30 Day Paleo Challenge
I mentioned a few weeks back that I was interested in Diane Sanfillipo’s Practical Paleo and, as time slowed down over the holidays, I snatched up the opportunity and read the book cover to cover. The long & short of my experience: I LOVED this book, would recommend it to absolutely anyone interested in ancestral eating and/or longterm health, and I’ve decided to kick off January with a 30 day challenge! I’m following Diane’s “Squeaky Clean Paleo” meal plan for the month of January and I can’t wait to share my findings.
The Paleo Diet, in my own words
The Paleo Diet seeks to mimic the eating habits of our ancestors – I’m talking wayyyy back to the dinosaur days. Paleolithic eaters fill their plates with animal meats of all varieties and are no strangers to fats – coconut oil, pasture-fed butter and nut butters are all embraced. Vegetables play a key role as well, while fruit is treated more like dessert. Meanwhile, grains, including whole grains like brown rice and quinoa, as well as legumes and dairy products are absent from the paleo palate.
Why am I doing this? Am I a crazy person?!!
Maybe, but in the past I’ve discovered I feel most comfortable in my body when I limit my intake of very starchy carbohydrates.
Step away from the sugar
The enemy and the root of so many evils is sugar. Most won’t debate that highly refined & processed foods, including white sugar, are not healthy. However, I never really considered that sugar could lead to chronic inflammation of the gut, which renders the body more susceptible to serious health problems including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes, you name it.
In a nutshell, insulin and glucagon work together to regulate blood sugar levels. Ingesting sugar causes the release of insulin into the bloodstream – too much of this, and our bodies are literally working overtime to create homeostasis.
Anybody else not enjoying the looks of “fat cells take in glucose from the blood”? Translation: too much insulin release, aka too much sugar floating around the bloodstream, leads to cells soaking it in and storing it as fat.
All of that makes sense, but where do grains come into play? Here’s the thing: when grains are broken down, our bodies use them as – you guessed it – sugar. Sure, eating quinoa is not the same as ingesting loads of white table sugar, but Paleo thinkers argue that too much of that “healthy whole grain” will ultimately lead to a blood sugar war in the body. If our bodies are busy waging war to create homeostasis, imagine the score of illnesses we leave ourselves open to!
A different kind of fuel
Instead of relying on a high carbohydrate diet for quick fuel, Paleo eaters turn primarily to protein and fat. Many myths surrounding fats run rampant, when in reality if our bodies are “fat adapted” these foods are teeming with nutrients including A, E, K and D. Vitamin D is a pretty common deficiency, and many studies are finding that ain’t good.
- Eat meats, vegetables (starchy and non starchy), healthy fats, seeds, nuts, fruits, and fermented vegetables like sauerkraut.
- Don’t eat grains, legumes such as beans, all dairy with the exception of pasture-fed butter, and any excess sugars including alcohol (or at least limit this, if the thought of living without wine makes your heart cry.)
- Digestion is key. Keep tabs on digestion and take steps to resolve any “leaky gut” issues, turning to natural probiotics like sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha.
- Avoid processed foods of any kind – if there are ANY additives, ditch it. The word “natural” means nothing. Read every food label under the sun to insure that you’re eating what you think you’re eating.
- Do not fear fat! For animal foods, the closest to the “real deal” is preferable – wild caught fish, organic eggs, pasture-raised meats.
So, anybody up for the challenge? Have you ever tried this way of eating? Two out of three of JC’s siblings have gluten allergies, so those with similar allergies can probably relate!
Tomorrow I will be sharing my week of eats and grocery list for my first week!
January 2, 2013
This entry was posted in menus & meal plans and tagged caveman diet, health, healthy fat, healthy living, paleo, paleo diet. Bookmark the permalink.