Profile: What is Paleo?

What is it?

It was really hard to find a concise definition for the Paleo Diet, or the Paleolithic Diet (also known as cave-man, stone age or hunter-gatherer diet). First, I should point out that the word diet is used to refer to the lifestyle of eating, rather than relating to ‘weight loss’ or a program.

Basically, the theory behind eating a Paleo Diet is to eat the foods that were available hundreds of years ago. Lots of vegetables and some fruit in their natural season, few to no grains, and nothing in a packet. Definitely no GMO’s, or synthetic ingredients. It is a natural way to think about the food we eat.

Image from: eatdrinkpaleo.com.au
Image from: eatdrinkpaleo.com.au

How do you say it? Most people say “pay-lee-oh”

What foods do ‘Paleo’ followers prioritize and avoid?

Robb Wolf has put together this chart as a nice overview of what the Paleo diet emphasises.

Okay To Eat Avoid
Fruits Dairy
Vegetables Grains
Lean Meats Processed Food & Sugars
Seafood Legumes
Nuts & Seeds Starches
Healthy Fats Alcohol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What about the dairy? That’s a tough one, some say “do” and some say “don’t”. Read here for the pros and cons of dairy.

What to Eat: 


paleoprofile1

  • Meat – GRASS-FED, not grain-fed. Grain causes the same problem in animals as they do in humans.
  • Fowl – Chicken, duck, hen, turkey…things with wings that (try to) fly.
  • Fish – Wild fish, as mercury and other toxins can be an issue in farmed fish
  • Eggs – Look for Omega-3 enriched eggs.
  • Vegetables – As long as they’re not deep-fried, eat as many as you want.
  • Oils – Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil – think natural.
  • Fruits – Have natural sugar, and can be higher in calories, so limit if you’re trying to lose weight.
  • Nuts – High in calories, so they’re good for a snack, but don’t eat bags and bags of them.
  • Tubers – Sweet potatoes and yams.  Higher in calories and carbs, so these are good for right after a workout to replenish your glycogen levels.

Preparation: The preparation of Paleo food is usually with simple, natural oils (like coconut and avocado). Raw and simple cooking methods are encouraged, and use of the whole food prepared as nutritiously as possible.

Is it Nutritious? Yes! The Paleo diet values nutrient density very highly. They encourage full fats (avocado, and Omega-3’s), high fiber, low carbohydrate and high protein. These factors, combined with consuming whole foods as they were designed to be eaten, encourage growth, repair and maintenance of the body.

paleo8
Image courtesy of Primal Palate – http://www.primalpalate.com/about/the-paleo-diet/

Uses: The Paleo diet is a ‘lifestyle’ and some might say quasi-religion. It is designed to be a lifelong way of interacting with food, rather than just a fad or a temporary solution to a variety health problems.

paleoprofile

Brief History: Many experts argue that Paleo started at the dawn of time, and is the way that humans were designed to eat.

Gastroenterologist Walter L Voegtin coined down the term ‘Paleo’ in his book “The Stone Age Diet” published in 1975. In his book, he argued that human beings are naturally carnivorous where a diet that would give us the perfect health while keeping us fit and strong would be to have a diet that our ancestors from what the Paleolithic era used to have.

The Paleolithic era was the time before the agricultural revolution or during the Stone Age. Dr. Voegtin believed that since 99.99% of our genetic blueprint came from our ancestors of that Paleolithic era, we are naturally meant to have a paleo diet program to keep us naturally healthy to the fullest level.

Joseph Knowles 1913
Joseph Knowles 1913

Back in 1913 Joseph Knowles went to live in the wilderness to experiment with the lifestyle of ‘hunter gatherer’ like the people of the Stone Age. He lived in the forest and ate whatever fruits and vegetables that he could find there. He did this for two months, and when he came back he realised how much his wellbeing had improved, from his strength, health and fitness.  He didn’t coin or promote the term ‘Paleo’ but his experiment and fame became a gateway to re-explore the ‘hunter gatherer’ lifestyle .

Where can I get it? The Paleo diet starts at home. It is accessible to anyone, by sourcing naturally grown products (even in your own garden!) and cutting out allergens and other inflammatory nasties.

The Paleo Mom suggests getting used to your meals consisting of some kind of protein (meat, fish or eggs) and some vegetables (maybe a few different vegetables) in her 10 point plan which she calls “I want to eat Paleo, but I don’t know where to start!“.

However, there are many Paleo cafes and restaurants popping up now, in support of this new lifestyle, where you can try delicious options to inspire your culinary adventures.

 

Further Links:

See here for recipes and more information about the lifestyle that is Paleo: http://www.primalpalate.com/about/the-paleo-diet/

Robb Wolf’s site where you can learn about the Paleo diet in more depth: http://robbwolf.com/what-is-the-paleo-diet/

A comprehensive blog about all things Paleo from a scientist turned stay-at-home mum: http://www.thepaleomom.com/

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