Roadmap to Diet Success

Whole 30, Paleo and Primal

August 25, 2022 Miriam Hatoum Season 1 Episode 13
Roadmap to Diet Success
Whole 30, Paleo and Primal
Show Notes Transcript

Episode 13: Whole30, Paleo and Primal

This episode explores three very similar eating styles: Whole30, Paleo and Primal. I give you my experience with all three, and how to make each of them work best for you. They are not intended as weight loss styles, but done correctly, they can be. I talk about what mistakes we are making, why we are making them and the cost of doing so. This week's actionable coaching advice has you label sleuthing as you learn about finding natural foods, and if they are packaged, which ones you can eat while pursuing any of these three eating styles. The VFO: Valuable Free Offer is my Good-Better-Best method guide to help you make your next best decision, no matter which eating style you are following. The episode is a little longer than usual, but I suggest you listen to the whole thing because each of these eating styles offer good advice for finding overall health with your diet, even if you are not interested in following any of them.

1:19.          Listener of the Week: Shannon Lex
3:29.          Personal Story
7:37.          Whole30
13:30.       Paleo
18:28.       Primal
22:41.       What mistakes are we making?
22:54.       Why are we making these mistakes?
24:16.       What is the cost of making these mistakes?
24:57.       This week's actionable COACHING ADVICE
27:02.       VFO
28:39.       Episode 14, coming up

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Episode #: 13  Whole 30, Paleo and Primal

 You’re Listening to the Roadmap to Diet Success Podcast, Episode # 13, Whole 30, Paleo and Primal. 


 Did you know that you don't have to spend money on a diet program or weigh, measure and track your food? What if you could learn to have success by following an easy roadmap that takes you on adventures from learning how to change your mindset so that you can believe in yourself, to learning about what foods work best in your body and why? Join me, Miriam Hatoum, health coach, course creator and author of Breaking Free From Diet Prison, as I give you actionable coaching advice that is sure to empower you so that you will finally find peace with food and learn to trust your body’s signals. You’ve got this, girl! 

Oh, and before we start, I want to let you know that the primary purpose of this podcast is to educate and does not constitute medical advice or services, and I’m keeping up with the science as fast as I can so I can share with you the latest breaking research in this area to help you achieve your dreams!


Before we jump in, I’ve gotta give a shout out to our featured listener of the week: Shannon Lex who says: “know yourself and be empowered to take ownership of your actions with the advice of this podcast.”

Here is her review: I once had Miriam as a teacher on a different topic, and the lessons she taught were really life lessons that changed my life. However, I was a bit nervous about anything with the word “diet” in it - because I too have been doing diets since 13. While I’ve maintained a healthy weight for twenty years, it is not without constantly being on some sort of diet. However, this podcast is NOT about a diet despite the name. It is not about tracking or counting or limiting what you eat. It’s about empowering yourself and knowing yourself. I have listened to two and a half episodes so far, and they are all ideas that you can take with you for any kind of eating. In fact, “Good Better Best” (episode 7) is something you could use for all sorts of things, like work for example. There’s a lot of good material here, and it’s delivered in a very clear, engaging way. I wasn’t bored - rather, I wanted to stay in my car and keep listening! If you want to eat food in a way that nourishes you, and feels good, this is a podcast that will guide you into that process for yourself.” 

Thank you, Shannon Lex. This review stood out to me because you were able to see my real motivation when you said that this podcast is NOT about a diet despite the name. It’s about empowering yourself and knowing yourself. I am so glad that you are finding this so, and I hope my other listeners share your feelings and insight. This review is so special to me because whenever I waiver about whether or not I should be continuing with this podcasting journey, your review will remind me that I am helping people in other ways than just finding a successful roadmap to diet success.

3:29.     Personal Story

Now on to the episode…My first experience with these three eating styles – Whole 30, Paleo and Primal, came when I found my first functional medical practice in 2014. For those of you who may not be familiar with functional medicine, it strives to determine the root cause of each disease, particularly chronic diseases such as autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases. Rather than simply making a diagnosis and then determining which drugs or surgery will best treat the condition, functional medicine practitioners dive deep into a patient’s history. It is highly personalized and may even include an analysis of one’s genetic makeup. Often within a conventional medical practice there may be nurse practitioners who are trained in functional medicine and many times the patient will never even meet the doctor. Unfortunately, because of functional medicine’s in-depth care, it is very rarely covered by insurance, making the best doctors the least accessible. However, I was lucky enough, in 2014, to find a practice that was still taking insurance, so I was able to go.

