Forget Dukan. The diet that is currently creating the most buzz in the Twittersphere and elsewhere is the Paleo Diet.
The Paleolithic diet, to give it its full name – it’s also known as the Caveman diet – is a back to basics approach when it comes to food. Essentially, the guiding principle is that you do not eat anything that your ancestors two million years ago, prior to the arrival of agriculture. And in a world saturated with over processed foods, it’s quite a refreshing palate cleanser, although it is also a relatively restrictive way of eating.
Doing Paleo obviously means no processed foods but it also means you cannot eat refined sugar, legumes (as in peas, beans and lentils), grains, soy, salt and processed oils. Only naturally occurring foods such as game meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, eggs and nut are permitted so while you won’t go hungry, you will have to rethink your eating. A bowl of salad? Fine. But just remember that you can’t dress it in your usual balsamic vinegar, even though this might normally be perceived as the healthy thing to do.
Getting started is probably the hardest part. You will need to divest your cupboards of anything that doesn’t fit into the Paleo way of eating - and this means everything from cereals to pasta need to go in the bin. The Paleo diet is a low-carb way of eating but unlike Dukan or Atkins, followers don’t count carb or even calories. What they can expect is great levels of energy coming from increased protein consumption and less carbs, with weight loss a naturally occurring side benefit.
There are certain pitfalls to avoid. Raw vegetables are fine, especially roots like carrots but potatoes, which are believed to have been genetically modified since the Stone Age, are not allowed. It’s yes to nuts like walnuts, Brazils, macadamias and almonds but not peanuts or cashews. Because the consumption of all grains is discouraged, you won’t be drinking alcohol and it’s also no to coffee.
So what will you eat on a typical day? It’s important to stock up on Paleo essentials such as coconut oil, coconut milk, unsalted nuts, free range eggs and almond flour.
Breakfast might be a bowl of berries with coconut milk. Lunch could be a salad of roasted chicken with leaves, cherry tomatoes in olive oil and lemon juice vinaigrette while dinner is grilled fish with butternut squash soup.
Advocates of this way of eating claim weight loss, better skin and higher energy levels are just some of the benefits. If you are interested in giving it a shot, the internet is your best source of information. Paleo pinboards with delicious recipes, food suggestions and other tips abound on Pinterest, while there are a number of great Paleo blogs. And all these devotees are united in one firm belief: that giving your body a break from processed foods is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.