The Problems with the Paleo Diet

Let’s be honest. A “diet,” basically without rules? That’s got to be too good to be true. This is just another one of those scams that sucks you in with promises and then disappoints you in the end. Right?

No, it’s not, but let’s face it. Most things that sound too good to be true are. I will be the first to admit there are some problems with the Paleo diet. I would be less and honest if I didn’t. 

It’s Restrictive

Say what? Didn’t we just go through an entire article on how “not restrictive” this diet was? No rules, remember? 

That’s not entirely true. I said there were a few rules. Check it out. Here’s a handy link so you can go back and see for yourself. 

It is a restrictive diet, just not in the same sense most people view restrictive diets. There are things you aren’t supposed to eat if you’re going to live Paleo. Bread, dairy, sugar, legumes. All of them off limits. 

The restrictions is just one of the reasons I don’t recommend going into Paleo cold turkey. You’re giving up a lot. Once you get going, you won’t miss it all that much, but you still have to get past that “giving it up” point. What do you give up first? What is going to be the hardest?

Picture from Wikipedia Commons

The hardest for me was the dairy. Despite the fact I’m allergic to milk, I love cheese, and I have a serious weakness for ice cream. Cheese is one of things that makes me Paleoish, though I don’t eat anywhere near as much as I used to. And, if I walk into a Starbucks and order a latte or mocha, I get it fat free (I still go whole milk with Frappuccinos, and then I can’t breathe for the next two days). I also find that depression is best medicated with a pint of ice cream. If my misery wants an almond milk flavor I’ll get it, but Ben and Jerry’s is a huge pharmacy, and the almond milk selections are too few.

Get rid of one at a time. Get rid of the easiest one. Legumes? How many beans do you really eat? Or is it breads? Whichever it is, get rid of it first. And after you’ve been a week, maybe two, and you’re comfortable with that decision, get rid of the next easiest thing to give up. 

It’s Time Consuming

One of the complaints I have on a fairly regular basis is that it seems like I’m always cooking. Always. Cooking. And, until I can talk myself into being one of those meal prep people, I just don’t see that changing. 

Picture from Wikipedia Commons

When you eat Paleo, the bulk of your diet is fresh foods. As in, they need to be prepared before you can eat them. When I get up in the morning, I cook breakfast. Sometime around 1 p.m., I cook lunch, and I am often simultaneously cooking my dinner. There is a reason for the two meals together. I go to work at 5 p.m., and I need to take something with me. I don’t seem to be as slammed on my days off — yes, I’m still cooking three meals, but I don’t have to cut my day short to get to work. 

If you love to cook, great! I’m pretty ambivilent. But, once in a while, it will occur to me that I cook a lot. 

One of the benefits of this is that you can season your foods or cook them to YOUR preference. What spices? What herbs? How hot? How rare? The world is your oyster, which I hate and don’t eat, cooked or raw (Seriously, what’s up with that?).

It Can Get Expensive

When I was a young wife, I was often encourage to buy in bulk. What I always heard was, “It’s cheaper in the long run.” I hear the same thing about healthy living (of all kinds. We’re not just talking diet here). “Yes, it’s expensive,” they’ll say. “But you’ll be healthier in the long run, and you won’t have health problems when you’re a senior.” That fact doesn’t put money on the budget for groceries. 

A steak and sweet potato is going to cost more than a box of macaroni and cheese. Trout fillets and baby spinach is going to set you back more than Stouffer’s frozen lasagne, and it’s going to feed fewer people. Any time you choose to eat clean and not go with the processed stuff, it’s going to cost you. I’m not going to lie. One of the biggest benefits I have is that I’m single and not trying to feed a family. The fact is, though, there are families that eat this way. It can be done. 

The cost will change the way you eat. One of the things I have done in the way I set up my breakfasts is that I have two proteins. I have whatever meat (bacon, sausage, left-over chicken) and a secondary protein, which would be my eggs. It stays with me longer and I eat less at my other meals. For those who go the whole five or six small meals route, you’ll probably have better luck with eating less food over the course of the day than those of us who do three squares. 

Yeah, it’s a lot of money, but waking up day-to-day and realizing I’m pain-free makes it priceless. 

Why Am I Telling You This?

I know this all seems contrary to what I’ve talked about in my past articles. There’s a reason I’m doing this, though. 

All of my life people have showed me something good, something I wanted or wanted to do. The offering was there, and all the benefits were being echoed back and forth. 

