Basics of a Paleo Diet

The latest diet trend these days is paleo, or the “paleolithic diet” which can sound a little scary at first but many people swear by this as a healthier alternative to the typical North American diet. Curious what a paleo diet includes (or excludes)? Here are the basics of paleolithic eating.

The idea is that humans as a species have naturally evolved over many thousands of years with a certain type of diet, typically one that revolves around hunting and foraging. That means our bodies are geared to eating meat, vegetables and fruit. The relatively recent addition of grains and even dairy to our diet isn’t that healthy because we haven’t evolved the ability to really extract the nutrients from these foods as efficiently. Another term for this kind of eating is the caveman diet or just primitive eating.

So with that in mind, what kinds of foods are part of a paleo diet? Well, you basically stick to meat, seafood, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and various forms of healthy fats or oils. Eggs are also fine. Healthy fats would include oils like coconut, sesame, olive or grapeseed. You’d want to avoid corn, peanut, or soybean oils.

You then stay away from all types of dairy, grains, beans, legumes, starches and any sort of unhealthy processed foods. Alcohol is also usually excluded from a paleo diet. So staple foods like rice, corn and potatoes are all out. This is where most people start to have trouble because these foods are big parts of a typical diet.

It may seem like it would be hard to manage a diet that includes no starches or carbs whatsoever, but it just takes a little ingenuity to create new recipes that stick to the paleo way of thinking. Whole cookbooks have been published and there are dozens of great websites out there that are dedicated to paleo eating.

This protein-heavy and carb-light way of eating is particularly beneficial for anyone who lives a very active lifestyle, and is often associated with cross-training and high levels of vigorous exercise. But even if that doesn’t describe you, you can still take advantage of paleo eating.

Advocates of this diet say that it helps balance your blood sugar through the day, provides a great deal of energy and generally helps with food-related allergies and reactions. It also works well for anyone who has to avoid gluten since all wheat products and related ingredients are kept out.

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