5 Pros of the Paleo Diet

It’s probably pretty clear how I feel about the Paleo Diet.

Of course, nothing is ever black and white with me, especially when it comes to food. While generally I don’t support the Paleo diet as a whole {mostly the way it’s interpreted}, there are a few redeeming qualities about it. One of the standouts: very few people try the Paleo Diet and say, “wow I really feel like crap now”. Instead, it’s quite the opposite. Here are a few reasons why I like it:

paleo benefits

1. It provides clear guidelines.

There’s nothing I hate more about the “diet” mentality than rules that state whether foods are “good” or “bad”. Foods don’t have personalities- they can’t be good or bad. What’s more, you can’t really single out specific foods, it’s more about the big picture: how much and how often you eat certain foods, and what your diet looks like as a whole.

That being said, a lot of people looking to make an overhaul to their diet or health in general need a structured framework to get started. They need someone {or something} giving them a green or red light on what they should or shouldn’t eat. It’s easier to break old patterns and habits if you have a clear cut outline to follow, especially in the beginning.

2. It looks beyond fat, carbs, and calories.

There’s so much more to good nutrition than grams of fat or net carbs. The Paleo diet doesn’t harp on calorie counting, tracking macronutrients, or being rigid about portion sizes. Instead, the paleo diet focuses on quality and type of food. By getting rid of the detrimental aspects of the Standard American Diet, you eliminate the need to nitpick on numbers.

3. It slaps dairy in the face. {Sometimes}.

Dairy’s no good for you. It’s inflammatory, mucous-producing, bone-sucking, and autoimmune-destroying. {Yeah, yeah, I’d be the first one to dig into a mound of goat cheese if my son wasn’t allergic to it, but I’ve never claimed to follow a perfect diet.;)} With years and years {and millions of dollars} of “drink more milk” messages crammed down our throats, I’m glad something popular is calling it out for what it is. I only wish it didn’t file it into a gray area. That doesn’t mean there’s NO room for dairy- I just think we all need to be a little more educated about it- it’s not the ONLY {or best} source of calcium.

4. It looks deeper than just nutrients & into absorption.

I don’t love that the Paleo diet cuts out major food groups like beans and all grains {as opposed to just gluten-containing grains}, but I do love the theory behind this: beans and grains contain elements that interfere with nutrient absorption. It’s not just about what you eat, it’s about how your body processes it. You can eat all the good things in the world, but if your gut can’t absorb them, it’ll do you no good. The emphasis the Paleo diet makes on intestinal health and how a healthy vs damaged gut digests foods is fantastic.

5. It’s making health “cool”.

I hate that it takes a fad to do it, but anything –anything- that gets people focusing on the bigger picture of their health gets a check in my book.

 

All that being said, sometimes I think “going Paleo” would make my life a lot easier- it meets all the needs of my son’s diet- no dairy, no soy, no gluten. Except for the whole not loving meat thing {although I’ve definitely added more in to increase my choices while breastfeeding}. <—Yup, there may be a connection to the allergy thing there, dontcha think? But I digress…

What do you like/not like about the Paleo and other similar diets? 

7 Reasons Why I Can’t Get on Board with The Paleo Diet

The Paleo Diet. It’s everywhere. Blogs, Pinterest, Crossfit, Facebook, parties, and more. Paleo, Primal, Stone Age, Caveman… Frankly it’s driving me nuts. It’s like the low-fat and low-carb crazes all over again. Now, much of my gripe is with the general population’s interpretation of Paleo, but that’s what really matters anyways, right? Not what the exact facts are, but how people apply them. {Kind of like how being vegan doesn’t mean don’t gorge on junk food. Also, how come being vegan makes you a tree-hugging hippie weirdo, but being Paleo makes you cool?}

Paleo Diet cons

Here are a few reasons why the Paleo diet makes me want to crawl out of my skin:

1. Plants are Best

The Paleo Diet is not a “meat diet”, but most people are taking it that way. I’ll be the first one to tell you that views on nutrition & nutrition research change all the time. It’s one of the things that I both love and hate about my profession. That being said- are we supposed to toss decades and decades of research that shows plant-based diets are superior? Those that eat a vegetarian, vegan, or even just “plant friendly” diet have lower cancer rates, decreased autoimmune disease, less heart disease, and more. Meat-based diets can place stress on the kidneys and leach calcium from your bones; not to mention hormones, antibiotics, and fillers found in so many conventional meat products. Let’s not even talk about saturated fat…{And yes, you can follow a vegetarian paleo diet.}

