Perhaps you’ve tried the Paleo diet along with practically half of the country, but are starting to experience some of the reasons Paleo doesn’t work for everyone. In terms of diet, I believe that what works for one person doesn’t always work for another. Remember, just as the food industry makes money off you through health claims and food marketing tactics, so do “healthy” diets. Many dietary approaches have a huge amount of scientific research behind them, which causes some people to believe they’re worth all their time, money, and mental energy. That’s not always the case though. Even diets like the Paleo diet, no matter how valid their research seems, aren’t made for everyone. I don’t think it ever hurts to try a new way of eating, and in fact, I’d encourage everyone to try new things in terms of their diet. It’s the only real way to find what works and what doesn’t. Yet if you’ve tried Paleo and you suddenly aren’t feeling too hot, it might not be for you, and that’s okay. Considering some of these reasons Paleo doesn’t work for everyone, you shouldn’t beat yourself up if that includes you. For a few of the reasons below, I’m right on board with ya!
1. Nut Heavy
One of the reasons Paleo doesn’t work for everyone is because it tends to be a nut heavy diet. Sure, you could eat the Paleo diet and never touch a nut or seed, but that would leave you eating very little in your diet. The Paleo diet is mostly animal protein, vegetables, healthy fats, and fruit, However, it also allows for nuts and seeds, along with nut flours for baking. I think nuts are one of the most beautifully healthy foods we can eat, but too many of them often constipates people, hurts their stomachs, and even makes them gain weight. Some nuts like almonds also contain certain properties, such as phytates, that upset people’s intestinal lining. Other nuts, such as cashews and walnuts, seem to be well tolerated, but not necessarily in high amounts. If you don’t digest nuts well for digestive reasons, it can also cause a lot of pain quickly. It’s something to consider before embarking on the diet. If you are going to eat Paleo, nuts can be a good way to get in healthy fats from plant-based sources to level out the fats you’re consuming through animal protein.
2. Meat Heavy
As I mentioned, most people on the Paleo diet eat a good bit of meat, at least once or more a day. It’s one of the main principles of the diet, and for some people this one issue might be a reason to forego the Paleo diet. Personally, I don’t even enjoy the flavor or idea of eating meat, even aside from the ethical issues I have with it. I’ve actually been this way since I was small, and just really don’t like meat, therefore I know I Paleo could never be for me. If you’re not one to enjoy meat, or don’t believe in it, I’d really ask you not to try the Paleo diet. While you could eat eggs, nuts, and fish, or even vegetarian proteins as a modified version, the typical “meat, veggie, and fruit” principle behind Paleo is the diet I’m referring to here.
I love fruit, but my stomach sure doesn’t agree with me on this love for one of nature’s purest foods. For many people with IBS, glycemic issues, digestive disorders like SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), or issues like candida albicans ( yeast overgrowth), fruit is off the menu, most all the time. For this reason, Paleo’s principles of eating meat, fruits, and veggies most of the time simply wouldn’t work well. If you’re considering going Paleo and have glycemic issues or troubles digesting fruit, you may want to reconsider this approach. Another issue many people have with Paleo is the fact that fruit and protein can be very hard to digest if eaten together. That's partly because fruit is digested within about 30 minutes of the time it enters the stomach to the time it leaves the stomach. Meat takes anywhere from 4-6 hours if eaten alone, but when combined with fruit it can take much longer. The body will always digest carbs before fats or proteins, so when you eat meat (a protein and a fat) with fruit (carb), you’re combining two very different sources of nutrients, which prolongs the rate of digestion. If you’re going to enjoy fruit, do so at least 30-45 minutes before you eat your meat unless your digestive system is especially strong and able to handle them both at once.
Honey is a controversial sweetener today, and one you might have a few questions about yourself. Paleo tends to use honey as the primary sweetener outside of fruit in the diet, since the diet strives to use the most natural food possible. The use of honey can cause some issues for people sensitive to sugar, which is one reason it may not work well for you. Honey in itself is a very wonderful food. It’s anti-microbial, helps relieve indigestion, nausea, constipation, gas, and even colds and coughs. However, like all sugary, delicious foods, honey is a dense source of calories with absolutely no fiber to slow down the rate of which sugar enters the bloodstream. This might cause honey to increase your blood sugar, which can cause too much insulin to enter the bloodstream at one time, and contributes to hypoglycemia. It can also cause weight gain quickly. Even though honey is a natural sweetener, it’s still a source of sugar and a dense source of calories that should be used sparingly.
Eating healthy fats is one of the most important things you should include in your diet. Healthy fats keep your metabolism working properly, and they are necessary for healthy brain function. The Paleo diet is rich in healthy fats, which is not a bad thing, unless you have a hard time digesting them, which many people do. In terms of healthy fats, you should eat them sparingly, and with awareness. See how you body responds in terms of digestion, energy, and your mood. Fats are a wonderful thing, but if you don’t tolerate high amounts of them, it may be hard to get enough nutrients on the Paleo diet.
Eggs aren’t a must on the Paleo diet, but they are allowed. Eggs can be a good source of vegetarian protein, along with a healthy source of nutrients if you choose high quality eggs. When using eggs, be mindful of how they work for you, since many people are actually allergic to them. Eggs aren’t the enemy, but are something many people are sensitive to.
7. Lack of Variety
The Paleo diet is often seen as healthy, and it certainly can be, but it does lack some variety. Since it limits a large group of foods such as dairy, grains, beans, and legumes, it can be a better diet for those with compromised digestion who don’t tolerate those foods. In the same light, however, it does lack variety for people that tolerate those foods fine. Lack of variety may cause someone to lose interest in the diet, or perhaps become nutritionally deprived of other sources of nutrients.
The benefit of the Paleo diet is it teaches people to eliminate processed foods, refined foods, junk foods, and it teaches whole foods eating. For that, I think the diet is wonderful! I’m not here to argue if the Paleo diet is right or wrong, because I think it can work for some, but not for others, as most all diets can. What do you think? Do you eat Paleo or would it work for you? Or, does the Paleo diet contain an aspect like these above that differs with your health choices?