In the last few months, I’ve noticed “Paleo” starting to become a sort of food-fad, with recipes popping up everywhere and marketers using the term on labels to attract attention. In this article, I will go over what exactly the Paleo diet is, and how to determine if it is right for you.
Please bear in mind that I am not, however, any sort of nutrition professional or expert. You should always follow the advice of your doctor and evaluate your own diet and nutrition apart from advice on Pure Simplicity. That being said, I am a mom and wife who is passionate about healthy eating and living for my family, myself, and any Pure Simplicity members or visitors.
What is Paleo?
But first, what ISN’T a Paleo diet?! It is not a “ten-day diet,” a “get your beach body diet,” or any “lose weight quick” diet. You may very well lose weight quickly (my husband dropped about 20 pounds in a couple months just by making a few changes), but a Paleo diet is meant to be what you consider your food, for as long as you believe it works for you.
The Paleo diet, at its core, is just keeping foods as raw, natural, and simple as possible. The more ingredients, refining, and cooking you do, the further you get from Paleo. It focuses mainly on lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats such as avocados and olive oil. A strict Paleo diet even emits grains, dairy, legumes, and potatoes.
What is Modified Paleo?
Please note, “Modified Paleo” is a term I use – not a technical one! What I consider to be modified Paleo includes some whole foods that strict Paleo does not (legumes, tubers/potatoes, and whole/unprocessed grains). Basically, foods you can get from the earth without any processing, refining, or otherwise “tampering” with the things God put on earth for us to eat.
Who benefits from a Paleo diet?
Almost everyone will benefit from a Paleo diet, or at least a modified one. Obviously if you have instructions from your doctor about diet and nutrition, you should talk to him/her before changing it. But most of the time, at least removing things like sugar, refined flour, and other processed ingredients from your diet will be great for you.
How my family eats:
My family mostly eats according to a “Modified Paleo” diet like I described above. If I don’t know exactly what is included in a food, we don’t eat it. (Seriously – start reading ingredient labels and reflect on what some of those things could be!). We don’t usually eat dairy for several reasons: 1. Our digestive systems do better without it 2. It gives my daughter acid reflux when she nurses after I’ve eaten dairy 3. The protein in milk (casein) gives me migraines. We don’t eat a lot of flour either, though I occasionally put it in something like my whole wheat pie crust. If I am going to use flour, it will be either a nut flour (almond or coconut), or flour I ground myself from wheat berries.
Typical meals for us look something like this:
Breakfast: eggs and turkey bacon, oatmeal, or a banana with peanut butter
Lunch: Usually some combination of leftovers: For example, chicken thighs with some veggie-rice and an apple.
Dinner: This is always my most planned-out and time-consuming meal of the day. My favorite meals are made in one pot/pan. I try to change things up, but always include a meat, lots of veggies, and a whole grain or tuber. Our favorites are quinoa (actually a seed!), rice noodles, and sweet potatoes.
How can you determine whether to adhere to a Paleo diet?
Simply put, I believe you should do what works for you. The first step is to determine exactly what you want to achieve by sticking with the food groups that you choose. In my experience, if you make this too restrictive you will hate it and not stick with it. But if you don’t avoid certain foods you are likely to pay for it with your health later.
The second step is to figure out if a Paleo diet will help you to achieve those goals. It may not be necessary for you to be technical/strict Paleo. But whichever foods you choose to include, stick with those ones!
Once you have an outline for your new Paleo or Modified Paleo diet, the last thing to do is implement it. For me (and most people I know), the key to this is to fill your pantry and fridge with the foods that you have decided to eat. Also, get rid of the ones you aren’t planning to eat. You can give them to someone who wants them, or take them to a local food pantry or shelter. This may seem obvious, but it requires you to be intentional about changing the food that you make available to yourself. If you’re like me, you’ll still want to eat things that fall outside your plan for a while. Avoiding temptation is a wise way to stay on track.
Have you tried a Paleo diet before?
Have you made your own modifications to it, or perhaps ate similarly without knowing there was a name for it? I would love to hear from you, so leave a comment below, or use the contact form for personal answers!