A perfectly paleo breakfast. Not pictured: four slices of pizza.
A perfectly paleo breakfast. Not pictured: four slices of pizza.
Photo by Dominique Boubion

Paleo's Near Perfect, But It's Got Some Pains

I'm not going to lie: my first meal after my official last day of eating paleo was four slices of pizza. Not two, or three. But four. And I ate the heck out every last bite. I experienced gluten euphoria and asked myself why things that are bad are so good.

Then I paid the price.

Try going three weeks without consuming dairy or gluten, then eat pizza. Your bowels will protest. They will throw down the iron curtain. Close the George Washington Bridge at Fort Lee. Remember when Atlanta got two inches of snowfall? It'll be like that.

After three weeks on the paleo diet, my body has adjusted to the dairy- and gluten-free life and apparently forgotten how to digest pizza, so it's probably a good time to talk about poop and the paleo diet.

It is said that there is not a normal amount of times that you should have bowel movements. Anything between three times a week and three times a day is probably okay. But, as WebMD notes, once you drop below three bowel movements a week, or if you relate to this kid, it probably means that you're constipated. But before you grab for the enema, try looking into the paleo diet.

I was one of those people that was probably constipated, and I didn't even know. Each bowel movement was like a sunny day in New York during winter, and I thought that was normal. Initially, I assumed that my bowel movements would slow down because most of my fiber intake came from beans and whole wheat bread that advertises high amounts of fiber. Even most places on the Internet that suggest means of constipation relief advise eating beans, legumes and breads. But since these three foods are not allowed on the paleo diet, I became concerned.

These websites also recommend eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, especially dried fruit and drinking plenty of water to help promote healthy bowels. Well, since I couldn't have Coke, eat cheese or Gummy Bears, that pretty much left me with only water to drink, fruits to snack on and vegetables at dinner time. Guess it evens out.

Apples with almond butter, a paleo-approved snack
Apples with almond butter, a paleo-approved snack
Photo by Dominique Boubion

But what really helps give that extra push into the healthy spectrum of bowel movements are the paleo-friendly foods that are heavy in fiber. Two tablespoons chia seeds have the same three grams of fiber as 1 slice of bread Nature's Own wheat bread. (An argument can probably be made that the processed ingredients in that slice of bread counteract the fiber. But we can let poop decide that.) But while they are equal in fiber, the bread has 14 grams more carbohydrates and 3 more grams of sugar than chia seeds and lacks all of the nutritional benefits I mentioned in last week's post.

The idea is that there are healthier, more nutritious means of obtaining fiber. Huffington Post put together a great list of fiber-rich foods to add to meals, and even sneaky ways to add them into your food. (Scroll down to see the picture slideshow, offering even more good sources of fiber).

That's not to say that paleo is the perfect diet. I believe that beans and legumes are not the bad guy when it comes to modern food -- especially if cooked at home so that you can control the amount of sodium and watch out for unwanted ingredients. It's the excessive gluten, dairy and processed foods that are to blame for bad health, and thus bad bowels. Even Robb Wolf, the creator of the paleo diet, acknowledges that there are shades of the paleo diet -- 7 shades to be exact, and that the one that no one likes is the militant one. Just don't be the WTF Paleo guy, and I'll try not to eat four slices of pizza in one sitting.

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