Paleo is a lifestyle, not just a diet. Paleo is referring to the prehistoric period that our ancestors lived and thrived in. Since there are no longer Saber-Tooth tigers or extremely prevalent diseases wiping us out, we have the opportunity to live a lot longer with more enjoyment in between.
The foods that you need will come straight from the ground with minimal processing. Lets go over the basics.
Paleo diet comes from the term Paleolithic. A time period not long ago in terms of Earth and Human existence, but before our modern way of life was created.
Variations of the Paleo diet may include the autoimmune paleo protocol which excludes tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, certain spices and can limit or exclude chocolate, grains such as rice and especially gluten containing grains and foods.
Many of my patients need to follow an autoimmune approach to their nutrition until we can reduce the autoimmune attack in the case of diseases like Hashimotos thyroiditis.
The safest approach is to start with an autoimmune paleo diet and potentially reintroduce certain foods to see if you tolerate them.
What to avoid
- No grains, breads, pastas or any product containing wheat or gluten
- No hydrogenated oils such as canola, cottonseed, rapeseed, sunflower, vegetable, etc.
- No margarine or fake butter spreads
- Avoid raw salads. The body can't absorb enough minerals from salads. Lightly steaming or cooking your greens will allow much greater nutrient absorption for your body.
- Eliminate all soda, diet soda, or any artificial or real sugar containing drinks
- High-fructose Corn Syrup, Evaporated Cane Juice (Sugar), Aspartame, Nutrasweet and Splenda (Sucralose) in diet sodas are even worse.
What to eat
Consume anywhere from 8-16oz of pasture-raised meats such as:
- and pork per day
Consume your meats with 3-9 cups of steamed or lightly cooked organic vegetables per day such as:
- Root vegetables (such as carrots, onions, turnips, rutabagas or parsnips).
- Cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage or Brussels sprouts).
- Greens (such as spinach, Swiss chard, turnip greens, mustard greens or kale).
- Add dried herbs to your food. Not only does this add flavor, but it adds vitamins in large amounts. Among the best are parsley, garlic, ginger, rosemary, basil, cilantro or coriander, thyme, and marjoram.
- Eat organic white rice and sweet potatoes occasionally. It's a personal choice that may help you with energy and fitness performance.
Consume as much as you want of these fat sources:
- Organic or "grass-fed" labeled butter.
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
Other key points
- Minimize fruit consumption to organic berries.
- My favorite berries for my ultimate smoothie are raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.
- Note: I have cured by IBS by eliminating gluten and I would advise you to do the same. I don't expect you to be 100%. Life is enjoyed with moderation.
- Minimize usage of the microwave. Microwaves kill the phytonutrients (external site) in your food, rendering it useless to your body. Easy alternatives for fast cooking are toaster ovens, stovetop pan cooking, or grilling. Cooking any food for too long will naturally kill off some nutrients and digestive enzymes. This is inevitable.
- Drink filtered or spring water as much as possible. Filtration methods hooked up to your tap are an efficient alternative to buying bottled water. Make sure the items filter fluoride. Most local water supply in the United States is fluoridated, which has been linked to many health problems such as thyroid damage. Spring water is best.
- Think of your food in this sense, "does this food exist in this form naturally on Earth?" i.e. Oreo trees and Hot Pocket bushes don't exist! Choose fruits, vegetables and nuts in the most unprocessed form.
- Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables are much better than canned.
- The healthiest snacks I enjoy are organic grapes, almonds, pistachios and some locally produced beef jerky.
- Unless you are an athlete or someone who is very active, you want to keep your carb intake low to moderate. If you want to count, a good number is around 150g/day for most. I require at least 1g/carbs per lb. of body weight.
- Serious athletes or extremely high-need people need up to 3g/carbs per body weight pound. Test your own levels and see what results you get and how your body responds.
- I don't count carbs and you may not need to either as long as you are eating vegetables, fruits and following the rest of the Paleo diet. This will help you burn fat and give yourself a more steady blood sugar, leptin and insulin level
- Athletes may feel better eating low-gylcemic starches such as organic rice or sweet potatoes. Some agree with the concept or intermittent-fasting. I will have more tasty choices of low-glycemic foods on my personal grocery list.