It’s been over 18 months since I first stumbled on the concept of eating ‘Paleo’.
For those of you wondering ‘what the hell is Jules talking about?’, eating ‘Paleo’ is about choosing to eat the type of food that paleolothic man ate. Which translates as focusing on eating vegetables and meat and cutting out processed food, grains, dairy and legumes.
After trying it for a month, I was pretty happy with the results but found the lack of dairy and legumes a little too restrictive. So decided to create my own ‘almost-paleo’ way of eating where the focus is on eating more vegetables and including legumes and a little dairy. And of course, as a reformed winemaker, wine is definitely still on the menu.
So I’ve been eating ‘almost-paleo’ most of the time for over 18 months now and to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever been healthier in my life.
But the best part, as a food lover, is that I’ve been deriving just as much pleasure from my food as I did before, if not more. Win win!
Can eating paleo improve your waistline?
For me, absolutely!
I’ve always been one of those people who stores any excess weight around her middle. So while I haven’t ever been super overweight, I have always struggled to keep my waistline in check.
These days my waistline is the happiest it’s ever been, even more than when I was a teenager. I’m also finding that eating this way I don’t need to exercise any where near as much as I used to.
Is eating Paleo a fad? Is it unhealthy?
From time to time I’ve written about my almost-paleo ways on Stonesoup and each time it has stirred up quite a bit of controversy. So I thought I’d check in with some of my nutritionist friends to get a professional opinion. Here’s what they had to say…
Alene Baronian, Registered Dietitian www.eat2perform.com
“In my professional opinion and experience, eating Paleo can be healthy. However, what I find with my clients is that is not sustainable and just like you it’s altered in some form. However, that being said eating more Paleo like would be beneficial to a large population of the US. We need to eat more whole foods and eliminate all the processed items going into our bodies and following a Paleo way of eating assists with doing that.”
Sophie Roberts, Registered Dietitian www.mostlyeating.com
“At the moment there aren’t high quality, longer term studies to suggest that the paleo diet has superior health benefits, while it does carry with it risks of being nutritionally inadequate unless very carefully planned. Having said that, there are certainly elements to the paleo diet approach that most of us could benefit from putting into action more, such as eating less refined and high GI carbohydrates, consuming less processed food in general and making fruit and vegetables more of a focus in our meals.
Having worked with a lot of people looking to lose weight I’m not a fan of the paleo diet as a weight-loss strategy. Restricting food groups often leads to a weight reduction in the short-term but rules-based weight-loss approaches tend to lead to weight re-gain over the long-haul, perhaps because they don’t address the more human reasons behind why we eat more than we need.”
Melanie Thomassian, Registered Dietitian www.dietriffic.com.
“I’ll be the first to agree that much of the dietary advice from nutritionists, dietitians, and doctors is awful. It’s no wonder people look elsewhere. With regard to the Paleo diet, I’ve no doubt it can work for some people. It is not, however, the only diet humans should restrict themselves to, as Paleo advocates would have you believe. I have issue with the basic premise behind this diet, and also its zero tolerance of certain natural and nutritious foods. Nevertheless, for the average person, a typical Paleo diet will likely be an improvement.”
looking for simple recipes that will keep both your tastebuds AND your waistline happy?
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the magic sausage supper
So you’re probably wondering where the ‘magic’ comes from. It’s all about how this dish turns some pretty common ingredients into something truly delicious. All it takes is a little time in the oven.
This is one of those dishes that’s best served at the table in the roasting pan so everyone can help themselves and pick at the crispy bits on the bottom of the pan.
1/2 butternut pumpkin (squash)
2 medium onions, quartered lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
4 thick sausages
1 small bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves picked
1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F).
2. Halve pumpkin crosswise then chop into wedges. Place pumpkin, onion, chilli and sausages in a roasting dish. Drizzle generously with olive oil.
