In many ways the Paleo diet, when followed reasonably well, means you should no longer have to think about how much you eat. The food is all so nutrient dense and filling that in theory it should be difficult to eat too much. At first glance it seems pretty impossible to over eat vegetables, proteins and healthy fats. However, as with everything in life, human beings can over complicate anything. It can indeed be easy to eat too much fruit or avocados and some of the Paleo treats around can make it really easy to over eat foods that are very calorific, for example food made from nut flours or sweetened with dates.
These foods and most processed foods are known as being hyper-palatable which basically means they are just too yummy and easy to eat! In his new book 'Wired to Eat', the scientist and author Robb Wolf, explains how humans are actually 'wired' to overeat certain foods. Given the vast amount of food around us in the modern world, it can therefore actually be very tricky to eat sensibly. The underlying message that comes through in his book is that we need to understand our genetic make up, remove any sense of shame about this and be kind to ourselves about our innate tendency to overeat. This message of being gentle and kind to ourselves has also come through loud and clear in another book I chanced upon this month by the Nutritional Therapist and author Amelia Freer.
In her new book "Nourish and Glow: The Ten day plan", Amelia Freer has developed a new healthy eating pyramid called the Positive Nutrition Pyramid. This pyramid provides simple but highly effective guidance on what constitutes a balanced nutritious diet and can be used on a daily basis to track what you eat. There is now considerable evidence that tracking what you eat can help people lose weight and, more importantly, maintain that weight loss.
In her book, she explains that her advice is influenced by the Mediterranean diet which has a very good evidence base. She states that she doesn't eat many grains herself so there is a considerable crossover with the Paleo diet. What is so good about her pyramid is that it is indeed positive and the focus is very much on what you should eat to feel good rather than what you shouldn't! We are bombarded every day with immensely negative messages about what to avoid, deny or limit and this is such a refreshing change. She also addresses the emotional issues that can surround eating and provides sensible strategies to address this too. Interestingly, she acknowledges her advice is influenced by Gretchen Rubin who coincidentally Robb Wolf also cited as a key influence. I love when coincidences like this happen - it always makes me think I am on the right track!
The pyramid focuses on nuts/seeds; fats; complex carbs; proteins; fresh fruit; vegetables and drinks and her book provides advice on healthy portion sizes for each food group. This means anybody using the pyramid doesn't need to do any tedious weighing, tracking or calorie counting of food. Using the pyramid has made me more mindful of what I am eating and it is a daily reminder of what I actually 'need' to eat to function properly. Since following her advice I have naturally eaten a lot more vegetables, eaten more nuts and seeds, drunk a lot more water (and therefore a lot less coffee!) and eaten good amounts of protein. This in turn has meant I have naturally eaten a healthier amount of carbs and fats for myself right now. However, the important point is that using the pyramid means that on a daily basis I am now eating ALL the food groups I need to eat to feel good and I feel much better for doing this. There is nothing you can't eat but she advises that if you eat something that isn't on the pyramid (hello my son's packet of hoola hoops!) you simply acknowledge that it isn't part of the pyramid and then continue to focus on what remains in your pyramid for the rest of the day.
If you are interested in this method you can download this pyramid for free here. When I use it myself I also add in some boxes of my own to remind myself of healthy goals I want to do everyday. I decided to continue the positive approach and I have goals like 'go for a walk' and 'sit in the sunshine' (ha! not happened once!) rather than negative goals like 'spend less time on social media' (ahem) or 'eat less snacks'. You can buy her book and read more about the pyramid and the ten day plan here*. As a health researcher and as someone who loves nutrition I read a LOT about healthy eating but this book has particularly stood out for me. I have been running around talking about it to anybody who will listen (my poor husband and family!) and I thought it could be helpful for anybody else who gets overwhelmed by all the conflicting advice out there and just wants a simple, easy to manage guide on what to eat to feel good. I was drawn to the book when I saw Amelia Freer talk about the pyramid on Instagram Stories and that video is still available to watch on her Facebook page if you are interested. If you have any questions please feel to comment below or contact me via my social media pages. I will be happy to answer any questions I can
*Please note there are no affiliate links in this post, nor is it sponsored. I have linked to Amelia Freer's book as a courtesy to thank her for very graciously letting me use the image from her book for this blog post. It was really kind of her to do so.