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Experimenting with That Paleo (Caveman) Diet — with Diabetes

By AllisonN on February 21, 2013

For the month of January, I gave up eating all grains, dairy, artificial sweeteners, natural sweeteners (except fruit), and legumes. Did I discover that I have some kind of crazy gluten/lactose/stevia intolerance? Nope.

I went Paleo.

Many in the Diabetes Community have been talking about the Paleo diet lately, and it seems the trend is growing among those fellow PWDs interested in investigating new ways of eating. You know, it’s what is dubbed the “Caveman Diet” since it involves eating what the “original” humans ate back in the cave-person days. So, I decided to try it out myself and see what all the hype was about.

Short for paleolithic, eating Paleo is what some folks have called a fad diet, but the premise is rooted in the supposed historical diet of humans. Established by health scholar Loren Cordrain, the Paleo diet consists of lean meats, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. See anything missing? They toss out all processed foods, grains, dairy, and legumes, along with simple sugars and artificial sweeteners.

Proponents believe that humans were genetically and evolutionarily designed to eat foods that were available during the Paleolithic era, versus the agriculturally-based diet that was only developed in the last 10,000 years — and even more so the processed and chemically-based diet of the last hundred years. Followers believe that eliminating certain foods in their diet will reduce inflammation in the body, and folks will enjoy health benefits like weight loss, reduced bloating, clearer skin, and more energy.

Now, I’ve only been experimenting with the Paleo diet for a couple of months, so I’m hardly an expert. A lot of the Paleo diet can be hard to swallow (pun very much intended), and as with anything health-related, your miles may vary. This is simply my experience and what I’ve learned.

With so many food groups cut out, it’s easy to see how the Paleo diet might be considered a fad, unsustainable and even unhealthy. In fact, that’s exactly what U.S. News & World Report thinks, which is why they named the Paleo diet the worst diet (#28 out of 28). Of course, if you look at their reasoning for the diss, it’s mostly because the Paleo diet hasn’t been studied scientifically in people, so the pros and cons are somewhat vague to researchers.

At least, as of now. So all we have are the anecdotal accounts of those of us who’ve embraced Paleo to some extent.

Why Go Paleo?

It was evident to me that PWDs who eat fewer carbohydrates seem to manage their diabetes better than those who eat a higher carbohydrate diet. Last year, I briefly researched the Paleo diet, and discovered a few “paleobetics” who seemed to be doing fabulously on the diet. I also found dozens of testimonials from people who had nothing but good things to say. Even still, I remained skeptical but I realized that I couldn’t form a real opinion until I tried it myself.

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