44 Responses

  1. Phyllis
    Phyllis February 21, 2013 at 5:41 am | | Reply

    Great article. Thank you for writing of your experiences. It will hopefully help me make a choice about going paleo or, not.

  2. Hannah
    Hannah February 21, 2013 at 6:46 am | | Reply

    I’m a bit wary of adopting the dietary habits of people whose average lifespan was 24 years…

    Honestly, the “science” behind the paleo diet is, well, not science, it’s pseudoscience. The premis that early humans evolved to eat a specific diet and that, therefore, that diet is our healthiest option, is a severely flawed premis. Firstly, why is the paleolithic era the optimal health era? Why not later humans, who have more in common with us now? Or earlier humans, like australopithecus, who ate savana grass? Or why not go even further back in our evolutionary chain? The diet of paleolithic man was not varied and had far fewer healthy options than we have today, and considering his generally petite stature and brief lifespan, there’s not only no evidence to support the notion that it is a more healthful diet, the evidence is counter to it!

    Humans have evolved since the paleolithic era. In just the past 250 generations we’ve gone from being a species that was almost entirely lactose intolerant to one where the majority of individuals are lactose tolerant. Choosing one arbitrary point in our evolutionary past as ideal is nonsensical, and presumes that evolution has a goal (which it doesn’t) or that it has stopped (which it hasn’t). Furthermore, it promotes the false dichotomy of chemical vs. natural, and the general scientifically illiterate fear of “chemicals” — completely disregarding the fact that…well, everything is chemicals. EVERYTHING IS CHEMICALS!

    There are certainly some health benefits from eating this diet, in that it’s lower in sugar and made up primarily of highly nutrient-dense foods, and I have no problem with anyone who wants to give it a go for health reasons. What I have a problem with is the flawed logic and bad “science” behind the diet. The whole paleo angle is marketing spin. And, again, I don’t have a problem with marketing spin, except when it further promotes the dangerous scientific illiteracy of our culture and the paranoid, antiscientific fears of diet police.

    Yeah…I just can’t find the motivation to adopt the health habits of people who would consider my 29 years a good run!

    1. TC
      TC February 21, 2013 at 11:25 am | | Reply

      Nice post! A little supporting documentation on “human” lifespan in the Paleolithic Era:
      I had to look it up, but it appears the paleolithic era extends from 10,000 years ago to 2.6 million years ago. About a year ago I read an excellent book on the subject: “Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human” by Richard Wrangham, Professor of Biological Anthropology at Harvard University.

      1. Hannah
        Hannah February 21, 2013 at 11:34 am | | Reply

        Thanks for the correction. I admit, my mid twenties life expectancy claim was based on misremembering 20-30 as the lifespan rather than 30-40. Doesn’t change the fact that I don’t want to consider my late 20s my winter years! :) One thing I think we all learn early on when we are diagnosed with diabetes, type 1 or 2, is that everyone thinks they know the best way for everyone else to eat! In my experience, the paleo-proponents are some of the worst of the lot (along with the raw foodies)!

        1. Allison Nimlos
          Allison Nimlos February 21, 2013 at 12:12 pm |

          Thanks for the comment! Keep in mind that the original Paleo folks were also at risk for disease (because no modern medicine) and attacks from animals and other cave-people. The reason our lifespans have increased is because of our advancements in technology and medication. Remember, as PWDs, we would have died within 1-2 years prior to 1921!

        2. TC
          TC February 21, 2013 at 12:29 pm |

          Not so much a correction, but an addition to what you wrote. If you look at the chart on page 10, one can infer that I you go back to the beginning of the paleo era that life spans did average about 24 years. Wrangham’s book sites archaeological data showing homo species with “camp fires” dating nearly a million years ago. He argues that the ability to cook food drove the evolution of our large brains (requiring lots of calories a day to operate) and smaller intestines. He cites studies that show we double the amount of calories we absorb when food is cooked. He also mentions any interesting point that nearly 50% of raw foodists women have no or significantly disrupted menstrual cycles due to lack of nutrition.

    2. Hollis
      Hollis March 3, 2013 at 10:40 am | | Reply

      Take what you want and leave the rest.

