Although the paleo diet and lifestyle has become very popular in recent years, there is some confusion as to what it really involves. To make it easy when you're starting out on your paleo diet we have listed out 10 essential parts of implementing this type of diet into your healthy lifestyle.
The rationale behind a paleo diet is that we try to eat as naturally as cavemen did back in the Palaeolithic era. These cave people were hunter-gatherers and so lived on food that was readily available in their surroundings. Although we have moved on a lot since then, this idea helps us to stay true to what is healthy for our bodies. Use this analogy to choose your foods. When you pick up a product ask yourself:
- Is this a new, processed product?
- Could our ancestors put it together?
- Is it free of additives that help it stay fresh for months on end?
If you cannot satisfy yourself on these points, then this food probably does not fit within the aims of your paleo diet.
The old saying goes a clean space leads to a healthy mind. The same is true for your kitchen. What’s lurking at the back of that top press, do you need it? If not, find a good home for it. Chocolate or bottles of wine will make welcome gifts, while unopened pasta and other dried foods will be very welcome to charities who distribute food to families in need. Just because you don’t want to eat it anymore doesn’t mean that someone else won’t.
Choose the oils that you incorporate into your paleo diet carefully. A quick way of knowing how you should use your oils is if it’s solid at room temperature, like coconut oil – then you should use it in cooking if it’s liquid at room temperature then use it for dressings. The reason for this is that some oils burn at a lower temperature than others particularly more processed ones, e.g. coconut oil has a higher smoke point. Select oils that have a high smoke point for cooking so that you are not heating them to the point that they become toxic.
There are a wealth of nutrients abundant in good food. Educate yourself about what nutrients you can get from different food to support your health requirements. Although we are not suggesting that you neglect prescription medication from your doctor, it is possible to eliminate the need for health supplements by choosing your food carefully. Almost everything you eat in your paleo diet will bring you some benefits.
As a key part of following a paleo lifestyle is listening to your body, you need to train yourself to tune into your senses which help to tell you when you're full. Slow down and enjoy the treat that your food is. Inhale the delicious scents and feast your eyes on the vibrant colours, really taste your food. Let your body enjoy the experience of eating well. Doing this helps you to recognise when your full and avoid over-eating. Although the Paleo diet doesn’t include calorie counting, it can take a concentrated effort to awaken the full sensors in our body.
Do not under-estimate how much of a change moving to a paleo lifestyle is. You will need support from friends or family who encourage you to reach your goals. Paleo Ireland are here for you too. We want you to succeed with your paleo diet and have designed a range of delicious, nutritionally balanced menu options to help you when you’re under pressure. You do not need more stress in your life, we’re all about reducing stress levels, so if you find cooking overwhelming or just fancy a bit of a break to go and do a fun activity contact us and we’ll arrange to get a selection of great food choices delivered to your door, ready for you to enjoy. Let people help where they can and it will be an easier process overall.
This goes for both food and exercise. The idea is to fuel your body for life, but if your body doesn’t do well with certain foods then it’s perfectly fine to choose other options. Do not feel the need to force anything. Listen to your body in relation to feeding your body for your activity levels and if you’re feeling wrecked then take the time to let yourself rest. Our bodies are very smart systems they will tell us a lot, if only we learn to listen.
We don’t mean it’s essential to get your dancing shoes on – but, by all means, feel free to do that if you enjoy it! What we’re talking about here is your Circadian rhythm. Back in Palaeolithic times, they didn’t have alarm clocks to get them up in the morning, they rose with the sun and allowed nature to dictate their rhythms. Although often we need to get up in the morning before the sun and stay up long past dusk, there are ways to help nurture your Circadian rhythm so that you wake and fall asleep naturally. A good sleep regime will support the energy that you get from your food so that you can take on the world during your busy days.
Implementing a large change in your diet can have very real effects on your energy levels and mood at first. While the sugar and refined foods that you are used to eating leave your system you may start to crave them. Being aware that this can happen can help you to deal with it. Allow yourself the time and space to get through it, once your free of these cravings you will feel much better and begin to enjoy your new diet.
Last but not least, have fun! Living a paleo lifestyle is not about depriving yourself. It is about choosing the best of options for your health and well-being. Incorporate the smart food choices that you enjoy into your paleo diet, get plenty of rest and spend your free time being active in whatever way you like. If done right, living a paleo lifestyle can make you feel better in body and mind for many years into the future.