The Paleo Diet is all the rave these days. While it's been given a reputation for consisting mostly of meat, that's not the whole story. A true Paleo lifestyle is about eating more whole foods, more vegetables, higher quality grass-fed and organic animal products, some fruit, limited dairy, limited sugars, and limited carbohydrates.
Personally, in my life with type 1 diabetes, I've found a more paleo-like lifestyle to have incredible benefits to my own blood sugars! Since I already have Celiac disease, Paleo conveniently supports a gluten-free lifestyle, but it also helps me steer clear of other unnecessary starches and sugars. My favorite thing about this lifestyle is that it helped me fully commit to eating only grass-fed and organic meats. I've happily added way more fats through nuts and eggs to my diet while losing almost 40 pounds over the course of that past year-and-a-half, achieving a recent A1C of 6.2, reducing my blood pressure down to 89/62, etc. I couldn't be happier.
3 Benefits of Paleo
Here are three ways the Paleo lifestyle can greatly benefit a person with diabetes:
- The Paleo lifestyle is based on the research showing that grains and dairy lead to significant inflammation and 7 out of 10 people have toxic reactions to gluten, the protein component found in many grains. By reducing grains in your diet, you also inevitably reduce your consumption of carbohydrates and therefore reducing the amount of insulin your body needs in order to maintain healthy blood sugars. Overall, leads to increased sensitivity to insulin and less insulin resistance.
- You become aware of just how much processed junk you may be consuming. In a world full of "products" in boxes, loaded with high fructose corn syrup, a scary slurry of ingredients you can't pronounce, highly processed grains, and artificial chemicals for flavoring, it's hard to step back and look at just how much of your diet is not actually fresh, whole food. Adapting the Paleo lifestyle encourages more whole foods and fewer processed products.
- Unlike the Atkins diet, which promotes a low-carb lifestyle that consists of large amounts of animal fat, I think the Paleo lifestyle takes a much more wholesome and balanced approach to fat intake, promoting healthier fats such as coconut oil, avocado, nuts and nut butters, and seeds in addition to fats from high-quality animal products such as chicken, beef, turkey, pork, and eggs. The Paleo lifestyle is also much more supportive of consuming more fruits and some of the starchier vegetables (like sweet potatoes) compared to Atkins.
In the end, the Paleo lifestyle is very simple: less food products, more real food. Abel James, host of the popular podcast "Fat-Burning Man" says, "If you're doing it right, 70 percent of your Paleo diet is the same as a vegan diet."
Interested in trying it? For starters, take a look in your refrigerator and pantry to count how many of the foods you eat on a daily basis come in a package or box, and how many of the ingredients on each item don't sound like actual food! Then, think about what real foods you could substitute for those processed meals in your diet.