What Is Paleo?

As I was embarking on my own food journey, long before meal prep business was even a consideration, my husband was the one to suggest going “Paleo”. I quickly looked up a couple of recipes, because that is what I do well, and told him, “We will never go Paleo, I don’t even know what some of these ingredients are.” I have learned some things since then: Never say never, and admit when you are wrong. I now have a Paleo-inspired business and I was so wrong.

I was against it at first, but somehow I kept hearing paleo, so I did a little research. I was learning about food, how my body worked with the food that I was eating, and realizing what foods I needed to feel better and to enhance my workouts. My family was also getting bored with the monotony of our meals, and I needed some recipes. I started downloading free books from my good friend, Amazon, about the Paleo diet. It was reading about the idea of paleo that changed my mind.

The simple principle that I took away from my readings was taking out the processed foods and replacing them or increasing your intake of whole foods. More specifically, taking out the processed sugar, dairy, and gluten…the three most highly inflammatory foods that most people, most importantly my family, have aversions to. Now, you can make anything complicated, or you can take away the important facts. It also helps to be open minded and be willing to try anything. Since I had already been cutting out the dairy and gluten, it made sense to me. Paleo foods include lean meats, sweet potatoes, lots of vegetables, nuts, seeds, limited fruits, and sugar in the form of honey, molasses, and maple syrup. Instead of looking at all the foods that I could not have, I focused on the list of foods that I could have. It also was easy to substitute the approved foods in recipes for foods that I didn’t need.

Paleo is often nicknamed “The caveman diet”, which many people misconstrue as eating a lot of meat. That was the Adkins diet, and I will just add he died from a heart attack, probably from eating a large portion of fatty meat. You see, our bodies were not designed to break down the preservatives, additives, sugar, and processed foods that most of society relies on for “nutrition”. Paleo is the idea of taking our diet back to the foods that are readily available fresh and whole. It also just so happens that these foods are easily digestible by the body, therefore, allowing your body to work for you, not against you.

I started my journey by wanting to lose weight, but a month into it I felt so good that is what kept me going. I also gave credit to eating paleo but eliminating those inflammatory foods, that led to better gut health, less joint pain, and more energy. The biggest misconception of having a business with the name Paleo Num Yums, is I hear people say, “I don’t eat paleo so I am not interested”. So what do you eat then? Had I actually thought I would have a business, maybe I would not have put Paleo in the name. But, that ship has sailed, the name is what it is, and I use it as not only a conversation starter but a tool for education.

My first bit of advice to people that are looking to change their lifestyle (I refuse to use the word diet) is pick something that you can do for the rest of your life. Yep. Your ENTIRE life. If something seems extreme one way or another, it probably is a fad and you will not be able to be consistent. Life is extreme, why should your food be just as complicated. You can go anywhere and choose foods from the paleo list, which helps you stay on track no matter where you are. Everything I had ever read on paleo suggests that it is almost impossible to stay 100% paleo, that it was more realistic to be 70% paleo. So what is the other 30%? Glad you asked. There are some great non-paleo foods that are great for you:

grains, rice, red potatoes, and legumes. This is where the open-mindedness comes in. These are things like oatmeal, grain-based bread (gluten-free), beans, and peanuts.

The part no one wants to hear is that this is a journey, and results will not happen overnight. There is no magic pill. By educating yourself over time, you will start to understand what your body needs and how to give it what it needs. Nutrition is a complicated subject, and there is so much information that many people feel defeated before they even get started. Stop making it complicated. Go back to the basics…whole foods found in the perimeter of the grocery store. Once you get a handle on that, start experimenting.

This is my last bit of advice if you are just starting out… have fun with your food. Remember that this is a journey. You will fail, but what is important is how you pick yourself up from a failure. If you don’t know, educate yourself. There are so many resources out there, just be cautious what your read on the internet…it doesn’t make it true. Find websites that aren’t trying to sell you anything, often times they can be biased and make it very believable to sway you. Make your own choices. Choices that agree with your lifestyle. Stop counting calories, stop worrying about macros. Start eating proper portions, start eating whole and healthy foods.

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