I first heard about Paleo near the beginning of 2013 while I was a member of a Crossfit gym. Honestly, it was a bit hard to stick to. I binged on fruits and vegetables until I was about ready to burst. Don’t even get me started on my bank account. All those healthy foods cost way more than a box of Ramen.
On the flip side, I felt a million times better. I had more energy and I loved the way my body changed. Specifically, I liked watching how my body fat percentage decreased. Among all the benefits, one reigns above the rest (for me). There is no calorie counting!
Let me set the record straight here by saying that I am not looking to lose weight. However, if you are looking for a way to lose weight that does not involve calorie counting, I highly suggest trying out Paleo.
The Paleo lifestyle is not something I’d like to do 365 days a year. However, I would like to eat Paleo for most of my meals. I thought I could do that after the 60-Day Paleo Challenge my Crossfit gym held, but I feel off that wagon. I blame it on the alcohol.
The biggest challenge when it comes to cooking Paleo is finding all the ingredients you need. I intend to simplify my ambitions in 2014 and use recipes that include easy-to-find ingredients. I’d like to run with Paleo for the first two months of the new year, bare minimum. Already, I can think of four days within that time span where that will be nearly impossible. Still, that gives me a good 55 days of health for the new year.
At it’s heart, Paleo is the exclusion of nutrient lacking foods for nutrient full foods. The basic meal includes an open handful of fruit, a thumb sized portion of healthy fast, a fist sized protein source and as many vegetables as you want. The reason why the first three categories are portioned is because, even though they have huge nutrient value, they also have their fair share of sugar, salt and/or fat. Too much of anything can be bad. Veggies are the only thing that are limitless in terms of portion. Their restrictions revolve around type. For example, starchy vegetables – like potatoes – should be avoided.
If you read up on Paleo, you will find some dispute about what vegetables do and don’t belong in the Paleo lifestyle. For my own purposes, I prefer to avoid anything that has raised questions. There won’t be any starchy vegetables for me.
The big question everyone wants to know is what you can’t eat on Paleo. When this was first explained to me, this list included reasons why these are excluded. Unfortunately, I can’t find any good explanations with Google. The reasons below are from memory.
- All refined sugars – Along with causing issues with insulin levels, sugar contributes to inflammation of the body. Googling sugar and inflammation will bring up many articles about the connections between sugar and the body’s inflammatory response. Avoiding sugar can reduce general body aches and may reduce inflammatory symptoms of certain conditions and illnesses. Related: Inflammatory Foods
- All grains – This is not about carbohydrates. A lot of grains, especially grains based off of white or refined flour, turn into sugar through digestion. See refined sugars above for issues related to sugar. In addition, grains carry low nutritional value. You can get a great amount and variation of nutrients from most other foods. Be wary of foods that are technically grains. The one example I can think of is corn. Usually seen as a vegetables, our bodies digest corn similar to how it digest grains. Bread is mentioned in the above link for inflammatory foods.
- Dairy – The way it was explained to me, humans aren’t really meant to digest milk after infancy. I believe that is a disputed statement. What is true is the level we process milk and other dairy products. We basically burn all nutritional value out. Milk, therefore, has no real health benefits and some claim it can actually be bad for your healthy (depending on how it’s processed and what’s added). Dairy contributes to inflammation similar to the way sugar does. You will see milk listed in the link about inflammatory foods.
- Legumes – Peanuts and all beans are legumes. Their exclusion has to do with anti-nutrients. Paleo Plan gives this explanation more justice. “When we say don’t eat legumes, it’s because legumes have certain anti-nutrients in them, like phytic acid and lectins. Phytic acid binds to the minerals magnesium, calcium, zinc, and iron in your gut and removes them, unabsorbed, from your body. And lectins are sticky little suckers that can glom onto your gut lining and wreak havoc on its integrity. Not good.” Some beans, like peas or green beans, are fine to eat so long as they are not in excess. Related: Paleo Plan – Are Green Beans and Snow Peas Paleo?
- Alcohol – How sad is this? No Alcohol? This exclusion is similar to all the above. There’s inflammatory responses linked to alcohol along with low nutritional value. Let’s be honest, none of us are drinking alcohol under the assumption it has a health benefit. Related: Paleo and Alcohol.
This is the part where you call me crazy. I have no intention of following Paleo to perfection. Instead, I just want to do my best to eat Paleo when I’m making food for myself. I will do my best to stick to the plan when out with friends, but I’m not going to be obnoxiously picky. Depending on how things go, I may or may not carry this on after February.
Look forward to some fun recipes in 2014!