The Breakdown of the Paleo Diet
Today I want to talk about the paleo diet!! No, you don’t have to eat paleo or live the paleo lifestyle but I figured since the recipes I share are paleo and I talk about it all the time, I wanted to bring you the facts and debunk some myths about it. And also share why I love it and why it’s worked for me, someone recovered from an eating disorder.
So the basics of the paleo diet-
“Created” by Dr. Loren Cordain, the basis is that we are biologically programmed to eat like our ancestors. Eat the way we are genetically adapted to. We should be eating foods that are optimal for our health before the start of agriculture, as it only emerged around 10,000 years ago.
Foods in our modern western diet today contain vegetable oils, refined sugar, and processed foods. These are foods that we have only seen within the past few centuries and generations that our bodies are not able to properly digest. These foods are most associated with heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and chronic inflammation.
The paleo diet is highly anti-inflammatory containing foods groups such as fruits and vegetables, lean and wild-caught meats and seafood, and healthy fats like avocado, nuts, seeds.
So, what can’t you eat? Or better, what isn’t included in the paleo lifestyle/diet:
Some people want to take this diet to the extremity or believe it’s just another fad diet. (If you believe that totally fine) but here’s just what I know.
So no, the paleo diet/lifestyle does not believe you need to live like your ancestors, literally hunting and gathering food.
No, paleo is not restrictive (in my opinion). What drew me to paleo was that it contained an abundance of whole, nutritious foods with the ability to fuel mind, body and soul. Paleo doesn’t focus on calories, getting in your macros, getting “points” or any of that bullshit. It’s as simple as just eating nutritious, healthy foods that have the ability to make you feel your best and gain the most mind/body strength. For someone that was recovering from an eating disorder- this was exactly what I needed. It really helped solidify that food is fuel and has the ability to do so much good for the body.
No, you don’t have to be strict paleo (also in my opinion). In my early paleo days, I adopted an 80/20 mindset and lifestyle, where I was 80% strict paleo and the other 20% included going out for drinks with friends, having that slice of birthday cake, enjoying vacation food, or just a night to veg. I still use this notion as it helps me maintain clean eating, but enjoy the spontaneous and celebratory moments as well.
No, paleo is not expensive. Just because you want to start eating paleo doesn’t mean you need to spend your paycheck on groceries. Paleo doesn’t mean you need to go out and buy all organic. If you want to, that’s great but there’s this thing called the dirty dozen and clean fifteen. I have a blog post about it- but basically it includes a list of foods that you can buy conventional and not worry about pesticides and then the list of foods that you should buy organic that may contain higher traces of pesticides. So there’s something you can go off. Plus, you don’t need to go out and buy every vegetable under the sun. You’re not going to eat all of them before they go bad within a week. Just focus on loading your plate at each meal with a protein and veggie. Each week you can switch it up.
No, paleo is not a weight loss diet. For some, they might embark on the paleo lifestyle for weight loss reasons, which is great! It’ll not only help those who need/want to lose weight, but improve other chronic ailments, insulin resistance, digestion, systemic inflammation, and so many other invisible ailments we don’t feel or see happen within our bodies. But paleo is more about a lifestyle change- changing the foods on your plate in order to feel your best. I’m a big believer in focusing on how you feel versus the number on the scale. Currently, my weight is the highest it’s ever been, but I feel stronger than ever, my skin is clear, and I have bouts of energy!
No, you are not missing out on vital vitamins and minerals on a paleo diet. There’s this thing called food reductionism where when we look at a certain food and we associate it with just one thing. For example, eggs. We think of eggs as protein or high in cholesterol, but eggs are so much more than that. They give us protein, saturated fats (which, yes are good), cholesterol, calcium, zinc, iron and vitamin D. Same goes for vegetables. We may think of them as low- cal greens that are technically carbs, but man you’d be surprised by the amount of juicy vitamins and minerals (even protein!!) packed into your vegetables. You’re getting everything you need on a paleo diet, trust me.
So I’m not here to convince you to eat paleo or nor do I care about the historical significance of this diet. It’s not what drew me to this lifestyle. I love eating this way because it makes me feel my best and I fully support that that might not be the same for someone else. Now, you’ve got a little more food for thought.
Some great paleo resources include:
If you’d like more information, head over to www.thepaleodiet.com