This is the first of occasional posts related to my PALEO living, from great recipes to the inevitable frustrations (why can't the PALEO referees make an exception for hummus!?) mixed with victories (finding coconut bread that is PALEO-approved!). I also hope this can be a forum for "veteran PALEOs" to share ideas, thoughts, recipes, snack finds, etc.
First, a little PALEO 101!
What is PALEO eating?
In three words followed by a grunt, "Eat like caveman." Basically, if it could be hunted and gathered by our cave-dwelling ancestors, it is PALEO. If it was around before the Agricultural Revolution, it is PALEO. Lean meat, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, fruits, vegetables, and healthy oils (olive, coconut, avocado) are all part of PALEO eating. Starches, sugar, grains, legumes, dairy and alcohol are to be avoided. The PALEO plan encourages nutrient-dense fresh fruits and veggies to replace dairy and grain products, which are less nutrient-dense. PALEO followers also believe grains are legumes are irritating to the body's designed digestion, so basically they follow a gluten-free plan.
Why go PALEO?
My reasons for going PALEO are a few, ranging from the very basic Can I do it and stick to it? personal challenge to a desire to act in the most complete way on my belief that we put far too many foods and drinks into our bodies today that were never intended to be there. Beyond that, there are well-documented health benefits to eating this way, including:
- Reduces inflammation, key for those with arthritis, fibromyalgia or other inflammatory disorders
- Stabilizes blood sugar levels, thanks to the slow-digesting protein and slow-release carbs in the veggies and druits
- Promotes weight loss and maintenance of a healthy weight. It's tough to have a calorie binge on fruits and veggies, thanks to the water and fiber content. Not so true when it comes to processed, calorie dense foods that can literally pack a few hundred calories into a few bites.
What does a day of PALEO eating look like?
My days have been something like this:
Meal 1, before workout/teaching class: Egg and 2 egg whites scrambled with spinach, tomatoes, asparagus and a side of fruit OR 2 slices Julian Bakery coconut bread (made w coconut flour vs wheat/white) spread with fresh ground almond butter or my fellow blogger Ginger Mantra's homemade Tupelo Honey Almond Butter. So good!
Meal 2, after workout: Handful of almonds with fruit or with roasted veggies OR a smoothie made with unsweeteened almond milk, fresh fruit, cocoa powder, cinnamon and ground flax plus a little bit of honey or stevia.
Meal 3, late-am: Lean protein, ideally fish, with veggies and maybe sweet potato for the good carbs.
Meal 4, early afternoon: Ditto
Meal 5, pre-workout/class 2: More nuts or PALEO-friendly beef or turkey jerky and small amount of fruit
Meal 6: More lean protein with veggies
Note: Flex Foods, a local meal delivery business operated by longtime fitness buffs and nutrition experts, has been awesome about adapting meals for my PALEO eating. Everything has been delicious and totally filling - and at $6 a meal including daily delivery, a bargain. (See at right)
What about snacks?
I am learning there are a world of PALEO friendly products out there, beyond the "born PALEO" things like fruit, nuts, and jerky. I am loving kale chips, which can also be made at home; as well as Go Raw's flax snacks line which is all nuts, seeds and spices baked into little snack "chips." Steve's Original also makes PALEO kits of trail mixes, jerky, etc. (a review on those to come)- though you can just as easily make them at home. I even found Paleo cookies!
What about alcohol?
I have had red wine (basically, fermented grapes) and vodka soda with lime (spirits like vodka are the product of grain fermentation, but the distillation process eliminates residues from grains, making them gluten-free). But I have consumed these very much in moderation.
What about coffee?
I drink it black, with cinnamon and coconut milk. Cavemen probably didn't have it, but this is a non-negotiable item for me! :) #teamcoffee
What about cravings? Won't I miss all of the non-PALEO foods?
At first, it is an adjustment. But I cut out processed sugars even before PALEO, and I can promise you that after a week of keeping them out of your system, the cravings cease. Your tastebuds get "real" again, and the natural sweetness and flavors of real foods pop like never before. Also, there are lots of PALEO friendly 'dessert" recipes out there using honey, coconut flour, almond flour, etc. I even found a recipe for "hummus" using cauliflower instead of chickpeas. And when I want cereal with milk? There are ample "Paleo Crunch" non-grain granola recipes that I can enjoy with almond or coconut milk.
It's all about adapting, hunting out what works, and eating real! Will I use whey or soy protein sometimes? Will I fall off the wagon and eat ice cream? Sure, maybe, we are all human. Life happens. It's all good. But I am giving this PALEO thing a 110% effort, because that is how we Badasses do! #fistbump
If you have more PALEO questions, send them my way via the comments box or email at email@example.com. In the meantime, some helpful links that have helped me along the way in these first couple of weeks!
Great PALEO Links: (Being a FitFluential Ambassador has helped immensely in pointing me to blogs, recipes and information, so thanks to my fellow Ambassadors for the help!)
Coming up: A review of Caveman Cookies and my Steve's Paleo Kit; an awesome healthy pancake recipe for the non-PALEOS; and a circuit workout that puts the F*&@! in TGIF! ;)