If you follow me on Instagram then you would see that one of my most used hashtags is #paleo. I often use the term Paleo to navigate my way to healthy, sustainable, fair, nourishing choices. And I find it an easy thing to reference back to when making healthy choices.
So what is it and why do I think it’s so fab?
Paleo is short for Paleolithic, an era well known as the time of the Caveman. There are many different shades of Paleo out there but the general idea is eating real foods that come from nature and require little or no processing. This means food-like-products made in a factory or foods that go through heavy processing are out. It takes into account the nutrient density of foods, where the food comes from (including how animals are raised and what they are fed) and whether or not the human body is designed to eat it.
When I think of Paleo, straight away I think of real food, eaten as it should be. And this makes me smile. And it makes sense.
General guidelines for eating the ‘Paleo’ way
- The most well-known guideline is that grains aren’t eaten. Why? Because of their negative effect on the GI tract (and consequently the whole body) as well as the fact that any nutrients they contain can be obtained in higher quantities through other foods (I discuss nutrient density below). If you want the low down on grains I have spoken about them before here
- Fruit and vegetables are piled high on the plates of those eating a Paleo diet -for their carbohydrates, fiber and wonderful nutrients (of which are all in balanced proportions that the body needs).
- Paleo-goers don’t usually eat dairy, based on the idea that milk is for offspring, not humans and more importantly, today’s dairy is a very processed product (pasturised, homogonised, skimmed, fortified etc) Raw dairy however, is seen as a completely different food to modern dairy and therefor, some will still include it. Raw dairy, which is sadly not sold for human consumption is Australia, is a nutrient dense, natural, live food. I personally give raw dairy the thumbs up for anyone who can tolerate dairy. (If you want to help change the laws on raw dairy please sign this petition)
- Animal products are enjoyed for their high nutrient values and nose to tail eating is embraced. When choosing animal products, grain fed is avoided because ruminant animals don’t have a natural diet of grains, they eat grass (and this is reflected in the health of the animal and therefore the quality of the meat/organs products)
- Animal fats from pasture raised animals are favored for both eating and cooking purposes (I have spoken about fats here and here) and seed oils like canola, sunflower, soybean, rice bran etc are avoided because of their inflammatory properties, the heavy processing required to make them and their current global GMO status.
- Soy beans and soy products are not eaten because of the numerous detrimental health implications and their GMO status.
- Seafood is eaten a-plenty! Sustainable options are sought.
- Gluten, food additives and artificial flavors are avoided by cutting out processed foods.
Does this all sound familiar? You might have read something very similar in my food philosophy, no wonder I love the Paleo movement!
Paleo isn’t a diet, it’s a way of living. Really. Most paleo folk will embrace ‘natural’ into their whole lives, not just their diets. And this is why I REALLY like Paleo.
Its about saying no to the modern bullshit we are fed (excuse the pun!). Its about knowing what’s right for the human body, despite what Big Corporation and Big Pharma say. And most of all, it’s about humans, animals and the environment co-existing in a healthy & happy way.
Typically, a paleo lifestyle will include the use of natural products, avoiding all synthetic crapola, buying responsibly (especially animal products), managing stress, getting enough sleep & exercising in a smart way. All things that are really important, all things that I care about. Again, this is why I love Paleo in general.
One last note. I want to clear up the label of Paleo and to let you know that I don’t consider myself to be ‘Paleo’, Yes, I share most of the beliefs and most of the food I eat can be considered as Paleo (but certainly not all of it) but I don’t like labels and I certainly don’t follow the ‘rules’ of any type of diet. I do what works for me and my body. As should you.