The Paleo Diet
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

QR77 radioListen to my monthly radio program with Angela Kokott, host of Calgary Today for our segment, “You are what you eat” to get the goods on healthy eating.

Listen to Episode 54 part one here:  Most Popular Searched Diet on Google
Listen to Episode 54 part two here:  Most Popular Searched Diet on Google

The Pros and Cons of the Paleo Diet

The most popular searched diet on Google in 2013 was the Paleo diet which is often referred to as the “caveman” or “stone-age” diet.  If you are considering following this plan for the upcoming year ahead, here are some thing to know:

What is the Paleo diet?

diet fish eggs poultryTo put it simply the Paleo diet advocates that eating like our ancestors did 10,000 years ago will help you to reduce disease, lose weight and be healthier. Foods that are hunted, gathered or fished (grass produced meat, poultry, eggs, fish, shellfish, nuts as well as some oils, veggies and fruits) are permitted.  Those that follow the Paleo diet suggest our body is genetically predisposed to eat only these foods.  Paleo diet advocates suggest that during the agricultural revolution where grains, legumes, potatoes, dairy, salt and sugar began to be consumed has increased our risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Pros of the Paleo Diet

Any diet that places an emphasis on whole foods and eating less heavily processed foods with excess sugar and salt is a move in the right direction.

Those that have tried to follow the Paleo diet often eat a substantially higher level of produce and have trained their taste buds to enjoy these foods more.  Based on long-term scientific evidence we know populations from around the world who consume a diet rich in veggies and fruit have wonderful protection against disease. In fact one of the top weight loss strategies we work on with our clients is increasing veggies and fruit since most people fall short.  Since veggies and fruit are low in calories but provide volume to your plate, eating enough of these is key to fill up your eyes as much as fill up your stomach.

I’ve also noticed that folks following the Paleo diet are cooking more meals at home (since it would be hard to follow this plan if you don’t like to cook).  Getting people back to the basics of cooking and enjoying meals at home is one of my career missions. This is not only good for your health but also role models important life skills for kids and significantly improves family health and connectedness (https://www.healthstandnutrition.com/establishing-healthy-family-nutrition-habits/).

Cons of the Paleo Diet

The Paleo diet has a few downfalls firstly that the protein and fat consumption of this diet exceeds the Dietary Reference Intakes (established by Canadian and American scientists through a review process overseen by the U.S. National Academies, which is an independent, nongovernmental body http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=10490). Although many healthy fats such as olive oil and nuts are permitted on the Paleo diet it is the high consumption of meat that is concerning especially if meats are high fat as they contain a high level of saturated fat which can raise blood cholesterol levels.   Heavy emphasis on meat is also concerning from a cost and environmental perspective.

The Paleo diet is also low in carbohydrate considering foods such as grains, potatoes and legumes are not permitted.  Long-term research suggests populations that consume a diet rich in whole grains and legumes manage a healthy weight and have a low risk of disease such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes. The Dietary Reference Intakes suggest the healthiest diets worldwide contain 45-65% carbohydrates.  This would be very difficult to achieve on a Paleo diet.

Eliminating dairy foods unless you have a dairy allergy is not recommended.  Although there is large individual variation, even those with a lactose intolerance can often manage small amounts of dairy foods. Dairy foods supply high levels of calcium and vitamin D for protection of bone health and osteoporosis along with other health benefits.

The Bottom Line

As a nutrition expert I see no need to unnecessarily remove healthy foods such as grains, legumes and dairy from your diet.  If you look closely at the diet also you will see that even healthy foods such as higher sugar fruits are suggested to be removed if you are trying to lose weight.  The diet starts to feel like a standard low-carb diet and research shows that you can lose weight from all types of diets (both low carb or high carb) as long as calories are decreased.

As a foodie and advocate for finding enjoyment in eating I see this diet as being very difficult to sustain and unenjoyable.  I love my carbs including potatoes and fresh bread and at the end of the day portion sizes are key with all foods.  Eliminating all sugar and salty foods also does not allow for much flexibility to eat soulfully and enjoy a meal at your neighbors house or at a restaurant.  Clients of mine that eliminate many foods often find they struggle with bingeing.  I prefer to live by the rules that you can eat anything, just not everything.  Make choices, watch your portion sizes and savor your bites mindfully.

Want to hear about my favorite eating style? It’s the Mediterranean Diet – read and watch more here:  https://www.healthstandnutrition.com/mediterranean-diet/

Click here for a printer-friendly PDF of this article

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

As seen in


Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This