You have probably heard about the Paleo diet and how people are taking up the lifestyle to get healthy. But do you know exactly what it is or how it works? You might be interested but don’t know how to start. To help you out, here’s a beginner’s guide to the Paleo diet.
What is the Paleo diet?
Basically, this is a lifestyle that involves eating whole, real, natural food and avoiding processed foods. Humans have only been eating the way we do now for about 10,000 years. Before that, people ate in a Paleo manner for a very, very long time: some estimates indicate more than 2 million years. In other words, humans and their bodies are meant to eat those foods that we used to eat, and not the highly processed, grain-‐based foods and sugar
that only came into our diets most recently.
The Paleo diet aims to bring back those whole, real foods and to eliminate processed foods, sugar, refined sugar, grains, and hydrogenated vegetable oils that do nothing positive for our health and well-‐being.
You can learn more from the video below
History of the Paleo Diet
Paleo men and women were lean, strong, and fit. They ate what they could hunt or gather; they didn’t grow crops like we do today. They dug up tubers, ate insects and animals they caught, and picked berries when in season. They moved around following the food sources. They climbed trees, jumped streams, and were in pretty fantastic shape.
Humans ate like this for a really, really long time. So long, in fact, that the human body became pretty adapted to eating those foods. Humans’ bodies ran more on fat than carbs. Then along came the agricultural revolution, and everything changed.
The Agricultural Revolution
Also called the Neolithic Demographic Transition, or the Neolithic Revolution, this happened around 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. Humans started to shift from a hunter gather type of society to one where settlement and agriculture was more common. They began to grow grain crops and raise domesticated animals for food. Now, of course, 10,000 years ago, wheat and other grains were vastly different than they are
today. The wheat we have now has been altered to include more gluten.
The breads they ate then were also more likely to be sourdough, and they used the process of fermentation a lot more.
It’s likely that digestive issues and diseases related to poor food choices started around this time. So, do you want to be lean and strong and healthy like our Paleo ancestors? If so, you should definitely try out the Paleo Diet.
The Basics of the Paleo Diet
What you can eat:
● Vegetables and tubers
● Fish and Seafood
● Natural oils like avocado, coconut, olive, and butter or, if accessible, ghee from grassfed cows.
It’s likely that digestive issues and diseases related to poor food choices started around
So, do you want to be lean and strong and healthy like our Paleo ancestors? If so, you
should definitely try out the Paleo diet.
What you should not eat:
● Grains (wheat, barley, rye, corn)
● Hydrogenated vegetable oils (corn, canola, soybean, margarine)
● Dairy (some people eat raw dairy if they don’t have a problem with it—these people
follow what is called a Primal Diet)
Why You Should Avoid Those Foods
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 35 percent of all American adults are obese. Obesity leads to a higher risk of many diseases like some cancers, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke. Obesity can be caused by diets thaat are high in processed foods, too high in processed carbohydrates, and too high in sugar. Many people suffer from health problems associated with inflammation and food intolerances.
Legumes can cause people to suffer from inflammation and an irritated digestive tract. If you’re one of those people, you should avoid legumes. Even if you don’t suffer from side effects, it’s likely that your body is experiencing inflammation, so it’s best to avoid legumes. Safe legumes are peas and green beans. Unsafe legumes are soy, peanuts, and beans like kidney beans, Romano beans, etc.
Grains (wheat, barley, and rye) contain lectins and gluten. Lectins are toxins that a plant develops to protect itself against consumption so that the plant may reproduce. These lectins can cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract and also pull vitamins from the intestines, preventing absorption of valuable micronutrients. Proteins in the wheat, like gluten, can cause an assortment of problems for some people. For example, you’ve probably heard of someone who suffers from celiac disease that causes them to have an allergic reaction to gluten. These people suffer from abdominal pain or discomfort, bloating, and diarrhea when they eat gluten. Did you know there are non-‐celiac gluten intolerances as well? These people may suffer from headaches, joint pain, mood disorders, and more, all because of gluten. Other grains like rice, oats, and corn could also be contaminated with gluten at the factory.
Perhaps the scariest part is that a large majority of people who are gluten intolerant don’t even know it; they have no outward symptoms, yet their insides are riddled with inflammation and they are on the fast-‐track to ill-‐health.
