“You never get sick, what is your secret?”
“What do you eat everyday?”
“How do you look so great? What makeup do you use?”
“What is Paleo?”
“Why do you eat that way?”
“Are you allergic?”
I get these and more similar questions a LOT… I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve happily and enthusiastically begun to answer this since I started eating this way in 2012. Seriously…
The best conversation I had with a fellow nutrition nerd was when I once ran into a local chiropractor in the coconut milk section of New Seasons back in 2013. At the time I was doing as hard core elimination diet and AIP paleo-ish healing diet. We exchanged words about what kinds of coconut products we each buy and why, what we use it for, etc… that’s when I realized he was more knowledgeable in paleo/real food than I was… this is not something I was used to! We literally talked for over an hour and I learned so many new things! My trip to the grocer ending with him running up to find me at the checkout to tell me he had remembered the name of the (amino acid) supplement to help heal the gut lining quicker. He then proceeded to go with me back to the supplement aisle and help figure out what the best one would be for me to try. I collaborated with my primary care Dr. about starting this supplement and digestive aids and they saw no problems with me doing this so I began to take them. That day ended up being monumental, the supplements that man had introduced me to made a huge positive impact on my digestion, my Dr. was happy that I started them as my improvements were so great!
You may notice me throwing around the word paleo a bit on this blog. As obsessed with being strict “paleo” as I used to be, anymore I really shy away from using that term, it feels so dogmatic, which is not a good way to be with any diet, IMHO. This post will still explain the basis of the “paleo” diet and then I will share how we have spun it to work for us. I’ll explain to you what paleo means to me later in the post but first, a general outline of what the strictest paleo diet is usually explained as from what I’ve seen:
No processed food.
No refined sugars, limited natural sugars.
No grains, no legumes (except chocolate and coffee… I guess you can’t give it all up)
No refined oils (canola/rapeseed, vegetable, soy, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, etc)
Seems like a lot of “No” foods, right? Keep reading to see how our family does paleo and my take on the whole thing.)
Lots of vegetables, adequate carbs from starchy veggies.
Sustainable and pastured meats eggs and poultry.
Healthy fats from coconut, pastured animal fats, olive oil.
Nuts, seeds and fruit sparingly.
Here’s “paleo” for us…
Eating from the earth. Using whole, recognizable ingredients to prepare nourishing foods to feed my family and myself. Supporting local farmers as much as we can to support the type of quality in produce that I believe in, not supporting “Big Agriculture” or Monsanto affiliates of any sort when possible. I don’t really like to define our diet as “paleo” although it mostly fits in that box, I don’t like putting things (especially people or dietary habits) in boxes. Calling it paleo seems so limiting and again, dogmatic, especially with all of the bad attention the term paleo seems to be getting… We are not eating pounds of raw meat, bacon and kale every day and we DO eat junk food, we eat out, we eat (gasp) dairy, grains and even gluten! Oh yes and carbs-plenty of carbs-even non-paleo ones! 🙄 Bottom line is we fuel our bodies with what makes us feel the best and yes, that tends to be foods that fit into the “paleo” philosophies.
As far as foods we eat/do not eat… We do eat (LOTS) of vegetables, meat, fruit, nuts, healthy fats and oils. We also eat some grains, beans and legumes-I really like lentils and rice! We usually avoid refined sugar and any food or products with artificial ingredients and sweeteners but do indulge occasionally-YOLO! We generally limit gluten containing grains by default-most dishes we make don’t contain them. I avoid gluten and dairy for the most part as I had reactions in the past-read about my story here-but can occasionally indulge without ill consequence! My husband and daughter do great with eating whole milk dairy and gluten free grains regularly (or gluten grains on occasion-like cake at a kid’s birthday party or special event). We all eat corn and rice, usually white rice, jasmine or basmati. Dairy and grains are not technically considered “paleo” by most but rice, particularly white rice (and white potatoes) are pretty popularly accepted as paleo by many people, the topic is hot these days and I personally don’t see any issue with using white rice as a starchy carbohydrate source if starchy veggies don’t cut it for you. I know that many popular paleo people that I follow eat white rice without issues.
We eat a lot of vegetables of all kinds. I aim to eat veggies with every meal. Nuts, seeds, fruits, lots of coconut- coconut oil, coconut butter, coconut milk, coconut cream, coconut flakes, chips, chunks, aminos… So much coconut! Lol. For me anyways… YUM! My family does ok with all other nuts and do eat organic peanut butter even! (Peanuts are actually legumes, not nuts-fyi-so not technically paleo either) Some of the acceptable sweeteners for occasional treats are coconut sugar, date sugar, honey, fruit, etc. My husband prefers to bake cakes with plain old cane sugar so we do keep it on hand. We also regularly use it to home-brew kombucha, the SCOBY likes it the best. Key point was mentioned in there, did you catch it? No? Ok, here it is-occasional treats.
Meat-sourcing is what I consider most important-we aim to only consume animal products that are humanely raised & handled and grass fed/pasture raised without growth hormones or antibiotics when possible. I aim to not waste anything in general but especially animal products. My body needs animal protein to be nourished to function optimally and in order to feel ok about eating animal products (as it’s something I’ve not always been ok with-ex vegetarian here!) I make sure to buy the best quality of humanely raised meat as possible and honor the whole animal.
Bottom line is, many people’s interpretation of paleo can be variable but the idea of quality, responsible and sustainable food sourcing seems to be pretty consistent in many different diet and health food communities. General gray areas in paleo are dairy, rice and some legumes usually, from what I’ve seen 😉
This is what my family’s “paleo” looks like, what about you? What do you consider paleo and why?