Not Just A Diet
Whether you call it Paleo, Primal, Caveman, Weston A. Price, Ancestral Health or Real Food, the bottom line is a growing number of people are embracing a lifestyle that emphasizes going back to our roots, both in terms of what is on our plates as well as how we live our lives.
The reasons for this shift include dissatisfaction with the modern food system, struggles with illness, disease, or weight loss, or simply a yearning for more connection and deeper relationships with the people, plants, and animals that populate this world.
If you’ve been considering going paleo but aren’t sure where to get started, this 4-step “Paleo 101” crash course is designed just for you.
Step 1 – Eliminate
Certain foods that were long considered “healthy” such as low fat dairy, whole grains, and low saturated fat vegetable oils are now starting to raise red flags. Wheat gluten, dairy proteins, and excess omega-6 from seed oils have been increasingly implicated in food sensitivities, auto-immune conditions, and poor digestive health. Paleo encourages the elimination of these foods, as well as a few other, at least initially, to activate your body’s natural healing mechanisms.
Industrial Seed Oils (canola, soy, cottonseed, corn, and peanut)
Artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners
Soda, Sports Drinks, Beer, cocktails
Step 2 – Accentuate
After looking over the Eliminate List, it might seem like there is nothing left to eat. This second step focuses on all the things that are encouraged on Paleo. You might even find yourself eating a wider variety of foods after going Paleo than before!
High quality meats (fish, shellfish, beef, pork, chicken)
Green leafy vegetables (kale, chard, collards, lettuce)
Fruits (apples, bananas, oranges, pears, peaches)
Starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes, white potatoes, taro, cassava, yucca, plantain)
Herbs and Spices (rosemary, sage, thyme, cinnamon, curry, pepper)
Aromatic vegetables (onions, garlic, leeks, shallots)
Nuts and Seeds (walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, almonds)
Healthy fats (olive oil, grass-fed butter, coconut oil, avocado)
Fermented foods (natural pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi)
Coffee, tea, coconut water, kombucha, red wine (in small amounts)
Step 3 – Exercise
What is on your plate is only one part of the equation. The Paleo “diet” becomes the Paleo “lifestyle” when you begin to look at other aspects of your life that could use some attention. Exercise is the first lifestyle step and doesn’t have to be overly intense or extreme to be effective. Something as simple as going for a walk, perhaps in nature, or even barefoot, is a perfect Paleo start to exercise.
Walking, Jogging, or Running
Gymnastics or Bodyweight Exercise
Step 4 – Unplug
Paleo encourages us to be healthier by connecting with our family, friends and ourselves on a deeper level. Although we are surrounded by technology at all times, it’s important to occasionally unplug. Emphasize interpersonal relationships by turning off the TV, the smart phone, and simply having a conversation, or playing a card game. Engage your creative and complex brain by reading, practicing art or playing music when alone.
Ways to “Unplug”
Meditate or practice Yoga, Tai-Chi, or Deep Breathing
Call a friend on the phone rather than texting
Read a book instead of surfing the internet
Play a sport instead of watching them on TV
Tony Federico is a Health and Fitness Specialist, blogger, podcaster, and cookbook author. He is the Assistant Director of Fitness and Aquatics at the Deerwood Country Club in Jacksonville Florida and his upcoming book, “Paleo Grilling – A Modern Caveman’s Guide to Cooking with Fire” will be available nationwide Summer 2014.
You can also listen to his podcast “Paleo Magazine Radio” on iTunes and read his personal blog at www.LiveCaveman.com.
Paleo Meal Plan
Option 1 2-3 whole eggs (hardboiled, scrambled, or fried), 1/2 avocado, 2 slices of bacon, small orange
Option 2 Paleo smoothie (egg white protein, frozen berries, cinnamon coconut milk, tbsp almond butter, banana, kale or spinach)
Option 1 Roasted chicken thigh/leg quarter, mixed salad greens with lemon, olive oil, and salt and pepper dressing, roasted almonds, sparkling mineral water with lemon or lime wedge
Option 2 Bunless burger with lettuce, onion, tomato, and mustard, small sweet potato with cinnamon, unsweetened iced tea
Option 1 Small Fuji apple with raw walnuts
Option 2 Home-made or all natural (msg & soy free) beef jerky, raisins, and cashews
Option 1 Big Ass Salad: kale, lettuce, or greens of choice topped with mixed raw vegetables, avocado or olive oil, red wine or balsamic vinegar, and meat of choice (steak, chicken, fish, shrimp, etc.)
Option 2 Crock pot mojo pulled pork, roasted green beans, sweet plantains pan fried in coconut oil
Option 3 Oven broiled beef ribs, brussels sprouts roasted with bacon, cauliflower “rice” (pulse cauliflower in a food processor or blender to make “rice”, then saute in a pan with garlic, onions, and olive oil, add a small quantity of chicken broth, cover, and allow to cook for 10-15 minutes until soft)
Option 1 2 bacon-wrapped medjool dates
Option 2 2 squares dark chocolate (60% cacao or above)
Option 3 2 small Gluten-free coconut macaroons