My journey started with Paleo and an elimination diet. The nutritionist on staff started me on an elimination diet based on Paleo. I worked with that functional nutritionist in the practice who guided me into a Paleo way of eating. In addition to being gluten-free, the Paleo lifestyle is all natural and whole foods. This way of eating wasn’t a stretch for me and my husband because this is the way we naturally eat. In addition, at this point, both my children were out of the house and on their own, so there was no excuse for buying snack packs of this or that or for using shortcuts to make meals and pack lunches. I fully absorbed the Paleo way of eating, and also learned about, and incorporated, Primal which is very similar with a few differences. My husband was totally on board except he continued to have his bread. 

I stayed with Paleo for years, but I never lost weight. This included doing a very dedicated Whole 30 program, totally eliminating dairy and artificial sweeteners. For me, that meant no coffee – which I will only take with cream and sweetener – a real commitment, believe me. Again, no weight loss. I would go back for periodic appointments with the functional doctors and nutritionists, and I believe they were secretly rolling their eyes when I insisted that I was not straying – not even one bite – from the Paleo food plan. As you are learning from this podcast, there is more to success than eating clean. We have to listen to our hunger and satiety cues, which automatically helps you adjust portions. It is important also to understand what excessive carbohydrate consumption does to our bodies – whether those carbohydrates are processed like a bag of pretzels, or totally natural like a fruit bowl. At this point in my journey with Paleo and Whole 30, I did not have any knowledge of carbohydrates, insulin or hunger and satiety cues, hence my lack of weight loss.

I fully endorse Paleo as a way of eating, as well as its cousin, Primal. And I find nothing wrong with following a Whole 30 program, as long as you use it as intended, making reintroduction of foods slowly and carefully so that you can discover whether or not you have food sensitivities. I do not endorse using Whole 30 as a long-term diet or punishment, as many have done.

In this episode, I will tell you about all three, Whole 30, Paleo and Primal, and you can decide whether or not they fit into your roadmap to diet success. A heads up that the episode is a little longer than usual, but I am sure you will enjoy it!  

7:37.     Whole30       

The first step people often take in getting off the Standard American Diet (known as SAD) is with something like the Whole30, which is an elimination diet, and a great way to detox from processed foods, sugars and some common allergens such as dairy, wheat and gluten.

In this regard, Whole 30 is an elimination diet. It is not meant to be the Whole 60 or the Whole 90 or any other length of time you want to do it. When you are having comfortable results, you may want to move on to Paleo or Primal, which have a little more leeway in what they allow on your plate. If you are approaching the Whole 30 as a “lifetime” eating style because you find that you feel best not having the foods you have reintroduced, that might be a different story, but never use it as punishment because you feel you can’t be trusted with other foods.

Also, if you do Whole30 correctly, you must reintroduce foods the way the authors of this plan, Melissa and Dallas Hartwig have outlined. Very often when someone finishes Whole30, they head straight for pizza, sandwiches, cake and ice cream. And that, my friends, is not the spirit of Whole30. Often, they come back to Whole30 to be used as a punishment, feeling they need the strong bars of prison to keep them from straying again.

The Whole30 diet is a strict 30-day elimination diet that many people turn to for weight loss, sleep issues or help with digestive concerns. It is considered a reset program to get certain problem foods out of your system. The program encourages you to cut out alcohol, sugar, grains, legumes, dairy, and additives from your diet for 30 days. Food reintroduction is very deliberate and measured, and even if you are going to go back to eating all the things, it still would be wise to follow the specific reintroduction path so that you do not go all haywire on day 31.