  3. Gretchen
    Gretchen February 21, 2013 at 7:04 am | | Reply

    If people really want to eat like “cavemen,” they should eat the whole animal: liver, spleen, intestines, brain. Cavemen didn’t try to avoid fat, a good source of energy, and ate lean meat only when they couldn’t get fattier meat.

    You say the Times mentions coffee without dairy. Does the Times think cavemen drank coffee?

    I’m not knocking the diet. I think LC is great for diabetes, and if paleo gets you started, that’s good as long as you don’t overdo the fruit. I just laugh at some of the cliches in the paleo world.

    1. Hannah
      Hannah February 21, 2013 at 4:13 pm | | Reply

      Oh, I agree! There were many factors that contributed to earlier death in paleolithic humans that we have overcome today with modern medicine, but I think this is actually even more an argument against the “science” behind the paleo diet; The reasoning behind the diet is based in the Naturalistic Fallacy, and the fact that science has allowed people to live twice as long as we used to (and for diabetics like us, way longer), is just further evidence showing that “natural” isn’t necessarily better. The diet also relies on another logical fallacy, the Argument from Antiquity (a form of the Argument from Authority), and when it comes to health, this is probably the most dangerous logical fallacy there is.

      So, while I definitely concede that there are some health benefits to eating this way, I think it is important to clarify that the reasons that the proponents of this diet give for it’s healthfulness are not scientifically or logically sound, and that we must be very wary of any health claim that hasn’t a sound scientific or logical foundation.

      1. Hannah
        Hannah February 22, 2013 at 6:16 am | | Reply

        Oops, that was meant to be a reply to the post responding to mine. :)

  4. Terry
    Terry February 21, 2013 at 8:20 am | | Reply

    Allison – I read with interest your first hand account of your experiment with the Paleo diet. Congrats on completing the 30 day trial and thanks for reporting your experience here. I switched to a low carb diet that shares a lot with the Paleo diet. I do eat dairy, however.

    I am now 9 months into this diet change and the results have been dramatic. I’m a T1D and I’ve cut my insulin requirements in half while losing 20 pounds. My BG control is better than it has been since my honeymoon period 29 years ago. My blood pressure dropped and I’m no longer taking a blood pressure medication.

    Probably the biggest change in my BG control has been a large reduction in BG variability. The standard deviation (a measure of data variability) as measured by my CGM software downloads dropped from the 50′s and 60′s down to 30 or less. As a result I have fewer lows than before and no severe lows. I’ve enjoyed many post meal BG’s that have flatlined for hours. My BG is not perfect and I do have to correct for high BGs, just not as often as I used to.

    Diets always seem to produce controversy since people get defensive and are highly reluctant to change their way of eating. For me, eating low carb (about 50-70 grams per day max) has enhanced the quality of my life, especially my ability to control my BGs.

  5. David
    David February 21, 2013 at 8:41 am | | Reply

    Tx for sharing your common-sense experience. I am not surprised your basal needed reducing. I need less basal when I significantly reduce my carb intake. Conversely, eating really high carb for even just a day can increase my dp. As far as the Paleo concept, I find it very plausible to cut out grain. People can debate whether grain is bad or not but regardless you can get all the nutrition you need from non-grain sources. If you keep eating this way, you may see your cholesterol levels drop.

  6. Fiona Jesse Giffords
    Fiona Jesse Giffords February 21, 2013 at 11:24 pm | | Reply

    Paleo diet is good because it considers the lean meat and vegetables which are rich in nutrition and protein. But it can also be useful for vegans as meat can be replaced by green and leafy vegetables as the herbivores eat green leafs only which are rich in protein.

  7. Gretchen
    Gretchen February 22, 2013 at 5:34 am | | Reply

    @Fiona, We are not herbivores. My sheep get their protein from grass, but they also graze all day in order to eat enough. Green and leafy veggies don’t contain a lot of protein.

    Spinach contains about 7 g of protein in a 10-oz package. I need about 75 g protein a day, and a larger person would need more. So to get my protein from spinach, I’d have to eat about 10 packages a day, doable but difficult.

