Intro to the Paleo Diet, Part 1 – WHAT PALEO IS

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I wanted to do a series of blog posts to introduce you to the concepts of Paleo so you can better understand the diet and lifestyle and the reasons behind its claims.

First, I wanted to go over what Paleo is:

1.  PALEO IS A WHOLE FOODS DIET

The Paleo Diet is an framework to help you clean up your diet – but it doesn’t focus on what you’re losing, but what you’re gaining! You eat whole, natural foods as close to as nature as possible, but modern conveniences are great, too! (So don’t be afraid to use your microwave, or try a recipe with almond flour – it just may keep you sane!)

2.  PALEO EMPHASIZES TOTAL BODY HEALTH AND WELLNESS

Paleo is not just a diet; at the risk of sounding cliché, Paleo is a lifestyle! (Okay, that sounded really cliché.) But it’s true; the Paleo lifestyle begins with learning about food and how it is processed in your body, and how your health is affected by the foods you choose to eat, but there are so many more aspects to a healthy lifestyle, including mindful movement, socialization, being quiet, managing stress, getting outside, sleeping well, etc. (The Whole9 Life explains this so well.) Our bodies need more than good food; this is a lesson I’m still learning!

3.  PALEO ENCOURAGES YOU TO EAT HEALTHY MEATS, VEGETABLES, AND FATS

So here’s where I give you the Paleo basics. Before I get started, I just want to emphasize one thing: ALWAYS CHECK INGREDIENTS. On everything. Even meat.

Okay, now that we’ve covered that, let’s begin. A typical Paleo meal looks like this:

•  1/4 - 1/3 lb quality meat (clean ingredients, preferably grass-fed and not factory farmed [traditionally prepared meat], and anything with added broth is BAD NEWS – stay away)

•  2 large servings of vegetables (I pile on about a 1/3 pound of meat then fill the rest of my plate with veggies. Sometimes I even add kale chips, too. Who am I kidding; I frequently add kale chips!)

•  1-2 Tablespoons of healthy fat (since this is the super short version of this, I will just give you the basics; I’ll expand later. Safe fats are typically coconut oil [unrefined], olive oil, and avocado oil for cooking oils, and nuts, seeds, avocados, and coconuts – I promise I’ll expand in a later post.)

Simple, right? In concept, yes, but in execution, not always. But stick with us and we’ll clear some of the haziness.

4.  PALEO IS A COMMUNITY OF PEOPLE TRYING TO HEAL THEIR BODIES FROM THE EFFECTS OF THE S.A.D. [STANDARD AMERICAN DIET]

I can’t tell you how much I value the Paleo community, especially online. I’ve learned so much from them! Recipe ideas are endless (just pick your favorite recipe and google it with the word “paleo” and see what comes up), encouragement abounds, and most people are super friendly and anxious to help you out! In a later blog post I’ll probably post a round up of my favorite blogs.

5.  PALEO IS COMPLETELY CUSTOMIZABLE TO FIT EVERY PERSON

Really, it is! There are so many different iterations of Paleo, it will make your head spin! There’s an autoimmune protocol, a low FODMAP version, a low Histamine option, with or without dairy, with or without healthy starches, and the list goes on and on. The basic idea is to start with an elimination diet (like Whole30 that I’ve recommended before), then start adding in foods using a strict reintroduction procedure and see how different foods affect you! It will take some time, but you’ll get used to listening to what your body is telling you it wants. What if you knew almost every food that made your stomach upset so you could avoid it when you needed to? Wouldn’t that be amazing?

6.  PALEO IS A PATH TO FOOD FREEDOM!

Seriously; don’t take my word for it – try it! I used to struggle with addictions to food – and crazy, uncontrollable cravings – and was overweight for nearly a decade. Now the weight stays off, and I hardly even look at the nutrition facts – probably because most of my food has one ingredient anyway! When you know what food your body will like and what it won’t, a certain freedom comes when the choices are simple. I didn’t say easy – it will take work – but anything worth doing always does.

So what do you think? Would you try it? Over the next few days and weeks I’ll be posting more information about how you can get started - I’ll see you then!