3. Roast for about an hour, stirring at the half way mark. It’s ready when everything is golden and tender.
4. Serve with parsley leaves sprinkled over the top.
different veg – feel free to play around. Parsnips and sweet potato are lovely. Unpeeled cloves of garlic are also great.
no sausages? – use chicken drumsticks or thighs instead.
spanish – use fresh chorizo as your sausage and toss in a can of drained chickpeas instead of the pumpkin.
vegan – replace sausages with field mushrooms.
vegetarian – skip the sausages and serve the roast veg with a poached or fried egg on top.
video version of the recipe
Have you tried eating Paleo? Or do you think it’s just a crazy fad? Share your experiences + thoughts in the comments.
Great post. I really enjoy your blog. The Paleo diet is definitely getting some air time these days! I am a student of nutritional medicine. I think strict paleo is a recipe for disaster, it’s very hard to maintain. I like more of an 80/20 approach. I’ve been eating “my version” of Paleo for about 2 years and loving it! I have an autoimmune disease which I control through my food and lifestyle choices, no drugs needed : )
I’ve been paleo for about 3 years. I feel a lot healthier eating this way and more energetic. This recipe looks great, I’ll have to try it this weekend. I’ve always taken the seeds out of the squash so will have to try leaving them in.
I agree on the paleo diet as a good direction to go but altering it to your needs.
My biggest challenge though is that the protein sources are quiete limited for vegetarians – I love eggs, but not for every meal ;-). And I also include legumes into my diet – quiet a lot actually. And also have quiet a bit of diary – cottage cheese, yoghurt, etc. I am trying to get back into eating fish, but getting good quality (mercury levels etc. seems to be a common problem) that is sustainable is a real challenge.
Do you have any tips for good protein sources for vegetarians that want to go into the direction of a paleo diet?
Also in terms of grains – do you cut those out completely? Or do you have some that you have from time to time? And what kind of substitutes would you suggest for people who would like to reduce/eliminate grains from their diet?
Many thanks and best wishes,
Really enjoyed reading about your experiences following the Paleo diet. On a personal note, I benefit from reducing grains and starches in my diet, too, and I’ve been enjoying experimenting with different ways to cook without grains and starches. I wouldn’t call what I do “Paleo” but there are a lot of similarities to what you’ve been doing. Looking forward to finding out more about your cookbook.
I think it is fantastic that people are starting to look for alternatives to the standard american diet and try different ways of eating to see what works for them.
As a vegetarian, strict paleo is obviously off the cards, but at the moment I am trialling ‘quitting sugar’ – which cuts out almost all processed foods – and am also trying to reduce my intake of bread/pasta/white rice – replacing it with stacks of veggies, eggs and legumes, as well as full fat dairy and other fats (plenty of coconut, nuts and avocados).
All the fat kinda goes against everything we have been told about dieting, but since I started I have felt so full and satisfied and not at all restricted in what I have been eating (which makes me think it will probably be pretty sustainable). But then again a different part of me thinks it is a little ‘fad-ish’ so will see how we go.
Since my primary goal is health rather than weight loss I think reducing sugar would be a good thing! Looking forward to seeing your ebook!
I’ve been Paleo for about 4 years now. And despite my weight lost (volume to be honest) this was not the reason why I changed my diet.
I’ve sufered from migraines, obstipation, the volume “in the midlle” that you talked about, since I was a child. After I tried almost everything the doctors told me to, I tried Paleo. And it was quite a change :)
It was a win win. My healthy issues improved and my waste line to.
I’ve been following your blog for a while now and it helps me on my meals plan and choices. So, thank yo!!u :)
P.S. pardon my english but I’m portuguese :)
Jules — I have a butternut squash sitting on my kitchen table right now and sausages in my freezer! I’m really excited about trying the butternut with the seeds left in to roast. I hate throwing the seeds away, but don’t often feel up to roasting them after I’ve already done everything else. Thanks, as always, for another great tip!
