Benefits of a Paleo Lifestyle

No one likes going on a diet, yet somehow, we’re always doing it. Resolutions are constantly being made and broken. Weight is being lost and then gained back. A good day on a new diet often results in a sugar and carbohydrate binge the next day. There is something we are doing wrong, and diet gurus are getting rich off our misery as we struggle to reach what seems to be an unattainable goal. And reaching that goal can be worse. Reaching the goal means tying yourself to a maintenence diet for the rest of your life. One of the benefits of a Paleo lifestyle, though, is that it is not a diet. 

Not a Diet

Paleo is a lfestyle. This is not a situation in which you follow a regimented plan, add steps as you are told and get to an end. So many of these situations end with weight regained. Once you’ve reached your goal, you go back to eating the way you had before, and you gain all that weight back. Or perhaps the diet you never lose the weight. Perhaps the diet is just not right for the way your body works. Or perhaps it’s so restrictive you just can’t stay with it. How often are you going to run through that cycle before you give up? 

I am a child of the ’80s, and we dieted. It’s just what we did whether we needed to or not. I remember that my mother and my sister went on a day that was so restrictive that they were only two days into it and my sister was in tears. She wanted food she could taste. She wanted to eat enough she didn’t feel like she was starving. She wanted to eat meals with eveyone else and not feel like she had to hide so she didn’t see us enjoying our meals. That’s not to say you don’t give things up for Paleo lifestyle, but you certainly don’t deprive yourself. 

It’s Not Tasteless, It’s Clean

Another benefit of the Paleo lifestyle is that it’s just good clean eating. There is nothing anywhere that says it has to be bland and tasteless. There is also nothing anywhere that suggests food has to be spicy to hide the fact the food just isn’t good. When I first told one of my customers that I was going Paleo, her first comment was, “I feel sorry for you. I’d rather eat food that tastes good.” The crazy thing is that I’d had a steak, a baked sweet potato and a salad for dinner and nothing there was tasteless. 

Clean just means it’s real — okay, some people do take the term “clean” further than that, but, really, we’re just talking about real food. A steak under the broiler, a salad of real food items. A potato, an apple, a handful of pecans. Nothing I’ve just mentioned is tasteless. And the fact I’m going to broil that steak with onion, garlic and maybe some sage guarantees I’m not eating anything bland. What I’m not doing is opening a box of prepackaged food and throwing it in the microwave.

It’s an Anti-inflamatory and Autoimmune Protocol Eating Plan

The biggest benefit I have gained from my Paleo lifestyle is the loss of pain. My doctor recommended the “diet” (a word she used with the most scientific of meanings) to help alleviate the pain of osteoarthritis. The things I was eating before — the breads and muffins and refined sugars — was causing the inflamation that caused my pain. Removing those things from my diet would help, at the early stage at which we caught my disease, keep me from daily medications. People with autoimmune deficiencies also benefit from a Paleo lifesyle. Those with diseases like Rhumatoid Disease, Lupis, HIV and AIDS, for example, benefit from this lifestyle for the very same reason I benefit with my osteoarthritis. The clean eating removes inflamation and pain and other issues caused by autoimmune problems.

It’s Vitamin Rich

Everything in our lives tells us we can’t possibly get all the vitamins we need by just eating food. That’s not true with a Paleo lifestyle. The foods are vitamin rich. I was told I needed extra calcium due to my osteoarthritis, not by my doctor, but by every other thing I read on the disease when I was diagnosed. So, imagine my surprise when I ended up in the emergency room with a calcium-based kidney stone. Why? I was taking too much calcium. With almond-based flours and milks, spinach and citrus, I was actually getting all the calcium I needed from my food. Instead of a finger dish full of vitamins every morning, I take only two in addition to my regular mutivitamin. A Paleo lifestyle can, indeed, provide you with all the vitamins you need. 

The Lifestyle is the Benefit

I mentioned before that the Paleo lifestyle is not a diet. It’s not a set of crazy rules and preset meals. Yes, there are going to be some restrictions, but, in a perfect world, they are restrictions we would already have been making. Paleo is fresh and real. Does it take a little more work? Yes. Is it going to take some practice? Yes. But at the “end” of this race toward a goal, there is no maintenance plan. There is no fear of stepping out of a restrictive regimen and regaining weight. The biggest benefit to Paleo is that it is a lifestyle that can be lived by the individual’s needs. There is no portioning, no fat trimming, no measuring, no watering down. Paleo is stepping away from the world of processed foods and eating food the way we were meant to eat it.

 

Nobody’s Perfect

As I write this, I’ve got a fork in one hand, and I’m wolfing down the most beautiful pumpkin mousse cake. Paleo? I think not! In fact, I know not. 

So, why am I eating it? Mostly because I just wanted it, but it was a last minute convenience. And because the only person I have to answer to is myself. 

Thanksgiving kind of threw me for a loop, and I’m slow in getting back into the swing of things. Two weeks living at the hotel didn’t do me any favors, but I didn’t even try for Thanksgiving. I’m regretting it, and I’ll get back on track over the next week. 

What I don’t have to worry about next week is a food coach or weigh in where someone is going to ask for an account of what I did wrong. I know what I’m doing wrong, and, yes, I have to fix it. But the fact is, I’m fixing it because I WANT TO, not because I’m afraid of what someone else is going to say to me. 

One of the things that is important is that I don’t look at my Paleo lifestyle as a “diet.” I am not going to reach a goal and then go on some maintenance program that ensures I don’t gain my weight back. I’ve actually gained 15 lbs. over the past month and a half. Yeah, it sucks, but I know what I need to keep that weight off. I know what I need to do keep my arthritis from bothering me, to keep my blood sugar down. But, I’m not perfect. I’m going to have those day (weeks, months) when I just don’t do as well as I should. 

I haven’t fallen off of a diet. I’ve only let myself down. I will pull myself back up. What is important, though, is that I realize I’m not perfect and that I don’t beat myself up over it. If I did that, I might be able to convince myself that I can’t get back on plan. I answer to myself, and I have learned that I need to be my own life coach, not my own critic. 

A Practically Paleo Life is for everyone, but it is especially for those who know they’re going to fall down. There is no judgement here. We’re all human, and there is nothing on earth more imperfect than that. 

Excuse me, now, though, while I finish my cake.