Noah getting good extension in her clean. Remember to jump hard today!
Woohooo! It's Foodie Friday. For the past several Friday's I have written extensively about food quality and food quantity. I am super excited to feature a guest blogger today, John Elwell, who has been eating Paleo for 9 year. Please enjoy a day in the life of a Paleo eater.
Nine Years in a Cave
by guest blogger, John Elwell
I discovered Paleo eating back in 2009 with Mark Sisson's Primal Blueprint website, when Paleo was still very much a fringe movement. After reading his book and several others, it all made sense. I took the plunge and have never regretted it. My health improved, my weight dropped, my energy increased, my body no longer ached, and my constant heartburn disappeared. Though I’ve had occasional ups-and-downs, those benefits have stayed with me for 9 years now.
What is Paleo?
The core idea of Paleo is eat real food, and avoid poisonous things. Real foods are those our paleolithic ancestors could have found to eat: meat, vegetables, eggs, seafood, nuts, fruit, etc. (If you’ve paid attention to Leslie’s discussions of nutrition, this should sound very familiar.) Poisonous things include modern creations paleolithic man would never have seen: seed oils (canola and soybean oil); grains and legumes; foods with chemical additives; and foods with added sugar.
Two rules of thumb about real food: if you can, at least theoretically, find something in the wild and it is healthy to eat without any processing, then it is real food. And real food spoils. If you set something exposed on the counter and a week later it isn’t moldy or stinky, then it isn’t real food. Ever hear of Cheetos?
Our bodies can thrive on a wide range of macronutrient ratios, as long as we’re eating real food. You can be Paleo whether you eat as a carnivore (bacon – yes!), omnivore, vegetarian, pescatarian, or a vegan. Whatever we eat, though, should be real food.
Many of us need to lose weight, and just eating Paleo may not do it – you can gain weight on any diet if you eat enough. However most people find they lose weight on Paleo by keeping their carbohydrates in their diet below about 100 grams/day. It has worked for me.
Is dairy Paleo? Hard cheeses, ghee, heavy cream and half-and-half, are all very low in lactose (sugar), and I think fit well in a Paleo diet if you tolerate and like dairy. Legumes are discouraged because in their natural (raw) state they are generally toxic, but soaking, sprouting, and cooking can make some of them edible, if that is important to you. (Though why you’d want beans when you can have bacon is beyond me.)
Paleo is much easier now than 9 years ago, with many different Paleo ingredients and foods available online and at local stores. But eating Paleo can also be harder now: there are many tempting foods marketed as Paleo, but which are full of “natural” sugars. Sugar (sucrose, glucose, fructose, lactose) causes the same metabolic issues whether you consume it as white sugar, or as a “natural” alternative such as honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, etc. Motto: read the ingredient labels!
Instead of trying to create Paleo versions of old favorite treats, I look for Paleo treats which are satisfying but don’t trigger my sweet tooth. A favorite treat is a date filled with almond butter with a sprinkle of salt on top.
My diet is mostly meat, eggs, nuts, and dairy, veggies, and an occasionally banana. I don’t care for most veggies, so I have to constantly work to get enough into my diet. I try to eat fish occasionally though I don’t like it. I also eat liver and kidney each week, and add in heart and tongue occasionally, for the micronutrient variety they provide. I have experimented a lot with cricket flour, but it isn’t a significant part of my diet (yet…).
I shoot for about 120 grams of protein, less than about 70 grams of carbohydrates (mostly from vegetables), and about 120 grams of fat each day, for a total of around 2000 calories. I usually eat just two meals a day – a small lunch and more substantial dinner. It’s a diet which works very well for me. (It would be close to ideal if I could just make broccoli taste more like spare ribs.)
Some Paleo Eating Tips
Everyone is unique in the kitchen (I can dirty 4 dishes to boil water – a special skill, I know….), but here are some things I’ve found to make Paleo easier or cheaper.
Bone broth – simple to make with an Instant Pot and much cheaper than buying quality broth. (And if you don’t consume bone broth, PLEASE add gelatin whenever you cook soups, chilies, or any liquid-based food you can dissolve it in. Your skin and joints will thank you.)
Frozen cut up veggies – I’ve always thought of vegetables as food for my food, but I’ve been forced to admit that they are good for us to eat as well, so I’m always looking for ways to get more veggies in my diet (besides onions fried in bacon grease - mmmm). The ease of dumping some veggies from a bag into omelets, soups, ground beef dishes, etc., increases the likelihood that I’ll get at least some vegetables down the hatch. (But my vegetable intake is admittedly a work-in-progress.)
Wraps – one thing I miss is something to wrap food in for portable meals. The hunt for a really good Paleo wrap or tortilla continues, but Julian Bakery and Siete Foods both have ok wraps.
Dressings – good Paleo mayo is now easy to get (avocado, coconut or olive oil); mix with dry salad dressing mix such as Ranch Dressing for a good salad dressing. Dry mixes are not strictly Paleo (or even 100% real food), but I consume such a small amount that I compromise, since having a good dressing helps me get more vegetables down. (Read labels carefully – many dressings that say “Made with Real Olive Oil” are mostly soybean oil, with just a dash of olive oil so they can say that on the label.)
Recipes – the majority of on-line Paleo recipes are simply awful. Some good sites are Nom Nom Paleo, Zenbelly, Elana’s Pantry, and Civilized Cave Man. Books by Nom Nom Paleo and Zenbelly are also very good.
Swiss Chard Salad with Raisins and Pine Nuts
Swiss chard is going off in my garden right now! I grew up eating Swiss chard and love it lightly sautéed and finished with some vinegar. This recipe from Nom Nom Paleo looks amazing and I can't wait to make it this weekend. Click on the image for the recipe.
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