Please note that I am not a licensed nutritionist. I am simply sharing what I’ve researched, learned, and personally experienced. Please consult with your doctor before starting any new diet.
I started my paleo journey about 5 years ago when my kick-ass friend and CrossFit competitor, Krista, told me about it. I was looking to loose some of the baby weight from when I was pregnant with Gwyneth and thought I’d give it a try.
Then over coffee last week, my girlfriend and I started talking about food and diets, and she mentioned how she needed to change her eating habits because of several allergies and food intolerances she’d developed over the past couple years. So I put together these paleo basics for her and anyone else hoping to gain some understanding of the diet.
~ my friend, an amazing competitor ~
The thing I really appreciate about paleo is that, to me, it’s simple. There’s no calorie counting or weighing food, you don’t have to tally points or worry about the scale. Sometimes I read labels, but overall the basics of it are rather simple.
So let’s get down to it, shall we?
what is paleo?
The paleolithic, caveman, or paleo diet is based on the hunter-gatherer eating habits of humans during the Paleolithic era, a period lasting 2.5 million years.
About 10,000 years ago the agricultural revolution began, which created farming and domesticated animals (think of it as when grains and dairy were invented).
Although 10,000 years seems like a really long time, when compared to 2.5 million years of eating as hunter-gatherers, today’s eating standards are a tiny fraction of what our bodies are used to. It’s suggested that our bodies have not adapted to the agricultural era or eating grain, legumes and dairy, and more specifically the processed foods found today [source]. Basically, our bodies have not yet evolved or adjusted properly, and because of that many people have gained weight and developed allergies, food intolerances, and other illnesses associated with diet.
yet another fad diet?
I don’t believe so. Every advocate, follower and the like will tell you that, although often referred to as such, paleo is not a “diet.” It is a lifestyle. Which means simply that it is a lifelong change. Although you may see results (such as weight loss) in the beginning, it is an ongoing way of eating and, well, living.
I think that should be true for eating in general. While there may be times when it’s better to follow a strict regimen (e.g. times when I’ve been more selective: race training, baby weight loss), or times when it’s okay to indulge a little, healthy eating should be a part of life.
what can I eat?
why can I eat sweet potatoes?
Basically, even though sweet potatoes are starchy vegetables that are high in carbs, their benefits outweigh the negative. Yes, sweet potatoes contain sugars and so they do have an effect on blood sugar levels, but this effect happens slowly and steadily [source]. Don’t fight it, just be happy a potato exists in the paleo world;)
what about alcohol?
Alcohol is not exactly paleo, because sadly our ancestors weren’t drinking cocktails back in the day. But let’s face it, alcohol is pretty tough to give up. So if you must consume alcohol (yes, I must!), it’s preferable to stick with gin, rum, tequila, and red wine.
why is it synonymous with CrossFit?
CrossFit is all about reaching your body’s full potential, whether in that day’s workout, in a competition, or in everyday living. Diet has everything to do with that. Healthy eating leads to a healthier body, which leads to reaching your body’s full potential.
in a nutshell…
Unlike many other diets that are mostly about losing weight, paleo is much more than that. While it can greatly help with weight loss, paleo has helped so many people with a variety of goals like boosting performance and increasing energy, as well as health issues like allergies, eczema, acid reflux, food intolerances, insomnia, and celiac disease, to name a few.
And with all the food choices out there, many good, but so many bad, it makes things simple. It’s easy to understand why it works and can be really easy to follow (I’ll get into that on another day).
a few websites to check out
Mark’s Daily Apple – resources and recipes
The Paleo Diet – resources
PaleOMG – recipes
Health-Bent – recipes
Have you ever tried paleo?