Let me preface that I am in no way a Paleo purist. I’m not convinced that many people really are. In my experience the Paleo lifestyle is all about progress, not perfection. Even small changes in your diet can reap huge rewards in your health. Keeping that in mind, don’t let the do’s and don’ts intimidate you into not making positive changes in your diet and lifestyle. That being said, I have no doubt the more I follow the paleo principles, the better I feel. As with everything, you will get out what you put in. So, let’s get started and learn about the Paleo diet that gave me and countless others their health back.
The Paleo diet, also called the caveman diet gets its name because it is based mainly on foods presumed to be available to Paleolithic humans. A typical Paleo diet includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, roots and meats while excluding dairy, grains, sugar, legumes, and processed oils. Convenience and processed foods are out. Most convenience foods include at least one or more of the restricted foods, not to mention tons of preservatives not available back in the day. My rule of thumb is if I can’t pronounce it, I can’t eat it. If you can pronounce it, you are already smart enough to know you shouldn’t be eating it!
Meat, fowl, fish & seafood
Eggs, Almond milk, coconut milk
Green leafy vegetables, root vegetables,
Fruits (in moderation)
Good fats to include olive oil, avocado oil, lard, tallow or clarified butter (ghee)
Honey or maple syrup (in moderation and not during whole30)
Almond & coconut flour (in moderation and not during whole30)
Dairy or dairy products
Beans or legumes (soy, peanuts, lentils)
Processed fruit juices
Vegetable or seed oils such as corn, soybean or peanut oils
Refined sugar or sugar substitutes
Grains to include wheat, corn, oats and barley
Benefits of a Paleo Lifestyle
- Weight loss
- Anti-inflammatory foods supporting good gut health
- It’s so simple a caveman can do it. Just eat real food
- Balances your Omega 6:3 ratio for optimal heart & brain health
- Keeps you satiated longer
- No harmful additives
- Teaches you to enjoy real whole food in its natural state
Why I recommend doing a Whole30
Think of Whole30 as Paleo on steroids! I strongly recommend starting out your Paleo journey with a whole30 regimen especially if you are dealing with food sensitivities, chronic inflammation or any other condition you are hoping to improve with your diet. The Whole30 plan IS about perfection! It consists of following the Paleo diet to the letter for 30 days. Slowly introduce restricted foods back into the diet in small amounts. This elimination protocol helps you identify which foods your body can and can’t tolerate well. The whole30 restricts many common food allergens and sensitivities that are on the rise in our culture today.
After cleaning up your diet to this extent, it is amazing how quickly you can identify your trigger foods. This information gives you great insight into how you personally should eat to feel your absolute best. You can invest in expensive food allergy tests to scientifically check what is causing your distress, but the whole30 is a simple inexpensive experiment that does much the same thing. If you are anything like me, you will learn and retain more through experience than with a test you have little participation in.
I originally didn’t want to restrict my diet to that extent so I went the food sensitivity testing route. Turns out several of the foods the testing showed were okay for me to eat caused GI distress for me. I spent the money on the testing but later did the Whole30 anyway. Its 30 days out of your life that will give you information about your body you will use for a lifetime. Small price to pay! Although I’ve embraced the Paleo lifestyle for over 5 years, I still do a whole30 periodically to detox my system and keep me on track.
Helpful Tips to get you started
Be prepared by cleaning out your pantry and fridge of restricted foods. If you share your kitchen with others not on board with paleo, separate the paleo friendly foods from the restricted foods. Out of sight, out of mind.
Keep it stupid simple especially when starting out. There are so many wonderful delicious paleo recipes to try and you should but Rome wasn’t built in a day. I recommend trying one or two new recipes a week until you get a good rotation down. In the mean-time what’s wrong with a delicious tender steak on the grill with a fresh side salad? It’s not rocket science so don’t make it harder than it needs to be.
Download a Paleo app onto your smart phone to assist you in planning and at the grocery store. There are several free apps available. One I’ve found helpful is called Paleo Buddy. It is a simply app that searches the food in question and tells you if its paleo friendly or not. If that one isn’t available in your app store, just search Paleo and find one you like.
Stick to the outer perimeters of the grocery store where the fresh whole foods are located. The inner aisles are just pure frustration as you spent hours reading labels trying to figure out if you can eat it or not. Most often you can’t!
Invest in your health by purchasing the highest quality foods you can afford. Example choose grass fed meats over standard meats, organic over commercially grown whenever possible.
Stock your pantry and fridge with Paleo friendly foods that are convenient and easy to make. I love cooking elaborate paleo recipes but sometimes I just don’t want to cook and need something quick. I always have greens, avocado, eggs and veggies to whip up a massive salad at any given time.
Subscribe to blogs like this for free Paleo friendly recipes.
If you like a particular recipe, make a double batch next time and freeze the other half. Eating paleo means spending more time in the kitchen and sometimes there is only time to take something out of the freezer!