Paleo Not Just A Fad Diet

The Paleo diet — you may have heard the term and think it’s just another low-carb, fad diet. But those who have made it a part of their healthy lifestyle will tell you it’s simply about eating “real food” like our ancestors did during the Paleolithic Era. The results can include not just weight loss, but improved sleep, improved complexion, and even reversal of disease and illness.

Terry Shanahan, a Functional Nutrition Consultant, has spent more than a decade studying and researching diet, natural medicine, and supplementation. After suffering for years from chronic illness, fatigue, and inflammation, he now helps thousands of individuals transition to a Paleo lifestyle. “So many of the health problems people face are derived from the foods we eat,” he said. “As a society we’ve become out of touch with what’s important when it comes to our health.”

The Paleo diet comprises three areas: nutrient dense foods, foods with anti-inflammatory properties, and foods that promote proper hormonal function and support. The types of foods that fall into these categories are properly raised animal proteins such as grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, and wild caught fish; traditional vegetables and root and tuber vegetables, such as sweet potatoes and yams; all fruits; whole nuts and seeds; and healthy oils such as coconut and almond. Dairy, wheat, and processed sugars are all eliminated from the diet. And it’s not a low-carb diet, it’s actually high in healthy carbs.

Sustaining that type of diet can certainly be challenging, but more retailers are recognizing the demand and supporting people who want to have a healthier lifestyle. Evolve Paleo Chef is opening a store that opens later this month in West Omaha and provides fully prepared, Paleo-friendly meals, snacks, and juices. Jason Fechter and Caleb Summers are the owners and original chefs of Evolve Paleo Chef, which started two years ago in Kansas City. “Eating healthy doesn’t mean the food has to taste bad,” Summers said. “We provide amazing quality, delicious food at an affordable price, and there’s no kitchen clean-up afterward.”

Customers can order as many or as few items as they want, there are no minimums and no contracts, and food can either be delivered or picked up. The store also serves as a juice bar and has grab ‘n go items for snacks or lunches. The menu changes weekly and includes entrees such as chicken Oscar, pork carnitas, baby back ribs, and chili mac. “It’s all completely wheat and gluten-free, doesn’t use processed sugars, and is completely dairy free,” Fechter said. “We don’t use any of the foods that cause inflammation, which can lead to disease.”

Many grocers carry Evolve Paleo Chef’s items, such as Hy-Vee, which also heavily supports the Paleo community. Shelly Asplin, a Registered Dietician with the Hy-Vee at 180th & Pacific Streets, said they carry many Paleo-friendly foods and even sell their own line of almond and coconut flours. “We provide recipes and samples of foods that use these ingredients so customers can try them and see they actually taste good,” Asplin said. “Many people are trying to have a better diet but do it in a way that’s sustainable for a lifetime,” she added.

Sustainability is one of the key components to Shanahan’s Paleo transition plan, which includes scientific-backed education, an online support community, and a full action plan with steps for those at the beginning, intermediate, and advanced stages. “A beginner step might simply be to cut out soda for three days,” Shanahan said. “Once that step is complete, you move on to another step. It’s all done at your own pace.”

Whether your goal is to lose weight, improve athletic performance, or improve systems from illness and disease, Shanahan said at the very least, everyone he has worked with has reported feeling better to some degree. “Paleo is the way we were meant to eat,” he said. “I encourage all my clients to adopt the lifestyle 100 percent. But even if you follow it 80 percent of the time, every little bit helps.”

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