Oh hey, another paleo post! I have three posts talking about paleo, the first on why I think it's a good lifestyle to adapt to, the second is my personal experience with it, and the third about what I actually eat on a day to day basis. I've had this first one typed up for a few weeks and I've been debating on whether or not I wanted to post it. If there is one thing I've realized in my lifetime, it's that people are insane about food. It's something that brings everyone together, but as soon as you throw something different into the mix people get all up in arms about it and feel the need to debate things. I think most people get defensive about it because when someone says something like how they don't eat grains because it's unhealthy, the other person assumes they are trying to say that person who eats grains is unhealthy. That's typically not the case. By talking about the way I eat I am simply showing you an alternative to the way you may be eating. I am insanely grateful to the blogger who originally talked about being paleo because I hadn't heard of it yet, and I want to give the opportunity to others to see that there are so many different ways to live your life and that maybe some changes will be beneficial.
Personally, I don't care how you eat. It has zero affect on me whatsoever. The only time your food becomes an annoyance to me is when people post on Facebook or blog or talk about how crappy they feel all the time and how they have no idea why they feel sooooooo bad when they wake up and drink a sugar-free Redbull, then eat some Mcdonald's, then have a soda with their Chinese take-out lunch, then eat cake and Skittles for dinner. At that point I just want to tell them they eat like shit and it's their fault and to shut up. And then maybe trip them as they walk away in a big huff because they hate me. Fortunately I have some self restraint or I would have like 10 friends on Facebook.
Anyways, short rant aside, you may not agree with the way I eat, which is totally fine, but I like reading the viewpoints of other people so if you do too, read on! If you have any questions about it, let me know in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is Paleo?
Most asked question: 'So it's like, paleolithic? What does that even mean?' In short, paleo means you eat what your paleolithic ancestors ate. But really, things have changed and evolved tremendously over the years so we aren't actually eating what our ancestors ate, but we're eating as close to their diet as possible: lots of veggies and lots of meat with some fruit and nuts thrown in here and there. No grains (think rice, gluten, quinoa, corn), no legumes (think black beans, pinto beans, peanuts), and no refined sugars or processed foods(think everything in the Standard American Diet).
Why just veggies and meat? Why not grains or legumes?
Veggies and have been around for, well, ever. Or if you know your biology, about 450 million years, waaaay before us humans were here. And meat? That was our only way to survive 200,000 thousand years ago. (And even 2.3 million years ago, when our genus evolved.) When winter would come around, we couldn't survive on the fat from vegetables, it was fat from meat that helped us. So why no grains? Grains are little babies, ranging from 3,000(oats)-10,000(wheat) years old. I know, I know, 10,000 years seems like a really long time but evolutionarily speaking, it's nothing. We don't evolve that fast. Since we don't evolve that fast, our bodies just simply cannot properly digest grains yet.
Legumes are another thing we can't digest because they have a super protective outer layer. Their purpose is to be eaten by animals and pooped out somewhere and the outer layer is what allows them to do that. That's how they survive! They are meant to endure the acids and enzymes in your stomach so that when you travel somewhere else and poop on the ground, you disperse the legumes, allowing them to continue growing and take over. Obviously we don't poop on the ground as much, but our bodies still can't digest them. That's why you feel awful and fart a lot when you eat beans...you simply aren't made to digest them and they are made so that you can't digest them.
Isn't fat bad for me?
This is another very common question and it's the most sensitive one that some people refuse to believe. The answer is that there are healthy fats and unhealthy fats. The SAD (Standard American Diet) is full of bad fats. Some fats have been chemically altered in a million ways to the point that your body doesn't even recognize them as something it can use so it stores them away. Most of the fats in foods like crackers, cakes, and potato chips are unhealthy saturated fats and cause all sorts of health problems. Fats in nuts, avocados, and parts of meat are unsaturated and are healthy for you. The paleo diet is very high is fat, but if you are eating meat and veggies and mostly unprocessed foods, it's healthy fats. Your body needs healthy fats to absorp vitamins like A, D, E and K, to help regulate your metabolism through the thyroid, and many other things. Read here for more info on healthy fats.
What about dairy?
This is a grey area for the paleo lifestyle. Some people consume raw dairy (pasteurized is definitely a no-no) and some don't. Personally, I drink raw dairy and think it is incredibly beneficial to me. I also use raw cream to make various things like raw sour cream. Read this article for greater detail on raw dairy in the paleo world.
Why do you call it a lifestyle instead of a diet?
I, as well as many others who eat paleo, chose to call it a lifestyle instead of a diet. When you use the word diet, you think of losing weight fast, restricting access to 'good' foods, and being miserable. Paleo is a lifestyle, though. It's meant to be a life-long eating style that will help you be as healthy as possible, as opposed to a diet that doesn't allow you to eat anything for x amount of hours and then when you can you can only eat a grapefruit. It's a lifestyle because it isn't a quick fix that you participate in, then go back to your old ways. You are literally changing your life when you go paleo and more often than not it's for the better.
I also consider it a lifestyle because it's made me simplify things in my life. I don't need to have five boxes of cereal, or ten different beans taking up my cabinet. I have a fridge full of food, and that's pretty much it! It's in turn made me realize all the other things in my life that I used to see as necessary and now see an unhealthy for me. Goodbye shoes that I haven't worn for years!
Isn't it really expensive, especially if you buy organic and/or local veggies and grass-fed meat?
No. I thought it would be too, but think of the things you buy right now and add them up. All the processed foods like cereal, cookies, frozen pizzas, and even unprocessed stuff like quinoa is pretty expensive. I used to buy gluten free crackers and for a small box it was $6! If you are no longer buying that and are just buying meat, veggies, fruit, and nuts, it's not too much. Also, you don't have to buy organic or grass-fed, etc. I fully believe it's in your best interest to do that, but if it's really not in your budget, then it's not in your budget. You will still get benefits from eating unprocessed, grainless and legumeless foods.
As you may have noticed, I do not have any sources for studies backing up what I say. I do not believe that studies are the be-all and end-all way to live my life. There are a million studies saying that this lifestyle is bad for you, and there are a million studies saying that it's good for you. It's up to you to do research and explore within your diet to see what works for your body. Not everyone is the same so I am not saying you should live the paleo eating lifestyle like I have. Simply experiment and truly listen to what your body has to say and go from there!