Going Paleo or reverting to the caveman diet as some people refer to it means turning back the years by eating foods consumed before the agrarian revolution. The food we consume today is mainly made up of farmed crops such as grains, which never used of be part of the caveman diet in ancient times. Therefore, going paleo consists of cutting out refined sugars, some carbohydrates, legumes, grains, dairy as well as processed foods and meat containing antibiotics and hormones. Basically, if the caveman did not have it, then you cannot have it too.
However, going paleo is much more than just changing your diet. It is about deciding to drastically change your lifestyle to live a healthier more fulfilling life. While most of this may sound pretty much straightforward, there are some interesting facts I should inform you about before you decide to go ‘full paleo’.
Here are some reasons why I think you should Go Paleo
Going paleo is not about being nostalgic about the good old days of hunting and gathering or reverting to living in caves and wearing animal skin, it is about living healthy and taking good care of the body in today’s fast-paced world. The major reason most people even think of trying out a paleo diet is that they want to lose weight.
Interested in facts? Food companies today advertise almost all their products as low fat, but the fat is replaced with other types of chemicals, preservatives, and sugars. What you do not realise is that most processed foods today are turned into sugars upon digestion, which is either burned to produce energy or converted to fat thus the increased weight despite being on a low-fat diet. Ironic, isn’t it?
Another reason is to eliminate toxins and increase nutrient intake in the body. Toxins found in the normal diet include pesticides, chemicals, excess sugars, and even gluten, which is naturally occurring in grains. When going paleo, you should also avoid dairy, as the human body was also not designed to consume milk beyond infancy.
In fact, research has shown that human bodies have just adapted to dairy over the years. Therefore, with a paleo diet, you will not only reduce your toxin intake but also gain more vitamins, fats, minerals, proteins and other naturally occurring nutrients.
Avoid and manage some diseases
Going paleo will also help you avoid diseases and disorders such as gastrointestinal complaints, chronic pain, food allergies, and skin conditions caused by certain foods. For instance, grains and nightshades contain lectins, which are defence mechanisms by plants to protect against consumption by animals. Lectins cause havoc in the gut leading to some problems such as gastrointestinal complaints and rheumatoid arthritis.
What a paleo diet consists of
The bulk of a paleo diet consists of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and fat. Other foods include seafood, meats, eggs, honey, some nuts, seeds, olive oil, animal fat, coconut oil, avocado oil, unrefined seed and sweet potatoes among other foods. Remember the meat should be from animals not fed on grains.
On the other hand, eggs should be from free roaming chicken while fish should be wild not farmed. In addition to grains and dairy, other products that you should avoid include white potatoes, alcohol, processed foods, refined oil, and sugars. Robb Wolf in The Paleo Solution advises that while paleo foods are extremely rich in nutrients, once you incorporate foods such as legumes and grains, the calorie load goes up while the nutrient content goes down.
Where then do I get energy if I cut most carbohydrates from my diet?
I had this same question in the beginning, but I learned to improvise, as should you. Doctors and other experts advise that you should consume carbohydrates as they provide the fuel the body needs. However, I came to find out that our bodies do not need it in large quantities. Apparently, your body only needs re-training to process the new paleo diet.
In addition, when carbohydrates are absent, the body converts stored fat to energy through a process referred to as ketogenesis. This process helps in providing the body with the required fuel while also making you lose weight as more fat is burned to fuel the body.
Dive in or gradual transition?
Diving right into a paleo diet is ill-advised as I learned the hard way. This is because the body needs to get accustomed to the new diet. The diet unlike the normal diet is very restrictive and going ‘full paleo’ is too much for you to handle all at once. By diving all in, you risk backsliding after a few days/weeks. Instead, you should rethink your entire relationship with food.
First, create a strategy going into this to ensure that you can live a paleo lifestyle permanently. Well, going paleo is like withdrawing from a drug, you need to do it gradually.
Challenges you should be prepared to overcome
In addition to having a strategy going into the paleo lifestyle, here are some other considerations that I think you need to have in mind.
- It may be expensive at first, but the benefits will outweigh the costs in the end. When’s the last time you woke up to prepare sweet potatoes instead of cereal? Making a paleo diet is also time-consuming as it involves preparing food from scratch, which is a problem especially if you have a busy schedule.
- Finally, one hurdle you must be willing to overcome is maintaining this kind of diet with all the temptation of fast foods around. Also, the community and especially your friends may think you have gone crazy. For you to overcome this, I advise you to find support either from a friend whom you can challenge to go on the paleo diet with.
Going paleo thus has a myriad of benefits including improving the quality of your life in general. Remember; going paleo is not a one-time thing where you change your diet for a while and then forget, it is a complete overhaul of your lifestyle. All the benefits such as losing weight and avoiding certain diseases are just a bonus. Going paleo is about eating healthy, living optimally and living a fulfilling life.
Are you currently going paleo or planning to? Let us know about your experiences and new tricks you have discovered to keep it going!