My wife, Courtney, and I were standing in a kitchen waiting for the food that our friends were preparing to be ready. The four of us were in cheery moods conversationally delving in and out of lighthearted topics. I mentioned that I was about to start a blog and my friend Jonathan and his wife Nikki perked up. “What are you going to be writing about?” they asked. I answered matter-of-factly, even confidently, “I’m going to document my foray into the Paleo diet.” They nodded both impressed and we moved on to some other topic. Later, over dinner, which I now know was very much not Paleo, Nikki asked me a question. “So Will, what exactly is Paleo?” I was stumped, I had no idea. I’d had friends who swore by it and who would talk until they were blue in the face, but I had never really stopped to listen and understand what the Paleo diet actually is, what it preaches, and how it aims to make an individual more healthy. I had a moment of terror. I was about to start a blog on a topic I had no knowledge of. But then I realized that this was a perfect example of why I should blog. There are plenty of people who are intrigued by the Paleo diet, and who want to know more. And even more than that, there are people, maybe even you, who want to start the Paleo diet but aren’t really sure how.
That describes me not less that a few weeks ago. I had no idea where to start. By nature, I’m a pretty cautious person, maybe even overly cautious. Most of the time I’m not going to do anything unless I’m informed of how things are going to go down. There was no way I was going to start this Paleo diet without knowing the basics. So I did some digging and some question asking and here they are, the basics:
This simple definition of the Paleo diet can be found on wikipedia:
The paleolithic diet, also known as the paleo diet or caveman diet, is a diet based on the food humans’ ancient ancestors might likely have eaten, such as meat, nuts and berries, and excludes food to which they likely wouldn’t have had access…
This is an adequate explanation of the Paleo diet, but I’ve found that the best way to understand the Paleo diet is to see the general Paleo rules.
Captain Barbossa is actually right. The Paleo community seems to agree to disagree on a variety of things, which can make things more confusing. Therefore the following list is what MOST Paleo followers agree on.
1. A medium amount of animal protein is good. Poultry, pork(one word: BACON!), red meat, fish and shellfish (must be caught in the wild), eggs, and organs (always highly valued in human history, tremendous nutritional values)
2. Mom and Dad were right all along. Eat lots of vegetables.
3. Just because it says vegetable doesn’t mean it is one. Vegetable oil and all other hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated oils are out. That includes you margarine.
4. Added sugar is not your friend. Don’t pretend like you didn’t know this already.
5. Neither is Chester from Cheetos or Count Chocula. Processed foods don’t come close to making the cut. Along with extra sugar, huge amounts of sodium, and a slew of artificial flavors and colors many also include grains that don’t jive with Paleo either. Wheat, barley, corn, brown rice don’t have a place at the table.
6. Who needs Chester when you can have BUTTER. Saturated fats get the green light.
7. Not all carbs are bad. Bananas, sweet potatoes, squash, even white potatoes are all here to comfort you.
8. Make sure that red meat you eat is grass fed. Those bad grains have the same affect on the animals we eat, and therefore effect us when we eat them. Plus, didn’t you watch Food Inc.!?
9. Fruits and nuts are okay just don’t go nuts.
Again, depending on who you talk to some people may disagree with these main tenets depending on individual convictions and health issues. So now you know. Wave goodbye to Tony the Tiger and hello to bacon.