For celiac awareness month, we interviewed Tina Turbin from PaleOmazing.com about the Paleo diet, a diet that many celiacs are finding helpful in treating celiac disease. A celiac herself, Tina simplified the diet for newbies and explains how it has worked for her.
Q: Can you describe the benefits of the Paleo diet (for those with and without celiac disease)?
A: The paleo diet is naturally a gluten- and grain-free diet in its very basics.
Studies show that 1% of the population has celiac disease, an autoimmune condition triggered by the ingestion of gluten. Gluten is harmful for celiacs, actually it is the gliadin- the protein! It causes the immune system to attack the lining of the digestive tract and inhibits the proper absorption of nutrients from your food. The big question is; does it do this ONLY to celiacs?
Finally experts are admitting a large proportion of NON-celiac individuals are suffering from gluten intake as well. This is important for us all to learn about. So now even it is confirmed if you do not have celiac disease, the gluten ingested and digested in grains could be hurting your body! Some researchers estimate that as much as 40% of the population is also sensitive or intolerant to gluten, which can lead to many of the same symptoms and conditions of those with celiac disease and in some cases even more. These conditions are terribly underdiagnosed, and I’m quite passionate about getting this word out.
The removal of all grains can dramatically change one’s life – the Paleo diet in its basic essence. Simply put, the paleo diet is the optimum way of eating based on extensive studies of the eating habits and health of hunter-gatherers before agricultural and animal husbandry came around. Our bodies were more aligned to eat this way.
Q: Can you explain the basics of the Paleo diet for newbies?
A: Simply put, the paleo diet comprises plenty of good fats, moderate amounts of animal protein, and a low to moderate amount of carbohydrates (you can call that the paleo food pyramid—easy!). And, of course, the paleo diet leaves out the foods that came from agriculture and animal husbandry such as dairy products, grains, beans, legumes, potatoes, sugar and processed foods (no more packaged foods!). Of course each of our bodies reacts differently to various foods, and some do “ok” on dairy for example. There are many versions of the paleo diet, and you’ll find different protocols in each one, but the general agreement is that you should eat the foods that are best for you. The paleo diet is not really a “diet” and should actually be named the “paleo lifestyle.”
Q: How did the Paleo diet help you?
I had digestion issues, joint aches and pain that went on for many years, and it escalated after my second child was born. There were doctor appointments, X-rays, ultrasounds and more, with no answers which led me to my own research. One magical evening I came across the word “celiac disease”—which gave me a light of hope. Three days after requesting it myself, I was tested for this autoimmune disease: “celiac.” Shortly thereafter: “Tina, your tests came back positive. You have celiac disease.”
I delved in to the topic business-wise and soon became a major advocate in this field and was helping others by the hundreds then the thousands, yet I knew in my heart there was still something wrong. I had less pain, but still had digestion issues and the pain would come and go. My teeth were falling apart (literally losing enamel) and my bones were thinning (proven by blood tests and scans). I was not at all better on the “standard” gluten free diet.
I researched more and soon came across the paleo diet and the various “versions.” I read two quite popular books on the paleo diet and soon after tried it out for a week and there was no denying the fact that I was feeling SO MUCH better in only seven days of trying Paleo!
I’m a walking success story of a person with an autoimmune disease which was running and ruining my life and which I’m now very much in control of. I believe in the paleo diet, the paleo lifestyle, with my blood tests proving my health has 100% and stably turned around now for many years.
Q: Can you offer any tips on how to transition to the Paleo diet, especially for people who love their baked goods and sugary treats?
Referring to paleo as a diet has always seemed a bit strange to me. Diets tend to mean restriction, forcing yourself to eat a certain way that’s unnatural to you. That’s not paleo at all! The paleo diet is actually a paleo lifestyle. It’s about eating (and living) in the way that’s most natural for the human body.
These days we see many different “versions” of the paleo diet. This can be a little confusing at first. So I really, really want to get this across to you: The paleo diet is a template. It’s not a strict regimen that you have to follow. If you veer from it, it doesn’t mean you failed or that you’ve “blown yet another diet.” As we are all humans we share the same basic physiology, which is why the paleo diet “template” is a good base for everyone to use. There’s no denying that there are certain foods that are toxic to everybody. Then on the other hand there are some foods that only make some of us feel bad or harm our health.
So, the first thing I always suggest is to get prepared so you can really start, see and feel for yourself the beneficial changes. By getting prepared I simply mean this: REALLY clean out your kitchen of all grains, dairy, sugar and legumes so you are not tempted. Then, go shop for a week’s worth of ingredients for easy meals or healthy snacks you can take on the go.
At this point do not go overboard and get into all the other ramifications, rules and descriptions of paleo. Keep it simple. If you do this for a week (or better yet two) you can feel and see for yourself what the paleo “basics” do for you. This is a terrific starting point!
Please read up and come to a full understanding of the fact that paleo is a LIFESTYLE and not a quick fix, or a weight-loss diet. ♦
Tina Turbin is an Author, a Celiac and Gluten Free advocate. She researches and writes about the benefits of the Gluten-Free, Paleo-ish, Keto, and Lower Carb inclined diets while also supporting and promoting ethical companies she believes in. Tina’s award-winning site, PaleOmazing, houses many of her multi-award-winning recipes and research articles.