As I have repeatedly stated before I am not the originator of this diet. Nor am I a Dr., a biochemist, olympic athlete, or have any other really cool distinction that instantly provides credibility to my opinion. I am merely a mom. I am a 41-year-old single mom as of the date this page was written. I have 2 extremely busy kids and a stressful job that while I love it does not foster a healthy lifestyle. I am merely someone who was looking for an answer to why I was feeling crappy all the time, why I had no energy and why keeping weight off was such a challenge unless I was starving myself or working out like a madwoman. For the record, none of the above conditions are merely what comes with getting older. They are unnatural conditions of an unnatural life. This page is not to answer all of your burning questions about the research and science behind why I think this lifestyle is the right answer for so many. It is merely to give some of my “just tell me what to do and I’ll do it” friends who are looking for help. My hope is that by following these basic principles you will want to read many of the books and resources I provide in the right side bar on my home page. I hope you choose to do the research for yourself, but if getting started and seeing results is what you need to experience first, then here ya go!
Principle #1 : What to Eat and Drink:
- Animal foods like all meats, poultry, sea animals, eggs. When you can, eat all parts of the animal including its fat, organ meats if you like them, and broth from the bones for soups. (Buy foods described as grass-fed, pastured or pasture raised, free range, organic whenever possible.)
- Vegetables of all kinds but mostly non-starchy. Starchy veggies are great if you are very active or an athlete and you need to restore the glycogen in your muscles after a rigorous work out. Try to avoid white potatoes but sweet potatoes or yams are great and other root veggies like rutabagas and turnips. Green leafy veggies should play a big part as well as other brightly colored veggies.
- Sea vegetables like Nori, Arame, Dulse, Wakame and Sea Palm. Typically found in health food stores as well as asian grocers.
- Some fruit. Fruit is tricky for me because what kind of fruit and how much depends on your activity level and your goal. Rule of thumb if you are not very active and weight loss is a goal then stick to low glycemic fruits like berries and limit the portion. Fruit and starch can spike insulin levels that can make maintaining or losing weight difficult. If weight is not an issue for you then you don’t need to be as concerned about it.
- Some nuts and seeds including nut or seed butters. Stay away from peanuts, they are a legume and contain mold. Stick with macadamia nuts, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts as your first options. Be careful about how much you eat if weight loss is a goal or you tend to get bloated. You can try soaking your nuts in water overnight to reduce the amount of bloating if that is a concern as well as to remove mold that maybe on them as a result of storing them. Again, eat nuts and seeds in moderation.
- Good quality fats. Animal fats like grass-fed butter or Ghee, Lard,and Tallo make great fats to cook with. Oils tend to break down at high heats and can cause free radicals. Olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, avocado oil, walnut oil, macadamia nut oil, sesame oil are oils I consider to be relatively safe. Avoid all other oils.
- Fermented foods are fantastic for you. You can buy them or make them yourself. Some of my favorites are fermented veggies of all kinds and Kombucha (a fermented tea). I can not tolerate dairy but I have learned to make coconut milk yogurt and that is delicious. The recipe is on the blog.
- I love coconut and avocados. They are great sources of fat and fiber. They are extremely versatile. Coconut can be used in so many ways it’s mind-boggling.
- Stick with naturally sugar-free beverages whenever possible. This includes water (what I drink the most of), tea and coffee (caffeinated or caffeine free depending on your sensitivity). Non dairy milks like almond milk or coconut milk make a great creamer for coffee. Coconut water makes a great electrolyte beverage, and kombucha is a delicious probiotic drink. Club soda can be ok on occasion. Natural veggie juices are good, but fruit juices have a TON of fructose! Proceed with caution when it comes to juice, if you can juice it yourself , even better. I would prefer you use fruit juice as an enhancer to tea or club soda rather than chugging down a big glass of OJ. I’d also rather you eat the whole fruit with all the fiber that comes with it than just the juice. Can you say insulin spike?!
- Homemade smoothies with Paleo friendly ingredients and a Paleo friendly protein powder can be a great quick meal or snack. Mark Sisson offers a great whey protein powder that I trust.
What is OK but you should moderate how much you consume:
- Natural unprocessed sugars like raw honey, pure maple syrup, coconut nectar and stevia
- Caffeine, depending on your sensitivity. Some of us just can’t tolerate it others have no problem.
- Wine and clear alcohols that are not grains based like vodka and tequila. Remember fermented foods are good but alcohol is tough from a sugar stand point and other obvious health concerns. If I chose to have a cocktail I opt for a glass of wine or either vodka or tequila with club soda and some lime.
- Dark Chocolate. Shoot for chocolate that is 70% cacao or higher. If you can find it without soy and with 10 grams of sugar per serving or less that is even better.
What is controversial?