 Whole30 differs from Paleo in that it does not allow SWYPO which is, my friends, Sex With Your Pants On. In other words, with Paleo you can have Paleo banana bread, Paleo blueberry muffins, Paleo ice cream, etc. Whole30 asks that you not do this even if the individual ingredients are allowed. The reason for this is not just the physical food elimination, but also the resetting of your mind and the psychology of wanting certain foods. The natural segue from Whole30 is Paleo or Primal because the same individual food eliminations are still there, but with the addition of SWYPO. 

 Whole30 can be for anyone who wants to see overall improvement in sleep, digestion, joint pain, high blood pressure and the like. You might experience some of these improvements in just the 30 days, but at the very least, once you clear all the junk and suspected allergens from your body, you target, as the Hartwigs say, your unhealthy relationship with food. Believe me, once you are not turning to junk or giving in to every single craving, you will see how enmeshed your emotions are with eating. It is great if you feel totally out of control with your eating and just need to start somewhere, with a real solid reset. It’s hard, but I would say, pick your hard. The Whole30 also targets a sluggish metabolism, a disrupted digestive system, an overactive immune system and chronic systemic inflammation. 

 And let me say here, if you are indeed experiencing all these wonderful benefits and want to see more improvement long term, and you are comfortable making this your eating style, of course you can continue more than 30 days. But it is not meant to be used as self-punishment or to be seen as the only way to ever have your eating under control.

In terms of being hard, yes, it is, but pick your hard. Here I quote directly from the Whole30 book by the Hartwigs: “It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard.” They do go on to say that “(But) the Whole30 is not a diet. It’s not a quick fix. It’s not even a weight-loss program. The Whole30 is designed to change your life. It’s a monumental transformation in how you think about food, your body, your life, and what you want out of the time you have left on this earth. It’s so much better than just food. It’s a paradigm shift the likes of which you may only experience a few times in your whole life.” I agree that if you follow Whole30 in the full spirit of how it is presented you may have this experience.  

 The Whole30 Facebook group is encouraging and supportive. The books by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig are intelligent, comprehensive and thorough. Just a heads up though, that many people are trying to get on the bandwagon and if you buy any Whole30 books, and especially any Whole30 cookbooks, make sure the authors are Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig. Some people have hijacked the very recognizable Whole30 artwork and have used it on their books that are not from the Whole30 authors.

 13:30.      Paleo            

 Paleo can be the next step after Whole30, but you can go straight into it, as I did.  Paleo is known as the “hunter-gatherer” diet but don’t worry – you don’t have to hunt and gather except, maybe, for the best food prices in town! It is named for Paleolithic which relates to the early phase of the Stone Age. Honestly, I think it is partly conjecture about how and what paleolithic people ate, but we are sure it was not potato chips, eclairs and French fries. The point is to eat foods as close to their natural state as possible. A paleo diet typically includes lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds — foods that in the past could be obtained by hunting and gathering. A paleo diet limits or eliminates other foods that became common when farming emerged about 10,000 years ago including dairy products, legumes and grains. 

 As with Whole30, this method of eating calls for eating whole and natural foods. However, that being said, there are plenty of packaged products that fit within Paleo and many of those products will say so on their labels. There are full lines of dressing and sauces that are both Paleo and Whole30 compliant. As much as both eating styles say no packaged and processed foods, there is a bit of fudging going on by offering fully processed foods but with allowed ingredients. There are also wraps and breads that are Paleo compliant because they are made without grains. And the most important difference from Whole30 is that indeed SWYPO is allowed. There are recipes for beautiful breads, pancakes, muffins and desserts.  

 However, just like with other diets and eating styles, you must use some discretion and certainly pull a good amount of intelligence out of your back pocket. Remember the saying: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” My downfall when first doing Paleo was because I could have fruit, I ate huge amounts of it. Because I could bake banana bread, I ate half of it in a couple of days. Because I could eat root vegetables, I would eat tray after tray of roasted vegetables for my dinners during the week. Paleo is an eating style, not a diet. And as such, it does not come with predetermined quantity limitations. You have to tune in to your hunger and satiety cues and not eat non-stop just because something tastes good, and it is allowed. You must take what you know now about carbohydrates and insulin and make your own portions and allowances. For instance, if you are having a sweet potato for dinner, it might be a good idea to not also have fruit for dessert.

