I’ve been doing the Paleo diet on and off for about 8 years. I’ve had major dietary issues for as long as I can remember. I was told it was gluten for a lot of my life, and I’ve done every kind of test you can get with Zero results or help. I’ve done everything from getting a biopsy of my GI, to 3 different kinds of naturopathic tests, allergy tests from my doctor, celiac tests, and I even did the Pinner Test, which was a complete waste of time. I’m extremely glad I didn’t pay for it. I’d say in the last 25 years I’ve done 20 different tests, all of which gave me varying, if not completely different, result with the wrong or misguided answers.
7 years ago I stripped my diet down and ended up at Paleo and stayed strict Paleo for years. I saw a lot of great results in weight and fat loss, but I missed certain foods, so over the last 4 years I’ve been playing with my diet, trying to eat foods I shouldn’t. After finding out the foods that made me sick and bloated, once again I’m back to Paleo. (My most recent naturopathic test showed I have major sensitivities to wheat, dairy, yeast, almonds, cashews, rice, whey, and legumes, which is why I’m back to Paleo.)
The only difference in these two photos is the foods I was eating. Both photos I was eating a very healthy diet, but in one (the left) I was eating foods that upset my stomach like wheat, rice, and dairy. This had me bloated and in pain every day, and it felt like my belly was a boiling pot of oatmeal all the time. The other (right) my guts feel great for the first time in a long time, because I’m back on Paleo. Sometimes you’ve got to strip things down in your life, and weed out what’s cause you pain, to get a happy balance and be where you want to be.
So What is the Paleo Diet?
Broken down to its simplest form, the Paleo diet can be summed up like this; eat how our Paleolithic ancestors ate 12,000+ years ago. Meat and eggs, veggies, seeds and nuts. (theoretically speaking).
So, what would our Paleolithic ancestors have eaten? Anything that you could have killed or picked; wild game, fish, fruits (limited and depending on where you lived), vegetables, nuts, seeds and roots. No grains (agriculture didn’t exist), no dairy (you try and milk a wild animal ), nothing processed (there were no factories to combine the lips and assholes of a pig to make a hot dog) and no sugars (I have nothing clever for this one).
Let’s flash forward 14,000 years and tie this in to our every day lives in the 21st century. There isn’t much in the way of wild game available around big cities and even for someone like me who lives in an area with wild game, unless I’m hunting it myself, it’s expensive. So what do I eat?
What I eat:
- Chicken (breasts, legs, ground)
- Turkey (breasts, ground)
- Bison (ground, steak)
- Fish (salmon, trout, tuna – I actually hate all seafood, and don’t eat this, but you can!)
- Beef (steak, roast, ground)
- Pork (bacon, tenderloin, chops)
- Vegetables (carrots, avocado, peppers)
- Fruits (banana, apples, strawberries, blueberries – grapes have the highest amount of sugar for any fruit)
- Nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans)
- Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower)
- Seed oil (olive, avocado, coconut)
- Healthy fats (avocado, fish oil)
What I don’t eat:
- All Dairy (cheese, milk, yogurt)
- All Grains (wheat, corn, rice, soy, oats)
- Processed foods (deli meats, crackers, anything that can only be made in a factory)
- Starches (rice, white potatoes – although I do use red or yellow potato sometimes)
- Legumes (black beans, lentils, red kidney beans)
How to do the Paleo Diet
There are all kinds of forms and variations of how to be Paleo. I’ve heard of some people going as far as to eat everything, including their meat, raw. Personally, I like my food salmonella free, so I cook it. Some people eat nothing but the food that they believe is native to their region and don’t eat certain foods at certain times of the year as it wouldn’t be in season. I think that bananas are a great grab and go food and seeing as I’m in the sub-arctic, I don’t see many banana trees growing around here, but I eat them anyway.
You can take this way of eating to the extreme or you can follow it to a minimum. I eat lean meats, vegetables, limited fruits, nuts and seeds and avoid dairy, grains, sugars and processed foods. Those are my only rules, and even occasionally they get bent; I’ll add peanuts (a legume), sometimes white and red potatoes, and I eat steel cut oats occasionally. I also do eat legumes once in a while, usually black beans and kidney beans, in some chili or Mexican food.
The biggest thing to take away from this article is that you don’t have to eat exactly how our ancestors ate. You can mix and match your food. You can season it with spices. I use a lot of chili powder, garlic, hot sauce and sea salt. I also make my own salsa and sauces, but you can buy organic or clean salsa and spaghetti sauce. Be a label reader, it will help you out!
I take a multi vitamin, fish oil, creatine, BCAAs, glutamine, glucosamine, and a natural testosterone booster. None of these were available in the Paleolithic era, but their diet was completely organic and they probably got most of these through their natural diet.
Preparation is Key to Success
Having prepared snacks and meals ready was the biggest part of my success. I found the first week almost impossible because I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t have enough food and grab and go meals for my busy lifestyle and I ended up grabbing protein bars or a sandwich. Now when I cook, I cook enough for at least two meals and I always have three or four chicken breasts ready to eat while I run out the door. Having grab and go options means you won’t cheat and you will be successful on this plan.
I’m lactose intolerant and have a wheat and yeast sensitivity, so going Paleo was a no-brainer for me to stop my internal suffering. What I didn’t see happening was me losing 4” around my waist in less than three months by doing nothing more than changing my diet. I’ve never felt or looked better than I do now, both inside and out, and that’s just because my GI isn’t inflamed anymore from foods I shouldn’t eat.
If you doubt it, try it. If you have sensitivities to food like dairy or wheat, this is the plan for you. I strongly believe that eating this way will help a lot of people in their weight loss and in realizing they can feel better.