There are millions of Paleo fans out there today who have embraced this way of eating. If you’ve got a friend who ‘does Paleo’ and is loving it, remember, every diet is bio-individual. It may be perfect for you and it may not be perfect for you. If you’re interested in giving the Paleo Diet a try, there are blogs committed to writing about nothing but Paleo to find recipe after recipe.
Here’s a quick, down and dirty view of what the Paleo diet looks like –
A Paleo diet should be high in fat, moderate in animal protein and low to moderate in carbohydrates. Calorie counting is not encouraged, neither is portion control.
Eat generous amounts of saturated fats like coconut oil and butter or clarified butter. Beef tallow (animal fat), lard and duck fat are also good, but only if they come from healthy and well-treated animals; no hormones, no antibiotics. Know where your meat comes from!
Olive, avocado and macadamia oil are also good fats to use in salads and to drizzle over food.
Eat good amounts of animal protein. This includes red meat, poultry, pork, eggs, organs (liver, kidney, heart…) and if you’re wondering, no…I can’t bring myself to eat organs! Wild caught fish is more my speed. Don’t be afraid to eat the fatty cuts. Learn to cook with bones and save and use the stock/broth. There are some days for lunch, when all I do is heat up some stock and sip it like tea.
Eat generous amounts of fresh or frozen vegetables either cooked or raw and served with fat (butter or ghee). Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and yams are also great as a source of nontoxic carbohydrates.
Eat low to moderate amounts of fruits and nuts. Try to eat mostly fruits low in sugar and high in antioxidants like berries as well as nuts high in omega-3, low in omega-6 and low in total polyunsaturated fat like macadamia nuts, my personal favorites. Consider cutting off fruits and nuts altogether if you have an autoimmune disease, digestive problems or are trying to lose weight faster as nuts can be high in calories.
Cut out all cereal grains and legumes from your diet. This includes, but is not limited to, wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, brown rice, soy, peanuts, kidney beans, pinto beans, navy beans and black eyed peas. For me, cutting out all cereals and grains has been a welcome difference. I’m no longer bloated and my system seems to digest much better without it. Cut out all vegetable, hydrogenated and partly hydrogenated oils including, but not limited to, margarine, soybean oil, corn oil, peanut oil, canola oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil. Olive oil and avocado oil are fine, and you can use them in salad dressings and to drizzle over food.
Eliminate added sugar, soft drinks, all packaged sweets and juices (including fruit juices). I know some of you LOVE your orange juice in the mornings but if you look at the amount of sugar in it – it’s NOT GOOD! As a rule of thumb, if it’s in a box, don’t eat it.
At the grocery store, visit primarily the meat, fish and produce sections. Eliminate dairy products other than butter and maybe heavy cream. You don’t need dairy, but if you can’t live without it, consider raw, full fat and/or fermented dairy.
Eat when you’re hungry and don’t stress if you skip a meal or even two. I’m a huge fan of intermittent fasting. You don’t have to eat three square meals a day, do what feels most natural.
Eliminate external stressors in your life as much as possible and sleep at least 8 hours per night. I highly suggest meditating for at least 5-10 min every morning. I’ll blog about meditation another day. Try to wake up without an alarm and to go to bed when it gets dark. It’s what the cavemen did! Living in the Midwest, this doesn’t work very well as it starts to get dark at 4pm in the winter months.
Don’t over-exercise, keep your training sessions short and intense and do them only a few times per week. Take some extra time off if you feel tired. Consider short and intense sprinting sessions instead of very long cardio sessions. Believe it or not, I’m now living in a space on the 2nd floor and all I do is run up the stairs when I get home and run down the stairs when I leave. That, along with lifting some weights and I’m set.
That’s Paleo! I’d love to hear from all of you who may follow a Paleo diet. Let us know what’s been easiest for you, and what you struggle to omit. And share your favorite recipe with us. We’d love to learn from you!!