The Paleo Diet

4Obesity, heart disease, diabetes: These are just a few of the health conditions that proponents of the Paleolithic Diet or Caveman Diet blame on our sedentary lifestyles and modern diets, which are loaded with sugars, fats, and processed foods. The solution? Cut “modern” foods from our diets and return to the way our early hunter-gatherer ancestors ate.

To get an idea of what that means, we turned to Loren Cordain, PhD, a professor in the department of health and exercise science at Colorado State University and author of The Paleo Diet. To be and stay healthy, Cordain says, exercise regularly and follow a strict diet of only foods that can be hunted and gathered.

The Paleo Diet: What Is It?
In its purest form, the Paleo Diet allows only those foods that man ate when he first roamed the planet millions of years ago.

Foods to eat on the Paleo Diet:

Lean cuts of beef, pork, and poultry, preferably grass-fed, organic, or free-range.
Game animals, such as quail, venison, and bison.
Eggs (no more than six a week).
Fish, including shellfish.
Fruit, such as strawberries, cantaloupe, mango, and figs.
Nonstarchy vegetables, such as asparagus, onions, peppers, and pumpkin.
Nuts and seeds, including almonds, cashews, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds.
Olive oil, flaxseed oil, and walnut oil (in moderation).
Foods to avoid on the Paleo Diet:

All dairy products, including milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter.
Cereal grains, such as wheat, rye, rice, and barley.
Legumes (beans, peanuts, peas).
Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and sweet potatoes.
Sweets — all forms of candy as well as honey and sugar.
Sugary soft drinks and fruit juices.
Processed and cured meats, such as bacon, deli meats, and hot dogs.
The Paleo Diet: How Does It Work?
The diet can improve your health by eliminating high-fat and processed foods that have little nutritional value and too many calories. It emphasizes loading up on fruits and vegetables that are bursting with healthy vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which fills you up faster so you eat less.

You’ll lose weight because any time you restrict whole food groups, your calorie intake is lower, says Lona Sandon, MEd, RD, an assistant professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. Whenever you burn more calories than you consume, this equals out to weight loss, she says. The focus on lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables over sodium-rich processed foods can also contribute to weight loss, though she also points out that the Paleo Diet wasn’t created to be a weight-loss diet.

Note that though nuts and seeds are allowed on this diet, they can be high in calories, and people who want to lose weight will have to limit consumption of them.

Healthy Food, Healthy Life

10Jared Koch always had an interest in health and even wanted to be a doctor, but he put those plans on hold early in his career to pursue an entrepreneurial path. After graduating pre-med from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Koch delayed enrollment to the Albert Einstein Medical School to launch a successful entertainment company with his brother.

Despite his corporate success, Koch still felt the need to attend to the health and wellness of others. He sold his stake in the entertainment business and began 10 years of wellness study with the likes of Drs. Andrew Weil and Deepak Chopra and raw food guru David Wolfe. After becoming a certified nutritionist, Koch created Clean Plates as a resource for his clients who wanted to have access to healthy food options on-the-go. First written as a guide to Manhattan’s healthiest eateries, the book has since expanded to include restaurants in Brooklyn and Los Angeles.

“I realized that educating and supporting my clients was important, but what was consistently leading to real change was providing them with practical resources that made it easy and enjoyable for them to find and eat better quality food,” he explains.

Written to appeal to foodies across the board, the Clean Plates books and Web site point food lovers to the healthiest and most sustainable neighborhood restaurants around from quick bites to fine dining. Whether you’re a carnivore, vegan, or somewhere in between, Clean Plates help you make informed eating choices and highlight hot spots that serve locally grown, organic, and sustainably raised animal foods.

My health story: I’m a nutrition consultant, and about three years ago I started Clean Plates as an extension of my work with clients. After I sold the entertainment business I ran with my brother, I started studying nutrition and got certified as a nutritional consultant through the Teachers College of Columbia University in New York. I also teach meditation. I am very dedicated to making it easier and more enjoyable for people to eat and live healthier.

My future health projects: We’re launching an iPhone app this month, as well as a brand new Clean Plates Web site with more editorial content than ever before. I’m also working on a book to be published by Running Press, which will be released in Fall 2012.

My favorite healthy habit: Cooking and eating deliciously prepared vegetables. I honestly crave vegetables if I go a little while without eating them. I also love fruit.

My health hero: People who make the choice and effort to put better quality foods into their bodies.

My practice for what I preach: Other than a tiny taste of dessert every once in a blue moon, or if it’s been slipped into something without my realizing it, I haven’t eaten any refined sugar for several years.

My best health tip: I think I have two. No matter what your diet is today, just adding more vegetables will have a positive impact. Making small changes over time will lead to big results. Also, if you do decide to indulge, eat it, enjoy it, and forget about it. Stress and guilt are worse than some unhealthy food.