Several people I know have started or are starting paleo at the moment, and they all seem pretty excited. I cannot find it in me to avoid any natural food, so it is not for me – I like dairy and legumes, and consume both food groups almost daily. But people are different, so what seems wrong for me might work wonders for other people.
By the way, recently archaeologists found evidence that paleolithic food included dairy products such as cheese. ^^
I have been keeping up with your blog posts for awhile now, and I really enjoy it. I was especially impressed this week :) I just wanted to say a quick thank you for going to ‘your RD friends’ for the best advice. I appreciate your commitment to giving out sound information about food.
Thanks for reading! And for your feedback
Really appreciate it
I have been looking into several different plans that advocate lowered intake of starchy carbohydrates for a while now. Several years ago I lost a couple of clothing sizes with a free-form “go to the gym several times a week, and listen to your body about food” approach. I also felt FANTASTIC the whole time. My “rules” were a basic guideline about meal size/frequency/protein content, mostly avoiding sugar, making sure I ate breakfast, and otherwise just paying attention to how I felt after eating. I recently ran the numbers on the meals I would typically eat, and it turns out that I was gravitating toward 1800-2000 calories per day with nearly equal macronutrient distribution, and I rarely went over 40% carbs. Basically, a modified Zone Diet without fretting too much over individual meal content.
As far as Paleo goes…I like some of it, but I’m incredibly put off by the proseletyzing. It is so wonderful to read your statement that this “works for you.” I have a friend who was really jazzed about Paleo, but, like you, couldn’t sustain it strictly. Personally, I’m not giving up dairy. Also, I feel good after eating certain starchy things like potatoes and whole grains–and even whole grain breads, as long as I don’t eat them plain. If I throw on some fat or protein (or both), I’m fine. If I try to give my body something like plain oatmeal or oatmeal with sugar, I get a headache. If I give it steel cut oats cooked with milk and topped with fruit and nuts, I get a bunch of energy and other, “Awesome, thank you!” messages from my body. I’m sticking with that.
Thanks for sharing what ‘works for you’.
I totally agree that this is such an important piece of the puzzle.
I enjoy your posts. I would like to propose a “dietitian rule”. Which is that whenever a dietitian or nutritionist makes some claim about diets, they should be required to cite the published scientific studies that support their claim. It’s ironic to read the comments by the dietitian who starts out “…many dietitians give lousy advice” and then proceeds to make unsubstantiated claims based on long-ago disproved food myths. He should look in the mirror….
@JR–the dietitian who said that the advice given by many dietitians, nutritionists, and doctors “is awful” followed that statement with her opinion, not an unsubstantiated claim based on food myths. The only thing close to a statement that might need to be backed up is, “It is not, however, the only diet humans should restrict themselves to, as Paleo advocates would have you believe.” And I really don’t think that one needs much backing. Do you really need a peer reviewed study to PROVE that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all food plan?
JR, I believe in being real with people… there’s a lot of lousy advice out there, by health professionals and non health professionals. I personally think it’s better to admit that, rather than cover it up and pretend it’s not a problem. Why else would so many people feel they need to turn to the latest diet to get the answers, if they didn’t already believe they had been failed somehow? It’s obvious I wasn’t saying ALL health professionals give bad advice.
Thanks for following up Melanie… really appreciate it.
I enjoy your posts. I would like to propose a “dietitian rule”. Which is that whenever a dietitian or nutritionist makes some claim about diets, they should be required to cite the published scientific studies that support their claim. It’s ironic to read the comments by the dietitian who starts out “…many dietitians give lousy advice” and then proceeds to make unsubstantiated claims based on long-ago disproved food myths. He should look in the mirror…
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
I appreciate where you’re coming from… there’s definitely a place for peer reviewed studies in the world. But Stonesoup isn’t really the place if you’re looking for heavy scientific discussions.
I stopped eating grains nine months ago. I still eat potatoes and drink wine, and occasionally I’ll have dairy or legumes (feta cheese or black beans in a salad, for example), but they are not a primary part of my diet. So I’m not strictly paleo, but, like you, have modified it to suit my body and needs. I’ve lost 60 pounds and I feel fantastic.
