What Is Paleo?
It is an eating plan based on foods humans might have eaten during the Paleolithic Era. It is designed to resemble what human hunter-gatherer ancestors ate thousands of years ago.
Is It A Diet Or Lifestyle?
The word “diet” suggests taking in less food and weight loss. So where does the Paleo Lifestyle enter the debate? What we really need to do is to change our mindset. Stop thinking in terms of what you can and cannot eat. This makes dieting the traditional way too difficult because it uses deprivation as the main idea.
Sticking to the Paleo or Caveman Lifestyle is key. It follows the caveman diet, which worked so well for our predecessors. What worked for them should work well for us too, but somewhere along the way we got side-tracked with our modern culinary trends.
Although Paleo is often referred to as a Paleo diet. The paleo lifestyle centers around living the way our bodies were designed to function best, through optimal sleep, exercise, reduced screen time and so much more.
So instead of thinking of Paleo as a diet. I like to think of it as a lifestyle to reap the continual benefits long term verses a few months to loss weight that most dieters usually look for.
What Foods Can Be Eaten
Here are some foods that you can enjoy as part of the paleo lifestyle:
- Meat: beef, lamb, venison, etc.
- Poultry: chicken, turkey, goose, duck, etc.
- Seafood: salmon, tuna, mackerel, anchovies, trout, cod, haddock, catfish, etc.
- Eggs: egg yolks and whites
- Fruits: apples, bananas, oranges, plums, peaches, melons, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, etc.
- Vegetables: bell peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, onions, spinach, arugula, zucchini, squash, etc.
- Nuts: cashews, pistachios, almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, etc.
- Seeds: chia seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, etc.
- Fats: olive oil, avocado oil, palm oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, etc.
- Herbs and spices: cumin, oregano, basil, pepper, rosemary, thyme, turmeric, ginger, etc.
Foods To Avoid
Here are some foods that you should avoid as part of the lifestyle:
- Legumes: beans, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts, etc.
- Dairy: milk, yogurt, butter, kefir, cheese, etc.
- Grains: bread, pasta, rice, quinoa, barley, rye, buckwheat, farro, etc.
- Potatoes: white potatoes, french fries, potato chips, etc.
- Refined vegetable oils: canola oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, grapeseed oil, etc.
- Processed foods: chips, pretzels, cookies, convenience meals, fast food, etc.
- Artificial sweeteners: sucralose, aspartame, saccharin, acesulfame potassium, etc.
- Added sugar: baked goods, candies, desserts, sugar-sweetened beverages, table sugar, etc.
- Alcohol: Beer, champagne
Whole foods like fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, and poultry are encouraged on the paleo lifestyle. On the other hand, processed foods, legumes, grains, dairy, and added sugars should be limited.
The Benefits Of A Paleo Lifestyle
The Paleo lifestyle offers many benefits to those who follow it, mostly because it avoids processed foods and focuses on consuming whole foods. Processed foods tend to be high in saturated fats, added sugars or high-fructose corn syrup, and sodium, which many may argue has given rise to the health problems that we face in today’s world.
Health issues such as diabetes, obesity, digestive issues, low energy levels, high blood pressure, reduce inflammation and heart disease are increased by the consumption of high amounts of processed foods, which is why many people believe this lifestyle is the better option.
The focus on fresh foods doesn’t just mean we avoid unhealthier processed foods, but also means that we consume a lot of the nutrients and vitamins that our bodies need by eating a diverse range of natural foods.
People who follow a paleo lifestyle often report reduction of inflammation, increased energy, better sleep, an improvement in body composition (sometimes even weight loss), and reduced risk of chronic disease.
Downsides Of A Paleo Lifestyle
While the paleo lifestyle offers several potential health benefits, a few things to be considered with this lifestyle. There is elimination of several food groups that are normally thought to be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet such as legumes or whole grains.
Since the paleo lifestyle deems many food groups off-limits, those with dietary restrictions, including vegans and vegetarians, may find following it difficult. It may be challenging to eat out or attend family gatherings, as you may not be certain of the ingredients used in certain dishes. Also, it may be more expensive than other eating patterns, as it requires a lot of fresh produce, meat, fish, and poultry — all of which can be pricey.
Creating Your Own Paleo Plan
There are some food items that are definitely Paleo, like many kinds of meats and vegetable’s. There are also some types of foods that definitely aren’t Paleo, like Oreos and Cheetos. Then there are a third group of foods that cause quite a lot of debate as to whether they’re Paleo or not. Foods like Quinoa and other grain-like foods can cause a stir, with terms like Strictly Paleo being thrown around, and different camps being formed based on how rigid you follow the philosophy.
So this leaves it largely up to you how Paleo you want to be. Are you going to follow the rules strictly and go by the book, even though there is no official source of Paleo rights and wrongs. Unless you’re an anthropologist with a unique knowledge of what life was like back in that day and age, it’s pretty much just a guess as to what they were really eating and how their life was.
Why Is A Paleo Lifestyle A Good Thing?
Learning to look at this Paleo lifestyle different is key to having long term success. Learning to know what you can eat at restaurants and how to order foods. When you are invited to a social gathering then bring something that you can eat. Make sure to meal plan and use up odds and ends to stretch your budget. Add in a new recipe that is Paleo friendly and economical to your meal plan each week until you have a repertoire of recipes that work for you and your family.
Figuring out what how strict you want to be is fundamental is making this lifestyle work for you long term. If you decide to incorporate legumes into your meal plans, however you can soak them before cooking. You can choose to have white potatoes sometimes; make it work for you! Because the benefits outweigh the short-term difficulty of figuring out what your body feels best eating.
Our Paleo ancestors were also fit and active. To maximize the benefits of this lifestyle, we need to adhere to this by exercising responsibly, cutting back on alcohol, and stopping smoking completely. You may never look back once you receive the benefits the Paleo lifestyle brings. Chances are you will soon encourage your friends to ‘sign up’ too. Welcome to a healthier you.