THE DIET FACTS
The basic principles The paleolithic diet – usually abbreviated to the paleo diet – focuses on trying to follow the eating habits of early humans. It’s named after the paleolithic era (also known as the Old Stone Age era), the earliest period of human development where they hunted and gathered their food and before the introduction of farming.
This way of eating involves cutting out dairy and processed foods and most starchy foods (for example pasta, breakfast cereals and bread) – all foods that weren’t around at that time. The main focus is on eating seeds, nuts, meat, chicken, fish, sweet potatoes, eggs, fruit and vegetables.
Why I recommend the addition of carbs and dairy Although the focus on eliminating processed foods is advisable, the limiting of dairy and starches can be harmful to health and can lead to problems such as osteoporosis and poor blood-sugar control in diabetics.
It’s important to consider that just like our lifestyles have changed since early humans lived, so our dietary needs have altered. So to aim to eat the same way we did thousands of years ago isn’t practical, healthy or sustainable.
That’s why I adapted this diet to include dairy, grains and legumes. Although it’s in limited quantities it makes the eating plan more balanced.
Preparation before you begin All diets require the same mental preparation – you have to prepare yourself in advance for the inevitable temptations that will arise. One good idea is to record your reasons for going on the diet, your goals and how you’ll handle setbacks so you have a strategy when you need a little extra motivation.
For example, you may be concerned about how you’ll manage your diet when you’re at a braai. A good strategy would be to have a small snack before you go so you won’t be too hungry and fill up on unhealthy options, or to bring along a crudité platter so you have something healthy to snack on other than chips.
There are also plenty of healthy and delicious recipes that are part of the three-week eating plan and in the recipes section on page 110.
Stock your fridge more than your cupboards Most people don’t eat enough fresh produce. Aim for at least three to five servings of vegetables per day with one serving consisting of either a cup of raw vegetables or a half cup of cooked vegetables or one cup of vegetable soup.
You will also need to reduce your consumption of unhealthy saturated fats such as hard cheeses, salty snacks, biscuits, pastries and chocolates.
Be conscious to not consume excess sodi- um. Foods packed with salt include some breads, margarine, butter spreads, stock cubes, soup powders, breakfast cereals and savoury snacks.
The nuts issue While nuts are great for your health and part of this diet, they are high in kilojoules and shouldn’t be consumed in excess if you’re trying to lose weight. Almonds and cashews are the best choices as they’re the lower-kilojoule options (see our nuts article on page 79). Try to limit your intake to one to two tablespoons a day when dieting.
Give this diet a skip if . . . This plan isn’t suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women, children or the elderly.
The amount of food recommended is appropriate for women with an average level of activity, but a man or a very active woman would most likely need more kilojoules and would need to increase the portion sizes.
If you have any chronic medical conditions consult a dietician or GP before starting a diet.
It’s a piece of cake Some diets can be difficult and will see you running for the closest store desperate to cheat. But this diet is easy to follow and the portions are sufficient but remember to make careful choices when grocery shopping and dining out.
Is this diet for you? Dietician Lila Bruk looks at the basics to prepare you: