About My Paleo
I call what I eat “Paleo,” but I don’t follow the Paleo diet as originally published to the letter. Hell, I’ve never read any official publications on the Paleo diet. But the basic concept sounds right – and more importantly feels right – to me.
Here’s the basics of how I try to eat (I’m not perfect, but that doesn’t mean I can’t try to be!):
1. Eat only whole foods. If it’s not something my caveman ancestors could have picked, cut, or killed, I don’t want to eat it. That means that if there is more than one thing in the ingredients list, I generally avoid it. I always look at ingredients lists. I like it when it says “ingredient.” And if not that, I at least don’t like to see things on my ingredient list that I couldn’t grow in my backyard. That is if I didn’t have a brown thumb anyways.
2. Avoid wheat, corn, beans, cereals, rice, and other refined grains – those are mainly products of the Neolithic Revolution (also known as the Agricultural Revolution), which is extremely recent in our evolution as humans and also heralded the explosion of lots of modern health problems like early tooth decay, diabetes, auto-immune disorders, obesity, etc. The next big rise in some of these diseases was when several decades ago the government started pushing a low fat diet which raised the population’s intake of carbohydrates and sugars to replace those fat calories. Add to these observations that a large portion of our population has trouble (to varying degrees) with digesting gluten.
3. Avoid refined or fake sugar. Fruit is good so long as I eat the whole fruit (not just the fruit juice). But sugar or corn syrup or even zero-calorie sweeteners? No way. Except for maybe a diet Mt Dew in the morning… like I said, I’m not perfect. 🙂
4. Avoid most dairy. Dairy, especially from cows, is problematic in varying degrees to a lot the modern human population’s digestion, and research shows that some of the proteins in dairy can be actually unhealthy in some situations. I make exceptions personally in this category for small amounts of stinky cheeses (Parm cheese, Blue Cheese, etc.) because a little of those goes a long way for flavor boosting, and for Greek Yogurt with all those nice live active cultures that are so good for your guts!
So what do I eat?
- Tons of veggies!
- Plenty of meat (organic when I can, and for beef, grass fed when I can)
- Fish (wild caught or from Canada/USA only)
- Eggs (organic)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil for cold oil, and Coconut Oil for Cooking
- Olives, Avocados and Guacamole
- Greek Yogurt in moderation
- Potatoes in extreme moderation
- Stinky Cheese in extreme moderation
I also drink lots of water, unsweet tea, (black coffee is fine but I don’t get around to making or buying it very often), dry martinis, norcal margaritas, some red wine in moderation, and I’m not ashamed to admit it… I love beer. Which leads me to my final point.
I take one day or one meal off every so often. Sometimes it’s once a week, sometimes it’s once every few weeks. I do take small breaks. That doesn’t mean that I go totally hog wild on my one day off, but I do make a conscious choice to to be 100% OK with eating some stupidly delicious stuff on that day. Like beer, Papa Murphy’s pizza, sushi, a Reuben sandwich, a little slice of pumpkin pie, etc.
One last question I’m often asked: Is this a low carb diet? Yes and no. I definitely do eat fewer carbs than folks that eat lots of bread and rice and sugar and whatnot. But I don’t focus on carbs – I just focus on making amazing and filling meals out of the types of ingredients that I think are good for me. And those types of meals tend to be lower in carbs and higher in fiber because most of the carbohydrates I’m consuming are from whole healthy vegetables. The lovely amount of fats and proteins in my diet slow digestion and decrease blood sugar spikes (along with tasting awesome), and that helps me to not get hungry between meals. It’s a pretty dandy system, I think.
And that’s just the tip of the iceburg. There’s a lot more historical and technical stuff that make me happy to try eating this way for awhile, and pretty confident that it’s a good choice. If you have way too much time on your hands, Click Here for one blogger’s long but pleasant to read summary of Paleo, why he’s eating it, and more of the science behind it.