and a thigh with mashed potatoes... i've been eating a good 1000+ calories less than what i was when i was comfort-eating or just plain old eating high-calorie stuff. but i really have no clue about this paleo diet. i'm looking into it, studying it, but i like personal feedback. an article isn't the same thing as people on the diet telling me what they do and how it works for them. soooo sorry this is kinda long but i guess my main point is:

why are grains "bad" yet the largest group in the food pyramid?
what sorts of carbs am i taking in without even realizing it?
what is a sample day is the paleo lifestyle?
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Old 05-17-2013, 02:00 PM   #2
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Primal/Paleo basically describes eating as humans supposedly ate before organized agriculture began. Eating what was available as opposed to what was grown. I'm pretty sure this included plant vegetables, root vegetables, berries, any meats but not dairy. And no grains of any kind. It's lowish carb but definitely not Atkins.There are many primal and paleo websites, all you need to do is Google it. It's not for everyone and I agree that some people can live off of bread and never gain an ounce. But for some people, grains cause weight gain, inflammation, and digestive upset. Hope this helps.
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Old 05-17-2013, 02:03 PM   #3
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I've considered doing more research into this diet and giving it a try. The basic idea is to eat the way humans did in the Paleolothic era. No processed foods, everything fresh. Many people can eat carbs all day long and stay thin because their digestive systems have evolved to be used to that kind of diet. Look at Native Americans for an example of a people who were hunter/gatherers for far longer than many other cultures. You can see in the high levels of obesity and diabetes that their bodies haven't changed enough to handle the higher levels of carbs and lower levels of physical activity. Obviously this is an over-simplified explanation, and I am by no means an expert.

Personally, I have started embarking on a semi-paleo type of diet. Lots of fresh meats and veggies. I hate cooking, so I mostly eat salads and meat or fish I've cooked on the stove. I would also like to hear insight and tips from people who have actually gone with this meal plan (I really hate the word diet when it's more like a lifestyle change).
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Old 05-17-2013, 02:04 PM   #4
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The paleo diet is tough to do in my opinion because I've tried it and it is quite expensive since grains are the cheapest food sources. Also, when I went paleo my bingeing became really bad since I felt so deprived. The premise of the diet (or philosophy) is to eat the way the caveman did, before agriculture. I have no doubt it will help people lose weight simply because when you eat mostly vegetables and protein, the overall calories tend to be much less. I could be wrong but I believe refined oils are to be avoided in this diet as well.

I think if someone can do this then all the power to them. Some people say that by not eating grains you will stop craving them. It seemed to do the opposite to me. I guess a sample breakfast for someone doing paleo would be an omlette with lots of veggies. Also, there is no dairy allowed with paleo as far as I know.

Basically paleo means meat, veggies, and some nuts and seeds in there unprocessed forms. It is not easy like I said nor cheap. Someone could incorporate some of the principles like "less grains" and "more vegetables" without getting overly obsessed. From what I can tell (and have experienced on the message boards) is that paleo is practically a religion for some people. It also seems to make some eating disorders worse because of too much obsession over what foods are "proper for human consumption". It is probably a bit dangerous for people who suffer from orthorexia such as myself who become obsessed with the "right way of eating".
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Old 05-17-2013, 02:26 PM   #5
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hmmmm it does sound very difficult. and expensiveness is a big problem, as i only get $200 a month for food.
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Old 05-17-2013, 02:43 PM   #6
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Hey, Alyssa! Here are my thoughts and what's worked for me.

I became "accidentally low-carb" while I was losing weight - although I'm mainly a calorie counter, I realized over time that I was able to eat more filling food (for ME) when I ditched a lot of bready, starchy carbs and exchanged them for foods like lean meat, cheese, yogurt, olive oil, those types of foods. I also realized that my body actually felt better - more energy, more even mood, no blood sugar spikes, and fewer cravings. It wasn't all at once, but over time.

After all of that, THEN I started to discover this thing called Paleo, and it's cousin, Primal (which is a little more lenient with dairy and some other carbs). I still don't think of myself as following this path exclusively, but it's kind of my default.

I think people might be suggesting this kind of food plan for you because, simply by the elimination of a lot of those starchy carbs, overall calorie intake will fall without having to track calories (I saw the other thread where you talk about that).

Yes, in a lot of cases, starches are cheaper than a lot of other foods, certainly many proteins. But not all. The shoestring meals forum has TONS of ideas for low cost adaptations.