    That’s why vegans eat foods richer in protein, like beans. Unfortunately for us, they’re also rich in carbs

  8. CJ
    CJ February 22, 2013 at 9:47 am | | Reply

    I’m sure this diet helps control blood sugar due to less carbs. But there is a spectrum of eating habits and this diet is an extreme that has little peer reviewed scientific studies to support it. Why are oreos and soybeans put in the same category? What the hecks wrong with legumes? Soy is high in protein and fiber and quite low in carbs. I doubt anyones bs ever spikes from tempeh or tofu. The leaky gut thing sounds made up, and I doubt its actually supported by any scientific literaure.

    I would like to see how the diet compares to someone who eats no sugar and low GI carbs like barley and beans, along with plenty of veggies, nuts, seeds, and lean protein. My guess is that results would be the same or better. Comparing the extremes of eating a diet high in refined simple carbs like oreos, potatoes, and wonder bread to the Paleo diet will definately show a signifigant difference, but its the in betweens that requires us to think more critically. Also, do all the paleo folks go out an hunt the wild animals for protein as the cavemen did? Buying pre-packaged, factory farmed pork, beef, and poultry is hardly paleolithic and is not nutritionally the same- yet another flaw.

    1. jim
      jim July 24, 2014 at 11:16 pm | | Reply

      Well CJ you’re absolutely correct in casting doubt about consuming factory farmed meats on a paleo diet. According to several books on the subject grass fed and organic meat is key to the paleo diet, so much so that if the meats are not grass fed where relevant and preferably organic then it cannot be considered a paleo diet. I

  9. Sysy
    Sysy February 22, 2013 at 1:35 pm | | Reply

    I haven’t been reading posts anywhere lately so it was a pleasure to jump back in to my favorite blog and read a wonderfully written post-thanks Allison!

    I think Paleo is pretty fantastic for people with diabetes-for the blood sugar reasons that most of us who have experimented with this way of eating have enjoyed. But, we’re still so far away scientifically, from figuring out what people should eat because it’s so individualized. People who criticize the paleo diet do so for several valid reasons. One is that two people can eat the same diet and one’s health can improve and another’s can plummet. And of course that doesn’t factor in emotional issues and personal gene expression, etc. (So most all nutrition studies are pretty shady and uninspiring)

    What I love about paleo for people with diabetes is that the modern paleo movement has evolved to something pretty flexible for many people. For example, I know many people with diabetes who use the paleo diet as a way of organizing and building the main components of their shopping list and keeping a healthy basis to their diet but they certainly include small amounts of grains and legumes in their diet as they feel they need/want them. For example, I use organic raw dairy because I tolerate it super well-but others don’t and then who cares what a diet rule is? If it doesn’t work for you, why consume it?

    There is nothing worse to the human body that I can think of (aside from dramatic stuff like a sledgehammer to the heart) than high blood sugar. It hurts every cell in the body and we are nothing but cells and if you really want to improve your health, your priority as a diabetic is blood sugars. Worrying about one’s calcium intake while an A1c is high is a waste of time and energy. A high A1c is guaranteed to take us down much faster than almost any nutritional deficit.

    Paleo also usually means removing processed foods. I can think of a million ways that’s a wonderful thing.

    If I didn’t have diabetes I would eat a lot more grains than I do now-and not because of wanting to-but because my blood type (one of the newer ones indicating a better adaptability to the era of agriculture) and my energy levels indicate to me that when I eat rice and beans, I feel amazing versus when I eat low carb, higher fat food-I feel kinda blah.

    But not as “blah” as when my blood sugars are out of control.

    So I make tiny exceptions throughout the day and I stick with paleo for the most part. I’d encourage just about anyone with diabetes to try it and then tweak to their own liking-we certainly aren’t made to all eat the same. It’s just that lowering carbs sure does help an insulin using diabetic (and if you don’t agree, do some math-that should help)

    By the way, to the person who commented about people dying at 24 back then-I’m pretty sure that was mostly due to things that had NOTHING to do with diet.

  10. Hannah
    Hannah February 22, 2013 at 1:44 pm | | Reply

    @SYSY, I don’t think you quite understood the argument I was making in my post, perhaps you should read it more carefully. As I said, I do think there are health benefits to this diet, but they are not as extreme as its proponents claim and there is no good evidence or logic behind the claims made by its proponents for why it is healthful.

  11. Sysy
    Sysy February 22, 2013 at 1:53 pm | | Reply

    It’s not any different than any other nutritional/diet studies out there. They are all diametrically opposed, even when successful. It tells us the individual factor is huge. Sadly, most professionals in the medical community don’t get this, yet.

