In the beginning of January, I decided to start posting reviews of the gluten free related books I read. I chose The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet by Robb Wolf as the first book to review. I heard of the paleo diet years ago when I was running several times a week. I had read about The Paleo Diet for Athletes: A Nutritional Formula for Peak Athletic Performance in a fitness magazine which peaked my interest. I flipped through that book in a bookstore, and learned that the paleo diet is eating like cavemen - without grains or dairy.
The Paleo Solution was released in September of last year and focuses on how the paleo way of eating is for everyone, not just athletes. I learned of this book from the Celiac Listserv, when Don Wiss posted:
One of the things we see in the diagnosed celiac community is people becoming overweight. This is for two reasons. The obvious is our gut is absorbing the food more efficiently. And the other is the carbohydrate oriented diet that celiacs follow, and is pushed on them. When you go to any gathering of celiacs gluten-free carbs will be the primary food. When you go to a celiac convention there will always be a session with a dietitian pushing grains. The problem with grains is they are carbs and they make you fat. The food industry pushes them on us as they are low labor and therefore highly profitable.
The Paleolithic diet has been around for more than 10 years. The early followers of the diet adopted it to avoid the many diseases of civilization that now plague us. There were not very many of us. The next, and much larger wave, were people that adopt the diet as a means to increase their athletic performance. People on the diet consider it a permanent change to their way of eating.
As the diet eliminates all grains, potatoes, and beans, but allows unlimited vegetables and fruit, it is a much lower carb diet than people normally follow. And consequently people lose weight on it. Though if the person has a lot of weight to lose they may have to limit the fruit.
There are a few books on the diet. The main one is being revised and a new edition will be out in December. One can realistically lose 75 pounds in six months following the book's advice.
Wanting to lose the pounds I packed on since I had to stop running, I thought I could use to learn a thing or two from The Paleo Solution book.
The author, Robb Wolf, is a former research biochemist, who also has celiac disease. While the book is heavy on the science of how our body digests food, it's written in layman's terms which helped me understand everything more clearly. The information on digestion and how specific foods treat our bodies was interesting and thought provoking.
In addition to eliminating grains, legumes and dairy, he also recommends that people with autoimmune disease eliminate eggs, nuts and seeds, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and peppers. He suggests going paleo for 30 days. He even provides a 30 Day Meal Plan, which even includes some basic recipes. Most of the items and recipes are pretty basic (Here's the recipe for Steamed Broccoli: ingredients - broccoli and water). It is helpful for jump starting a weight loss plan to clean up your eating, or if you are at your wits end with pain or just wanting to feel better and gain more energy.
However, while I can understand the paleo diet's benefits, I didn't enjoy the tone in which The Paleo Solution was written. The constant negative remarks about vegans and vegetarians, the over-mentioned "No-Cal Margaritas", and the "trying-to-be-cute-but-came-across-as-creepy" way he referred to the reader as "buttercup" didn't go over too well with me. I felt that while explaining how one's health could improve by eliminating dairy, legumes, and grains, he made it seem as THE only diet you should be following.
I think this way of eating works well because you are eliminating refined carbs and sugar, as well as eating natural, wholesome foods. Since this book was so one-sided I decided to read up and get some other views. I started with reading a book on sugar. I then caught a couple films on Netflix (Foodmatters and Change Your Food Change Your Life) which I also found very interesting and helpful.
There are so many contradicting theories out there about the best way to eat. Everyone's body is unique and handles food differently. Overall I found The Paleo Solution to be helpful as a starting out point if you are considering a paleo diet, but I think listening to your body and feeding it nutritious foods is the best way to go.