This could be called a Neo-paleolithic diet. Modifications of this diet are often used with clinic patients. It is a moderate-carbohydrate, moderate-protein and moderate-fat diet that is focused on real foods as the solution to Insulin Resistance Syndrome (IR) or pre-diabetes (sometimes called Metabolic Syndrome). It is mainly refined foods, especially sweets and refined flour products, combined with deficient exercise that gets people into trouble. A program based on whole foods, not more refined food products, is the best long-term solution in IR, and a host of other health problems as well. It is also recommended to take a good multiple vitamin/mineral.
Based on human evolutionary history and physiology this should be your most natural and optimal diet. It reflects what our Paleolithic ancestors (i.e., before agriculture) evolved eating over a million years and, as such, has the highest potential of supporting healing and preventing disease. In addition, this diet is naturally alkalizing, which is considered by some people to be healthier than the typical American acidifying diet.
An additional wonderful resource is Master Your Diabetes by Mona Morstein, N.D. If you need more recipe support there are numerous “low-carb” diet books in the bookstores that can also give you recipe ideas. However, use this handout as your main reference and refer to these books only for background and recipes.
It will take at least 2 to 3 months to reestablish normal insulin sensitivity. If there is severe IR or obesity it could take much longer to stabilize. However, most people will experience some improvements early on in the program. After stabilization has been shown through lab values, blood pressures, improved energy, loss of weight (especially abdominal), loss of carbohydrate cravings and loss of hypoglycemic symptoms, then switching to a maintenance diet for insulin resistance is possible. However, it will be essential to continue to monitor the lab values, signs, symptoms and weight.
With this diet you should not be hungry until its time for the next meal. If this is happening try increasing the non-starchy vegetables, nuts, fats and/or protein intake in the meals. For hypoglycemia symptoms eat smaller more frequent meals. Try to eat for hunger and not emotional reasons. If you must eat for emotional reasons, eat non-starchy vegetables or lean protein. Snacks should be non-starchy vegetables, nuts, seeds or protein foods. Do not avoid naturally fatty/oily foods, but limit saturated fats. And no hydrogenated oils and few fried foods.
PROBLEM CARBOHYDRATES (refined and starchy) – The cause of the problem!
- No potatoes or simple sugars/carbohydrates (common table sugar, fructose, sweets, cookies, candy, ice cream, pastries, honey, fruit juice, soda pop, alcoholic beverages, etc.). Anything that tastes sweet (including artificial sweeteners and Stevia) may raise insulin levels, thus aggravating IR and perpetuating the cravings for sweets. As IR improves, sweet cravings usually decrease.
- Almost no grain products (breads, pasta, cornbread, corn tortillas, crackers, popcorn, etc.) and no refined grains/carbohydrates (white flour products, white pasta, white rice, etc.).
- Whole grains (whole brown rice, wheat, rye, barley and buckwheat) only in very small amounts.
GOOD CARBOHYDRATES (non-refined and non-starchy)
- Small amounts of fruit are OK but eat it with protein meals and not alone. Berries are best. No dried fruit.
- Eat lots and lots of non-starchy vegetables. Raw or lightly cooked is best. These should be the main source of carbohydrates in the diet. Fresh vegetables are best, frozen is OK but canned is to be avoided except for canned tomatoes and tomato sauce.
- Legumes (beans, peas, peanuts, soybeans, soy products, etc.) have a low glycemic index so are OK.
- Consume moderate amounts of leaner meats, seafood and fish. The best are wild fish, wild game, free-range chicken & turkey, range-fed beef, lamb, buffalo and naturally grown pork. Grain-fed means more saturated fats and omega-6 oils. Wild and range-fed means less of these and more omega-3s. The more omega-3s the better.
- If you do not have a dairy allergy, some dairy is OK. Interestingly, the lower the fat in milk the more it raises the blood sugar, so low fat milk is worse than whole milk. But the best is no milk, it raises the blood sugar too much, plus cow’s milk is for calves, not people. Other dairy products are okay. Use only unsweetened yogurt. Limit butter and no hydrogenated margarine or Crisco.
- Eggs are fine unless you have allergies to them, but the best are eggs from free-range chickens and eggs grown to be high in omega-3 oils. Best to consume no more than 10 yokes per week due to the high fat content.
- For most people: moderate amounts of nuts (walnuts, macadamia nuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, etc.) and seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, etc.). Raw are best. Walnuts are high in omega-3s. Nut and seed butters are good (almond, cashew, sesame). Peanut butter and peanuts are actually legumes (see above).
- Consume moderate amounts of healthy oils. A low-fat diet is not healthy, nor is it compatible with this diet.
- Healthy oils are: Monounsaturated oils (olive, canola, nuts). Polyunsaturated oils that are high in omega-3 oils (canola, flax, fish oils, walnuts). Saturated fats from vegetable sources (coconut and palm oils) are OK if limited (note that coconut oil is not a “wonder food”).
- Limit animal sources of saturated fats as found in dairy products (cheese, butter, etc.) and most commercial red meats.
- Freely add healthy oils to salads, sauces for vegetables and when cooking lean meats. Natural palm and coconut oil are excellent for cooking and frying. Flax oil is high in omega-3 oils but goes rancid very easily so refrigerate and do not heat and add only after cooking.
- No hydrogenated or trans fats and limit fried foods. Some low-heat frying with natural palm and coconut oil is okay.
- Drink lots of pure water.
- Organic is always best when available.
- Cut down on salt but feel free to use other spices liberally.
- Except for non-starchy vegetables, the other carbohydrates should be limited to protein meals.
- It is usually safe to assume that most processed foods will interfere with this diet, even if low-carb.
- Finally, it must be emphasized that exercise is a very important component of success.
Highly recommended vegetables. Eat as many of these as possible for the best health.
|Vegetables to use in moderation.||Vegetables to limit or avoid.|
Cabbage (green and red)
Lettuce (avoid iceberg)
Peas (actually a legume)
Corn (actually a grain)
For more information on insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, and type II diabetes see this page.