Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How To Eat Like A Caveman

Throughout the year I've heard a few people mention that they've gone "Paleo."
Paleolithic (pay-lee-owe-lith-ick), def:  of, pertaining to, or characteristic of the cultures of the late Pliocene and the Pleistocene epochs, or early phase of the Stone Age. 

Better known as the "Caveman Diet."

I didn't know the exact details so I got the quick rundown from www.paleodietlifestyle.com .
I am a follower of the Weston Price way of traditional eating and I found that the two diets match up about 90% so I think it's something to look into further.  Keep in mind that every body is different and one man's optimal food can be an other's poison. It's always good to see a holistic doctor to make sure food allergies and medical conditions are not a concern before adhering 100% to any diet.

Here are the details from the Paleo Diet website (and any additional info (in italics) from the Weston Price Foundation and myself)...

1. The diet is high in fat, moderate in animal protein, and low to moderate in carbohydrates.

2. You can eat unlimited amounts of saturated fats like coconut oil and butter or clarified butter. Beef tallow, lard and duck fat are also good, but only if they come from healthy and well-treated animals. Beef or lamb tallow is a better choice than lamb or duck fat. Olive, avocado and macadamia oil are also good fats to use in salads and to drizzle over food, but not for cooking (WP highly recommends raw butter from pastured -raised cows).

3. Eat generous amounts of animal protein. This includes red meat, poultry, pork, eggs, organs (liver, kidney, heart…), wild caught fish and shellfish. Don’t be scared to eat the fatty cuts and all meals with proteins should contain fat as well. Learn to cook with bones in the form of stock and broths. We love bone broth :)

4. Eat good amounts of fresh or frozen vegetables either cooked or raw and served with fat (eating vegetables with a fat is ideal because it allows all the fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients to get to be absorbed optimally by the body). Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and yams are also great as a source of non-toxic carbohydrates (a great resource to know exactly what veggies to eat and how is Sally Fallon's book, Nourishing Traditions).

5. Eat low to moderate amounts of fruits and nuts. Try to eat mostly fruits low in sugar and high in antioxidants like berries as well as nuts high in omega-3, low in omega-6 and low in total polyunsaturated fat like macadamia nuts. Consider cutting off fruits and nuts altogether if you have an autoimmune disease, digestive problem or are trying to lose weight faster.

6. Preferably choose pasture-raised and grass-fed meat coming from a local, environmentally conscious farms. If not possible, choose lean cuts of meat and supplement your fat with coconut oil, butter or clarified butter. Also preferably choose organic, local and/or seasonal fruits and vegetables.

7. Cut out all cereal grains and legumes from your diet. This includes, but is not limited to, wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, brown rice, soy, peanuts, kidney beans, pinto beans, navy beans and black eyed peas (WP also advises against soy but allows for moderate amounts of soaked and/or sprouted grains and legumes).

8. Cut out all vegetable, hydrogenated and partly-hydrogenated oils including, but not limited to, margarines, soybean oil, corn oil, Crisco, peanut oil, canola oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil. Olive oil and avocado oil are fine, but don’t cook with them, use them in salad dressings and to drizzle over prepared food (this means any fried food should be cooked in lard...or avoid it altogether - which basically means you'll have to cook it yourself because I don't know of any restaurants that fry in lard - and if you know of any, please tell me!).

9. Eliminate sugar, soft drinks, all packaged products and juices (including fruit juices). As a rule of thumb, if it’s in a box, don’t eat it. At the grocery store, visit only the meat, fish and produce sections (for the record, I believe that moderate vegetable and fruit juicing is great - only fresh from home or a market that does fresh juicing).

10. Eliminate dairy products other than butter and maybe heavy cream. You don’t need dairy, but if you can’t live without, consider raw, full-fat and/or fermented dairy (Raw full-fat milk is awesome. Check out the Raw Milk Institute for more info. Personally, I do 'NEED' raw ice cream).

11. Eat when you’re hungry and don’t stress if you skip a meal or even two. You don’t have to eat three square meals a day, do what feels most natural (ehh, doing what feels most natural is not always the best for your body. For example, I want to gorge on fettuccine alfredo right now, BUT I have Celiac disease so that wouldn't be good for me because I have to avoid gluten. Just use your head as you listen to your body). 

12. Eliminate to most sources of external stress in your life as possible and sleep the most you can. Try to wake up without an alarm and to go to bed when it’s dark (Early to bed, early to rise...this is the natural rhythm of the body and is key to proper detoxification each night).

13. Don’t over-exercise, keep your training sessions short and intense and do them only a few times per week. Take some extra time off if you feel tired. Consider short and intense sprinting sessions instead of very long cardio sessions (exercise should always be catered to each individual's health).

14. Consider supplementing with vitamin D and probiotics. Levels of magnesium, iodine and vitamin K2 should also be optimized. Iodine can be obtained from seaweeds. You probably don’t need a multivitamin or other supplements (WP recommends getting your healthy gut flora from cultured and fermented foods. Synthetic supplements, especially vitamins, are not recommended because they lack the natural "synergy" (combined action or function of nutrients, vitamins, etc.) that comes from eating the whole food. An example of why to get checked out by a doctor before going "gun ho" on any diet is my need to avoid any extra iodine for a possible "thyroid thing." If I had read the Paleo advice about supplementing iodine, my body would have been in for some unnecessary damage).

Not necessarily "so easy a caveman could do it," but I give this diet a "thumbs up" overall with a few tweeks here and there. For additional resources and info about this somewhat new (old) diet, check this out.

-Katie