Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What Is Paleo?

I'm still learning the answer to this question myself. Remember, I. Am. Not. An. Expert. I am reading The Paleo Diet by Dr. Loren Cordain, Ph.D. Any kind of factual information I talk about on this blog is going to come from this book. I will make sure to reference the chapter and or page number so you can find it for yourself. I have made it through five chapters of the book so far. Today I am going to tell you a little bit about what Paleo is is according to Dr. Cordain. Here we go...

The Ground Rules of the Paleo Diet: (Chapter 2)
1. All the lean meats, fish, and seafood you can eat (trim meats of visible fat)
2. All the fruits and nonstartchy* vegetables you can eat
3. No cereals (grains)
4. No legumes
5. No dairy products
6. No processed foods
*Starchy vegetables to avoid are potatoes, yams and sweet potatoes. Peas and green beans are legumes as well. If you really want to go strict Paleo avoid them all.

Yes, it looks overwhelming. These rules knock out a large portion of my regular diet. I love my dairy. Skim milk, string cheese and bags of Kraft 2% Mexican Cheese Blend are favorites in our house. This is going to be by far the toughest part for me. No dairy.

The Paleo Diet is based off of what our ancestors ate in the Stone Age. They were hunters and gatherers. They didn't have Kellogg's cereal or South Beach bars. They had lean meats, fresh fruits and vegetables. "Imagine a Paleolithic human confronted with a Twinkie or even a pizza. He or she wouldn't even recognize these modern-day treats as food" (Cordain, page 43). Can you just imagine the looks on the faces of those humans if they were presented with a Twinkie? I'm sure it would be comical.

This is low-carb diet, but don't let that scare you. You will be eating plenty of carbs. However, they are going to come from fruits and vegetables and not whole grain bread and cereal. A major difference between Paleo and other lower carb diets is that Paleo focuses on healthier fats. Don't let the fat intake scare you. Our bodies need it! In the last year I have become a believer in healthy fats. I used to be scared of eating almonds and avocado. Those have fat in them, fat is bad. Wrong. Nuts, olive oil, avocado and other foods with high amounts of monounsaturated fats are very heart healthy. They lower blood cholesterol and help prevent artery clogging. YAY! The saturated fats are the ones you really need to be more careful about and from what I know so far Paleo does a good job of keeping you away from those evil saturated fats. This does not mean you should eat three cans of almonds a day, but don't be scared of munching on them throughout the day when you get hungry. Also, if weight loss is your main goal with Paleo then you need to me more aware, but I talk more about that later.

Fruits and Vegetables are great for you. Eat all of them that you can. I'll talk later about fruits and their sugar amounts and if you should or should not avoid or limit certain types of fruit. Don't worry about that now. Get yourself in the mindset that you will be eating a lot of fruits and veggies. They are powerful disease fighters and have lots of fiber.

Lastly for today, you won't need a scale to weigh food and you won't need measuring tools. There is no counting or measuring involved in Paleo at all. That's right, eat when your hungry. Try to really focus on getting lots of lean protein in your diet. Protein is extremely satisfying and helps you feel fuller for longer. Closer to the start date of our experiment I will post some sample menus. If you have good Paleo recipes send them to me and I will post them. Good luck with your preparation. I hope you are getting as excited as I am!

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