One major reason to avoid grains is because they are very high in processed carbohydrates. Your body turns carbs into glucose, which gets stored to be used for energy. If you don’t use those glucose stores, that glucose is stored as fat. Processed sugars are extremely high in glucose as well. The CDC says that sugars added to foods have been linked to a lowered level of essential micronutrients and an increase in body weight.
Processed oils, and partially ‐hydrogenated and hydrogenated vegetable oils (also called trans fats), are simply not good for you. They cause inflammation and unhealthy levels of Omega 6 compared to Omega 3. Oils to avoid are all types of margarine, soybean oil, canola oil, “vegetable” oil, corn oil, and sunflower/ safflower oil.
Most processed foods have at least one of these types of oils.
A lot of people have problems eating dairy products. If you’re not one of those people, and you have access to raw milk, go for it. Raw milk (when it comes from a good, trusted source) is safe, delicious, and healthy.Low Carb? No. Just Different Carbs Some people confuse a Paleo diet with a low-‐carb diet. Sure, if you’re overweight,
mostly sedentary, and want to lose weight, a lower-‐carb diet can help you lose weight quickly and safely.
If you’re not overweight, are active at your job, or work out a lot, you need those carbs. Just make sure you’re getting those from “good” carb sources like sweet potatoes, starchy vegetables, fruits, and sometimes rice, if you are out of other options. White rice is a benign grain, with very few lectins, and no gluten, as long as it hasn’t been
contaminated. Whether you eat white rice or not is up to you.
A lot of people have problems eating dairy products. If you’re not one of those people, and you have access to raw milk, go for it. Raw milk (when it comes from a good, trusted source) is safe, delicious, and healthy.
Low Carb? No. Just Different Carbs Some people confuse a Paleo diet with a low-‐carb diet. Sure, if you’re overweight, mostly sedentary, and want to lose weight, a lower-‐carb diet can help you lose weight
quickly and safely. If you’re not overweight, are active at your job, or work out a lot, you need those carbs. Just make sure you’re getting those from “good” carb sources like sweet potatoes, starchy vegetables, fruits, and sometimes rice, if you are out of other options. White rice is a benign grain, with very few lectins, and no gluten, as long as it hasn’t been contaminated. Whether you eat white rice or not is up to you.
Enjoy fish: (Preferably wild-‐caught, sustainable.) Fatty fish are best, like salmon. If you get canned salmon, get it with the skin and bone still present for the best nutrients. Because these foods are filling, full of nutrients, and low in “bad” fats and carbs, you can most likely eat as much as you want (aside from nuts and fruit) and not gain weight. In
fact, if you go from eating a standard American diet to the Paleo Diet, you’ll probably lose weight without even trying.
Getting Over Grain Addiction
If you are really serious about giving this a try, start with a 30-‐day challenge. Cut out all the bad stuff and eat as much of the good stuff as you want. You’ll feel better, look better, and you’ll probably lose some weight. If you won’t do it all at once, cut out MOST bad foods and plan a “cheat” meal, or even a cheat day. That will make a difference, too—although not as dramatic as if you cut it all out entirely.
A lot of people will find out they actually do have intolerances, particularly if they cut out gluten for 30 days and then re-‐introduce it. You might get headaches, joint pain, stomach upset, bloating, or other symptoms. If you do, then you know for certain that you should definitely avoid gluten all the time. You can also do this kind of elimination diet for dairy if you aren’t sure if it causes a problem. Just make sure you don’t introduce two potential foods at once, as you won’t know which one caused the reaction if you have a problem.
How to Succeed
You can get healthy, lose weight, or maintain a healthy weight quite easily on the Paleo
diet. Here’s how to get started:
● Get rid of all the junk food—Now. Donate all the junk food, packaged stuff, and other undesirable food from your pantry. Give it to a homeless shelter or food bank. Or throw it out.
● Don’t eat out at restaurants until you know you can resist temptation—and know
which foods do not have gluten/dairy etc. in them
● Don’t overthink it. Some people like to overcomplicate the Paleo Diet—but what it really comes down to is “JERF,” which is “Just Eat Real Food.” And with that, here’s our bonus recipe book—enjoy the delicious recipes below!