I'm underqualified to get into the FDA food pyramid discussion. I'm sure someone will chime in on that soon.

As far as what I eat on a day-to-day basis? Here's a sample, but PLEASE remember this is ME, and based on what I like. It's not the only way to do it.

Breakfast - Eggs with veggies and maybe some avocado.
Lunch - Some chicken breast or tuna or some other protein. A couple of cups of veggies, a TBS of olive oil.
Dinner - Ginormous salad with protein (veggie burger, or something else) with a few nuts.
Snacks/Dessert - Some berries, some Greek yogurt with flax, some mini cheeses.

Strict paleo frowns on dairy but cheese and yogurt seem fine for me.

Good luck!
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Old 05-17-2013, 02:45 PM   #7
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Grains aren't BAD. They just don't fit with the philosophy of Paleo living. Personally, I've always thought the food pyramid was a crock. Even as an 8 year old kid I couldn't understand why we were supposed to eat more bread/pasta/grains than meat/fruit/vegetables. Just did not make sense to me.

What has carbs? Bread. Pasta. Rice. Grains of any kind. Beans. Sauces/dressings/condiments. Yogurt. Veggies. Fruit. Dairy. Anything with sugar/corn syrup/juice. A lot of things have carbs.

You can google "paleo recipes" for some good stuff to eat. Just because you are eating what the cavemen ate doesn't mean you can't jazz it up. People have figured out good alternatives to all sorts of grain favorites.

I try to follow paleo-ish. I can't live without cheese and yogurt. So I eat those. I basically try to avoid grains (They make it hard for me to lose weight) and most prepackaged stuff. I also certainly don't buy organic grassfed meat. Try keeping an eye on the grocery store sales flyer to know what fruit and veggies are on sale that week, that will also help your wallet.
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Old 05-17-2013, 03:00 PM   #8
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Paleo people apparently did eat wild grains (grass seeds), but not nearly as much of the diet as modern people. Also, we've bred a lot of the "good stuff" (especially protein and fiber" out of our grains.

Many grains actually contain substances that interfere with fertility. Thus if a group of animal eats "too much" of that grain, fewer babies will be born to eat that grain.

There are many "flavors" of paleo, each allowing and forbidding a different set of foods, but most forbid or severely limit grains. Personally, I believe grains may not be as bad for everyone as paleo viewpoints assume - but there does seem to be a link between grains and inflammation and autoimmune disease - but whether high-grain consumption causes or simply exacerbates these conditions, I'm not sure is clear.

In my own situation (living with a connective-tissue damaging autoimmune condition), I've experimented with grains and varying amounts and types of other high-carb foods, and discovered that I do have a problem with many grains, most especially the gluten grains.

I choose a low-grain, moderately low carb diet for myself. I don't eat grains, starches, or very sweet fruit (like bananas) every day, and when I do eat grains, I try to choose the higher fiber, higher protein ones like wild rice, quinoa...

The food pyramid is based on one theory of healthy eating. It may or may not be the best, and it's quite possible that there is no single "best diet" for everyone. I suspect that age, weight, genetics, activity level, specific health issues... may affect what type of diets are healthier than others. And even so, there may be several types of diets that are equally healthy.

My advice would be to experiment with a wide variety of plans, and pay attention to how you feel, and how the diet meets your personal goals.
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Old 05-17-2013, 03:03 PM   #9
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Also, you can eat paleo on a very tight budget, but you're probably going to be eating a lot of tuna fish, pork, dark meat chicken, cabbage, and onions.
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Old 05-17-2013, 05:07 PM   #10
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There are plenty of websites that argue the virtues of primal/paleo. (this is a good, accessible place to start, IMO. Paleo Parents also has a good 'Paleo 101' guide including budget tips here and I love many of the recipes on their website.

Most of us eating paleo/primal aren't perfect - we're just doing the best we can with what we have - and I don't know a lot of folks who follow the ideal to a T 100% of the time. My husband and I feel better the closer to perfect paleo we get and we strive to make meat, vegetables, and quality fats the staples of our diet.

Some folks find they spend more money eating paleo (or paleo-ish), but our food expenses actually went down after transitioning, largely because I wasn't hungry all the time and needed less food. We spend about $600 a month to feed two adults (and my husband has high caloric needs and eats far more food than one normal person) and a large dog, and we buy mostly grassfed meat and organic dairy. I'm pretty sure I could do Paleo on $200/mo. assuming I was only feeding myself. If I simply couldn't get enough calories on that budget, I'd incorporate small amounts of quinoa or rice.

