The Paleo Diet: Fact or Fiction?

The Paleo Diet is a widespread diet trend that is growing in popularity: the name sounds like another jargon word for just another fad diet, doesn’t it? Granted, it follows the typical profile: a very popular idea, revived from the ‘70s, following a quirky principle: the Paleo Diet dictates that if cavemen (or Paleolithic humans, rather) couldn’t eat it, then neither should you.

Our modern diet contains high levels of saturated fats and sugars that our bodies cannot handle and processes badly, so this diet calls us back to our gastronomic roots.

Of course this can only go so far, because unlike our cave-painting, sabre-tooth tiger hunting ancestors (actually early man probably ran from sabres in terror, but that’s not as romantic), we need to cook food in order to not die of food poisoning, and you are (thankfully) allowed to buy your food from Tesco, rather than catch it out in the wilderness.

I was cynical when I started three weeks ago: a friend of mine was utterly enthused by it, which I simply put down to that sort of ‘convincing yourself’ hysteria that one gets when you’re on a diet due to a joy-deficiency from lack of cake, or something.

Naturally, being a 5’2” female with a love of chocolate and vintage cheeses, I have indeed felt the need to diet before, and every time to no avail. Either it simply takes too long or it feels joyless, and I can’t stick to it. But this time it wasn’t about body image, it was about general health, so this needed to work.

I’m not going to lie: after sticking to it for three or four days I wanted to eat the world; cutting so much from my diet felt, initially, awful. But then one week in, I stopped being so hungry. I looked in the mirror, and the weight was practically falling off.

However, I would say tread carefully: the diet strictly bans dairy, carbohydrates (even chickpeas and lentils, surprisingly), sugar (obviously) and alcohol (difficult), with the only exception being a moderate sample of daily dark chocolate.

What worries me is the fact that you don’t take in any calcium: you actually only build up calcium reserves until you are 30, and then after that if your diet is calcium deficient you use these reserves, which, if insufficient, can lead to osteoporosis and the like.

We obviously know all of these, if not moderated correctly, can be bad for us, yet cutting them out completely seems drastic.

The thing is it’s working, and it’s working quickly. I’m eating three meals a day (granted, mostly comprising of fruit and veg), and I even feel healthy. Admittedly, if you diet and exercise in the right balance, you will lose weight. It is literally as simple as that, but we forget this when trying to slim down for the summer.

If you want a quick fix and have reasonable willpower this will work. Whether it is sustainable on a long term basis, however, is yet to be seen of this curious dietary craze.


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