What is Paleo?

It has taken me ages to write this page because over the years my definition of “What is Paleo” has changed.  I find it totally infuriating when I see comments on Instagram accounts saying “that is not Paleo”, I have even had a few on my account. 

Paleo is a template that will only work long term if you mould it and shape it according to your own requirements and preferences.  We are all at different stages in our journey, some have followed Paleo for longer than others who are just starting out, and I guess it only comes with experience to know that there is no right or wrong formula.  Some people eat gluten free bread, others are completely unable to tolerate it; some may have small amounts of sweeteners or sugars whilst others may not at all.  I personally cannot have any artificial sweeteners because I can’t stand the taste of any of them, even the supposedly natural ones, and secondly it gives me an upset tummy which means that I have to avoid them at all costs. 

Any change in bodily functions, whatever they may be, is a pretty good barometer for working out what food works best for you – even if they are Paleo approved – particularly in the least popular discussion point of the gut.  If something makes you constipated, upset, bloated, gassy or generally uncomfortable…avoid it at all costs!

Being a Paleo recipe blogger I find that it is a great conversation starter when meeting new people.  Thanks to loads of media coverage many people have heard about the Paleo diet or may know of someone who follows a Paleo lifestyle, but are either rather cautious or unsure of what it entails.

Paleo diet in a nutshell

It is about channeling your inner caveman or cave-women and going back to the basics with food, by removing all processed foods that are loaded with sugars, grains, hormones, preservatives and empty calories and swapping to nutrient-dense food that are in their most natural state.

If you can fish it, hunt it or pick it you can eat it!  Food in its most natural state is not only delicious but also highly digestible by the body, this is what fuels the machine and works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic! 

Fresh vegetables should fill at least 1/2 of your plate, include protein in the form of good quality grass-fed meats, healthy fats and slow release carbs to make up the balance; and of course water!

I’m not going to get into the how’s and why’s of Paleo as I’m not a nutritionist but if you are interested then follow the links to Robb Wolf  and The Beginners Guide to the Paleo Diet  by Nerd Fitness which I found fantastic for following when starting out.  I’d prefer to cover some of the general questions that I’m commonly asked as a Paleo blogger, usually by people that are on the fence or slightly intrigued by the whole Paleo thing.

How do you manage without bread?

A great alternative is lettuce, either as a salad or boats filled with toppings in the form of taco’s, or wrapped around a burger patty.  Homemade bread can also be baked using almond, tapioca or coconut flours.

Eggs for breakfast either on their own or teamed up with bacon or gluten-free sausages, try these delicious golden pancakes made purely from egg.

Left-overs for lunch, cook more at dinner time then simply warm up the remains for lunch the following day.

Is it more expensive?

Initially it can be because it is highly recommended to purge your pantry of any non-Paleo items then restock with approved products.  You don’t need to spend money on pricey cuts of meat as the cheaper cuts and organs are often more nutritious, however it is important that these cheaper cuts are from good quality, grass fed or organic farms. Have a discussion with your local butcher about your best or most easily available options (avoid the guy at the meat counter of your supermarket, rather use a reputable butcher).

Investing in a pressure cooker or slow cooker makes it easier to prepare tougher meat cuts like shoulder, oxtail and shanks.  Most butchers are happy to part with bones free of charge and these bones are great for making healthy bone broth

Purchasing vegetables from farmers markets is not only way cheaper, but also ensures seasonal produce.

Making your own products like mayonnaise or stocks from scratch means you only need to buy the basic ingredients.

Fewer medical bills and less time off school or work is also a huge saving.  As your health improves and energy levels increase, so does your productivity.

Can I still drink wine? (This is usually one of the first questions asked)

Alcohol is loaded with sugar and many types also contain wheat but an occasional glass is not a massive problem, just not on a regular basis.  In general the 80/20 rule of thumb is a great way to be able to enjoy social gatherings without feeling guilty.

Is it safe for my children to be on a diet?

The biggest misconception is that it is a weight-loss diet.  Yes, you may well lose weight, but it is actually a healthier lifestyle and reducing the amount of sugar, wheat and junk food that modern day children consume will definitely benefit them. 

By involving and including all the family members it makes it easier for everyone to stay on track.  Six years later my whole family is still successfully following a Paleo lifestyle .

My youngest daughter Kyra had incredible success with being on the Paleo diet.  After being bullied and suffering from extremely low self image so has successfully overcome these fears and now has her own YouTube lifestyle channel.  Read about her success in this article that was recently published in Gluten Free Heaven Magazine.

Jess and the Giant peach

What can I eat at restaurants?

I have yet to find a restaurant that has not been more than happy to substitute fries with a salad.  As a family we steer away from pizza/pasta restaurants, but a pub or steakhouse is always happy to make a healthy swap at no charge.

Finally, is it spelt with a capital ‘P’ or a small ‘p’?

This I sadly cannot answer at all!  Let me know in the comments which you think?

 

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