Jessika Garcia and Jenn Hu contributed to this article and video.
For the past few years, it seems like everyone’s been talking about the Paleo diet. We wanted to know, what’s all the hype about? So, three of our Well-Being Hawaii bloggers – Jenn, Jessika, and Christa – went Paleo for two weeks to see how hard it would be to make the diet change. Although this experience is different for everyone, here’s what we learned:
What is Paleo?
Paleo is short for the Paleolithic diet, which is based on what the humans of that time might likely have eaten. It excludes grains, dairy, legumes, and most potatoes because these foods are harder for your body to process, and supposedly weren’t eaten during the Paleolithic era. It also excludes many processed foods and foods with additives and preservatives.
This diet was made popular by Loren Cordain with his 2002 book, The Paleo Diet.
How much food preparation does it take?
This diet takes a lot of food preparation, so get in the habit of setting aside time to shop and prep your food for the week. “With my crazy work schedule, it was hard to find time to prepare meals,” Jessika said. “You really need to prepare in advance or it all goes downhill.”
If you do a good job with prep, you won’t be tempted to cheat or have one of those days where you’re starving because you don’t have anything around that’s Paleo-approved.
How expensive is it?
It’s pretty dang expensive, especially if you’re trying to be as Paleo as possible, which means eating only organic food. Buying specialty items or substitutions like almond butter, coconut flour, and more can also be pricey. “It burned a hefty hole in my bank account,” Jessika said. “I normally spend between $150-200 a month on groceries and while doing this diet I spent over $150 in just two weeks.”
However, there are ways to make this diet cheaper, such as making products like almond butter at home, buying items in bulk and dividing it between friends, and deciding how strict of a Paleo diet is right for you such as whether or not to buy organic.
How difficult was it to eat out?
Generally, we found that going out to eat was impossibly difficult. You never know if that sauce that’s glazing the steak has soy, flour, or any number of restricted ingredients in it, or if the cook will oblige your request to substitute the mac salad and rice on your plate lunch with green salad.
“But it does get better!” Jenn said. “Near the end of the diet, I went out to eat with some coworkers and got Hawaiian poke (which is Paleo because there’s salt and no shoyu) with a side salad and diligently handed off my mac salad. As we got farther into the diet, I became more comfortable with going out to eat.”
Is it worth it?
It depends on who you are, what kind of lifestyle you have, and what your health goals are. We each had very different experiences with the diet.
Jessika felt weaker, got more migraines, and had a few hangry (hungry and angry) moments, and she ultimately decided the diet wasn’t for her. Jenn had crazy sugar cravings, but enjoyed the challenge of expanding her culinary skills. Christa had awful carb cravings, but felt less tired and generally liked the diet.
“If you have dietary restrictions, food allergies, or if you're trying to find out if you have food allergies, it’s a good diet to go on,” Christa said. “In any case, talk to your doctor first! They can give you a professional opinion on what’s best for you, and if you decide to make a big dietary change it’s always a good idea to keep them in the loop.”
Some Paleo recipes we tried and loved:
- • Bacon Butternut Squash Soup
- • One Pan Tuscan Pork Chops
- • Overnight Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
- • Paleo Lemon Bars
- • Paleo Mayo
Is there something you’ve wanted to change for your health and well-being? Let us know in the comments!