Do you want to learn how to eat paleo, but aren’t sure what foods are good to eat on the latest health-craze diet? See what the paleo diet is all about, how you can go paleo, and why you should start eating like a caveman (or, cavewoman) to be healthier, leaner and fitter.
What is the Paleo Diet?
The word “paleo” is short for “Paleolithic”, which stands as the foundation of the diet. The idea behind the Paleo Diet is to practice eating habits that mimic those of our caveman ancestors.
Studies suggest that the evolution of the western diet is the cause of today’s obesity epidemic in the Western world. Since our bodies were not originally designed to process anything other than meats and vegetables, we have a hard time metabolizing new foods that differ from what the caveman ate, thus causing weight gain.
The paleo diet requires you to eat unprocessed, natural foods high in protein, fiber, omega-3, and omega-6 fats, and potassium and low in carbohydrates, glycemic, and sodium.
Suggested foods to eat include grass-fed meats, wild-caught fish and seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, nuts and seeds, and healthy oils.
Foods to avoid include grains, legumes, dairy, refined sugars, potatoes, salt, and processed foods.
Basically, you’ll want to eat the foods that cavemen ate; meat & fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. And remember; if any of these were processed in a factory, don’t go near it. Cavemen didn’t have food-processing factories!
Tips For Eating Paleo
Keep a food journal
Before making any changes, it is important to clearly define your current eating habits. In your food journal, write down everything you eat for the day for a few days. Your food journal will help you notice areas where changes need to be made and give you an overall idea of the road ahead towards “living paleo”.
Before you take away the bad, add the good!
Start by introducing foods that your diet lacks that fit the paleo diet. This is the time to explore and experiment! Try new foods that are variations of the foods you already love and find out what you enjoy eating and what you want to shy away from. For example, if you love foods high in bad fats, substitute them with foods with alternative fats, such as coconut oil, EVOO, or duck fat.
Clean out your kitchen
Get rid of all the grains, pasta, rice, etc., and replace them with paleo-friendly substitutes. If your diet is packed with grains, start by substituting your normal grains with “good” grains, like quinoa and wild rice. This will help you ease into the total elimination of grains from all your meals.
Change your meal plan
Instead of your dinner meal consisting of “meat, veggie, grain” change food categories to “meat, veggie, veggie”. Each dinner meal should have one portion of meat, and two portions of vegetables. For variation, make two vegetable dishes or two preparations of the same vegetable. For breakfast and lunch meals, eat any food that fits the paleo criteria.
Have a weekly “cheat meal”
Each week, set aside one meal as your “cheat meal”, where you can choose to eat whatever you’d like, no matter if it fits with the paleo diet or not. Having a “cheat meal” once a week will help you maintain eating habits on the paleo diet and ensure that you do not feel deprived of all foods you enjoy.
Switching to a paleo diet isn’t easy to do…but cutting out processed foods and eating like a caveman will make you healthier and leaner. Follow these steps on how to go paleo and start your journey towards a better, healthier you!
British Journal of Nutrition: Estimated macronutrient and fatty acid intakes from an East African Paleolithic diet
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Diet-dependent acid load, Paleolithic nutrition, and evolutionary health promotion
Photo by Lord Jim