paleoWelcome to our healthy lifestyle challenge lead by our program dietitian Vicki Bovee and her husband, Bill. Because we can always do better to live a healthier lifestyle Vicki and Bill decided to work on a weekly challenge together to provide support and accountability for each other and hopefully inspire you to make healthy changes. Follow along with them as they tackle a variety of challenges to eat better, eat more mindfully, and improve physical health and emotional well-being. Vicki and Bill invite you to participate and accept the challenges to improve your lifestyle too. Some of them may be difficult and please feel free to modify the challenges to accommodate your dietary needs and physical abilities.

Challenge # 22 The Paleo Diet: Eat Like a Caveman
First things first. Here’s our update on our holiday weight management for week 4 from our baseline pre-Thanksgiving weight: Vicki -0.4#, Bill -3.8#. This next weigh-in will be the killer. It is Christmas and there will be plenty of food around and food that we don’t normally eat. The salty foods and carbs will do me in (again).

The Paleo Diet has a strong following since it became popular in 2002 but it started back in 1985. It is based on the premise that if a caveman didn’t eat it, neither should you. I decided to take this challenge on because I have preop patients coming into my office and telling me their doctor recommended this diet to them for weight loss (the diet makes numerous other health claims as well). Diets come and go and this one has been around for a while. While you can lose weight, is it sustainable? The patients I have seen told me they had results but it didn’t fit into their busy lifestyle. End of diet, start of weight regain. And it was expensive.

According to “The Paleo Diet” by Loren Cordain, PhD, the ground rules are simple enough (I didn’t say do-able):
• All the lean meats, fish, and seafood you can eat
• All the fruits and nonstarchy vegetables you can eat
• No cereals
• No legumes
• No dairy products
• No processed foods
There are a multitude of websites and recipe books to help one follow this eating plan. I found conflicting information on the diet rules but generally they mostly followed the rules above. It was easy to find extensive food lists of foods to eat and foods to avoid.

I went on the Paleo journey mostly solo. Bill ate some of the meals with me because I prepared them and, if you remember, he does not like to cook. But he refused to give up his yogurt, cottage cheese, and protein shakes and bars. He gets most of his protein from dairy and soy. For me, this meant no meal replacement shake in the morning for breakfast.

It also meant more time spent planning meals and preparing them. I found a lot of recipes online and used some of those plus several from the above mentioned book. But since Bill wasn’t too keen on this diet and doesn’t eat red meat, it meant I had lots of leftovers for breakfast and lunch (enough that I got tired of eating them). I did a bunch of cooking on Sunday and this saved me with meal prep time during the busy work week. (That was nice.) And it was expensive.

Vicki’s Observations:
• The book said I would drop weight rapidly within the first few days and that did happen. My weight can fluctuate 3 to 4 pounds in a couple of days depending on my sodium and starchy carb intake. Since this is a low sodium diet with few starchy carbs, I dropped 4 pounds of water weight in the first 3 days and then my weight held steady for the remainder of the week. But when I went back to my regular eating habits I regained all the weight within a few days. I have to realize that for myself that when I eat bread, pasta, rice or other starchy foods, I might as well be eating sponges.
• With all the protein, veggies, and fruit I can honestly say I was hungry only a couple of times and that was right before dinner.
• I didn’t keep my food journal since I couldn’t find a recommendation to do so and the recipes didn’t provide nutrition information. I could have done the recipe analysis but I figured I would go with the plan and see what happened. I stuck with my usual exercise program.
• Breakfast was my biggest challenge since I usually make my meal replacement protein shake with either soy or nonfat milk. I wasn’t prepared the first day and had an apple and walnuts for breakfast. I have familial high cholesterol and I do take medication for it. I ended up eating some sort of egg dish almost every morning which wasn’t my best option. I guess I could learn to eat fish or chicken for breakfast.
• I ate more red meat in one week than I think I have in the past six months. I also ate fish and poultry. We usually eat vegetarian for a couple of days a week and vegetarian doesn’t work for Paleo since dairy, beans, and legumes are eliminated.
• There are a million Paleo recipes out there and one can find recipes for all culinary skill levels. The recipe serving sizes were larger than what I would normally eat.
• I had two meals out and both were a challenge. We went for lunch at Chez Louie in the Nevada Museum of Art. There was a gluten-free option and a vegetarian option but I couldn’t find one menu item that was Paleo. Our young server was great and the chef made me the most delicious grilled chicken breast with grilled vegetables. (See photo) My other meal was from Whole Foods take out bar and I ended up with, once again, grilled veggies and a chicken thigh.
• I didn’t miss the processed food or the starchy carbs, but I did miss yogurt and my breakfast shake.
• I ate fewer snacks and the snacks I did eat were either fruit or veggies. I also didn’t eat in front of the TV in the evening. I told myself if I was hungry my choices were fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, or non-processed meat none of which hit the spot. That was head hunger, not stomach hunger talking.
• Because the diet eliminates all dairy, it would be difficult to meet calcium needs. You should probably consider talking a calcium supplement if you decide to follow Paleo.

Bill’s Observations:
• I had gall bladder surgery on the Wednesday during this challenge and I knew going into this challenge that I could not truly and honestly participate. With that being said, this is a diet that I would not want to do even if I wasn’t having gall bladder surgery.
• With my reflux problem I am limited to what I can eat and it was not possible or at least I was not willing to give up yogurt, cottage cheese, protein bars, cereals, protein shakes and dairy products. These are the foods that mostly live on so the Paleo Diet just would not fit into my lifestyle.
• I would not have lasted long if I was born during the caveman days.

There are different levels of Paleo allowing for one to 3 open meals per week. This is do-able for me and I would most likely use the open meals for breakfast. I didn’t do any open meals this week but I think it would it be beneficial to allow yourself an open meal. This diet isn’t for everyone but eating more fruits and veggies and eliminating processed foods is a good idea.
Next week Bill and I tackle the other end of the day from challenge #19. Sweet dreams to all.

Eat Smarter…
Vicki Bovee, MS, RDN, LD


Want to catch up on what you’ve missed?

The road to success is always under construction.
Challenge #1 Eat everything sitting down.
Challenge #2 Eliminate cheese as an ingredient.
Challenge #3 Walk sideways in your home.
Challenge #4 Include a fresh herb in your daily meal plan.
Challenge #5 If there is food in your mouth there should be nothing in your hand.
Challenge #6 Eat the MyPlate recommendations for fruits and vegetables.
Challenge #7 Stand (and walk if possible) while talking on the phone.
Challenge # 8 Don’t eat out of the package. Put your food on a plate or in a bowl.
Challenge # 9 Keep a food record.
Challenge # 10 Power down while eating.
Challenge # 11 Eating to reduce inflammation.
Challenge # 12 Eating to help our environment.
Challenge # 13 Switch it up.
Challenge # 14 The road to success is still under construction.
Challenge # 15 Little bites.
Challenge # 16 Drink your water.
Challenge # 17 Count your chews.
Challenge # 18 The 100 Bite Diet.
Challenge # 19 Start your day right.

Challenge # 20 Holiday moves.

Challenge # 21 Limit TV time.