‘Paleo’ is becoming a little buzz word around me at the moment. I first heard it at a Thermomix demonstration a couple of weeks ago, as my friend, who is tall, skinny (even after having two kids) and beautiful lives by it, and then there was a comment yesterday at a friend’s house, who had a friend come over – a friend she hadn’t seen in a month – and couldn’t believe the transformation that he had gone through. So we asked him what he was doing, and in the end, after describing his new way of eating, it was the ‘paleo diet.’
So what is it? The essence is that it goes back to the hunter-gatherer days… the foods that we ate prior to the farming years. Foods that are not processed, foods that are not farmed to create mass bulking such as carbohydrates – rice, grain, wheat, sugar etc. and foods we aren’t supposed to have after we are infants (milk, dairy, etc). That sounds like removing everything out of our diet, doesn’t it? Well yes and no. What you are allowed to have is grass-fed meats, flying animals (chicken, turkey, duck, etc), eggs, vegetables, nuts and seeds (not legumes) and fruit. Make your own sauces with herbs and spices rather than packet sauces that are high in sugar. If you need sugar, eat more fruit. If you like to snack, eat nuts (not peanuts, as they are a legume, but nuts like almonds and walnuts). Replace dairy with almond and coconut milk (not soya or rice milk).
The Thermomix demonstration showed how you can make your own coconut milk by buying shaved coconut, adding water and heat and straining the coconut pulp from the liquid to make your own. And as like virgin olive oil is the first pressing of the olives, giving you a stronger taste and flavour, as too is using the coconut pulp to make more and more batches of coconut milk with the same coconut, but with each batch it gets weaker. It showed you how you can make your own ice-cream or sorbet by only using egg white and strawberries. Or chocolate mousse that can be frozen to think its chocolate ice-cream by blending cocoa powder, avocado, dates and cashews.
The great thing about this diet, as the hunter-gatherers existed, is that you don’t need to have your 3 square meals or planned out snack times, because as hunter-gatherers ate, they ate when they were hungry or when they found something edible. You can have a big breakfast of eggs with mushrooms, tomatoes and spinach, have a handful of nuts at about 3pm and eat dinner normally. Or have your 3 meals if it suits your lifestyle. You can eat as much or as little as you want because the calories are more sustaining (low GI) and you feel better for it.
Most Paleo converters are big on the vegetable front, as probably most hunter-gatherers were, and pick at nut and seed snacks, or fruit when they want a burst of energy throughout the day. Some go to the extreme and don’t even cook their meat, as the hunter-gatherers did over 10,000 years ago before farming, but as we aren’t actually hunting our own food personally, I think it’s best to cook it.
As grass-fed meat, organic vegetables and fruit, Omega 3 enriched eggs and nuts can be expensive, you really need to stop shopping from the major chains and discover the farmer’s markets (which is, I know, a little ironic), or growing your own. Have your own chickens in the back garden, build yourself a vegetable patch mainly for broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes and kale. Eat sweet potatoes instead of potatoes. Use olive oil or avocado oil. If you really think about it and research it, you could probably make it cheaper than your current shop full of processed junk, and your body will be rewarded.
The main problem is that we are all time poor. Not enough time in the day to do the things we have to do let alone the things we want to do. But think of it this way… if we had less carb loaded processed foods in our system, it would burn away all our excess fat stores, giving us more energy in our day, more focus to what we need to do in our lives and give us the time to be creative with our foods and cooking using ‘simple ingredients.’
I will admit, the Thermomix demonstration really showed me how we can be creative using naturally created foods, ensuring you know exactly what ingredients you are giving yourself and your children. And it is possible to make things look processed, but at least you know what’s in them. But for $2000, I just can’t justify the expense on a maybe…
Will I try the Paleo diet? Most likely… as I have been thinking for a while that my intake of breads, grains, etc has been possibly the reason why my body knows how to gain weight easily and that I need to up my intake of water to ‘wash it all away.’ My main problem is that when I’m on the road for hours at a time, I’ve trained my body not to need to find a bathroom by not drinking too much… which I know I shouldn’t… What will be my hardship will be taking milk and cheese out of my diet.
The thing is, the diet, or lifestyle change, makes sense to me. Most Paleo converters made it a gradual change to their diet rather than a radical change, by just being conscious of what they are buying, discovering new places to shop that provides organic grown fruit and vegetables and grass fed meats. And it is possible to have a ‘paleo free’ day once in a while (and when you do, you will convert right back because you feel so bad!). You don’t have to be a dictator to friends and family, just aware of what’s going into your mouth.
It’s all food for thought!