By: Arthur Anderson
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that over the last year. It’s awesome that we are beginning to be more mindful of what we put in our bodies. I started my eating Paleo journey about 6 years ago. I have had my starts and stops with it and I don’t think I truly understood what eating Paleo really meant until recently. The reason for my blog is to help clear up some misconceptions and misinformation about eating Paleo.
- First misconception – Paleo is not a diet it is a way of eating healthier, more nutritiously dense fresh food.
- Second misconception – Paleo is not a low-carb, or a high-fat, or a high-protein diet. If you have been eating a Standard American Diet (SAD) yes eating Paleo will reduce the carbs eat by replacing them with more vegetables, fats and meats.
- Third misconception – you can get Paleo in a box, in a wrapper or in one of the center aisles of the store. Paleo is about eating live, fresh foods, not processed foods in a container. Many times, ‘Paleo’ labeled food is just gluten free with limited pronounceable ingredients. While this is a better choice than SAD food, it is not eating Paleo.
Paleo is so named because it is a reference to man during the Paleolithic era, between 10,000 and 2.5 million years ago. His day consisted of hunted wild fish and game, gathered fruits and vegetables. He didn’t stop by his neighboring village for a cup of sugar or a protein bar.
Here’s what I consider a 10-step plan to help you on the path to perfect Paleo eating.
- Throw out sugar
If it isn’t naturally occurring in your fruits or vegetables it doesn’t belong in your diet. This is a tough one because you are going to find sugar in the majority of things you eat.
- Stop eating grains
This is probably the hardest step because grains have become integrated in every facet of our life, from the morning bagel to the soy sauce used with our sushi. Wheat, the primary grain in our foods, is one of the most heavily processed foods in our diet.
- Learn the difference between good fat and bad fat
This is a tough one for most of us to understand. Most of your mainstream oils; soybean, corn, canola, safflower, etc. are very heavily processed. They are processed at high temperatures and high pressures, damaging their fatty acids. Many are finished off with a Benzene bath to extract the final bits of oil from the seed.Look for cold pressed oils like pure Olive Oil or Avocado Oil. Don’t be afraid of saturated fat oils like Coconut, Lard and Clarified Butter.
- Start looking at the ingredients list and researching Paleo recipes
Now that you have gotten through the first three steps, you’ve discovered that you’re going to have to ‘relearn’ how to cook again. There are great resources on the Internet, don’t be afraid to be adventurous and experiment.
- Choose only fresh or organic vegetables and fruits
Remember, Paleo man was picking fresh vegetables and fruits. His fruits and veggies didn’t come in a juice container or a can. Organic is considered better but there is conflicting proof. I choose Organic because I feel it is better for the ecosystem with less pesticides and fertilizers.
- Take the dairy 21-day challenge
The jury is still out on whether Paleo man consumed dairy or not. It wasn’t until fairly recently in the history of man that we cultivated cows and goats for their milk. The 21-day challenge is taking all dairy out of your diet for 21 days. Then reintroducing it to see if dairy is an inflammatory. You’ll know right away, lots of gas and indigestion.
- Understand the 80/20 rule
This means that 80% of the time you eat Paleo style, 20% of the time you don’t. But, that doesn’t mean you eat crap 20% of the time. It means that 20% of the time your lifestyle requires that you need to supplement with something like Paleo in a package, it doesn’t mean, pizza, pasta and chips 20% of the time.
- Choose only grass-fed beef, pastured chickens and eggs, pastured pigs and wild fish
It is challenging to find meats and eggs to fit these guidelines. It can be done, and yes it will be a little more expensive, but not always. If you can’t find grass fed or pastured meat look for Certified Organic. Always buy wild fish, frozen is okay. Poultry and pigs are not vegetarians.
- Buy only seasonal vegetables and fruit
This is an elite level of Paleo. Paleo man could only eat what was growing at the time, but you can’t get any fresher than pulling it out of the ground or off the branch. Farmers markets are a great place to shop fresh.
- Buy a farm
I Don’t need to explain this one.
Wow! That’s a lot to swallow, no pun intended. As I put together this blog I realized that it would probably create more questions than answers. I will follow up with a blog for each of these steps to help provide you a more detailed understanding. Don’t worry if you find yourself struggling at the different steps, this is a life journey to a healthier life. Be patient, you will get there.