Six Reasons Your PALEO Plan Might Be A Complete, Epic Fail

Six Reasons Your PALEO Plan Might Be A Complete, Epic Fail

Have you started a paleo plan, all sparkly-eyed and eager, with high hopes of success like Taylor Swift on a first date, only to find out a couple of months in, that you are not getting the bill of goods you had been sold? Are you feeling lackluster, a few pounds overweight, and sadly absent the “six-pack” abs, you were originally promised? You might even say that your “paleo plan” has been a “paleo fail.”

As usual, never fear, I am here to enlighten you.

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Here are the top six reasons your paleo plan is not working

EPIC FAIL #1-HIDDEN INGREDIENTS: I was at a health food store the other day when I grabbed a bar called “CAVEMAN.” There was a picture of a primal-looking fellow on the front wrapper, holding a spear. I made the ridiculous assumption that the bar was going to be paleo, or at least close to it. I ate one bite, and thought, “WOW! This is so tasty and sweet.” Then, the insides of my ears started to itch (this is my food sensitivity “tell”), so I grabbed the wrapper and read it – brown rice syrup and evaporated cane juice. I was blown away. I am not a paleo newbie! This is not my first grass-fed steak if you know what I mean. Failing to read the label of a new food product, I hadn’t tried before, was an epic rookie fail. So, if you decide to eat anything out of a “package,” which should be rare with a whole food lifestyle, it is important to read every ingredient to ensure that you are staying within paleo guidelines.

EPIC FAIL #2 – EATING LATE: Maybe the biggest saboteur to weight management and healthy physiologic processing of your food is eating too late. This seems elemental, but it is amazing how many of us are tempted to eat too close to bedtime. “I am eating super healthy; maybe it’s okay.” It is not. A good stand by recommendation is to eat your last food two hours before bed. Bone broth, or a small serving of vegetables, are the only VIP-pass holders allowed inside that two-hour window boundary.


EPIC FAIL #3 – UNDIAGNOSED HEALTH ISSUES: If after 90 days of being committed to a paleo program, you do not see any changes in your energy level, general physiology, or weight, (should that be a goal for you); you may want to get checked for an undiagnosed health issue. You should consider being tested for thyroid, vitamin D, and iron imbalances. Many health-related issues can impact your paleo lifestyle results, so it is important to “flesh” out these conditions with a well-qualified naturopath or functional medicine doctor. 

EPIC FAIL #4 – NOT ENOUGH VEGETABLES: I once saw a pro-paleo t-shirt that said, “I eat more vegetables than a vegetarian.” Unfortunately, many people misunderstand the paleo lifestyle, as it relates to animal protein. Paleo living is not about ingesting large quantities of meat, and then, sitting back with a toothpick and bragging about it (although I have done that). The “eating” part of a paleo lifestyle is about a balance of whole foods, with a heavy emphasis on fresh organic vegetable and fruits. But, back to the t-shirt, I would say, at the risk of being stabbed by batik-wearing vegans, that most of my paleo-enthusiast friends DO eat more vegetables, than their processed food munching, rice-eating, legume-consuming, vegetarian counterparts. So make sure the majority of your diet is coming from these nutritionally dense wonders of nature! 

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EPIC FAIL #5 – FOOD SENSITIVITIES: I have recently come to the realization that I have a significant sensitivity to almonds. Guess what one of the main staples of the paleo program is? Almonds, almonds and more almonds – almond flour, almond butter, and almond milk. It is important to recognize that we are all “bio-individuals.” There may be foods that our bodies cannot tolerate. So, if after switching to a paleo diet for GI discomfort relief, you are still suffering from bloating, constipation, or abdominal pain, I suggest you make an appointment with a good allergy-testing naturopath. Perhaps one who specializes in food sensitivities so that you can be tested properly (I feel that naturopaths do a more thorough job of testing for food sensitivities, then most MD allergists). The good news is that by adopting a paleo food plan, you eliminate the most common allergens – corn, soy, wheat, sugar, and dairy. These allergens can prolifically irritate the American gut. Most of us can be relieved of our GI-related food sensitivities, simply by adopting a paleo regimen. But if you still suffer, identifying possible offenders and eliminating them from your paleo plan will ensure success in your paleo lifestyle quest.

EPIC FAIL #6 – TOO MANY NUTS: One of the greatest bonuses of the paleo plan is that it encourages us to eat a variety of nuts. Nuts rock. They are flavorful, filling, and pretty fantastic all around. There are nut milks, nut flours, and nut-butters – Yum, right? Wrong. When transitioning to a paleo lifestyle, it is common to overdo the whole “nut thing.” But, nuts are full of protein, vitamins, and minerals, right? Yes, they are, but they are also full of fat. “Woah, calm down!” (I see paleo enthusiasts charging with pitchforks.) Nuts ARE “good fats,” and we need them in our diets, but it is easy to overdo serving sizes – a serving size of nuts is six to ten nuts, depending on the type of nut. Today, hypothetically-speaking, you, being a lovable, paleo zealot, probably had almond milk on your paleo cereal (more nuts), nut butter on your paleo tortilla (which contained nut flour), and three paleo cookies with almond flour. Those calories and fat can add up quickly! At the end of the day, the “calories in vs. calories utilized” approach still applies to healthy physiology (i.e. weight management), even while on paleo.

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So, be kind to yourselves, my paleo poodles! This endeavor is a journey – a process of discovery. Learning to EAT WELL is a series of steps that must involve fails, epic fails, in fact, to learn what is simpatico for us, as individuals. So, do not give up! I know with each step, you will get closer to phenomenal health and well-being.

Please share your paleo plan epic failures below, because I have had plenty!

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Six Reasons Your Paleo Plan Might Be A Complete, Epic, Fail.


12 Responses

  1. These are some great, down-to-earth suggestions about the Paleo diet. I feel like all the posts I read talk abut how easy it is, but no one talks about how it could go wrong or what to look out for! thanks for sharing!

  2. I didn’t find paleo too hard while I was on it because I mainly eat at home anyway and I always make something a bit extra/more for the husband (who wasn’t on paleo). But I definitely had to be way more organized. I ended up giving up the Paleo diet because it made my gut a little…well, tmi. But I did love the crazy amazing results and muscle definition I got from it.

  3. For someone brand new to this (so new I can’t bring myself to say it) lifestyle, this article is really encouraging! I’ve resisted this way of eating for years, all the while watching friend after friend succumb and feeling sorry for them! I’m jumping in with both feet and plan to read every word you write.

  4. I’ve never tried Paleo before but I can only imagine that its not a very easy diet to take on. Thank you so much for sharing these so if I ever end up trying Paleo I know what to avoid.

    Happy Memorial Day!

    xoxo, Jenny

    1. Good news is Paleo is not a diet! Paleo is a lifestyle eating choice that focuses on whole food, organic, and well-sourced nutrients. It’s actually pretty straightforward once you practice for a couple of weeks and there is lots of flexibility. Thanks, for stopping by!

  5. A huge yes to all of these! A lot of people I know eat paleo and then process to Autoimmune Paleo. I always feel my best when I eat 90% paleo with the occasional treat every now-and-again.

    1. I am with you girl. I am a 90/10 too. Works best I think that way. We just don’t want to let the ten become twenty…thirty….forty! Right? 🙂

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Dr. Denniston is a wellness strategist for elite leaders and their teams, bridging the connection between personal well-being and professional success. She provides custom solutions for burnout and stress and facilitates cohesive habit-training strategies that maximize vitality, productivity, and resilience.

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