Diets are not always easy to maintain. However, with the appropriate knowledge on exactly what it means to “diet” and the types of foods that you are putting into your body, as well as a little bit of tenacity and the will to follow through, you would actually be surprised by just how easy dieting and healthy eating can be to sustain. With 60% of Canadian adults and over 20% of Canadian children currently struggling with obesity, family physician Dr. Ali Ghahary is a strong advocate of low-carb diets and physical activity being implemented into patient’s health care regimens.
Unlike certain fad diets that are out there today that focus solely on fast weight loss and counting calories, low-carb diets such as the Paleo diet (also known as the Hunter-Gatherer diet) are designed to be long-term and help control your glycemic levels, increase your HDL cholesterol levels (otherwise known as the “good” cholesterol), and restrict certain (but not all!) carbohydrates, with the focal point being on your overall well-being. Following a Paleo-based diet is beneficial to your health and decreases your risk of certain health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, osteoporosis, and even certain cancers. Accompanying weight loss, a Paleo based diet also improves your digestion, reduces chronic inflammation, and gives you more energy.
The term “Paleo” comes from the prehistoric era from over 2 million years ago known as Paleolithic. If you think about it, processed foods and many of the ingredients that we are ingesting into our systems today did not exist back then – food had to be found or hunted. The Paleo diet gets back to basics, so to speak, and was established upon the foods and lifestyles of our prehistoric ancestors. It predominantly consists of grass-produced meats, omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, walnuts, flaxseed oil, soybeans), rich antioxidants (fruits and vegetables), while it excludes things like processed foods, dairy, grain products, salt and sugar.
The Paleo diet is all about limiting certain foods and strategically choosing others, and it is one of the best diets that you could go on to preserve a healthy body and mind. One incentive of following a Paleo-based diet is the fact that you don’t have to count calories and can even indulge in some of your favourite foods and beverages, as long as it’s done in moderation. For example, dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% or higher, is a great source of antioxidants and can lower your risk of heart disease, and while the Paleo diet doesn’t encourage anyone to start drinking alcohol, studies have also suggested that two antioxidants found in red wine, Polyphenol and Resveratrol, can also improve heart health.
Meal planning can be the most difficult part of finding success with any diet, but is an important factor of the Paleo diet, and below are just a few small examples of Paleo-based foods. There are also many different Paleo recipes available online.
Eggs (scrambled in olive oil)
Kiwi and kale smoothie
Seasonal fresh fruit
Salad & grilled chicken (drizzled with olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice)
Spaghetti squash (instead of pasta) topped with marinara sauce
Turkey breast (skinless)
Salmon (drizzled with olive oil and minced fresh garlic)
Dried fruit and nut mix
Seasonal fresh fruit
Almond milk (instead of cow’s milk)
Decaffeinated coffee (in moderation)
Homemade fruit juice