I’ve recently read some harsh criticism of the paleo diet that I wanted to address. There are, in fact, some dangers with the paleo diet if implemented without listening to your body.
First, the paleo diet is not a long-term, carb-restricted diet to be used solely for the purpose of weight loss. Many paleo advocates urge new converts to paleo to implement a strict paleo diet for 30 days. These converts are won over to this diet by the promise of losing weight and feeling fabulous by removing all those bad, refined carbs that are making them fat. Although restricting paleo foods like fruits and starchy vegetables in the beginning, does, in fact, aid in some initial weight loss, I don’t believe that carbs should be restricted for the rest of your life. This is especially true if you are active and exercise routinely. Because modern exercise was not a natural part of a typical caveman’s life, a little extra fruit to feed that modern exercise might be appropriate.
Second, calorie restriction should not be a part of the paleo diet. The paleo diet is a lifestyle aimed at making you healthy. Calorie restriction adds additional stress to a life that is probably already saturated with it. The food restrictions on the paleo diet are aimed to reduce stress and inflammation to your digestive system. Additionally, lifestyle manipulations are advocated by the paleo community: things like quality sleep, smart exercise and meditation, among other things.
For the T1 diabetic, there are some fantastic health benefits to eating a paleo diet. Forget carbs for a second. Removing grains, dairy and refined sugar, will help you control your blood sugar and insulin requirements radically. Sure, by restricting your carbs, you could probably achieve even more strict control over your blood sugar, but to what end? If you start feeling lousy and have low energy, it is far better to reach for a banana rather than a cookie.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I have slowly inched my way up to a rigid paleo diet by trial and error — at times having to repeat many errors over and over again before the truth finally sunk in. I reached a point several years ago when I was so enamored with the blood sugar control I could attain by restricting all carb,s that my active lifestyle almost came to a grinding halt. I remember riding my mountain bike one day and coming to a stand-still in the middle of a trail. I was completely out of gas, and I felt terrible. I checked my blood sugar, and it was around 100. So, what was the problem? It eventually dawned on me that if I’m going to continue doing endurance sports, my muscles need to be fueled with glycogen as those stores start to run dry. The quickest way to do this is with fast-acting carbohydrates like fruit or juice.
I guess the point here is, listen to your body. The paleo diet is ideal for someone with T1 but needs to be taken on with some common sense.