The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Return to your roots with the Paleo diet


By Mia Wennick

The Paleolithic (Paleo) diet, also known as the “Caveman” diet, revolves around the idea that eating the way our ancestors did will help us achieve a healthier lifestyle.

Dietitians acknowledge that there are both positives and negatives associated with diet, just as there are with any lifestyle change.

Robb Wolf, a former research biochemist and author of “The Paleo Solution,” agrees that the Paleo diet is a superior diet, as it works in partnership with one’s genetics to help reach the best quality of life. The Paleo diet is the healthiest way to eat, as our modern diet is full of refined foods and trans fats, Wolf said.

The diet is simple: eat only foods that were available in the Neolithic time period, taking great care to avoid refined and processed foods.

“If cavemen didn’t eat it, then neither should you,” said SMU Dietitian, Courtney De La Rosa, MCN, RDN, LD.

This is the central motto of the diet and the guiding principal that followers look toward.

“So foods that can be hunted, fished, or gathered (ex: meat, fish, poultry, eggs, vegetables, roots, berries and fruit) can be eaten, everything else should be eliminated from the diet (ex: grain, dairy, legumes, sugar, salt),” said De La Rosa.

The diet is relatively easy to follow, as it revolves around this main idea. However, critics of the diet dislike the reduction of carbs and overabundance of protein.

Recent news regarding the correlation between processed meats and cancer may worry some who follow the high protein Paleo diet, but truly following the Paleo diet requires eating organic produce. Intense followers do all that they can to get the best out of the food they are eating. Some even going as far as to buy grass-fed meat, which has an abundance of omega-3’s.

Because the Paleo diet works with genetics, it is designed to give the human body exactly what it needs, while cutting out foods that taste good but may not offer many health benefits (such as white bread).

“Advocates of the Paleo diet argue that our bodies are genetically inclined to eat this way, and blame agricultural revolution and the addition of foods such as grains, legumes, and dairy for chronic disease such as obesity and heart disease,” said De La Rosa.

In addition to reducing chronic disease, the diet also yields other health benefits, such as increased energy, better sleep patterns and weight loss.

“While on the Paleo diet, I felt as though I had much more energy, I slept better, and I also felt really good about knowing I was eating cleanly and I was doing something really good for myself,” said avid believer in the Paleo diet, Laura Dickens.

To many, the diet has become more than just a fad, but a way of life.

“After doing the Paleo diet for a few months, I am so happy with the results that I want to keep doing it for as long as I can, Dickens said. “It’s so easy to incorporate into my day to day life.”

The Paleo diet has been increasingly growing in popularity, as many continue to adopt this lifestyle change. People have formed online groups to share motivation, diet tips, and meal suggestions, as they encourage each other to work towards their goals. Eating this way has become easier as the popularity of the diet continues to grow. Meal replacement bars, like the “Paleo Protein Bar,” have been developed, and there are also a plethora of Paleo cookbooks. Some even go as far as to put their dogs on a Paleo diet.

The diet, however, has received some backlash.

“A typical diet adhering to Paleo regulations exceeds the Dietary Guidelines for protein and fat intake, while falling short on carbohydrate recommendations,” De La Rosa said.

Those who have tried the diet acknowledge these flaws, as withdrawals from carbohydrates prove to be difficult for many.

“The hardest part was definitely the first week, not being able to have sugar or carbs,” said Paleo diet attempter, Jared Rule.

Rule liked the way he felt while on the Paleo diet, as he had more energy, but struggled with cutting out carbs, which used to comprise a major part of his diet. According to the USDA, grains are vital to a balanced diet, so the Paleo diet’s carbohydrate restriction is a downfall.

“The exclusion of whole grains, dairy, and legumes can also be precarious, as these foods contribute important vitamins and minerals to our diets,” De La Rosa said.

Health care professionals can agree that while there are both positives and negatives to the diet, balance is key. The struggle with overindulging is what leads to heart problems that the Paleo diet helps to cut down on.

“The heart of the problem, especially with grains and dairy, lies in over-consumption,” De La Rosa said.

There is a lot of debate surrounding the need for carbohydrates. While the USDA and dieticians who follow the food pyramid argue that they are important, others feel they are not necessary and actually are a major cause of obesity.

“Current science supports the notion that dense acellular carbohydrates in the diet promote inflammatory microbiota, and may be the primary dietary cause of leptin resistance and obesity,” according to

While dieting according to the Paleo guidelines reduces these problems, those who are skeptical could benefit from a reduction of carbs (or at least a removal of processed/refined carbohydrates, such as white bread) if they do not want to completely eliminate them.

Just like any other diet, there are both believers and critics, but to many the Paleo diet just seems to make sense. Our ancestors did not put processed meats or starchy carbs into their bodies, nor did they suffer from obesity and an overwhelming amount of heart disease. Cavemen sported lean physiques and did not over-indulge or eat gluttonously, but instead, ate what their bodies needed.

The growth of the Paleo diet is overwhelming, as regular men and women everywhere return to their roots, hoping to achieve a greater and healthier standard of life. Watch closely around you, as the hunter-gatherers that once roamed this planet now scavenge the shelves at their local Whole Foods, searching for Paleo bars and grass-fed meat.

More to Discover