    So the proponents are usually ones who have benefited from the diet and therefore their word is really just speaking for them and not others. But I think there is fantastic evidence for all the major diets out there-it’s just that not one diet is going to work for all. If something works great for one person-that’s pretty good evidence. I guess the problem lies in trying to tell people what to eat. Aside from helping them avoid processed, fake stuff, the key should be to “listen to your own body” I get your point, it’s just that it’s all a marketing spin-people want others to give it a try in case it helps them (businesses want money). I’d be nice if they didn’t guarantee results because that’s a load of bs but it’s just like every other diet out there in that sense. We just need our communities full of people who can think for themselves. Sigh…there is so much to this issue, I could ramble on all day! :)

  12. CJ
    CJ February 22, 2013 at 2:22 pm | | Reply

    I agree that most people can’t think for themselves, let alone critically, when it comes to food. That’s why fad diets like these are successful. The diet dictates not to eat a particular list of foods and the dieter follows it, hence success. Most people don’t actually think about whether the foods on the do not eat list are actually bad for you, they just follow the prescription. Some people need that. I have a friend who’s diet tells her carrots and onions are bad, and she’s not a diabetic just trying to lose weight, but she can eat a big greasy burger without a bun anytime.
    I see benefits to the Paleo diet in that is elimantes refined carbs, but legumes and diary (if you body tolerates it) is a stretch. Plus their food pyramid is WAY off, with meat being the most food type that is consumed. Should be mostly plant foods, then meat, unless you’re native to the arctic circle. I will also say that after I was diagnosed with LADA I desperately tried to stay off insulin by eating low carb and high protein and fat, only to fall severely underweight. My blood sugars were all within normal range but I was withering away. My doc decided for my health that I needed to up my carbs and take insulin. Now I am back to healthy weight. Low carb is great if you need to loose, but I’m not convinced it’s sustainable. Most people’s bodies need carbs for energy, albeit not the amount and type that a typical American consumes.

  13. Susan Whittier
    Susan Whittier February 22, 2013 at 4:36 pm | | Reply

    Dear Allison – I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or what, when I read your note re the paleo diet – I’ve been eating this way for years – probably over 30 – I didn’t know it was a diet! Some of this is due to the need for gluten free choices, some due to influence along the way from cultures around the world. Other than the small intake of milk / milk products even my morning porridge fits – all seeds from very ancient places – quinoa /buckwheat / flaxmeal / sorghum / rice -and a very large dose of cinnamon! I haven’t eaten legumes as a ‘normal’ part of my diet for eons – I’m so glad that somone else thinks green beans are not absolutely neccesary! Even my chile is devoid of beans! [lots of pepper!] And nuts – well I figured out a while back that blood sugars didn’t fly around so much with most nuts for snacks. I’ve been telling people for years that [a little] butter is better – a lot of raised eyebrows! And of course the sweet carbs because of the diabetes have usually been fruit. As well I use recipes with mollasses if possible – or maple syrup instead of say corn syrup / honey. I knew I was getting old – but paleolithic? How about just a decade or two ahead of time? And there are very few who turn down my cuisine – the pecan cake I made for a recent family birthday disappeared [gluten free too]
    Very enlighteneing article! thanks.

  14. CJ
    CJ February 22, 2013 at 6:13 pm | | Reply

    @ Susan-
    The Paleo diet does not include any grains, even the ancient ones. So your morning cereal of quinoa, buckwheat, and rice would be off limits. And no, green beans and other legumes are not absolutely essential, but they are certainly beneficial to one’s health and by no means unhealthy. Maple syrup or molasses is really no better for a diabetic than any other simple sugar.
    It is not grains or carbs for that matter that causes T1 diabetes. It is an auto-immune disease in which there are all sorts of theories on the environmental trigger, none of which I know to be grains. This disease unfortunately prevents us from digesting carbs. It’s the diseases fault not the carbs. In no way am I advocating the white bread, french fries, cake, sugar in everything diet that many people eat in this country. But to suggest that things like barley, edamame, black beans, and quinoa are deleterious to your health is absurd. I have yet to see any studies on a diet based on low GI whole grains, lots of veggies, nuts, and modest amounts of meat and dairy products.

