Everyone starts a new diet in January and after three weeks often give up! But here’s one diet like no other, it’s a lifestyle called Paleo. Let’s talk living wheat free, gluten free, grain free and dairy free. Being an inquisitive foodie, when I discovered the Paleo diet in the UK, I instantly loved the concept, mainly for it’s serious benefits, which I’ll go into in a m
Here’s what’s in this article:
Here’s what is in this article:
Paleo in the UK slowly and steadily becoming more popular, and I’m hoping more people will discover it and change their life like I have. I love food, I love nutrition. I love feeling healthy and gaining from how my diet shapes who I am and what I can achieve so the Paleo diet made sense. I’ll start by explaining what the Paleo diet is….
What is the Paleo diet?
Let’s be clear – it’s not “yet another diet”.
The Paleo diet is eating in a way that our caveman ancestors would have. Paleo comes from the word: Paleolithic. This is a prehistoric era where cavemen and cavewomen would hunt and gather food.
Food was pure, natural and wasn’t processed like food in our diets today. The Paleo diet simply focuses on a clean, lean, natural way of eating.
Paleo diet food
Here’s what you don’t eat on the Paleo diet:
- Dairy (Milk, Cheese, Yogurt)
- Wheat (Bread, Pasta, etc)
- White Potatoes
- Processed meat – such as Ham. If you knew what it goes through to be perfectly square…..
- Beans – (Baked from a can, all the way through to kidney beans)
- Soy based produce
Yes, no junk means no junk.
Our cavemen ancestors would be turning in their graves thinking about the type of food that’s served in fast food restaurants these days. For example, a Mcdonalds burger bun has 28 ingredients! Not simply flour, yeast and water but instead a bunch of ingredients that I can barely pronounce. All this for a burger bun. No thanks!
People often think “I’ll be healthy, no junk.” If anyone has ever thought that give yourself a pat on the back. Now, how long did that last?
Cutting out all “bad” foods and chewing on celery sticks is not a way to safely lose weight. Improving nutrition is a safe way to lose weight and feel great! That may sound cliche but it’s true. I feel amazing since starting a Paleo lifestyle.
Alcohol on the Paleo diet?
Alcohol is not forbidden. After all, we have evolved quite significantly from our cave people ancestors. In my view moderation is a rule for alcohol and you can choose wheat free options such as, red wine, white wine, rum or potato vodka. Where as beer, grain based gin or whiskey and bourbon are not something that are Paleo friendly in their essence.
Nutritionally, alcohol does nothing for us. It is a toxin, which means if you consume it you are putting your healthy living prospects in jeopardy.
My advice – before you choose an alcoholic beverage, reflect on your health aims and food diet, then make the choice you feel happy with. If you’re looking at the Paleo diet as a way to lose weight, make a note that your body can’t burn fat whilst it’s occupied with detoxifying alcohol.
Good Paleo food!
Here’s a list of foods that are Paleo friendly. This list is HUGE!
- All meat – hurrah!
- Fish and shellfish
- Fruit – go mad
- Vegetables (except white potatoes)
- Berries, all types
- Nuts – go nuts!
For cooking you can use almost any unprocessed oil. Favourites in the Paleo community are:
- Coconut oil
- Avocado oil
- Red palm oil < I used this.
- Flaxseed oil
- Sesame oil
- Nut oils (like hazelnut)
Here’s a really good Paleo diet approved oils chart for you to bookmark.
So, what does this amazing food give you?
The Paleo diet has been proven to not only clean your diet. It’s much more than that. Here are some key Paleo diet benefits:
- Energy Increase – Back in caveman days, humans survived on a tiny amount of carbohydrates compared to what we consume today. The body used carbohydrates more efficiently so cutting out wheat will improve your energy levels. We function better by grazing on high protein foods that give bursts of energy.
- Weight Loss – The Paleo diet improves the way the body stores fat, optimising your weight. Combined with exercise, I’ve spoken with people who have gone from 21+ stone, (that’s around 300 lbs) down to 11 stone, (160 lbs) in less than a year. Check out my friends weight lose while on the Paleo diet diary.
- Improving Skin – Did you know, our bodies can’t produce Vitamin E? Yet, Vitamin E is essential to having great skin. Filling yourself with highly nutritious food does that for you.
- Allergy reduction…
Imagine being intolerant to wheat and never knowing it? This was the case with my partner who constantly found himself suffering from fatigue and exhaustion. After logging a food diary, he started a Paleo lifestyle and cut wheat from his diet. Within a week or so, he felt like a new person. His brain-fog started to lift and his energy levels much higher.