2. It’s Expensive

Fruits and veggies may not seem cheap, but compare them to a cart full of animal products: you’re bank account will come out way ahead on the former. Let’s not even talk about the price of “grass fed” {etc.} meats- holy cow! {Pun intended.} Grass fed, organic, hormone & antibiotic free meats aren’t required on the Paleo diet, but they are preferred. Even if you can find a local source or farmer’s market that provides these options, you still need to cough up a bit of dough. Again, you don’t HAVE to eat a ton of meat, but look at the food diaries of most Paleo-ites: meat, meat, and more meat.

the paleo diet loren cordain

3. Beans Aren’t ALL Bad

I appreciate the Paleo advocates acknowledging that phytic acid and lectins interfere with nutrient absorption and can aggravate certain diseases, but beans aren’t all AWFUL- they’re a good source of fiber, iron, and folate. Lumping them into the “bad” category with dairy and sugar makes this a very confusing issue, especially for non-meat-eaters. Perhaps a distinction between beans and properly soaked & sprouted beans would be helpful. Ditto to the above on grains, but I have less hate against the no-grains thing since so many people have issues with gluten and go over board on grain-based carbs anyways. I wouldn’t mind a distinction between gluten and non-gluten grains, as well as the whole soaked and sprouted thing again.

 

4. Eliminating Entire Food Groups is the 1st Step Towards Disordered Eating

Categorizing foods as “good” and “bad” is one of the prime ways to head down the path towards an eating disorder. Saying you CAN’T have something is the best way to make sure you crave it and feel neglected. I agree we can live without certain food groups {cough, cough dairy}, but saying you can never have these things is just a way to create obstacles and struggles in when it comes to “lifestyle change” vs. “diet”. Which leads me to my next issue…

 

5. Lesser Evils Are Still Up to No Good

When you eliminate any food, you have to replace it with something. I’m not talking artificial substitutes here, I simply mean calories. I’m all in favor of the incredible, edible egg getting it’s rep back after a serious bashing a few years back, but “Paleo-fied” recipes tend to load up on the eggs in order to replace a whole laundry list of ingredients the Paleo Diet eliminates, like gluten and other grains. Is a loaf of bread with 15 eggs in it really doing your digestive system any favors?

Add to that, just because you Paleo-fy something doesn’t mean it’s “healthy”. A cookie made of almond flour, dates, and eggs is still a cookie.

paleo diet review

6. Natural vs Processed

While most processed foods will automatically be eliminated on the Paleo Diet due to other guidelines, there’s still not enough distinction to make me satisfied. I don’t really care what else you’re eating, if you have sodium-laden, nitrite-filled bacon every morning, you’re not better off than Sally No Name eating a bowl of oh-so-bad oats.

7. “It’s What the Cavemen Ate”

I don’t give a crap about the cave men. They lived til they were like 20*. How are we ever supposed to know what diseases they’d have in their 70s?

And cavemen didn’t sit around playing video games all day. Until we change our exercise problems, we can’t compare ourselves to them.

*I have no idea the actual lifespan of a tried and true caveman but it certainly wasn’t old.

Now, I know I’m hating on the Paleo Diet here, but there are actually a few {a FEW}things I like too. But just to tease you {and give you a chance to yell at me}, I’ll save that for another post.

So. What do you think about the Paleo craze?

Spiru-what?

There hasn’t been a lot of fitness talk around here lately. Or at all.

That’s because there hasn’t been much fitness going on on my part. In fact, I really haven’t been taking very good care of myself at all.

If you don’t read the tiny sneakers section of this blog, I should fill you on one key thing: I have a baby that doesn’t sleep. Not a baby that gets up a couple times a night. A baby that gets up all.night.long. For almost 5 months now. Needless to say, the sleep deprivation is catching up to me.

sleep deprivation newborn 

 

<—from #photoadayjune for “Morning”.