  15. John
    John February 24, 2013 at 12:01 pm | | Reply

    The next step, and the step I recommend for most diabetics, is to go ketogenic. Lower carb intake even more and up your fat intake to compensate — healthy natural fats like saturated and monounsaturated from healthy animals or cold pressed from healthy plants. The science overwhelmingly identifies sugars and processed fats as our enemies. Flip the world over and become healthy again.

  16. Jane
    Jane February 27, 2013 at 12:39 am | | Reply

    Thank you for this article – I’m happy that Paleo diet got so popular in a short amount of time as I’ve experienced its positive effects myself (and my husband). If you’re like me, it might be difficult to make the transition to the paleo life style.
    After trying some recipe books, we found that a fix Paleo Meal Plan (we like the one on is actually an effective way to start as it doesn’t leave any open questions for you.

  17. Hollis
    Hollis March 3, 2013 at 10:37 am | | Reply

    Thank you AllisonN for your post. I started the diet 15 days ago resulting in a reversed carb/basil ratio from 60/40 to 40/60. My skin has a noticeable look of color change and feel, especially my feet. I wonder how you bolis for protein grams?

  18. http://paleorecipecookbook.tumblr.Com

    It’s difficult to find well-informed people in this particular subject, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about!


  19. Mark
    Mark April 23, 2013 at 7:29 pm | | Reply

    I do not have diabetes, but my health has improved just from following the Paleo diet for one month. I have lost weight that I struggled to shed for over a year. going from 243lbs to 229lbs. What can be wrong with a diet that stresses eating real food.

  20. Alex
    Alex May 8, 2013 at 3:19 pm | | Reply

    Surely carbohydrates are needed to help maintain blood sugar levels? if diabetics arent consuming carbohydrates wont that lead to more hypos? im a type 1 diabetic and tryed to go paleo last year and it resulted in my having a fit and being taken to hospital while being told if my parents werent in the house i probably would have died.. i then got told by my doctor that it was stupid of me to try a no carb diet.. i want to try the paleo diet again to help lose weight but i am terrified of having another fit.. the only way i can see it working is if i were to consume something like porridge before exercise and before i go to sleep..? and i am unsure of what to do with my insulin, currently on nova-rapid and glargine, im assuming i would lower my glargine? and only inject nova-rapid like once a day? and help would be greatly appreciated! thanks.

  21. Rosetta
    Rosetta May 9, 2013 at 7:41 am | | Reply

    Very appreciated article! paleo is a perfect way for people with diabetes, this is a big help for every one I absolutely love this article! very remarkable information. So can we feature your article in our magazine and give credit for writing it? also check :

  22. Rosco
    Rosco May 12, 2013 at 10:44 pm | | Reply

    The experience detailed by Alex above is probably the reason low carb is discouraged by doctors for type 1s. For type 2s, however, I don’t see why it shouldn’t be tried.

  23. Steve Parker, M.D.
    Steve Parker, M.D. May 18, 2013 at 4:18 am | | Reply

    AllisonN, thanks for sharing your experience here. You post is very well written.

    It’s not accurate to say that the paleo diet hasn’t been studied scientifically in humans. Undoubtedly, we have much less scientific data on it compared with the Mediterranean and DASH diets.

    I’ve been keeping track of the paleo diet studies for almost two years. Those interested in the underlying clinical studies can find most of the diabetes-related ones at my Paleo Diabetic blog ( using these search terms: Frassetto, Osterdahl, Kocturk, Jonsson, Lindeberg, Granfeldt, Klonoff, O’dea.


  24. Type 1 Diabetic Notes Improvement On Paleo Diet | Paleo Diabetic

    [...] 1 PWD (person with diabetes) AllisonN wrote about her one-month paleo diet trial at DiabetesMine. The paleo diet version she followed was the Whole30 program, with which I’m not terribly [...]

  25. The Best Diet For You
    The Best Diet For You May 28, 2013 at 8:07 am |

    [...] very unique nutritional needs and challenges, and should alter their diets accordingly. For example, many diabetics find they do rather well on Paleo type diets. However, some people with autoimmune diseases (namely rheumatoid arthritis) find that their [...]

  26. Annette
    Annette June 7, 2013 at 10:16 am | | Reply

    For those people who say we need carbs, I agree. But grain products aren’t the only foods with carbs. You can get all the carbs you need from veggies and fruits.