While visiting Italy we devoured pasta – it was a little odd because we had not had pasta in such a long time, but we were there and wanted real Italian pasta!
Post pasta, I felt full and uncomfortable, but could walk it off. He on the other hand was not well. He walked around in a daze and we had to retreat back to the hotel, where he slept for hours. Upon arrival back to the UK he went to see a nutritionist who confirmed, “Doug, you are intolerant to wheat”. Had he not started the Paleo diet – we’d never had discovered his wheat intolerance.
More Pale diet benefits include:
- Improved sleeping patterns
- ‘Brain fog be gone’ aka better mental clarity
- Reduced depression or anxiety
- Reduced bloating
- Easier to repair and build muscle
- Better bowl movements
- Lower risk of diabetes and heart problems
- A much better immune system
A few of my favourite things about Paleo
- I don’t count calories. Ever. I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full.
- I cook more. And I love to cook.
- I’ve lost my tummy fat – This is the first place I put on weight, wheat often being the cause.
- I never have a food hangover. That never happens now.
- I can graze, I can eat when I want to. There’s no rule that I should eat three set meals a day, and two snacks for example. When I’m hungry, I eat.
- There’s no wastage. I use leftovers to good effect and with only natural ingredients there’s no danger re-heating the next day.
How to get started
Starting the Paleo diet is a piece of cake (kind of) and requires you to understand what foods are Paleo friendly and what aren’t. I hope you’ll use the food list above, and the one I recommended to good affect. Once you know these, you can start.
The best piece of advice I pass on is to clear your house of non-Paleo foods. Starting a new way of eating is not always easy, so not having non-Paleo foods in the house will help you a considerable amount.
Stocking up is also a habit I’ve developed. I fill my fridge, freezer and cupboards with food. Earlier I said that one of my favourite things about the Paleo diet is that I can eat whenever I want, by having food available I can always whip something up.
Planning prevents poor performance, so set out a meal plan for your initial two months. After this you will be knowledgeable and able to stay on track.
Paleo meal inspiration
If you fancy some inspiration here’s some Paleo recipes to get you started. Here’s where I get inspiration from:
- http://itstimetoburn.com – Paleo recipes galore, and also some awesome suggestions for exercise.
- http://cavegirlcuisine.com – Another great place to find lots and lots of recipes.
- http://paleomg.com – A recipe list I am envious of.
- http://nomnompaleo.com/recipeindex – More great recipes.
- The Paleo Diet for Brits: The Essential British Paleo Cookbook and Diet Guide
- The Primal Blueprint: Reprogramme your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health and boundless energy
- Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans
- The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat
- The Paleo Solution
- The Paleo Diet Cookbook
- Primal Cravings: Your Favorite Foods Made Paleo
- Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle
What the critics say
Critics like to suggest that the Paleo diet is impossible to integrate into todays lifestyle. If they wish to be literal, then yes. – we don’t hunt meat and live in caves. However with the resources we have available to us, why can’t we eat the food types they did? Going Paleo isn’t about donning a caveman cloth after all.
Paleo critics also suggest that Paleo is an all meat diet, an all meat diet might will kill you! There are just as many publications to suggest the contrary about the Paleo diet. I have found that most recipes and meal plans available include a higher percentage of vegetables, fruit, nuts and berries, than meat.
I would agree that if I were eating purely red meat, compared to a balanced regime of lean meat with a few occasions of red meat per week, my body wouldn’t like me. Red meat tends to take a little longer to digest so I certainly wouldn’t advise that you start the Paleo diet thinking, “I CAN HAVE STEAK ALL DAY EVERYDAY!”. Here’s a typical Paleo food pyramid to outline how meat compares with the rest of the food consumed:
The final point Paleo diet critics have been known to highlight is that diet alone cannot cure obesity. This is something I am in 99% agreement with. It’s a very good point, if I met someone that didn’t agree, frankly I would call them an idiot. Of course people need to put in the physical effort to help their body remould.
Educating ourselves about the food we eat, in my true opinion, should be primary. Changing the food in our lives is a key part, as well as exercise.
Check out a very interesting interview with a renowned Paleo diet critic here.
My Paleo Life
The information above is my guide on the Paleo diet. What it is, what food is good, why and how you can start. I’ve read a lot of books, and consulted many websites, but I want to point out that I’m not an expert.
I decided, I like this way of life. I’m 99.9% Paleo. There are occasions when I don’t follow the Paleo diet. Usually social occasions when it’s not entirely functional. If I’m invited for dinner at a friends home, I eat whatever delights they cook. And at Christmas. Unlike many people I don’t do it to be fashionable or for weight loss, but I simply love the results, I’ve seen in myself.
Any questions or comments do reach out below 🙂