What Is Paleo? CreativelyPaleo.com's short guide to the Paleo Diet Will Help You Be a Paleo Success With Our Paleo Ideas for tasty Paleo Recipes.
What does Paleo mean?
Paleo is shorthand for Palaeolithic which was an era in human development that covered many millennia. It was the period in which our early ancestors were creating simple tools, and living in small hunter gatherer communities. Those of us with a very basic knowledge of history would probably call this era the stone age.
There is growing evidence that our cavemen / hunter gatherer ancestors were probably much healthier than we are today. They ate a much simpler diet, and lived a much simpler (though harsh by our modern standards) lifestyle; we can learn a lot from how they lived.
Whilst we have evolved enormously in many ways, at our core we still need the same things our cavemen ancestors thrived on, so Paleo is a great reminder to get back to simpler ways of eating and being. It certainly doesn't mean you can't embrace our modern technologies though - otherwise I wouldn't have created this website ;-)
Lots! In simple terms a Paleo Diet consists of
Ok, so if you are currently eating what is often referred to as a SAD (standard American diet) then this is going to come as a nasty shock; it will seem incredibly restrictive and you will wonder how on earth you could possibly survive, but trust me, it really is a perfectly enjoyable way to eat.
There is some debate as to whether or not all starchy vegetables should be off limits so if you were going to be a purist you would leave out things such as sweet potatoes, white potatoes, yams etc.
After years of being told that high carb low fat diets are the path to weight control and health, we have witnessed a leap in obesity and health issues such as diabetes. Something is clearly going wrong.
Why Grains Are Out
One of the most radical aspects of this type of diet is the removal of all grains; though with increasing numbers of people suffering from the bad effects of gluten and following a gluten free diet as a result, this is now on a par with say vegetarianism or veganism - ie it is socially acceptable and most restaurants now include gluten free dishes on their menus.
Of course whilst the Paleo diet is gluten free, a gluten free diet is not necessarily Paleo.
Beans Are Baaaaad
Perhaps one of the more surprising omissions in this diet is legumes and pulses. Certainly as a former vegetarian who loved lentils and chickpeas, this was the hardest one of the ideas for me to swallow. I didn't initially, but then experimented and found that my body functioned better without these things and so I removed them from my diet. Notably for us as a family, my son decided to give this a try and the difference in his general health was pretty astounding.
Dairy Is Up For Debate
Dairy is generally not recommended, although those who adhere to a primal diet do consume moderate amounts of dairy. My family still enjoy yogurt and cheese, but I find that when I consume dairy some of my health issues flare up, so I try to stay away from it.
Sugar is a definite no no. An increasing amount of sugar is consumed across the world, even though we all know how bad it is for us - not just our teeth suffer, our general health is greatly impacted. It is ridiculously addictive though, and very hard to give up without some real commitment. Once you are determined it takes a relatively small length of time to beat the sugar cravings, and you will find that your palate becomes much more sensitive to any natural sweetness in foods.
Maple syrup and honey are sweeteners that are considered paleoish but really need to be eaten in moderation.
For me personally, it's all about experimentation - finding the foods that heal my body and don't make it hurt. There is no overall one size fits all anything where humans are concerned, so follow the basic tenets of a Paleo diet but don't treat it as gospel truth - experiment and see what works and what doesn't work for you.
Obviously this is a crazy simple explanation. I can't recommend enough that you visit Robb Wolf's website for far more in-depth analysis.