For the last year, I’ve been pondering whether the paleo diet has anything to offer folks with diabetes or prediabetes. The paleo diet, by the way, is also called the Paleolithic, Stone Age, Old Stone Age, hunter-gatherer, or caveman diet. It definitely has some potential as a diabetes management approach. I’ve been eating paleo-style for the last three months.
Why am I trying it?
- Direct experience with implementation obstacles
- Potential health benefits
My current version of paleo is not designed for someone with diabetes or prediabetes. That may come in the future. By “current version,” I mean I’ll quite likely tweak it over the coming months.
Here’s what I’ve been eating (or not) on the Parker Paleo Diet:
FORBIDDEN FOODS: Grains (e.g., corn, wheat, rice), Dairy, Legumes (peanuts, beans, peas, green beans), Industrial Vegetable Oils (soybean, corn, safflower, etc.), Alcohol, Refined Sugars.
PROTEINS: Meat, fish/seafood, eggs, poultry, and wild game. Bacon OK; minimize other processed meats.
NUTS & SEEDS: Especially walnuts, macadamia, cachews, almonds. Limit to 1-2 oz/day.
FRUITS: Limit 2 pieces/day?
Lower-Carb: Greens (lettuce, spinach, chard, collard, mustard geen, kale), radicchio, endive, bok choy, herbs, celery, radishes, mushrooms, cabbage, jicama, avocado, asparagus, okra, cucumbers, cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, summer squash, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, green onions, tomatoes, eggplant, tomatillos, eggplant, artichokes, turnips, rutabagas, spaghetti squash, carrots, onions, leeks, water chestnuts (small serving). This list generally starts with the lower carb items and gradually increases to higher carb grams. All these have 5 or fewer carbs per serving; most are much less.
Starchy, Higher-Carb: Beets (6 g, GI 64), winter squashes (acorn, butternut), water chestnuts, parsnips (9 g, GI 97), potatoes (35 g, GI 87), sweet potatoes, (20 g, GI 61), cassava (37 g), taro (21 g), plantains. Some categorize carrots as starchy.
HERBS & SPICES: Cilantro, parsley, basil, rosemary, thyme, etc. Salt (minimal), pepper, vinegar.
OILS: Extra virgin olive, canola, flax, avocado.
CONDIMENTS: Olive oil vinaigrettes, mayonnaise from olive oil & egg yolk, and ?
LIQUIDS: H2O, coffee, tea
After two months of paleo eating, I summarized my experience at Paleo Diabetic.
By the way, I don’t have diabetes or prediabetes. The paleo diet has some potential benefit for those conditions, particularly as compared to the standard American diet. Ideally, I’d like to see more clinical studies before recommending it. Dr. Frassetto and colleagues at the University of California-San Francisco should be publishing their results soon.
Steve Parker, M.D.