I make my own yogurt out of whole milk, I make my own bone broth out of scraps from other meals (a whole chicken feeds us FOREVER after we make soup out of the carcass!), I make my own sauces out of farmer's market seconds which are often free. I render my own tallow and use that or saved bacon fat for cooking. Organ meats are often cheap and are nutrient dense. Tough cuts of boiling meat are cheap and make a lovely stew dinner. I already buy vegetables mostly on sale and a minimal amount of fruit - if I was on a tighter budget, I'd prioritize nutrient dense vegetables (spinach, kale, etc.) and cut out fruit entirely. Sweet Potatoes are a good high-calorie add-in if your diet is looking a little on the light side.

And honestly, I have a hard time envisioning a much easier diet. I do a lot of kitchen work because I enjoy it and it provides us with a wide variety, but during busy times it's SUPER easy to throw some ground meat, kale, and onions in a pan and cook until done. No mess, no fuss!
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Old 05-17-2013, 05:32 PM   #11
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Paleo is essentially a lower carb diet. I do not follow it, but I have some past experience with the effects of a high carb diet on your body. Essentially, I found that it significantly promoted inflammation. In my case (that is likely not typical) this led to a vicious cycle where inflammation promoted weight gain and this, in turn, led to more inflammation. It came to a point where I gained 50 lbs in a short period of time and thought I had autoimmune disease. Cutting out carbs helped me a lot in getting my health back and it seems to be the only way I can lose weight. I cut out all bread, pasta, rice and almost all fruit from my diet for the time being. Cutting down carbs will help you avoid sugar cravings and it also seems to help balance out hormonal issues.
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Old 05-17-2013, 05:49 PM   #12
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Expense with paleo can be an issue for some, especially those living in "food deserts" who generally have access to food from fast food restaurants and convenience stores (7-eleven). This is why obesity and obesity-related diseases correlate so strongly with poverty. People who can't afford to eat real food have no choice but to eat the cheapest food stuffs- refined grains like white bread and ramen noodles, rice, corn and sugar. The cheapest foods also happen to be what causes obesity/overweight in the first place because they are only refined carbohydrates that get stored as fat while not giving any nutrition for all those calories, leaving you constantly hungry. A viscious cycle.

The food pyramid was created by the USDA. The USDA's number 1 product is grains. They must sell grains to the US population and what better way to do that than to tell everyone that grains are a major part of one's diet. Imagine if Coca-cola made a beverage pyramid. What do you think Coca-cola would tell everyone is the most important beverage to drink? That's right: coca-cola. The food pyramid is not based on nutritional science or historical records of what humans evolved to eat. It's based on selling a constant surplus of grains. The food pyramid has even been replaced by "my plate" so even the USDA has abandoned it. You should as well and replace it with a pyramid based on what humans evolved to eat, which is fatty meats fish poultry, veggies, a little fruit and nuts.

My diet is influenced by Paleo, in that I focus on fatty meats like juicy burgers, fish with skin and butter sauce, and beef, pork, lamb, and chicken pot roasts and bone broths that keep all the fat and juices of the meat in tact. These foods are incredibly nutrient dense, are delicious, and satisfy my appetite without having to eat a huge volume of food. I also avoid all bread and pastas because I have a gluten sensitivity. I minimize rice and corn as well because they have more calories than nutritional content. I maximize well-cooked veggies like potatoes, sweet potatoes, cooked greens, squashes, zuccini, peas, etc. And I eat a ton of full-fat dairy: cream, sour cream, cream cheese, grass-fed butter. I don't drink milk because of lactose intolerance.

I have lost nearly 25 lbs on this diet, kept it off for a year, and I continue to eat it today because it is delicious, satisfying, nutritious, and i never have to worry about the weight coming back. The reason eating lots of meat and fat and fewer carbs controls weight has to do with controlling your blood sugar. If you restrict carbs (mainly bread,pastas,cereals, sugar,corn, rice) your blood sugar remains stable, which doesn't trigger insulin. If you eat lots of carbs, insulin will come in to reduce your blood sugar, and store it as fat. Also, while insulin is active, your brain can't feel the satiety signal (from leptin), leaving you hungry, continuing to eat more carbs, and unable to burn the fat you already have- a viscous cycle.

