With cold weather just around the corner, Keene State College students and squirrels alike are stocking up on food and preparing to hunker down for the long, harsh winter ahead.
In order to avoid packing on weight, some KSC students are changing their eating habits before the Thanksgiving Day feast rolls around, one such regime being the paleo diet.
Lisa Prospert, KSC Program Director for the Health Science Nutrition Option, explained the diet as “an eating philosophy that is based on removing foods that would not be typically found in the diets of a hunter/gatherer.”
Prospert, who is also a registered dietician, went on to explain that the paleo diet may be difficult to follow in today’s society, due to how different our food system is now, as opposed to how it used to be.
“Primarily those eating a paleo diet – based on the philosophy–are eating lots of vegetables, animal proteins, healthy fats, nuts and seeds and whole fruit. They are not eating any grains, legumes, processed foods, dairy and sugars,” Prospert said.
Prospert continued, “Many people think that they are on a paleo diet when they are eating a lot of animal products and eliminating grains and starches, but if your plate isn’t predominantly vegetables, that’s not the healthy version of this diet.”
Prospert stressed that the danger with any diet has as much to do with what is not eaten as it does to do with what is actually eaten.
“If the diet is eaten as intended it is predominantly vegetable based with a moderate protein intake, high in healthy fats and lower carbohydrates which is inherently healthy,” Prospert said, “But if you are going to substitute real brownies for ‘paleo’ brownies then this isn’t the paleo diet. The minute someone substitutes a processed regular food with a process paleo food then the nutrition is not there.”
Bentley Reif, a KSC senior, said he started doing the paleo diet around four and a half years ago when he was graduating high school.
“I started lifting weights, training more and getting in shape for college soccer,” Reif explained.
Reif, who was recruited by the coaches at KSC to play soccer, said he wanted to get in shape before he started college. “I got hooked on the paleo diet. I eat about 80 percent paleo, and have for the last four or five years,” Reif said.
“It’s kind of hard to go home for Thanksgiving break or Christmas break when your parents are baking,” Reif explained. “Obviously, you cheat a bit. It’s good to change it up, but I always go back to paleo as my basis diet.” Reif explained that he doesn’t get as hungry when he’s eating paleo, it’s as though his body just knows when he needs to eat.
Healthy fats are a good thing to focus on, Reif said of starting the diet. Being a male on a diet definitely comes with stigma, Reif has learned.
“I always get teased about being on a diet. People assume that because I look healthy, I must be in shape. But it’s beyond being just a diet,” Reif said, “It sounds cliché, but it’s definitely a lifestyle.”
To the people who look at Reif and say he doesn’t need to diet, he explained that “looking” fit and “being” fit are two completely different things.
Reif said, “Nutrition affects your insides more than it does your outsides.”
Julia Stone, a KSC sophomore, is just a few weeks into the paleo diet.
She said that she chose the paleo diet over other diets because it would give her the opportunity to develop healthier eating habits.
After Thanksgiving, Stone said that she has been introducing grains and starches back into her diet – in moderation, of course.
Though Stone said that the hardest part is not being able to have toast in the morning or a sandwich for lunch, it’s a relatively easy diet to try while away at school.
“Everything in the [Dining Commons] is already made, so I don’t have to go through the trouble of cooking for myself. I mostly stick to the vegan options and the stir-fry bar,” Stone said.
Stone said that she chose the diet because of how filling it is.
“There’s no pasta allowed, so initially I thought I wouldn’t be as full,” Stone said, “But there’s a lot of protein and that’s filling. It’s nice that I’m not hungry all the time.”
As far as this specific diet goes, Prospert offered some advice, “I think many different eating styles can be healthy and that no one diet is right for everyone. If someone is interested in trying the paleo diet I would encourage them to explore what it will take to do adopt this eating style without eating any processed foods. Remember that if you are going to do this right you’re going to be eating a lot of vegetables.”
Jill Giambruno can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org