Paleo is a lifestyle where you are eating whole, real, natural foods and removing processed foods and additives. It is going back to what our ancestors would have eaten; not the highly processed, gluten and grain-based foods and refined sugars that have only been recently introduced into our diets. One of the main goals is to remove foods that cause inflammation in the body, which in turn cause illness and disease.
A quick look at the basics of the Paleo Diet:
WHAT YOU CAN EAT
WHAT TO AVOID
|Meat, Fish and Seafood||Legumes (peanuts, lentils, kidney beans etc.)|
|Poultry and Eggs||Grains (wheat, barley, oats, rye, corn, rice)|
|Fruit and Vegetables||Dairy|
|Fermented Foods||Hydrogenated oils (canola, margarine etc.)|
|Natural Oils (coconut, ghee, nut, olive & avocado)||Processed foods and refined sugars|
|Nuts and Seeds||Soy|
Neurosurgeon, Dr David Perlmutter’s book “Grain Brain” and Dr William Davis’ book “Wheat Belly” are brilliant reads, giving an insight into what illness’ can be reversed or improved by eliminating grains from our diet.
In the last few years many nutritionists, doctors, researchers and health experts have realized that our dietary guidelines must change for our societies’ health to improve. The solution is to go back to ancient times and eat like our ancestors. There are many stories now of people recovering from illnesses that they have had for many years, and I’m one of them.
Although I do not endorse the many references incorporating evolution, I knew in my heart that this way of eating was nourishing and starting to heal my body. So whether you believe we are designed by God or evolved, don’t over look the health benefits of the Paleo lifestyle.
I have recommended several books below on the subject, and while each author may have their own slant on the ancestral diet, one thing is in common, we need to remove grains, refined sugars, legumes, vegetable oils and food chemicals from our diets.
Here are a few great books that expand upon and help in understanding the Paleo lifestyle:
‘Eat The Yolks’ by Liz Wolfe
‘The Paleo Answer’ by Lauren Cordain
‘Primal Body, Primal Mind’ by Nora Gedgaudas ‘The Paleo Solution’ by Robb Wolf
A website that is also a great place to start is paleohacks.com.
If we look back in history to only 120 years ago, nothing came in bags, boxes or pre-made mixes. What people ate was picked straight from the garden and cooked fresh. Wheat is not the same as it was many years ago, as it has been modified to stop pests from eating it, yet we eat it too - pesticides and all. If it is killing the bugs what is it doing to our bodies and our children’s? If you are finding all of this a bit daunting, just start by changing your diet one step at a time. The first and most damaging foods are wheat and sugar. Wheat contains Phytic Acid, a mineral blocker that prevents absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc. Wheat is a common culprit for bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, skin rashes, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Leaky Gut, Celiac disease, migraines and the list goes on. Research by Dr Robert Lustig, an expert on childhood obesity from the University of California, states:
“Sugar is toxic and a poison. Your liver has no choice but to turn the energy into liver fat and that liver fat causes diseases”.
This is something I had experienced first hand. Carbs are not created equal. I do not think fruit and vegetables should be in the same group as grains, processed sugars, lollies and bags of crisps but they are all carbohydrates. It was tough for me to give up bread and pasta but just because we like it or we have always eaten it doesn’t mean it is good for us.
I believe we all have a responsibility to look after our bodies. I struggled when I discovered that the foods I ate had made me ill. It had happened due to my choices but I did not know any better at the time. I believed the ads on TV and the “natural” or “low fat” labels on the food packaging. However, once you are given the correct information you then need to act on it and therefore, I urge you to investigate further. The internet is an amazing tool and can assist with your start on a road to a healthier you. I have given you a start with my recipes but now you need to do some of your own work. It is not going to be easy but it is certainly going to be worth it. Something else to look forward to; you can not help but lose weight when gluten and grains are removed from your diet.
SO, LET'S SEE WHAT YOU WILL BE EATING
'Your Paleo meal plate should consist of: 2⁄3 vegetables and salad, 1⁄3 protein (meat or eggs) and include some healthy fats (like avocado or olive oil as a dressing for your vegetables). A glass of filtered water or bone broth.'
MEAT, POULTRY, EGGS AND SEAFOOD
As part of a grain free diet, you also need to look at what the protein you are eating has been fed. Look for grass-fed meat, free-range chickens and free-range eggs. What we eat affects our health, so what these animals eat will surely affect their health. Do you want to eat unhealthy food? They were created to eat grass not to be fattened up quickly with grains. Make sure you check with your butcher before making your purchases to ensure you get 100% grass fed.
All processed meats ladened with chemicals, additives and sugar are off the menu. However, you can find nitrate free, organic choices for sausages, cold cuts, bacon etc. The best place to source these is Gourmet Delicatessens.
When purchasing seafood opt for wild caught fish, not farmed. Salmon is one of the best choices as it contains good amounts of omega 3 fatty acids. When purchasing canned fish, look for “pole and line caught” on the label. You will have many choices of white fish to choose from, in addition; prawns, scallops, crab, mussels, oysters, and my favourite crayfish (lobster).
FRUIT AND VEGETABLES
In season organic or pesticide-free fruits and vegetables are the best choice. If that is not possible, look at purchasing from a local Farmers Market. Don’t stress if it is not always affordable or available, I’ve purchased a good fruit and veg wash (Enviro Clean) to help remove the chemicals, waxes and pesticides from the outer skins of my produce.
Some crops absorb more pesticides than others. To help you know and be aware, you can search online or download an app called “The Dirty Dozen”.
Fresh produce is essential for good health but there are a few exceptions: white potatoes, sweet corn (which is not a vegetable it is a grain) and legumes. Avoid canned fruit in syrups and limit your quantities of dried fruits, as they contain large amounts of concentrated sugars. The biggest concern with dried fruit is the sulfur that is used to preserve them, so choose organic. If you are trying to lose weight, the best option is to avoid very high sugar fruits such as grapes, bananas, mango and pineapple for the time being. Any of the berries or an apple would be a better choice.
Fermented foods are one of the best things you can do for your health. They keep our digestive system healthy, in turn, our immune system will be strong.
OILS AND FATS
Healthy fats are essential for brain function and to transport vitamins and minerals throughout our bodies. Stay away from the saturated fats in processed foods. The good saturated fats to consume are from grass-fed meats, eggs, seafood and coconut. Not all saturated fats are created equal.
The most nutritious fats to cook with are; coconut oil, ghee-clarified butter (ghee is pure butter fat and has had the milk solids removed), avocado oil or lard. Oils that you need to avoid heating to very high temperatures are olive oil and macadamia oil but these may be used for baking at lower temperatures. They are also delicious drizzled over salads and vegetables.
Flaxseed and hemp oils must not be heated. They are great oils to add to smoothies or to use for salad dressings. Highly processed oils derived from seeds and grains (corn, soybean, canola, vegetable etc.) are highly inflammatory to the body and are believed to contribute to many illnesses. When purchasing oils ensure they come in dark bottles, this helps to keep them fresher and prevent oxidization.
NUTS AND SEEDS
Nuts and seeds are a great protein snack. Eat them raw but in moderation. Stay away from store bought roasted nuts that have been cooked in canola, sunflower or similar vegetable oils. If you don’t like them raw, try dry roasting them. They can also be used to garnish your salads. The best thing of all, however, is that they make wonderful nut meals/flours for grain-free baking. You will find recipes in my cookbook for delicious nut and seed butters. Where possible, it is best to soak nuts before using to assist with digestion.