Congratulations on the 60 pounds. That’s awesome.
My Irishman will be happy to hear that you’re still loving wine and potatoes
Does anyone know if using a Dutch Oven (without the lid, obviously) would work ok for this recipe? I don’t have a roasting pan currently and need to do a lot of research before I run out and buy one.
I’d do it, but it might take longer to brown if the pieces of food are more piled on top of each other rather than spread out.
I agree, less surface area will increase the cooking time slightly but shouldn’t be more than 10 minutes or so.
I am attempting to lose a bunch of weight and I have found that eating breads and grains, etc., just isn’t worth the calories to me most days. I’d rather take the fixings of a sandwich and throw it on top of a bunch of spinach and take the extra fiber and iron I get from that towards my daily values required. I always have eaten quite a lot of fruit and veg, but I can’t say I eat a ton of meat. I think any recipe that considers a balance of healthy and mostly non-processed foods is useful no matter what diet you want to follow, so keep them coming! New ideas are always great for someone who falls easily into food ruts.
Thanks for sharing Mary!
And glad to hear you’re finding the new ideas helpful.
Good luck with your weight loss goals
I have gone partially paleo in the past year, and periodically write about my experiments on my blog. I definitely don’t believe in dogma, but believe in honest self-experimentation, and both my wife and I have benefited in going partially paleo. In practice, I found that I could not function optimally without any grains or starches at all, and so they have a place in my diet, although considerably reduced from the place they used to have. I would add that I now eat even more vegetables than during my vegetarian period a decade ago, because my breakfast is usually completely paleo, the single most beneficial change I have made (from my old oatmeal/fruit laden breakfast).
Thanks for sharing your story Franklin!
And appreciate you highlighting that you needed to find something that worked for you and your body.
And really happy to hear you’re eating even more veggies than when you were vegetarian.
I would love to do this diet – love the idea of it and know that it keeps the waist line in check eating fewer carbs/sugar but I just can’t bring myself to start eating meat again. I do eat fish and dairy but not much milk.
If you eat fish and eggs that can make a big difference. The other thing that can be really helpful for non-meat eaters is to choose lentils and beans which are a great source of veggie protein.
Hope that helps
NYTimes columnist Mark Bittman wrote an interesting article about Which diet works? http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/26/which-diet-works/?ref=opinion
Thanks for the link Suzette
I have been eating ‘almost paleo’ for two months now and I feel better, look better (no more puffy face in the morning!!) and have more energy than before! I’ve lost 18 lbs. and I don’t feel deprived at all. A real bonus is that my blood work numbers, cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar and then as well my blood pressure have all lowered. This change isn’t about vanity, I wanted to eliminate inflammation causing foods. I eat mostly veggies, meat, chicken, fish, healthy fats including olive oil, grass-fed cow butter, very limited dairy and legumes. No sugar or processed foods. I love your recipes, they’re great!! It’s totally worth it!
Thanks for sharing your story
I have been eating my version of paleo for just over 3 months. I have an autoimmune disease and was finding that I was swelling up especially the ankles (one of which I have already had replaced). I have cut out wheat from my diet completely and most of the swelling magically disappeared. I don’t know why it just did. I am dairy intolerant so that has been a challenge for the last couple of years. My aim eventually is less medication. I have started shopping in the farmers markets and building up a rapport with the suppliers which has been to my advantage. I have been copying your recipes onto my iPad so I can have them in the kitchen with me and I am looking forward to your new cookbook too. The fish stew is on the menu tomorrow night and the magic sausage supper will be included in next weeks list. My heartfelt thanks.
So glad you’re finding Stonesoup helpful Julie!
I love your blog and this recipe looks very yummy.
