I’m not a fan of diets, and I’m not a fan of labels. And particularly in regards to “paleo”. In our household we’ve been (mostly) following aleo guidelines for a while now. The problem with referring to it as a Paleo Diet is that people tell me it’s a fad, it’s not sustainable, it’s not healthy and some even go so far as to say it’s cultish!
If we refer to Paleo as a “diet” it can be too easy to think of it as something that has clearly defined parameters that its devotees must follow, with little or no room at all for individual experimentation and variation. Realistically, every person’s body is different and what works for one may not work for another in exactly the same way. I am a firm believer that our bodies will tell us what’s best if we listen. A strict Paleo diet may not encourage the person to experiment, consider or think about the uniqueness of his or her circumstances.
The rigidness of the paleo diet has led many to view it as a “template” rather than as a “diet”. A template is something that consists of general guidelines that make up a basic format that is customized according to the individual needs of anyone who wants to follow it. The goal should be to formulate your own diet plan that will help you achieve optimal health rather than simply following someone else’s dietary prescription.
Rob Wolf put it so well when he said “remember that paleo is not a religion – there is no paleo heaven or paleo hell. If your ‘shade’ of paleo works for you, your health and your goals then it doesn’t matter what the Militant Paleo says. Find the hue that’s right for you – there is no ‘one perfect formula’ for everyone – start with the basics and experiment until you find your perfect shade. Your body and your sanity will thank you.”
Most people become aware of the Paleo diet as a means of losing weight. Paleo is not only for weight loss. Serious adherents to Paleo consider it not just a diet but more of a lifestyle and an attitude to health. It is popular among those who want to adopt a healthy lifestyle and to be able to achieve optimal fitness. But Paleo is not just for athletes. If you are planning to make a dietary shift from modern diet to Paleo the following information will help get you started.
How to Start
You are more likely to make long-lasting good food habits if you start by taking small steps when making dietary changes. Add more variety to the vegetables and fruits that you eat on a daily basis. Steadily increase the amount of fresh vegetables in you meals and use less packaged foods.
You also need to start filling your fridge with animal-based protein sources. Red meat, eggs, turkey, chicken, seafood, fish and duck are good sources of protein for your Paleo meals. Find and use recipes based on the meats and vegetables that are available to you.
Avoid processed foods and focus on preparing tasty whole foods.
Paleo and Your Carbohydrate Consumption
Obviously you won’t be eating exactly what your hunter-gatherer ancestors did, but you can choose substitutes from a greater range than they had access to asnd we have modern technology to prepare it. When people say to me..but caveman didn’t have an oven or a food processor, I really want to reach under my bed and pull out my wooden club!
Even if you can’t dig up yams for dinner in your backyard (who can?), you should be able to source starchy yet Paleo-friendly foods such as lotus roots, cassava, plantains, parsnips, beets and taro roots. If none of these are available you can fall back to pumpkin and potato. Eating these starchy foods will help replenish glycogen stores.
Some paleo dieters prefer the low-carb approach especially if the goal is to lose weight. However, if you’re into high-activity sports then eating your Paleo carbs is highly important.
If you have concerns about your cholesterol levels rising while going on a paleo diet have your levels tested prior to making major diet changes. Have new tests done a month later. But make sure you understand what these readings are, lots of research is coming to light around cholesterol, saturated fats that dispels many of the traditional views. There are some books I highly recommend including Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas, Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes, Grain Brain by Dr David Pearlmutter and Fat Chance by Dr Robert Lustig.
If you are moving from a diet that is based on processed foods and rich desserts, you will almost certainly be pleasantly surprised by the results. Most dieters see great improvements in their health while following a Paleo diet. It’s key to remeber though, that it may take time. After decades of eating unhealthy processed food, reversal wont happen overnight. As your body detox’es and resets itslef, it’s not uncommon to feel not so great for a while. But stick it out and the benefits will shine through
You will be surprised as you watch yourself becoming fitter and healthier without even trying too hard or having to feel hungry.