Eating like a caveman has become a hot new diet trend. The Paleo (short for Paleolithic) diet sends us back to our hunter-gatherer roots for foodie inspiration. We’re encouraged to eat grass-fed meat and plenty of vegetables, fruits, and seeds. Processed foods are given the axe–that’s anything with refined sugar or grain, whether gluten-free or wheat-based. In the strictest versions, members of the nightshade family (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant) are also eliminated along with legumes and dairy.
The beauty of Paleo is that, to a large degree, it fits in well with a seasonal local food diet, and you know that’s important to me. We’ve never been highly dependent on packaged convenience foods at our house, but in the past year or so I’ve rooted out virtually all of them, along with bread, potatoes, rice, and pasta (with rare eating-out exceptions) in an effort to lose the forty pounds or so that have snuck up on me.
I’m about halfway to my goal with no calorie-counting and only moderate increases in exercise. I already walked two miles most days and continue to do so, along with a Thane Total Flex workout three times a week.
I’m not a nutritionist and don’t claim to understand how the body metabolizes everything we put in it. All I can go by is how my body feels and listen to the testimonials of others, such as my daughter. I did have some medically unexplained issues two years ago that pulled my energy to the lowest ebb it has ever been in my life. Since then, things have improved dramatically. I credit the (modified) Paleo diet with giving me MORE energy than I’ve had in probably ten years or more.
So how Paleo are we? We have the basics covered–hormone-free, natural meat, organic veggies and fruit, seeds, honey, and avoidance of grains whether modified or not. No processed food. No GM (genetically modified) “food.”
Against the recommendations we include clean dairy and organic legumes–what can I say? Black bean soup helps me with weight control. While I’m avoiding potatoes (for the dense carb factor), I’m happily consuming other nightshades and yams. So. . .I am making my own rules.
For people who have specific health problems such as gluten intolerance, diabetes, or autoimmune diseases, I think it’s well worth looking up the Paleo diet and following it closely for a time to see if it helps.
For those of us who just want to be healthy and live sustainably, I do have one major quibble with the system. I “get” that wheat can make us fat and unhealthy, especially if it is refined GM wheat mixed with a bunch of chemicals etc to make packaged cookies, for example.
But the fact is that I can buy whole organic grain (wheat, rye, spelt, and oats) locally and grind it myself. The Paleo “substitute?” Coconut flour and almond meal. Neither of these is anywhere near local to me in Canada, and I am not sure they are sustainably sourced.
As a result, while I have experimented a bit with these “flours,” when I bake, which isn’t as often as it used to be, I’ll be sticking with my local grains for the most part. At our house, we aren’t gluten-intolerant, so I don’t see the need for exotic and expensive replacements. The bottom line is that we, as a culture, need to consume less baked goods and more vegetables.
Curious about Paleo? Here are a few links I found.
What about you? Have you dabbled in Paleo? What healthy-eating guidelines do you follow?