I follow a paleo diet and dairy products give me eczema, while legumes make me bloated, so it’s quite easy to stick to the diet if I want to feel well. :-)
Thanks for sharing Margaret
I’ve been eating paleo for several months now, and I’ve never been healthier! A few weeks ago I decided to try re-introducing gluten into my diet, and I felt awful for days – drained, bloated, and my digestive system completely blocked up. On the paleo diet, my body feels lighter, healthier, and more energetic! Food cravings diminish and I feel so much more sated after meals, without any of the tiredness I used to feel after eating. Thanks for the post!
Thanks for sharing your story Catherine!
So glad to hear it’s working for you
I know that Steve Kamb over at Nerd Fitness is very knowledgeable on the subject of the paleo lifestyle. He has done a lot of research on it and encourages using the paleo diet to get better results than with exercise alone. Can check out his site and he is also very good about email.
Thanks for sharing TJ
I’ll have to check Steve Kamb’s website out
Always love your food ideas! I’m type 1 diabetic and been eating Paleo just under a year now, and I’m healthier and more controlled than I’ve ever been since being blessed with this disease. I don’t find it hard to “maintain” at all, since all my hunger pangs and cravings have disappeared. Basically cutting out all refined carbs, I’m staying away from legumes and including slight dairy like pure butter and cheese.
The only thing I think might be an argument that makes it “hard to maintain” is that it takes more effort, more planning – to be be in the best shape of my life. Obviously, it’s going to take effort! That’s why your 5 ingredients 10 min recipes score even more (paleo) brownie points! :)
Keep it up Jules and well done on the new book!
Lovely to hear from you and so glad that eating Paleo has made a big difference for you.
Thanks for sharing your experience
Thanks for sharing about your almost-paleo diet. I have been eating paleo style for about months now, and I love it! Like you, I too focus on eating lots of veggies including roots veggies like potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and beets (but no beans). Honestly, the hardest part of the paleo diet is the vegetable oil restriction. When you go out to eat it’s almost impossible to avoid it because everyone cooks everything with it. At home I cook with butter, ghee or coconut oil and I use olive oil too as a topping for salads or cooked veggies…..
P.S your food photography is beautiful.
Thanks for letting me share,
Love your name Lulu!
And thanks for sharing your experience… really appreciate it
Love reading your blog! My husband and I discovered Paleo last year and have made changes to our diets. While we haven’t gone completely Paleo we have certainly cut back on the grains and sugar. I actually really like Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint. It is a great plan and has an 80/20 rule, seems much more doable. We still drink wine (mostly red) and each chic (but mostly 70% dark). The biggest change has been breakfasts, which are usually eggs and spinach, or a smoothie or my home made granola (using nuts). One challenge has been the kids but they have also cut back on grains, as I have tried to drop so much pasta and rice recipes and am trying to stick to more meat and veg (salad) or fish and veg (salad) for evening meals. I have lost a couple of kilos (not the main point, but they have come off my waist and i have gone down a size which is great, given like you that is where my weight goes on!). My husband does triathlons and ironman races and has been pleasantly surprised at how he has improved given he is eating much less carbs. No more carb loading before a race. Anyway, am off to purchase your new recipe book as it looks fantastic!
Thanks so much or sharing your story AND for supporting Stonesoup.
I really appreciate it
tried stir frying that instead of baking, I also had to chop everything small. It was good
Thanks for sharing your experience Vince!
I’m interested that many of the comments here are from vegetarians moving towards Paleo. One of my biggest issues with Paleo as I’ve seen it done with friends & acquaintances has been the heavy emphasis on meat, and it’s often not something addressed in blogs and articles lauding the benefits of the diet. There’s endless scientific evidence about the hazards of a meat-heavy diet, not to mention common sense, ethics and other possible reservations. I’m generally a believer in moderation, so not totally against any meat (I eat fish and chicken sparingly), but often people who embrace Paleo are eating meat at every meal as a primary part of their plate. And really, if you cut out all dairy, carbs (which for some includes starchy veggies and all fruit), and all grains – what else are you going to fill your plate with? I definitely like the idea of a more moderate “whole foods” approach.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Ursula!
