You have probably heard about the Paleo diet. This diet has become more and more popular in the last few years. It is basically about eating food that our ancestors would have eaten a million years ago. But it is not that simple to determine what food it is exactly and sometimes it might take you to some extremes in your diet. The Paleo diet also wants to change our main source of energy fuel from Carbs to Fat. I love the Paleo approach but as mentioned before, some of the guidelines are, I think, a little bit to extreme for me and that’s why I decided to bring my little twist to it and share it with you today.
The Paleo diet allows you to eat pretty much every single vegetable you want. This is awesome as I love my veggies! The only thing to pay attention to is not eating to many “starchy” vegetables like sweet potato, butternut squash, potato, pumpkin,… These ones contain more carbohydrate than the “non-starchy”vegetables. So yes, we still need to consume some but with moderation.
With this diet, you tend to avoid fruits, especially the ones rich in sugar like banana, mango, pineapple,… And that’s where I add my twist. I love fruits and yes, it is definitely sugar, but not just sugar. Fruits contains so many different vitamins and nutrients that our body needs on a daily basis. It is a good way to reach the required amount that you might not reach eating only vegetables and proteins. And let’s face it, it is still so much better than having something made of refined sugar, like biscuits or soda drinks.
Meat is a big thing in the Paleo diet. Every type of meat is good, even organ meats. Well, that’s where I don’t follow the rules either. I usually don’t eat any other meat than chicken or turkey. I would rarely have a rack of lamb or a steak. I just don’t really like it and from my personal studies on food, beef contains a lot of saturated fat and bad cholesterol which are both really nasty for your arteries and could eventually lead to a heart disease. I usually eat fish instead of meat when I have a choice.
I love fish! When I am at the house in Panama with my boyfriend, we usually go fishing and catch some real nice fresh fish for dinner. Our local favourites are Tuna, Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, Grouper and Snapper. It is amazing the amount of recipes you can do with fish, it never gets boring. I really enjoy trying new recipes either on the grill or in the oven. And the best part is the fresh sashimi for appetizers!
I know that it is not possible for everyone to go fishing so when I have to buy fish I try to pick the wild caught ones and locals if possible. Don’t hesitate to ask your fish merchant about the origin of his products.
Shellfish and other seafood are also very good to incorporate in your diet as they are rich in nutrients.
The Paleo Diet recommends the use of olive, coconut, avocado, macadamia oils which are considered to be “healthy oils” and to avoid seed and vegetable oils like canola, soybean, sunflower,etc as these ones are easily oxidized and are very inflammatory for your body. I totally agree with this one and I even use pure coconut oil on my skin as a daily moisturiser. There are so many different ways to use coconut oil, I will soon write a post about that if you are interested.
- Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are a very handy snack for Paleo eaters but some people tend to consume a bit too much of them. Yes, they are an easy snack to pack for work or when going on a trip and they are full of nutrients. But the problem is that they usually contain Phytic acid which is a strategy used to prevent nuts and seeds from sprouting before the ideal conditions are present. In our digestive system, this acid prevents minerals like calcium, iron and magnesium from being absorbed.
A good way to get rid of most of that Phytic acid is to let your nuts and seeds soak overnight in salty water and then dry them the next morning. Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Hazelnuts, Macadamias, Pecans, Pistachios, Pumpkin Seeds, Chia Seeds are a few of the Paleo diet’s favourites.
The Paleo diet tends to avoid highly-processed forms of dairy like milk, cream, yogurt, cheese. I tend to stay away from these and drink almond milk instead of milk. The only exception I make is with greek yogurt but I make sure I use full fat as it is more tolerated by the diet.
- Grains and legumes
Grains like oats, rye, sorghum, any pasta, bread, cookies, pizza, etc are not the worst but they don’t contain much nutrients and are relatively high in toxins.
Regarding the legumes, if you have problems digesting or are trying to lose weight, you’ will be better off without them. Peanut and soy products are the first ones to avoid.
While I totally agree with the legumes part, especially regarding the soy (really high in toxin and highly inflammatory for your body), I have a hard time not eating pasta or oats. I don’t really have any problems digesting them but I try not to eat them too often.
You should avoid eating any form of added sugar. I know it is really hard but try to really detoxify your body from it. Sugar is basically like a drug and when you are going to try stop eating it, your body is going to feel it and you might feel a bit weird over the first few days. But that’s what the Paleo Diet is all about, shifting your energy source from Sugar to Fat.
They are however some sugars said “Paleo sugars” like honey, maple syrup and coconut sugar that are ok to consume once in a while.
- Processed food
Yes, that’s right. No more burgers, sodas, chips, packaged food, etc. Well there are some exceptions to this rules but you will be better off sticking to it. If it doesn’t look fresh from a plant or animal, don’t eat it. They contain nothing good for you and are full of artificial flavourings, preservatives and artificial colourings.
And there you have it, my twist on this famous Paleo diet. I am not saying that I am the best example to follow, I just adapted this way of eating to what feels good or not to my body and also around what I love.
What are your thoughts about this? Have you ever tried the Paleo Diet? Or any kind of diet? What are the guidelines you follow?