 Similar to Whole30, Paleo does not allow diary, grains or legumes. There are various levels of Paleo, each stricter as your needs increase. The Auto-Immune protocol which you may see abbreviated as AIP – all caps – is one level of Paleo. Along with already unallowed Paleo foods, AIP prohibits nightshades which are eggplant, tomatoes, onion, peppers, white potatoes, Gogi berries, and all pepper-based spices like cayenne and paprika.  Nuts and seeds are also not allowed. All sugars are eliminated including those allowed on full Paleo such as coconut sugar and date sugar, honey and maple syrup, while allowed, are limited. You would not want to do AIP unless you are desperately trying to reverse autoimmune conditions or trying to improve gut health. I just wanted to put that here because if you hear of some of these unallowable foods, just know that it is a certain subset of Paleo.

 There are wonderful Paleo cookbooks. My favorite cookbook – and where I learned so much about Paleo – is Well-Fed 2 by Melissa Joulwan. Any cookbooks by Danielle Walker and Sarah Fragosa are also my go-to books. You will never know you are missing certain foods if you dive right in. There are supportive Facebook groups, and a very good one is Paleo Diet for Beginners. Many people love this way of eating and have found remarkable improvement in their health. As with my doctor, it is a natural go-to for improved health – but not necessarily weight loss, unless you also watch your carbohydrate intake and portion sizes.

18:28.      Primal           

The last eating style I want to cover today, because it is part of this group, is Primal. Mark Sisson established the Primal lifestyle, and his important phrase is “Eat like your life depends upon it.”  I am quoting here directly from The Primal Kitchen website: “This is the core truth of the Primal diet. Food choices have the power to impact your life, so every meal, product and ingredient should be made and chosen mindfully. Don’t focus on caloric intake: Think about weekly calories, not the number per-meal. Food is about enjoyment, not regimented programs without wiggle room for real life.” As Mark says, “Eat when you are hungry, and finish eating when you feel satisfied.” 

 It goes on to say: “The Primal Blueprint is based on our ancestors' relationship to food: When food was available, fat and protein dominated the menu. Carbohydrates were scarce, and a repeating pattern of going without food led human bodies to store and access body fat for survival.”

 On the note of carbs, the Primal Diet was designed as a low or lower-carb diet, with the central guidance being based on what Mark Sisson calls the Carbohydrate Curve. The Primal Blueprint recommends these guidelines as daily targets for various goals:

·       0-50g: For diabetics or those seeking weight loss results.

·       50-100g: For more gradual weight loss results, with less restriction.

·       100-150g: For maintaining current weight, perhaps increasing carbs depending on amounts of athletic activity.

What I like about Primal is that it does factor in carbohydrates and if you follow these guidelines, you certainly won’t be gaining weight even though you are eating fruit and root vegetables.  As with Paleo and Whole30, you do not have grains, sugars and legumes, but it does allow dairy, which would be any raw, fermented and full-fat dairy.  He does say that diary is in “Primal limbo” for many reasons, and advises you not to fear dairy as long as you can tolerate it.

 The touchstone of Primal is not just it’s eating style. It is truly an entire lifestyle. Mark Sisson has written The Primal Blueprint with 10 laws and here they are:

1.      Eat plants and animals.

2.     Avoid poisonous things. 

3.     Move frequently.

4.    Lift heavy things.

5.     Sprint once in a while.

6.     Play.

7.     Get plenty of sleep.

8.     Get plenty of sunlight.

9.     Avoid stupid mistakes.

10.  Use your brain.

 I love this guy. All of these laws are expounded upon on his website, He also has a newsletter called Mark’s Daily Apple that always has good advice. He really stands apart from almost any other eating lifestyle as his is a whole and complete lifestyle. 

 22:41.      What mistake are we making?

 ·       We forget what all these people are saying, and that is what Hippocrates said in 440BC:  “Let food be thy medicine and let thy medicine be food.”

·       We think we can eat whatever we want and when we get things like diabetes and auto-immune diseases, that manufactured medicine will take care of it. First of all, they don’t. Second of all, if you ate for health – not necessarily quick weight loss –you might not get some of these conditions in the first place.

·       We make the mistake of not picking the right hard.

·       We make the mistake of being impatient.

