The Paleo Diet

Top Googled Diet for a Reason

by Courtney K. Moskal

paleo diet and health nutrition

Now that 2014 is a year in our past, Google was able to reveal the most “searched for” nutrition plans. This year I am excited to announce that I would actually support some of the “diets” that made the 2014 cut. Of course there are others that made the list that I am not so enthusiastic about (ahem, the “Juice Cleanse Diet”).

Coming in as the top Google-searched eating plan is the Paleolithic (Paleo) diet, also called the “Caveman” or “Stone Age” diet. This plan centers on the idea that we should be eating like our ancestors did before agriculture, farming and food processing came into play. This means that the diet should only be comprised of food that can be hunted, fished or gathered – meat, fish, poultry, fruits and vegetables, eggs. What doesn’t make the list? Grains, dairy, legumes, sugar and salt.

Proponents believe that many of the common diseases that we are faced with today are a result of eating foods our bodies are not evolutionarily ready to process. Other nutrition experts counter the Paleo claim, and say the human body can adapt to changes in diet.

This diet does advocate a few things that everyone should embrace – eating less processed food and eating more fruits and veggies. The emphasis on fruits and vegetables increases fiber intake, which many people lack in their current diets. Another aspect of this diet is selecting grass-fed or free-range meat. Although this choice will set you back a few more dollars, making this choice is definitely leaner and healthier. Another added bonus is that this diet is simple for someone who has celiac disease, as it removes gluten completely.

It is important to understand that any food plan that omits a specific food group is difficult for people to follow, as the food choices are so limited. Moreover, cutting food groups isn’t nutritionally sound. Avoiding grains reduces fiber and B vitamins (important for proper bowel function and essential for a healthy central nervous system); excluding dairy reduces calcium and vitamin D (needed for strong bones), and the elimination of legumes is a missed opportunity for a healthy, low-cost form of protein, vitamins and fiber. Healthy eating includes consuming a variety of foods from all of the food groups – vegetables, fruits, whole grains, protein and dairy.

So what’s the advice for the “best” diet out there? I recommend choosing the healthiest components of balanced diets and a diet that work with your lifestyle. I recommend lean meats or plant proteins, lots of fruits and vegetables, whole (and unprocessed) grains, low-fat dairy and more home-cooked meals.

What’s amusing is that some restaurants have started to offer “Paleo” options – since when did cavemen dine out?

About the Author
Courtney Klein Moskal, MS, RD, CDN is a Registered Dietitian and Wellness Coordinator for Walsh Duffield Cos., Inc. For more information on corporate wellness programs or nutrition consultations, call 716-362-7379 or email cmoskal@walshins.com