- Dairy. Most true Paleo eaters do not eat any dairy. Others will consume only raw, pastured and full fat dairy products. If you are going to eat dairy this is the kind you should eat. I do not recommend dairy as a major part of your diet and would prefer you eliminate it especially in the first 30 days. Otherwise if you insist that you just can not live without dairy, stick to full fat, raw, and grass-fed or at the very least, full fat and organic.
- Quinoa, Buckwheat, Amaranth, Rice and other gluten-free “safe grains” I honestly just don’t eat them but some say they can eat them a feel fine. Again I recommend you omit them for at least the first 30 days.
What to avoid at all costs:
- Grains especially gluten containing grains. These include wheat, millet, barley and rye. This means no breads, cereal, pasta, baked goods, pizza, etc.
- Soy, especially soy by products. Some fermented soy foods can be ok like miso and tempe but really avoid the processed by products. No Soy Milk.
- Vegetable and seed oils except olive oil. These include corn oil, soy bean oil, sunflower and safflower oil, canola oil, etc.
- Legumes or Beans including peanuts and chick peas.
- Dairy. I know I also have this on the controversial list but for many dairy is just a no-no. It is not a Paleo food and both lactose and casein can really be problematic.
- Soda except for club soda on occasion. Sugary sports drinks and sugary beverages in general.
- PROCESSED FOODS!!! If it comes packaged and you have to read the ingredients, then you really shouldn’t be eating it. This includes sauces, dressings, processed protein powders, sports drinks, anything that comes in a box, carton, can, or pre-sealed bag or wrapper. As a matter of fact, most of what you have in your pantry right now may just need to be tossed but, just be smart. I have boxed and canned things in my pantry, like canned full fat coconut milk, my Paleo Kits and grainless granola bars, bags of nuts, seeds and dried fruit, coconut water, kale chips, and others but I try to make 80% of what I eat come without packaging. This is why I try to make so much myself, so I know exactly what went into it. Even what seems harmless like almond milk is SOOO easy to make yourself and preservative free.
Principle #2: How to exercise.
- Keep it fun and something you will look forward to doing again. Play a sport, dance, hike, walk, ride a bike.
- Lift, push and pull heavy things a couple of times a week in shorter bursts of intense exertion.
- Sprint from time to time. Run like your life depends on it, because back during the caveman era, that is exactly what we did. We ran in play and for survival.
- DO NOY UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES FORCE YOURSELF INTO A WORK OUT YOU HATE BECAUSE YOU FEEL GUILTY! Work out for the love and respect you have for your body.
Principle #3: Get enough rest.
- The average adult needs 7-8 hours a night. I know you think you only need 5-6 but believe me, your body is not running at its optimum level with that little sleep on a regular basis.
- Take time to chill the heck out! When life is running too fast and you are having trouble sleeping, force your self to sit or lie in peace. Breathe deeply and slowly, maybe close your eyes and/or meditate. Be respectful to your adrenal glands. They are what help you cope and when you abuse them they shut down and you will be unable to cope with what you feel are just every day events and stressors. Some anxiety disorders are really adrenal fatigue. Seek a natural health practitioner if you think you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue. See my post on Adrenal Fatigue.
Principle #4: Don’t be afraid of the sun.
- Get that vitamin D
- I don’t know about you but I am a much happier mom when it is sunny out and I can get out to enjoy it.
Principle #5: Become your own expert in YOU
- I can sit here all day and tell you what to eat and not to eat. How to move and to rest etc, but at the end of the day you need to LISTEN to YOUR body and do as it says.
- Structure your macro nutrient ratios to what feels right on you. I eat a low carb, higher fat and protein version of the Paleo diet. It is actually more of a Primal diet. Others do better on a higher carb version because they run marathons or are endurance athletes.
- No, you do not need to eat small meals every 3-4 hours or even 3 square meals a day if you are not hungry and you have plenty of energy. If nature intended for us to eat very structured like that we never would have made it past the ice age. Food was often scarce and we ate when it was available. My best advice is eat if you are hungry and eat until you are not hungry any more. You do not need a minimum or maximum number of calories or protein or fat grams etc., unless you are an elite athlete with lofty performance goals. If you eat when hungry, stop when you’re not, and stick with the foods mentioned above you will be pleased with your results. Let your body tell you when you are hungry and when it has had enough, if it needs more fat or more protein. Listen, Learn and Repeat.
- Decide if exercise is best for you in the morning, afternoon or evening. You decide how much cardio and strength training feels good on your body based on your goals.
- Use supplements that are appropriate for you. Most of us can benefit from a quality multi vitamin, an omega 3 supplement and a probiotic for sure. For anything else, seek advice from a natural health practitioner.
Principle #6: Give it at least 30 days.
- It really can take a full 30 days to clear up inflammation, determine if you have food sensitivities, and build good habits.
- It can also take a full 30 days for you to become an expert in you, maybe longer.
- You and your best, healthiest, happiest body deserves at least 30 days.
I will update this page whenever I think something needs to be added or changed, but for now, this is good start. I hope it helps and I encourage you to do your own reading and your own research on you!