Now more than ever people are concerned about their health as we learn more about the human body and its relationship with food and exercise. Many people seem to get overwhelmed with all of the conflicting information out there: is fat bad or good? Should humans be eating meat or not? Are carbs bad for us? One diet that many are following today is the Paleo Diet, also known as the caveman diet. But what is it?
What is the Paleo Diet?
The Paleo Diet is a diet that was first introduced in 1975 and has developed over time, but only gaining popularity in recent years. This diet, or rather this lifestyle choice, believes that humans should be consuming foods that were available when our cavemen ancestors were wandering the earth. This diet believes that eating processed foods and things not found in nature is one of the root causes of so many health problems that people face today. The founders of the Paleo movement believe that if we eat today what was available thousands of years ago, we will be doing the body a favor by giving it the things it was made to digest. It is believed that by following this lifestyle you can eliminate common problems like pain and inflammation, improve body composition, and improve digestion. So, what’s on the Paleo menu?
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What to enjoy
While the Paleo Diet is a bit restrictive, it can be easy to follow once you stock up your fridge and your pantry with the right ingredients. This lifestyle ensures that you get a variety of nutrients from different sources but the main principle is that you choose fresh food as often as you can and try to eliminate processed ones. In a Paleo meal, vegetables should take up at least half of your plate. You can enjoy a wide variety of veggies, but choose colorful and leafy ones to get a variety of vitamins and nutrients. All fruits are on the menu, preferably fresh (but frozen is alright, too). Each meal should contain some kind of protein as well, such as eggs, fish/seafood, grass-fed meat, and poultry. To round out your meal you should include a small portion of healthy fat like nuts/seeds, avocado, coconut, and healthy oils. To learn more about how to get started on the Paleo Diet, click here.
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What to avoid
While there are so many delicious and nourishing foods to discover in the Paleo lifestyle, some people find it restrictive since you must exclude some common foods from your diet. The most difficult change for many people is no cereal grains, meaning no bread or pasta, and no dairy. During the times of the cavemen, agriculture as we know it today hadn’t revolutionized yet so it is theorized that our ancestors weren’t cultivating grains or eating dairy products. Legumes are avoided as well since they can be a source of inflammation in some people.
Now here is the biggie: no sugar. It’s difficult to completely eliminate sugar from your diet since manufacturers sneak sugar into everything, which is why Paleo emphasizes eating fresh, whole foods as much as you can. Don’t add sugar to your coffee and when you’re craving something sweet grab a piece of fruit instead. The key to success in the Paleo lifestyle is to try to make healthy choices whenever you can and to enjoy wholesome, delicious foods.