A Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet
So you have friends who have tried the Paleo diet and you’re finally ready to give it a go. But what does it really mean when you “go Paleo”?
Also known as the “stone-age diet” or the “caveman diet”, eating Paleo essentially is all about ditching the processed foods and reaching for the stuff that was available back in the caveman days.
Below we’ve put together an easy guide for those looking to eat Paleo or to learn what all the fuss is about.
What is the Paleo diet?
The central idea of the Paleo diet is to eat like our Stone-Age ancestors in an attempt to stay healthy, lean, and strong — and to avoid chronic diseases associated with modern-day lifestyles like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
In the Paleolithic era, our ancestors were hunter-gatherers who had yet to figure out agriculture. They survived on a wholesome diet of meat, fish, honey, eggs, fruits, nuts, and seeds.
Fast forward 2.6 million years later, and proponents of this primal diet believe it to be more in line with our genetic blueprint. Deviating from this way of eating, they say, is the underlying cause of many diseases.
What do I eat on a Paleo diet?
A good starting off point to eating Paleo is to exclude any food that has seen the inside of a factory plant! With that tip engrained in your memory, be sure to include the following in your daily diet:
- Grass-fed meats
- Fresh fruits and veggies
- Nuts and seeds
- Healthy oils (olive, coconut, flaxseed, and avocado)
You’ll want to avoid the following:
- Grains and cereals
- Refined sugar and oils
- Starchy vegetables like potatoes
- Processed foods
Though following a strict Paleo meal plan is all about ditching your breakfast cereal, lunchtime pasta, or your dinnertime glass of wine - don’t stress. There are numerous resources available to help you eat Paleo – even apps that will help navigate you in your food journey.
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By following the caveman diet, you exclude the top five-calorie sources in the modern American diet — desserts (cookies, cakes), breads, fried goods, sweetened beverages, and alcoholic drinks.
Is eating Paleo good for you?
If you choose to follow the Paleo movement, it's important to be aware that sticking strictly to a paleo food list can result in nutritional deficiencies, the most common of which is vitamin D (responsible for healthy teeth and bones). So be sure to soak in some extra sunshine and look to include wild-caught salmon on your menu, which naturally has higher levels of vitamin D than other fishes.
Also, as the Paelo diet is heavily reliant on meat, take care about the quality of meat you are choosing. Look for grass-fed (beef), free-range, hormone-free, and organic!
And as with an with any dietary changes, its always a good idea to consult your physician or local holistic health coach for guidance.
So what are the health benefits of the Paleo diet?
Lean proteins in a Paleo meal plan support bone and muscle health and keep you feeling satiated longer. Antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins in fruits and vegetables improve immunity and reduce the likelihood of developing diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and neurological decline. The excessive amounts of unhealthy fats found in modern diets are done away with, and instead, foods rich in beneficial monounsaturated and omega-3 fats are included.
If you're overweight, out of shape, stressed out, sleep deprived, or at risk for a myriad of lifestyle diseases, the Paleo diet is something you can mindfully incorporate into your daily lifestyle – or at minimum adapt elements of it for a healthier, happier you.
Here are a few other health benefits to “eating like a caveman”:
- Stabilized blood sugar
- Reduced allergies
- Clearer skin
- Improved sleep and energy
- Stored fat burned more easily
So whether you're looking to kickstart your Paleo journey or simply aiming to up your wellness with a back-to-basics approach to nutrition, the Paelo diet serves up many benefits worth exploring.