I’m no Paleo expert, but I’ve been on some version of a Paleo diet since October 2013 for health reasons. And it’s helped. Over the past year, I’ve learned a lot about Paleo from blogs and podcasts, and I can tell you there’s really not a single definition that everyone in the Paleo community agrees on. For example, there is a raging debate about sweet potatoes and dairy — enter the fray at your own risk.
I saw this today on Pinterest, which is clearly someone’s attempt to define it (once again) once and for all.
What I like about Paleo is not this ongoing debate about what it is or isn’t. What I really like is it gives you a principle to start with – go back to basic healthy, nutrient-dense foods – and build from there. I think building your own diet — the one that works for your particular body – is the best goal. What foods make you feel good and which ones don’t? It might be and probably is different for every single one of us. But you’ll never know what foods go on what list until you start changing what you eat. For most people, that initial change has to be dramatic so you can have a shot at identifying the foods that don’t agree with you.
For me, I did a Paleo-type elimination diet in late 2013, followed by reintroductions of some of the big offenders like dairy, wheat, and soy, to see if they were problems for me. But it didn’t work. When I started reintroducing these foods I didn’t have a noticeable reaction to them. Everything seemed “ok” but it really wasn’t. I went back on dairy, wheat and soy, and even though I was eating better overall (more fruits, veggies – less processed) I gained weight and had bloating and other symptoms of poor health. But I didn’t know what foods were the culprit.
This time around, the elimination diet I am on is much more restrictive than the one in 2013. No fruits, only a few veggies, good fats, and unprocessed meats. It was so limited that it reset my system in a dramatic way. So now when I try reintroducing a new food, I can detect even subtle symptoms. My goal is to find what can I tolerate, and in what amounts, so I can build a diet that I know works for me over the long term.
Charts like the ones above can’t define that for you. You have to find it for yourself.