{Join in on Instagram- I’m @sideofsneakers!}

 

 

 

 

 

While I was surprisingly able to keep it together during the newborn days- walking, jogging, yoga- that’s all slowly faded away. Chronic sleep deprivation makes your brain stop working. It makes your body weak and foreign. I feel like I’m living in a heavy fog.

Planning and preparing healthy meals and sticking to an exercise routine takes energy. Energy I don’t usually have to spare. But if I don’t take care of myself, the sleep demons will win and I won’t be able to take care of my son and enjoy my time with him.

So even though some days I feel like I’m one thread tug away from unraveling at the seams, it’s time to take what energy I have and make my health a priority- something that used to come naturally but will now take dedicated effort.

Besides taking care of myself, I feel like I’m eating for two now more than when I was pregnant. I’m literally my son’s sole source of nutrition. If I don’t eat the nutrients he needs to thrive and develop, he doesn’t get them.

Before I can get back into running and training and those exciting things, I need to build my muscle strength back up. I’m not only restarting postpartum, I’m restarting from a pre-pregnancy injury. I do NOT want to go down that road again.

it band injury

It all comes down to eating right- and eating enough. You can’t build muscle without extra calories and breastfeeding already takes a lot of extra calories. I’m an eating machine these days.

Receiving some supplements from Nutrex-Hawaii was just the push I needed to focus in on my health. Spirulina, something I’ve only previously tried in greens powders, not on it’s own, is a serious super food. It has more protein than tofu- 375% more actually. Plus 5,500%  more iron than spinach. It’s a blue-green algae loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Research has shown it helps boost energy levels {Amen!} and improves immunity. I’m looking forward to incorporating it into my daily intake and seeing how it affects how I feel.

spirulina superfood

I’ll also be trying out a new-to-me supplement of BioAstin, which is astaxanthin, another type of microalgae known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties. I feel like this supplement was custom made for me: it’s supposed to help with rheumatoid arthritis, which is similar to the issues I have in my hands & feet, as well joint and muscle soreness after exercise, which I’ll certainly be experiencing on my road back to fitness, and internal sun protection, which I more than need for our summer beach trip- I fry in about 30 seconds flat.

I’ll be sure to report back once I get a chance to try these super nutrients and see if I’ve noticed any benefits. If you want to learn more about super nutrients, join me in a Twitter chat tonight at 9pm EST! Follow along & ask questions with the #supernutrients tag. Rumor is there’ll be some prizes too. Winking smile

FitFluential LLC compensated me for this campaign. All opinions are my own.

Have you tried spirulina or astaxanthin before?

What?! No Snacks?!

 

 

I remember sitting at my 8th grade graduation {yes, that’s a thing} getting so excited to start high school. There were quite a lot of reasons to look forward to starting a new school of course, but what I looked forward to the most was the freedom.

You could pick your own classes, sign up for sports, and park wherever you wanted. I was incredibly dismayed to learn there really wasn’t so much freedom after all. I mean, you couldn’t even in eat in class. Blasphemy. How was a growing teenager supposed to last 3 whole hours between first period and lunch? Don’t even get me started on how long you had to wait to eat if you had last lunch. Torture. Just torture.

I quickly learned to keep my locker stashed with snacks I could quickly grab and chow down on in between classes. I’ve always been a snacker and don’t see anything wrong with that- it’s a great way to keep from getting too hungry and scarfing down more food than you need later in the day.

Here are some of my favorite quick and easy snacks:

Spinach Dip

spinach dip recipe

Homemade Hummus

homemade hummus recipe

No Bake Oatmeal Truffles

no bake oatmeal cookies

Banana Bread Muffins

banana bread muffins recipe

 

And for something sweet: Cinnamon Twists

cinnamon twists recipe

Thank goodness you were allowed to eat in class in college. 😉

 

What’s your favorite go-to snack or quick recipe?

 

Join Glam, Foodie, and Activia for a chat on all things snacks: quick, easy, and healthy!

Activia_Logov2

 

New Activia Harvest Picks is a deliciously fruity and silky smooth yogurt. You will enjoy a Harvest of real fruit in every silky spoonful.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Activia via Glam Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Activia

3 Important Nutrients During Pregnancy

Check out a recap of Baby SoS’s 2nd week. I can’t believe we’re already on week 3… !