I agree that a more moderate ‘whole foods’ approach is the way forward.
Another fabulous post and recipe! This is on the list to try next week.
I have been avoiding grains and sugar on and off all year and am amazed at the difference it makes to overall well-being. I find that now if I eat white rice I pretty much need to have a nap right away.
Breakfast can be a bit of a struggle on weekdays when I have to rush off to work, and when travelling I tend to stray off my dietary path for convenience reasons. Anyway I have just returned from a holiday which was definitely not paleo and am looking forward to getting back to healthy eating. This means home-prepared lunches and salad for breakfast, both using lots of inspiration from stonesoup. I am also keen for some experimentation with green juices, which I have yet to see discussed here – Jules, what are your thoughts? However, this also means trying to stay away from your sweets recipes, boo!
Thanks again, Jules!
Great question re green juices… I did a post about my green smoothies over here: https://stonesoup.mystagingwebsite.com/2012/02/healthybreakfast/
To be honest I/m not a big fan of juicing because you lose out on the wonderful fibre and I think it’s better to avoid drinking your calories.
Hope you had a lovely holiday!
Ahhh awesome!! I will try a zucchini and kiwi fruit smoothie this afternoon, raw broccoli and kale do not agree with me. Hopefully it doesn’t turn out too weird!! Will report back over there on that post.
Holiday was lovely, thank you :)
great web site!
To be honest Jules, when I first read about your adventure with Paleo I thought you were crazy and I was a little disappointed. I had enjoyed reading your blog and thought, oh no.. now she’s gone and changed everything! I have to find a new favourite blog! And I stopped checking back as often because I really thought it was a fad. Fast forward several months and here I am, one week into my own Paleo adventure! It was a visit to a naturopath, with my husband and 12 year old daughter in tow that did it. She is insulin resistant and has tummy troubles. You can guess what the naturopath recommended! Now our family of 5 is well on our way to better health, stable sugar levels, and trimmer waistlines. My husband has lost over 4 pounds in one week. We weren’t doing this to lose weight but that has been a side benefit. And, we don’t feel hungry. Sure the detox/craving stage is in full strength this week but we can see this is for the long haul and your modified version of Paleo will find its way into our kitchen for sure. Thank you for all you do, and I’m happy to say that you are my “new” favourite blog again!
You’ve made my day.
So glad you’ve found your own way.
I’ve had quite a few emails from people telling me they weren’t going to read anymore because of the paleo thing which always makes me a little sad. But as I tell them I can’t go back to cooking like I used to because I just don’t believe in it.
So glad you’re finding it helpful.
I’m an American expat living in Spain, where there is no lack of sausages and currently a bounty of squash (it being autumn now), and when I cooked this recipe for 3 other expat friends, we went bonkers crazy over how TASTY the meal was. I was amazed at how easy preparation was—10 minutes tops in just cutting everything up, and 50 minutes cooking—and how so few ingredients combined together to make a warm, savory dish. Thank you so much!!!
So glad you enjoyed Trevor
Very jealous of you getting to live in Spain – one of my all time favourite countries
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Of course, for “the average person”, any change would be an improvement. As someone who works with people with diabetes, I am constantly amazed at what people eat. Call it whatever you want – “paleo” is just the latest – eating real food that is the least processed (in a factory or in a home) and does not include hormones and antibiotics and pesticides and long lives in plastic is what’s going to work. Listening to our bodies and stopping when (or not long after) we’re full will also work. You have a sensible and simple approach. (I give your web site to patients all the time as a good way to figure out how to eat and cook – especially people who can’t imagine giving up meat.) Why give it a name?
hey, I enjoyed you guys post. avid christian reader out
I have not tried eating paloe, but I would like to give it a try. I already eat healthy and I will continue to eat healthy. Thank U Julanna for this information. U can send me more reciple to try.