The paleo diet has been around a long time, hence its name derived from the Paleolithic era. Man (and woman) survived on their hunter-gatherer skills, consuming meats, nuts, fruits and vegetables, according to Paleo Diet and Living.
Today’s paleo diet is utilized by thousands of people primarily concerned about health and fitness rather than survival. The basic premise is to eat like a caveman, according to Paleo Diet and Living. This effectively cuts out gluten, dairy and refined sugar. These three items make up 61 percent of the average American diet, according to a 2010 USDA study.
“It’s a diet, but more of a lifestyle,” senior Sarah Beth Gumm said. Gumm has been a fitness and paleo enthusiast for more than five years.
The diet cuts out common food allergens such as dairy and gluten, which is good news for those who are lactose intolerant or have celiac disease.
Celiac disease is an immune reaction to eating the protein gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye, according to Mayo Clinic.
“Paleo is probably the best thing for people with allergies to gluten and dairy,” said Adam Ludlow, owner of CrossFit Rewired. “It’s also the best eating pattern to discover food intolerances.”
Ludlow has a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and has a CrossFit Level 1 certification, which enables him to teach CrossFit. He is also owner and operator of CrossFit Rewired in Spokane.
CrossFitters have taken to this diet because it effectively produces a high amount of energy in a clean, healthy way for a high-intensity exercise such as CrossFit, freshman Aubrey Williams, avid CrossFitter and paleo enthusiast said.
One drawback to practicing a diet as specific as paleo is the lack of options when eating out, although some restaurants are beginning to cater to dietary considerations.
“A lot of restaurants are going gluten- and dairy-free,” Williams said.
A full list of Spokane restaurants that have gone gluten-free are listed on Gluten-Free Spokane's online "Eating Out Guide."
One company, Paleo Rx, has emerged in Spokane their main focus is delivering paleo-friendly meals.
“Paleo Rx is a home delivery service that charges about 7-10 bucks a meal, and they fill you up,” Ludlow said.
Some students admit that the paleo diet may be more expensive than a normal college diet.
“It can be a slightly more expensive diet compared to eating ramen every meal,” Gumm said.
Even with the expense, some students feel the price is outweighed by the results. Williams, for example, believes following the paleo diet is less expensive than doctors’ bills for diseases she believes the diet helps prevent.
Other students say their reason for making the lifestyle change is for how they feel.
“I feel better, and I have less joint pain because gluten causes inflammation,” Gumm said.
The paleo diet differs from most conventional diets for obvious reasons like the removal of grains and dairy, but it does not restrict the amount of acceptable food consumed.
”You can eat until you are full; there is no calorie counting,” Williams said.
Some of the acceptable foods in the paleo diet are the first to be cut from conventional diets.
“We get to eat bacon,” Ludlow said. “Paleo is higher in protein and fats than other diets.”
Paleo enthusiasts approach their meal plans in different ways, though most eat a standard three meals a day with snacking in between.
“I eat at Saga [Sodexo] most days, so I have sausage or bacon and eggs for breakfast,” Williams said. “Lunch I eat Simple Servings without rice, and for dinner I stick with fish and chicken with lots of spinach.”
Wheat and dairy products are still a staple in the average diet, and keeping a strict paleo diet is challenging, so some have chosen a more moderate approach.
“I practice an 80/20 routine,” Williams said. “I am strict paleo 80 percent of the time, and I cheat 20 percent of the time.”
The 80/20 rule states that you will get 99 percent of the benefits of the paleo Diet if you adhere to it 80 percent of the time, according to Paleo Diet and Living.
79 million Americans have pre-diabetes, while 1 in 3 Americans are obese, according to the CDC.These facts have some people choosing the paleo diet as a preventative measure.
Stuart Hopson Staff Writer
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