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Paleo Diet 101…

We’ve tried it all here at Urban Wellness Clinic, experimenting on ourselves with different eating habits and diets like human guinea pigs: gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, raw, organic, and paleo. The way I see it, this modern world is inescapably toxic, and at times like this, dietary damage control can give you back your quality of life. For me, it started when I got fed up with a 2-year long battle with eczema on my right hand. After trying every prescription cream on the market, I dove deep into the gut and finally gave up gluten and began my foray into a paleo diet.  Most skin conditions have close ties to the gut, and the benefits of eating paleo far surpassed my expectations as my eczema cleared up in two weeks.

What is The Paleo Diet?

Paleo proponents like Robb Wolf argue that it’s simply the healthiest way to eat because it’s the only approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong, and energized. Our modern Western eating habits bear little resemblance to those of early humans for over 100,000 years. Since the agricultural revolution, we’ve been eating stuff that our physiology still hasn’t adapted to. That’s why the Paleo Diet is sometimes called the “Caveman Diet.” It boldly states that if we ate like our ancestors did, we’d be healthier.

Benefits of a Paleo Diet

Research shows that our modern diet, which is chock-full of refined foods, trans fats, and sugar, is at the root of degenerative diseases like obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, depression and infertility. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Plenty of deceptively less severe-sounding conditions, including my persistent case of eczema, IBS, IBD, Celiac disease, and chronic women’s health problems like yeast overgrowth are associated with intestinal damage. When you consider just how common these conditions have become, it should be no surprise that eating paleo is becoming all the rage. Many who’ve adopted the diet have mind-blowing before and after paleo tales about eradicating illness. It doesn’t hurt that weight loss is often a natural side effect of healing your gut and getting healthy.

Paleo VS Primal

Maybe you’ve heard “paleo” and “primal” used interchangeably, which makes sense, considering they are both based on similar evolutionary science. Both types of diet suggest limiting carb intake (especially grains), eating more protein, including lots of veggies as a foundation, and eliminating gluten, refined sugar, and processed foods. Both advocate regular exercise.

There are a few differences: Primal eaters tend to be less hardline about dairy and legumes, and view saturated fats as a critical source of nutrients, while Paleo peeps are more serious about avoiding those cholesterol-raising fats. Many Paleo eaters advocate wild meat because it’s remarkably lean, and has relatively low amounts of saturated fats, while supplying significant amounts of beneficial omega-3 fats. The conclusion here is that free-range meat is better for you than mainstream meat. In spite of these somewhat different principles, many people amalgamate the diets and borrow the rules that make the most sense to their lives.

To eat or not to eat

Here is a basic list of paleo foods divided into Dos and Don’ts. Note: go organic whenever possible.


  • grass-fed meat
  • fish/seafood
  • fresh fruits
  • fresh vegetables
  • eggs
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • healthy oils (olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, coconut)
  • lots of water


  • grains
  • legumes (including peanuts)
  • dairy
  • refined sugar
  • processed foods
  • overly salty foods
  • refined vegetable oils
  • coffee (try green tea!)
  • alcohol (some wines and ciders are ok)

Basically, lean proteins support strong muscles, healthy bones and optimal immune function. Protein also satisfies you between meals. Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that have been shown to decrease your likelihood of developing serious health problems.

Practically delicious

Now that you’re convinced, how do you begin to adopt this “caveman diet” practically speaking? Eating at home where you can control what goes into your food is the easiest way. There are tons of great sites offering quick and easy paleo meals to get you inspired. If that seems too antisocial, don’t despair. Eating paleo in NYC is easier than you think. Thank the heavens for Hu Kitchen. If you’re eating out but not living in NYC: first, avoid obvious carbs like those found in sandwiches, pastas and pizzas. Focus instead on salads, grilled meat with veggies and soups. Ask your waiter what the best low carb options are on the menu. They can help you navigate the menu.  It might seem like a lot of work, but as you become accustomed to it, have more energy, feel less hazy, and are no longer bogged down by random health concerns, you’ll probably enjoy your social life more than you used to anyway.

Some great resouces:

The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf

Nom Nom Paleo by Michelle Tam

For more personalized information or to get yourself  assessed by Urban Wellness Clinic’s nutritionist Dr Kaitlyn Clarke, call 212-355-0445 or contact us at

Best in health,

Dr Emily Kiberd