Paleo 101, What is it and Where to begin

Paleolithic Diet: also called the paleo diet, caveman diet or stone-age diet. is based mainly on foods presumed to be available to paleolithic humans.[2] It includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, roots, meat, and organ meats[2] while excluding foods such as dairy products, grains, sugar, legumes, processed oils, salt, and alcohol or coffee.[1]

**Taken from Wikipedia**

The Paleo Diet, or lifestyle (that’s what I like to call it) can look complicated, but really it boils down into four simple words. Just Eat Real Food (#JERF) (you may or may not have seen this # before). The words caveman or stone-age diet can be somewhat misleading as well. Some people try to argue that ‘eating like a caveman’ is totally unrealistic this day and age. And I tend to agree. They way we live has completely changed since then! So why do this you may ask? For optimal health, the best food choices are real, natural, unprocessed foods that are more helpful to our bodies than harmful. Focusing on the foods, not words to describe Paleo is the most important thing to remember. It’s not about doing everything the cavemen did years ago, it’s about giving my body what it needs to be the healthiest it can be.

Let’s take a quick look at WHY there are inflammatory foods and anti-inflammatory foods in the first place! Over the past 200,000 years, humans have adapted best to whole, unprocessed foods which include meat, plants and seafood. All of these types of foods have valuable vitamins and nutrients our bodies need to survive and thrive on. Modern farming and agriculture has only been around for a mere 10,000 years. Which means our bodies haven’t had the time to biologically adapt to modern foods such as grains, sugar, wheat, veggie/seed oils and processed foods. This is a possible reason why there are so many disease on the rise recently as well.

So how do we make sense of all this information??

First, just like any other diet/lifestyle, there is no one size fits all approach to Paleo. Some individuals are very strict when it comes to their choices, some are not as strict. Some people chose to never have diary or sugar. Some people have a little dairy on occasion, or white potatoes and rice on occasion. It’s all about figuring out what works best and doesn’t work for your body. Regardless of the small nuances that people choose, the main principles are the same. Chose whole, unprocessed meats, veggies and seafood. The key idea here is nutrient density. The more nutrient rich foods the better. Also the foods avoided are the same, foods that cause inflammation or wreak havoc on our gut. There are several of these types that most people have issue with. Those include things that include gluten, legumes, sugar and grains. Also, the ‘foods’ that are not really ‘food’ at all. You know what I’m talking about, the so called Frakenfoods that claim to have positive attributes, but don’t really at all. Many can be found in the center aisles at the grocery stores.

Many medical professionals have started to recognize (it’s about time) the link between what you eat and how your body feels and reacts. Eating in an anti-inflammatory way can help your body recover from current issues you may be facing and it can help prevent issues as well. Choosing to consume foods that are nutrient rich over highly processed foods can contribute to higher energy levels, improved body composition and an overall improvement in health. Who doesn’t want all of that?

How do you know if Paleo is something you should try?

Good question! In my opinion, if you are feeling tired throughout the day, have bouts of low energy, are struggling with not feeling your best or not feeling well all of the time, then giving Paleo a try might be a good idea for you. I’m not saying it needs to be a 100% overnight change, but some people do work best that way. I’ve found through talking to others, that a gradual approach is a good approach. Switching to Paleo can be overwhelming! I get that, it was overwhelming for me too! That’s why making only a few changes at a time, and keeping everything manageable, is key.

Going gluten free is often a good start. That is one of the bigger changes someone can make in their diet, so tackling that, is a great beginning. Many people ask, isn’t that good enough? While I say being gluten free is better than not, I think there is further to go to figure out what is helpful or not to your body.

If this is something you are interested in, but don’t know where to start, head over to my work with me page, and we can jump on a call and see how I can give you a hand!

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