Hello with a Side of Sneakers readers! I’m Katie, the Registered Dietitian behind Healthy Heddleston, and am here to talk about 3 important nutrients that have been on the forefront of my mind during my pregnancy. That’s right, I’m pregnant! It’s been fun to follow Heather’s journey, as she was just two months ahead of me. I’m so so happy that her bundle of joy has arrived and to be guest posting today in order to allow her plenty of cuddle time (and sleep!) with baby!

FOLATE

When my husband and I started discussing having a baby, one of our thoughts was making sure my current vitamin had enough folate in it. We also needed to make sure I was actually taking this vitamin. Luckily, the chewable Flintstone met the criteria and we were off to start baby making. After finding out that we were indeed expecting, I quickly switched to a chewable prenatal with the appropriate amount of folate.

6 weeks pregnant

The Recommendation for Folate

The DRI for folate in females 14-70 years of age is 400 mcg/day. This increases during pregnancy to 600 mcg/day during pregnancy and 500 mcg/day during lactation.

Why Folate is Important

Evidence has been shown that an inadequate amount of folate is linked to neural tube defects in the fetus. The neural tube closes 28 days after the baby is conceived, a time when some women have yet to find out they are pregnant. Thus, it is important for all women capable of becoming pregnant to consume the recommended amount of food folate from your diet, supplements or fortified foods. When pregnancy is confirmed, it is important to follow the increased recommendation as well.

What are Neural Tube Defects (NTDs)

NTD’s are one of the most common birth defects, occurring in ~1000 live births each year in the United States. An NTD is an opening the spinal cord or brain that occurs very early in development. There are two types of NTDs: open and closed. Open NTDs are the most common type and occur when the brain and/or spinal cord are exposed at birth through a defect in the skull or backbones. Open NTDs include: spina bifida, anencephaly, and encephalocele. Closed NTDs are more rare and occur when the spinal defect is covered by skin. Closed NTDs include: lipomyelomeningocele, lipomeningocele, and tethered cord.

Foods Containing Folate

Folic acid is found naturally in some foods, including leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, beans, legumes, and whole grains. Folic acid is also commonly enriched in breakfast cereal, breads, flours, pasta, cornmeal, and rice.

IRON

During your first trimester, an initial blood panel is done to see your iron count. Mine was good and I didn’t need to worry about my iron intake then. However, plenty of women start taking iron in their first trimester, or just take a prenatal that contains iron. Chewable prenatal vitamins don’t contain iron though, because they would taste bad.

Then, when I had my glucose screening during the second trimester, another blood panel was done to check iron levels again. This is a time during pregnancy when many women start becoming anemic. I feel into this category and went out for iron pills that day.

Tummy Week 16

The Recommendation for Iron

The DRI for iron in females 19-50 years of age is 18 mg/day. This increases during pregnancy to 27 mg/day. The recommended intake assumes 75% of iron is from heme-iron sources, meaning foods that are from animal sources that originally contained hemoglobin (i.e. steak). It is important to note that non-heme iron absorption is lower for those consuming vegetarian diets and it is suggested that the iron requirement for vegetarians is approximately 2x greater than those with a non-vegetarian diet.

Why Iron is Important

Iron is a mineral that makes up an important part of hemoglobin, the substance that carries oxygen throughout the body. Your body will absorb iron more efficiently during pregnancy and carries oxygen to both you and your body. Adequate iron intake will also help your avoid symptoms of tiredness, weakness, irritability, and depression.

Foods Containing Iron

Non-heme iron sources include: fruits, vegetables, and fortified bread and grain products. Heme iron sources include: red meats, poultry, and fish.

Tips to Remember

  • Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron.  Food sources of vitamin C include: citrus fruits, melons, cabbage, strawberries, green peppers, and broccoli.
  • Calcium can decrease the absorption of iron.
  • Caffeine can inhibit the absorption of iron.
  • Iron is lost in cooking some foods.
  • Constipation is a common side effect of taking iron supplements. Eating a fiber-rich diet and plenty of water will help reduce constipation.

