By Angela Wolter
In this day and age, hundreds of fad diets are constantly thrown into our faces by popular media. It seems that almost every magazine or talk show is advocating for some kind of diet that will revolutionize our lives in one way or another. A nearly endless list can be made: no-carb, gluten-free, juice cleanses; the list goes on and on. I’ve always wanted to try one of these diets for myself, so I began to peruse through the various websites exclaiming the incredible benefits of each food plan. Finally, upon surveying all of my options, I chose my poison:
The Paleo Diet. Or, how I like to refer to it, My Five Days of Hell.
For five consecutive days, my diet followed the strict rules and regulations of the Paleo Diet, a food plan which attempts to emulate the way ancient humans ate. Paleo experts exclaim the benefits of “eating like a caveman,” declaring that the modern human diet cannot properly nourish our bodies. According to Loren Cordain, Ph.D. and founder of the Paleo movement, our society has progressed rapidly with agriculture, processed foods, and GMOs, but our human bodies have not yet evolved enough to benefit from these new foods. Claiming that our ancient diet of purely meats, nuts, vegetables, and fruits improve our overall health and well-being, Paleo experts denounce grains, starches, processed foods, legumes, dairy, and refined sugars, since these foods were not included in the diet of ancient humans. Sounds doable, right?
Easier said than done, my friends.
My first day started with a hearty breakfast of eggs and fruit. Sounds pretty normal, right? At this point, I was still delusional to the supposed simplicity of this diet. I. Was. Wrong.
That same day, lunch provided much more opposition, since I could not eat my typical meal of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and skim milk. Oh no, no, no! Remember friends, I could not eat grains, legumes, processed sugars, or dairy. So, I ate a plain stir fry of vegetables, beef, and chicken. Now, I was starting to feel the struggles of the diet, but I truly believed I could persevere with minimal problems as long as I stayed focused and determined. Then, dinner came. Amongst the arrays of delicious pizza, delectable curry rice, and sumptuous chicken noodle soup dinners at Gordon’s, I ate yet another bowl of vegetables and meat.
After an entire day of pure Paleo Diet, I was exhausted, cranky and ill-tempered. I am convinced that my indigestion, headache, and sour mood were due to withdrawals from the processed foods and sugar I am used to consuming, and it was brutal. I would recommend to anyone thinking about starting this diet to do so in stages because quitting cold turkey is a severe and uncomfortable change to your diet and overall well-being.
The next few days progressed in a blur of passionate chocolate cravings, long-lost dreams of pizza, and an unsatisfied hunger for bread and peanut butter. The hardest part of the Paleo Diet, however, is when going out to eat with friends. Hamburgers must be eaten without buns, mustard, ketchup, or fries, and salads must remain undressed and without the refined sugars and processed flavors of salad dressing. Coffee is a big no-no, so all you Starbuck’s fans can kiss your pumpkin spice lattes goodbye and opt for an unsweetened, all-natural green tea. Oh, and those little trips on State Street to get ice cream with friends? Those are just another fond memory of what eating once was.
It wasn’t all bad, though. By far, my favorite part of the Paleo Diet was when it was over. Oh, what a beautiful day it was, my friends. Finally, I could eat all of the chocolate, sugar, grains, and dairy I wanted! Before this diet, I never realized how easy it was for me to find food, and how absolutely delicious these paleo-prohibited foods were. Granted, I may have gone a bit overboard on my first day off the diet, but it was a glorious day nonetheless.
Perhaps it was because I was not on the diet long enough, but all I felt while eating Paleo was increased tiredness, headaches, and general crankiness. I do agree with Paleo Diet experts that eating all natural foods and cutting down on grains and refined sugars is healthy, but it seems excessive to cut them out entirely. Perhaps the diet of the past should stay there.
Farewell for now,
*Disclaimer – the findings and opinions of this article are those of those of the blogger from her experience. For more information on this diet, visit The Pros and Cons of the Paleo Diet.