  27. kim
    kim August 31, 2013 at 1:11 pm | | Reply

    Allison I loved reading about your experience. I am 6 weeks into a plaeolike new way of eating. I am also diabetic. I was wondering what u our A1C is running now. Also are you still eating like this and have you lost more weight?

    1. Jennifer
      Jennifer September 23, 2013 at 5:25 am | | Reply

      I’m also interested in what your A1C is now if you are still following this ‘diet’? I have just finished a 30 day juice fast which did wonders for my diabetes and I am now trying to keep my sugar levels down on real food.

  28. To Be or Not To Be… Paleobetic | The Blood Sugar Whisperer

    [...] weekend, DiabetesMine posted about the Paleo diet and linked back to a post that I had written a few months ago about my experience with Paleo diet and the Whole 30 challenge [...]

  29. Mensa99
    Mensa99 October 22, 2013 at 8:36 am | | Reply

    Mostly what cavemen did was expend a lot of energy trying to gather/hunt for supper. The diet probably also consisted of a fair amount of insects and grubs, neither of which I have seen mentioned. Food was relatively scarce for cavemen, and they had to gorge when it was available because the next meal might be far off. We have inherited that trait, but now food is very abundant (for many of us). The rule has always been, only eat what you burn off. An imbalance in this equation shows up on the waistline. The lowering of carb intake allows us to continue are long ago learned habits, we can eat until we are ready to burst. Restricting daily caloric intake provides the same results regardless of what foods are eaten. I have never tried it, but excessive hard physical labour on a daily basis probably achieves the same result with a much higher caloric intake, again regardless of what foods are eaten. The problem is that we eat more than we expend. This is only one method to try and achieve the balance. All things in moderation is a saying that particularly applies to food.

  30. JIll
    JIll December 5, 2013 at 3:25 pm | | Reply

    I am interested in the results of you A1C’s…. My husband is a Type 1 diabetic – tall and thin – can’t afford to lose weight but needs to get lower A1C’s.
    I’m Type 2 as result of medicines that cause weight gain when I had bad stress and smoked – heart attack at 40 and triple bypass. I need to lose weight and I’m trying to find a happy medium to cook to help both of us.
    Your A1C results/charges would be appreciated. And have you kept going on this path.
    Thank you!

  31. Selena
    Selena February 11, 2014 at 9:02 am | | Reply

    I am a type 2 and I just started eating paleo/primal about 3 weeks ago. I like to call it the ancestral diet. Like you, my BG was more manageable in a few days and A1c is down in just 3 weeks. I also was suffering from horrible SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) for 1 1/2 years and switching my diet made those symptoms go away almost overnight, much to my relief. I also find that eating this way helps to curb my appetite and the urge to over-eat carbs. I am eating between 45 to 90 g of carbs a day from fruit, tubers and starchy vegetables. I will definitely take a look at the Whole30 Challenge, something I hadn’t discovered until I read your article. Thanks for the tip.

  32. Sean Dudayev
    Sean Dudayev June 4, 2014 at 9:52 pm | | Reply

    I’ve actually heard of people getting off insulin and medication with a paleo diet, it defintley deserves more attention.

  33. labgucc
    labgucc July 12, 2014 at 1:00 pm | | Reply

    My sister in law has been quasi-paleo for about a year and half now, her numbers have improved to a remarkable degree.

  34. Tracy
    Tracy July 14, 2014 at 11:41 am | | Reply

    My 16 year old son was diagnosed with diabetes five days ago. I am seriously trying to figure out how to feed a 6ft 1in 145 lb growing kid so he can live less on insulin, put some weight back on, and still feed a family of 7 meals we can all enjoy. A friend mentioned going paleo. It seems an obvious choice to cut sugars, carbs etc. My biggest concern for him is added weight gain (he needs it) and making sure he’ll have enough energy to continue his sports (the onset of this disease just about ended all his hopes—no energy and ended up quitting his team. He was heartbroken. We didn’t know at the time what was causing his fatigue.) For those that have tried this diet: how did you function in activities? I am of the understanding Atkins was okay for those that sat at a desk all day but not so much for the athletic active persons. A diet with some needed. Thoughts? Experiences?

Leave a Reply