CALCIUM

Calcium is important during your entire pregnancy, and since I had a no-appetite period during my first trimester, I‘ve had calcium chews on hand throughout my entire pregnancy. I only take one when I don’t think I’ve consumed enough during that day, but I’ve become hyper-aware of my calcium intake during the third trimester because the baby deposits so much more now.

tummyweek28

The Recommendation for Calcium

The DRI for calcium in females 19-50 years of age is 1000 mg/day. This recommendation stays the same throughout pregnancy and lactation.

Why Calcium is Important

Calcium is essential in the role of blood clotting, muscle contraction, nerve transmission, and bone/tooth formation. During your third trimester your baby’s nutritional demands increase, and about 250 mg of calcium are deposited into his/her hardening skeleton each day.

Foods Containing Calcium

High calcium food sources include: milk, cheese, yogurt, calcium-set tofu, cabbage, kale, and broccoli.

Of course I could have focused on more nutrients than just these three, but these have been on the forefront of my mind over the past 30 weeks of my pregnancy. Feel free to check out everything baby-related that has been happening in the Heddleston household! Thanks for having me, Heather!

Keeping It Off: A Guide to Weight Loss Success

Hi SoS readers! I’m Theodora from Losing Weight in the City, and I’m guest posting for my girl Heather while she snuggles with her new little one. We first met when we roomed together at the Healthy Living Summit a few years ago, and Heather’s been one of my favorite blog friends ever since, so I’m happy to be posting here.

I may not be a Registered Dietitian like Heather or a personal trainer like some of you, but I do know a few things about losing weight and keeping it off.

January 2009

 weight loss before picture

January 2012

 weight loss after picture 

In February 2009, I decided enough was enough. I was going to be in my friend’s wedding in Aruba that summer, and I was 26 years old. Too young to be hiding out under my towel hoping nobody looked at me. Too young to be so unhappy about how I looked (although I learned there’s never any age when you should be that unhappy about how you look.) And so I changed my life. I started going to a personal trainer who taught me how to love exercise and healthy food.

Within 6 months, I’d lost 35 pounds, and by a year later, I’d hit my goal weight–for a total of 50 pounds lost.

It’s been nearly two years since I hit that final goal weight, and I’ve managed to keep all of the weight off, save for the occasional 3-5 pounds that comes and goes sometimes.

Here’s how I do it:

1. Weighing myself–and not making excuses. I made so many excuses when I hopped on the scale before I lost weight. My clothes were heavy, I’d just eaten, I must have had something salty the day before. Sure, I hear about the girls that said they’ve ditched the scale and have never been happier–and kudos to them–but I can’t do that. I need to have an idea of where I stand so that I don’t slip. I don’t weigh myself everyday, but I weigh myself probably 1-2 times per week and cut back a bit if I see the number rising.

 find exercise you love

2. I found exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise. I discovered running, and I fell in love. It’s not always easy, but running mostly feels like fun to me, and it’s a great way to push myself. I started off with a 5K two and a half years ago, and became so hooked that I’ve run 9 half-marathons and 2 full marathons since! Maybe you’re not into running, though. Find what feels like fun to you and keep doing that. (But also make sure to keep pushing yourself.)

3. Reminding myself I chose this lifestyle. Believe me, I don’t always want to eat healthy and work out. Most of the time I enjoy how it makes me feel, but I also enjoy laying on my couch, drinking beer and eating nachos sometimes. (Not all at once.) When I’m dragging my feet to go to the gym, I remind myself that I don’t have to go, I’m going because I care–about my body and about my goals–and that usually convinces me to go.

4. Setting goals that aren’t just tied to the scale. Yes, I do still weigh myself consistently, but if I just set scale-related goals, I’d be miserable. I set goals for myself like more strength training, hitting a goal race time and eating in more. sweat with friends

5. I sweat with friends. Hell, I even ran a whole marathon with a friend. (I digress.) While I definitely still go out to eat and for drinks with friends, I find ways to make exercise as social as possible and make gym and running dates with friends.

6. I’ve made it a lifestyle. For me, this means I make healthy decisions at least 80% of the time, but don’t stress about the other 20%. It also means I do what fits into my own lifestyle, not someone else’s.

If you’ve lost weight, what’s helped you maintain it?