The premise behind the paleo diet is that the only foods eaten are those that your great-great-great-great-grandmother would have had access to. If there is a hint of the food having been processed in any way, then it’s not in your meal plan.
Of course the paleo plan goes beyond that simple explanation . . . but it’s fun to think of eating only what 4th great grandmother Annabella ate as she was canning tomatoes on the farm. In fact, one of the commentaries about the paleo diet is that if a caveman couldn’t eat it, then you can’t either.
The paleo diet consists of foods that you can hunt, grow or find. This includes grass fed, antibiotic free meats, fish, nuts, vegetables, fruits, seeds and greens. It totally removes anything from a box, made with white sugar or processed.
No more cereal, spaghetti, potatoes, dairy, cakes, cookies, chocolate or ice cream, and your convenience foods are now apples, oranges and grapes!
You might notice that the majority of the ways that we’ve gotten carbohydrates over the years – from wheat and gluten based products, sugars and potatoes – have been eliminated from the diet. Carbohydrates however, are essential to the optimal function of your body. So where will they come from?
Well, there are actually good sources of carbohydrates and bad sources. The bad sources are the sugar based products and wheat and gluten based products that offer little to no nutrition. On the other hand, fruits, vegetables and sweet potatoes have plenty of carbohydrates to fuel our brains and carry energy throughout the body.
Although strong advocates of the paleo diet stay away from dairy products, the camp is actually split. There is a number of people who are lactose intolerant, meaning that the protein in dairy will create gastrointestinal distress and can be pretty painful. Humans are also the only animal on earth that drinks milk or eats products made from milk after infancy and definitely the only mammal that drinks the milk of other mammals.
If you crave a milk like substance in your diet, you have a couple of options. The first is to buy almond milk from the store. While almonds should be the first and main ingredient, the carton will also contain other stabilizers, additives and preservatives.
You can also make your own almond milk at home which is a fairly straightforward process. After soaking the almonds, blend them with water, strain the shards that don’t pulverize and maybe add a bit of cinnamon or honey – or both. You can also use a pulse machine that breaks up the nuts completely so no straining is necessary.
Of course the Paleo diet also has it’s detractors who make the point that the cavemen in different parts of the world ate different diets, based on their geographical location and the plants and animals that were available in those regions. Cooking will also transform meat because a chemical reaction occurs as heat is applied to the meat. Fermented foods are important to the health of our guts, and not included in the paleo diet.
However, while some detractors try to convince us that living on bread is healthy and too much raw food isn’t, research and case studies tell a different story.
Mother Jones: Michael Pollan Explains What’s Wrong with the Paleo Diet
The Paleo Diet: What to eat on the paleo diet
Nerd Fitness: The Beginners Guide to the Paleo Diet
US News: Paleo Diet
US News: How to Follow the Paleo Diet on a Budget
Paleo Plan: Is Almond Milk Paleo
Are Fruits Making You Fat?
The #1 WORST Paleo Food
The 3 Worst Protein Bar Ingredients (avoid these!)