 22:54.      Why are we making these mistakes?

·       We make these mistakes not because we are stupid or lazy. We make them because marketing is so strong and political lobbies are so strong, that we think that many food companies speak truth and know what is best for us. 

·       We make these mistakes because we don’t take the time to do a little research and discover for ourselves what foods feel best in our bodies and promote optimal health.

·       We make the mistake of thinking everything should be fast and easy. We don’t like things to be hard or time consuming. We want those 20 pounds gone yesterday!

·       We make these mistakes because we live in a fast, instant and super-sized world. We haven’t cultivated patience. Come on folks, even I have complained at a fast-food drive through because the cars are piled up and it’s taking too long. 

·       I challenge you to take time to go to the farmers market or grocery store, take time in picking the right foods, preparing them, cooking them, serving them in a pleasant and comfortable way. That all takes time, but instead we complain about being three cars behind in the drive -thru.

24:16.      What is the cost of making these mistakes? 

·       What can I say? Poor health or at least not the best health. 

·       We are so used to feeling subpar and crummy that we don’t even know that we are feeling subpar and crummy. We also don’t realize that in most cases, it is the food doing this to us.

·       And because we feel subpar and crummy, and usually tired and lacking energy, we make poor food choices and give in to cravings and urges.

·       And often, because we do this, we once again beat ourselves up, which once again, might make us feel unworthy and fill our heads with negative self-talk.


·       I would like you to take a look at any Paleo website out there and just see what they have to say about the foods you eat on Paleo and how the authors may have found eating this way helpful in reversing their medical problems.

·       My goal is not to have you even consider eating Whole30, Paleo or Primal. I just want to open your mind to the possibility of what Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and let thy medicine be food.”

·       I want you take a look in your pantry, especially if you are eating grain products, and see how often the label says “enriched.” These foods are enriched because in the processing, all the vitamins and nutrients were taken out. They are not better for you than original, whole foods. 

·       I want you to take a look at labels of the food you have in your house. Are they made up of more than 3-4 natural ingredients? For instance, does your tomato sauce say, “tomatoes, basil, salt” or are there two dozen ingredients, half of which look like additives and preservatives? Does your coffee cream just say “cream” or is there gellan gum, carrageenan or other things than just plain cream? You don’t have to go milk the cow, but make sure you do not have extraneous ingredients in your packaged foods.

·       The overall assignment this week is just to stop and think about what you are eating. Eat real food. It doesn’t have to be only out of the ground or even grass fed or organic. It can even come from a package, can or jar. Just please heighten your awareness this week, and perhaps be open to more natural ways of eating.

 27:02.      VFO (Valuable Free Offer)

If you haven’t already downloaded my Good-Better-Best method guide, I invite you to do so with this episode. It is available at The direct link, as always, is in the show notes and transcript.

 This method for making your next best decision works for any eating style you are choosing. It works for Whole30, Paleo and Primal as well, because you will be faced with dozens of food decisions in a day, or even whether to reach for a coffee or a water, or go for a walk or watch another TV show. 

 I want to invite you to have a look at my course that will help you with these next-best decisions because its three pillars – Education, Practical Applications and Mindset, will help you with any road you decide to travel. My book, Breaking Free From Diet Prison is what this course is based upon. Direct links for both the course and the book are in the show notes and transcript.

 And, if you like what you hear, please like and subscribe, and remember to leave a review wherever you listen to your podcast. It helps other people find the show. Also, don’t be a stranger. Come on over to my Facebook page, Breaking Free From Diet Prison, and let me know if there is anything you would like to hear on the show. I always look forward to hearing from listeners. You can also email me directly … I would especially like to hear about episode ideas you are interested in.

28:39.     Next week’s episode

Coming up in the next episode I will be sharing one of those pillars of the course – practical applications, while I explore cooking for the family no matter what eating style you choose to follow. I won’t ignore the mindset pillar when I give you some advice on what to do when you are the only one in your family following a certain eating style or diet.

 So go share the show with your friends, let them know that’s coming up in the next episode, and invite them to tune in with you and learn how to become free from diet prison with my Roadmap to Diet Success.

 Until then, go live free from diet worry — I’ll see you back here next time!