What is Paleo? The Paleo diet is beautiful in its simplicity. If our Palaeolithic ancestors couldn’t catch it in the wild or dig it up out of the ground, it’s not included – sorry all you wheat, grain and legume-lovers! Instead, what you’re left with is a diet based on natural ‘whole’ foods free from processing, additives, and excess salt and sugar.
OK, what are the benefits? Plenty! Research groups and Paleo advocates have cited increases in fat loss, lean muscle tissue and energy levels and reductions in chronic inflammation conditions such as colitis, Crohn’s disease, leaky gut syndrome and reflux.
What’s the downside? As with any diet, there are people who downplay the benefits and question it’s everyday practicality. Paleo is no different. An expert review found the Paleo diet much higher in animal protein and much lower in carbohydrates and calcium than other diets.
How to go Paleo, Painlessly!
As with any new eating plan there are often bumps in the road and obstacles you need to navigate. The Paleo diet is no exception with entire food groups eliminated. Don’t be discouraged, though! The Paleo diet is all about preparation, adaptation, and thinking outside the box. Here’s how to go Paleo painlessly.
#1. Eat Paleo-Friendly Food Groups
While it’s true that you may have to give up a few of your favourites on the Paleo diet, there’s also a whole array of fresh healthy foods – lean, pure meats, lots of wild plants and healthy fats – that you can have. Grab a pen, make a list and stock up on these Paleo-friendly foods.
Carbohydrates: Almost any in-season, fresh produce is a go here. Eat Spinach, Carrots, Sprouts, Broccoli, Cabbage, Parsley, Cauliflower, Celery, Zucchini, Asparagus, Avocado Peppers, Eggplant, Green onion, Sweet potato, Beets, Squash and Yams.
Protein: Eat free-range turkey, eggs, chicken (or other poultry), wild fish (including salmon, tuna, sardines, trout, bass, mackerel, crab, shrimp, clams, lobster), grass-fed meats (including steak, veal, bacon, pork, rabbit, goat)
Healthy Fats: Eat Avocados, Cashews, Almonds, Hazelnuts, Walnuts, Pine nuts, Pumpkin seeds, Pecans, Macadamia nuts, Walnuts and Sunflower seeds. As for oils, use cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, flax-seed oil, virgin coconut oil, Macadamia Oil, Avocado Oil & Grass fed Butter
Surviving the Supermarket: Heading into the supermarket you need to have a plan. Don’t get lost in the aisles, that’s where all the processed nasties reside. Stick instead to the perimeter (the ‘outside’) where you’ll find the produce, seafood and butchery sections.
#2. Create a Winning Formula
Each of your Paleo meals should be balanced with vegetables as the star of the plate. From there add in smaller portions of protein, fat and perhaps fruit. As you get more familiar with Paleo you’ll know how much of each macro-nutrient you personally need to keep you full and feeling satisfied. Checkout this video to see an example of what a full day on the Paleo Diet looks like and involves.
#3. Know What Not to Eat
Since dairy, grains and processed foods weren’t on the menu back in the Palaeolithic era, they’re still no-no’s today – though just how strictly you stick to this is up to you. Here’s a more in-depth breakdown on what to avoid and what to eat instead.
Grains & Legumes: In place of grains and legumes, which can lead to gut irritation and inflammation, those going Paleo can get their carbohydrates from a variety of fresh vegetables. There’s no restrictions here and with veggies being so nutritious and low in calories it’s difficult to go overboard, so eat your fill.
Dairy: Dairy products aren’t included as part of the Paleo diet, so this makes it important to look for other sources of bone-building calcium. Foods including Salmon, mackerel, green leafy veggies, almonds and Brazil nuts are all excellent choices. Replace cows milk with coconut or almond milk. You can make your own by blending coconut water with the white ‘flesh’ inside a young coconut.
Processed Foods: Pre-made, pre-packaged foods containing saturated and trans fats, food colouring, additives, sugar, unpronounceable preservatives and other man-made agents are not included on the Paleo diet. In addition, pasta, bread or anything with gluten and yeast are off the menu, too.
#4. Plan, Prepare, Win!
We all get days when we don’t feel like cooking or preparing food, which is why its important to cook ahead. Preparing batches of steamed vegetables and lean meats and then storing them in the fridge is a great way to always have healthy meals on hand. Put a few hours aside on the weekend for food prep and have some fun in the kitchen whipping up tasty Paleo recipes.
#5. Go Organic (wherever possible)
Consider organic produce the gold-standard thanks to it’s seasonal yield and pesticide-free growth. Don’t worry though if you can’t get your food all-organic. This mainly applies to fruits with a soft skin.
Fruit and veggies that have a tougher outer skin or peel, such as bananas, are fine to eat from everyday conventional sources. Other safe, conventionally grown foods include avocado, watermelon, cabbage, citrus fruit, mango, pineapple, onions, kiwifruit, asparagus and eggplant.
#6. Keep it Fun!
We all know that following a diet plan with restrictions isn’t always practical or even necessary, which is why it’s important to keep some fun and flexibility in your approach.
As a general rule of thumb, try and keep things Paleo. However, if you or your partner simply can’t live without the occasional chocolate bar or other sweet treat, don’t stress and ditch your Paleo diet altogether, enjoy it. You can still stick make your Paleo plan worthwhile and enjoy all of the benefits that come with it. Eat right 90% of the time and the other 10% won’t even matter.
Remember, the more you view Paleo as fun enjoyable and not a one-size-fits-all approach, the more likely you’ll be to stick to it!
If you needed any further proof that the Paleo Diet works for women, just watch this video of one woman's amazing weight loss transformation and how it's changed her life for the better. In it she describes how the Paleo diet has helped her beat the stresses of modern living, given her more energy and helped her burn fat from her hips and tummy.Click here to read more
Going Paleo can be tricky, especially when you factor in food preparation and cooking. As a busy woman, If you've got your hands full with kids, a husband and work commitments, the last thing you want is to be spending all of your free time in the kitchen getting your food ready for the next day.Click here to read more