My typical paleo-ish/low-carb/high-fat day:

breakfast: one egg w/ bacon or sausage w/potato or a little salad
lunch: pork ribs (with juices and fatty parts), cooked collard greens (in butter), beans cooked with pork, potato salad
dinner: rotisserie chicken (dark meat and skin) from the supermarket, instant mashed potatoes, creamy spinach

snacks: cashews, peanut butter, 99% chocolate, whole-fat chedder cheese stick,

I can basically eat however much meat and natural fat I want to without gaining weight. My body tells me when I am full. I no longer crave bread, sweets, or even ice cream anymore. I would eat ice cream if it came unsweetened, however.

The cons to this diet are: time spent cooking and better quality meat and dairy is more expensive.

BUT- you can do a low-carb, high-fat diet on fast food and processed food as well and make a difference in weight- it just won't be as healthy. For example, if you go to McDonalds, get the double burger with everything on it (skip the american cheese which is not even related to real cheese) and don't eat the bun. Get coffee with cream but no sugar. Get water instead of soda. Get a small fries instead of cookies or ice cream. For me, it's all about reaching for the fattiest option as a replacement for the sugary or carby option. That way I get satisfied and my blood sugar doesn't spike which allows my body to keep burning fat instead of storing it.

I hope this helps. PM me if you have other questions.
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Old 05-17-2013, 06:02 PM   #13
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thanks everyone <3 i haven't read ALL of your responses yet, but i will. i'm thinking of trying the paleo diet for a few days just to see if i can do it, and if i can i'll stretch it to a week. but i don't think i wanna be no-carb, probably just lo-carb. i've been doing lo-calorie and it doesn't seem to be working, so it can't hurt to TRY.
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Old 05-17-2013, 06:31 PM   #14
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I eat Paleo-ish now. The main things that are NOT Paleo in my diet are honey, cheese, chocolate (the first 3, I eat daily), white potatoes/corn (on occasion).

Today I ate:

Bkf ~ 6 spears of asparagus wrapped with 1/2 slice of bacon, and baked, 1 orange, 1 homemade banana, walnut, and chocolate muffin made with almond flour.

Lunch ~ 2 veggie and turkey mini meatloaves, 1 grapefruit, 1 homemade banana, walnut, and chocolate muffin made with almond flour.

Snack ~ 2 -50 calorie applegate farms all natural turkey hot dogs with mustard (I usually don't do hot dogs, but we were going to have a cook out, and it got canceled).

Dinner ~ don't know yet, will decide after the gym!

Basically, once per month I make a huge batch of muffins for the bf and I and freeze what we don't need for the week. Every Sunday, I make my asparagus with bacon, and 2-3 main dishes (last week was chili, meatloaf, and sloppy joe (with manwich, not paleo, but it sounded good). Then on Tuesday and Wednesday I cook something for dinner. My rule is I cook and portion the food, we each warm up what we want for lunch and dinner each day.

Other favorites include homemade chicken and veggie soup, taco salad, cauliflower and cheese soup, stuffed cabbages w/o rice, spaghetti made with spaghetti squash instead of noodles. I make egg muffins for my bf with beaten eggs, meat, veggies. I put a 1/4 cup of the mixture in each muffin tin and bake them, and wrap in plastic wrap. They freeze well also.
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Old 05-17-2013, 07:57 PM   #15
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FYI - there are a lot of low-cost recipes and meal ideas that are also low-carb, paleo, and semi-paleo the shoestring meals forum. Even though soy and legumes are usually not considered paleo (because they aren't edible raw), I do use tvp (textured vegetable protein) to extend ground beef. I can buy cheap ground beef and extend it with even cheaper tvp ( my recipes using tvp can be found in the shoestring meals forum).

I do make my own yogurt, which isn't strictly paleo, but I'm not willing to eat the paleo source for calcium and other minerals (such as insects and bones). I do make stock with animal bones (chicken carcass, ham bone, beef bones, even shrimp shells on the rare occasion we buy shrimp - usually from Aldi on sale).

The first paleo book I read (Neanderthin, I believe) allowed dairy as a substitute for insects and dirt (the paleo sources for these minerals), so whenever I've done paleo, I've used some dairy. I've stopped eating fresh dairy due to mild lactose problems.
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