Then there was the moment of truth. No one told me there was great chasm between me and the prize, and all of hell filled it. And here I had the people who talked me into whatever I was going to get or do handing me a Super Soaker and telling me to go for it. That chasm of hell was always the one thing they left out. 

I’m not going to tell you it won’t be hard. For some, it will be harder than others. There will be those who are fireproof. Some will try and fail and try again. That was me. And there will be some who try and fail and decide it’s just not for them. 

It’s Worth It

If a “diet” with no rules sounds too good to be true, rest assured, it is not. I’m letting you know know that you can see it on the other side of this little valley full of sacrifice and inconvenience, and all you have to do is figure out the best way through it. 

Here’s your Super Soaker. 

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Author: Kelli Heitstuman-Tomko

Kelli Heitstuman-Tomko has a degree in journalism and is a published novelist. She has written on food, agriculture, business, crime and tourism. She has lived in Idaho, New Hampshire, Florida, Wyoming and Colorado. She currently resides in Fallon, Nevada.

15 thoughts on “The Problems with the Paleo Diet”

  1. Hi Kelli,

    Me and my wife started a paleo diet a few years ago, but we gave on because of time. We both work a lot and don~t have time to cook. Besides, we live in a shared house so there is always someone using the kitchen, which makes our pateo practically impossible. My main problem is bread in the breakfast and rice in meals. If I don~t eat lots of carbohydrates I don’t feel satisfied, which is the opposite of what many people on paleo say.

    1. I tend to replace what I used to be bread with sweet potatoes or squash like butternut or pumpkin. I had a lot of trouble my first go-round with not feeling full enough. But I’ve also worked on some recipes with my mom to help replace a few items. Sometimes I replace my starch with eggs because they tend to help you feel full and make a meal stay with you longer.

      I know the trouble of having to share a kitchen. That can be rough on any kind of eating plan. And it could be there’s something about paleo that isn’t quite right for you, something that would make you more paleo-ish than paleo. For the most part.

  2. Nice article, I’ve never heard about the paleo diet before and now I know about it and especially the cons of it. It was a very useful and informative article.

  3. Thanks for your honest review. I have heard of the Paleo diet before but I haven’t looked into it properly.
    I think I would struggle to give up bread at first but like most things, I will get used to it.
    I’m going to check out your website for more information about this way of eating. Many thanks.

  4. Hi! loved reading your article, it’s awesome. But i have to mention, that we have same problems wheen it comes to everything dairy- i can’t live if consume milk or cheese ( i love cheese as well), i’m literally dying for a day or two.

  5. Interesting post! I’m never one to go for a ‘trendy’ diet for the sake of it, but paleo is one that intrigues me…should probably give it a go hey 🙂

    1. Yeah, I’ll admit I brushed it off when I first heard about it. I lived in Boulder, Colorado, and everything there is a new fad way of eating as long as it’s “clean” or approved by the populous (the organic foods groups out there can be rabidly aggressive). I think my doctor recommending this helped, because I didn’t feel like she was trying to sell me a colleague’s book or promote something she didn’t really believe in. She specialized in pain management, and that’s what I needed.

  6. Awesome I like it. I love the honesty of this article. I have to agree with you. If a person’s goal is to live a long healthy life or even just a healthy life it is hard and it can be expensive. However so is expensive medical bills from continuous illness. Also illness often becomes a burden, not just from your pockets but a burden for the family. I would rather take the time to cook a healthy meal now while I still have the ability. The cost of that meal will never cost as much as hospital Ibuprofen …lol

  7. Hi Kelli, I tend to go Paleo on and off.
    I usually make to move to when I’ve been eating a lot on the go and starting to feel lousy. I definitely have gone through carb withdrawals and my little tip is a couple melba toasts to get me over the hump.
    I really have a hard time sticking with it long term as I’m physically active and I just don’t have the energy I need long term. I know I’m probably not preparing the proper food to sustain me and that another issue.
    I feel like when I go Paleo it’s like doing a cleans because it does make me feel better in the short term.
    Thanks for this post, it is very informative and weighs out the pros and cons nicely!

    1. Have you been low-fat when you’re Paleo? It’s a mistake that a lot of people make because we’ve been trained to believe fat is bad and we shouldn’t be eating it. But if you’re low-fat while you’re Paleo, you’re going to really low on energy.

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