It's the final week of my paleo diet and here's my final thoughts (which may be a rehash of old thoughts):
1. It's sort of like a "smart" Atkins diet. Basically it says "OK dummy, here's what makes you fat: sugars and carbs. Don't eat refined sugars and carbs. Eat everything else." So you can nit pick and question "IS THERE SUGAR IN KETCHUP?!", and count calories if you want. The bottom line is just avoid wheat, dairy, rice, beans/lentils and sugar and any product that is made with those ingredients. Eat meats, veggies and fruits to your hearts content. Don't worry so much about fat. Fat doesn't make you fat. Carbs and sugar makes you fat.
2. It's an easy diet if you plan. It's difficult if you don't plan and/or have food/leftovers in your fridge. There were a few nights where it got late, I didn't have food on hand and suddenly...I'M HUNGRY!!! I would get like Taco Truck tacos (without shells), add in a veggie or fruit, throw in a handful of nuts and - that's dinner.
Also along with the "planning" part is the time part. Most of my dinners took at least 20 minutes of prep (chopping, etc) and then time to cook, etc - and usually was a solid hour of 'dinner'. That really cuts into your time. By the time i'm home from CrossFit and showered it was 7pm. I have to walk Rocco, which is another 20 minutes. Then make & eat dinner, and I was done by 8:15 to 8:30. Then you have maybe 2 to 2 1/2 hours of whatever to do until bed.
3. I'm frankly amazed how everyone I met has zero willpower. You mention not eating dairy and I always get the same reaction, like I told the person they had to take cold showers for the rest of their lives. "Whhaaaattt? No dairy? No cheese? No yogurt!?"
Also on a related topic. Try not eating dairy for 30+ days and then eat something with milk, and watch your body's reaction. For me it was cramps and some quality "toilet time". A bit TMI, but really makes you wonder if we were meant to drink cow's milk.
4. Believe it or not the hardest part of the diet wasn't the alcohol restriction. I was fine. There were a few times where I would have liked a beer or a glass of wine, but for the most part, it wasn't hard to give up drinking. The only problem I did have with giving up drinking was my social life (and lack thereof) was basically zero. You ask your friends to do something that doesn't involve getting a drink and you hear crickets on the other end of the phone - or replies by text of: "That sounds like an option" and never hearing back from them again for a week.
What was hard was "missing food". Like missing that big cup of coffee with cream and sugar. Or pizza from Grimaldi's. Or getting a cupcake from Sweet.
5. I think it's sustainable, and do-able as a normal diet. I plan to continue it, but the big problem I can start to see is 'cheating'. I plan to resume drinking. I plan to have foods that have rice in them. I'd like to avoid wheat. I'd like to avoid sugar. But I guar-an-tee you I will be walking down the street with a box of cupcakes and run into someone who is going to be like, "OOOH! That's not on the DIET!"
Willpower is one thing, like I mentioned before, and that willpower is basically going to be focused on reducing the bad foods that I mentioned above. I hear from my friends all the time how they eat so well, and then watch how they check into Foursquare to places where I know they aren't ordering something healthy. Or I ask the same people "Keep a food log for ONE WEEK. Just one week. Write down EVERYTHING you eat or drink. Then you will immediately see why you can't lose weight."
I love the people who do eat 95% right but are out drinking 3-4 nights a week and claim "It's just wine! That's good for you!". It's good when you have one glass of wine, not a bottle of wine. Trust me, cutting out alcohol was probably the #1 reason why I was able to lose 2-3 pounds a week.
So, that's it. My 'final weight' was 211 pounds from 222. 11 pounds in 6 weeks. Only had 1 true "cheat" meal which was my birthday on Feb 12th. Otherwise I stuck to the diet, and I do have some "before and after" pictures, but not sure if I want to put them up on the web. If you shoot me an email at philly2hoboken (at) gmail I will share them with my friends and answer any Paleo-centric questions you may have.