As man marches forward with technological advances going faster than we can fully understand, our health is actually declining. A modern and ever increasing tribe of people is bonding together to reverse these effects by not looking for a new diet pill or magical elixir, but by looking backwards in time. The paleo or primal diet is looking at how our ancestors ate before we discovered agriculture, processed foods, and artificial flavours.
One of the biggest issues with modern diets, and what Mark Sisson has termed Conventional Wisdom, is that everything we hear about is being manipulated by one group to benefit another. Eating the recommended caloric intake of carbohydrates benefits only the wheat and corn industry, limiting the amount of eggs in your diet benefits the pork, beef, and poultry industry, and so forth. Diet recommendations are not meant to improve your health, but to increase the profits of these groups.
The Paleo diet combats this by going back to basics. It strips away everything that you can not derive from foods found in nature, and promotes foods that Conventional Wisdom says to avoid. Designing a diet to get away from packaged food and back to natural foods is not merely a political diet but is backed up through science. Before the advances of agriculture took over, our bodies have had over 100,000 years to evolve and adjust to the diets of our ancestors. Since agriculture was discovered 10,000 years ago, our bodies have not had sufficient time to adapt, leading to health problems (food allergies, diabetes) and diseases in the body. Eliminating the more toxic foods entering our body, allows the body to function cleanly and promotes better health.
The easiest way to get started with eating a Paleo diet is to go through your cupboards and fridge, take out anything that is boxed, a grain (bread, rice, tortilla shells), a legume (beans), and junk food (ice cream, chips, cookies). Next, take out the bags of flour, sugar, corn syrup, canned soups, and anything else that is not in its natural state. From everything you have taken out, donate at least 80% of it to your local food bank or a different organization. I say 80% only because some paleo diets allow you some wiggle room for those times when you can’t eat strictly natural foods, and it will make the transition to a paleo diet easier. I would suggest a transition period of at least a week to help ease your body away from the caffeine and sugar. You may experience headaches and lower energy on the first few days during the withdrawl, but clearing your body of these items will bring a better reward in the longterm.
Next, head to the grocery store to stock up on your paleo foods. Having a house full of paleo items will not only keep you from cheating on the diet, but also help you in being creative with your meals. Load up on vegetables (avoid potatoes unless you’re an athlete), nuts (staying away from the extra salty packages), fruits, and, of course, meat and eggs. Pick out a variety of cuts of meat to savour and don’t shy away from the chicken thighs with skin left on, or that fatty steak. If it’s available and within your budget, buy organic fruits and vegetables, free range and organic eggs, and grass fed, organic beef. If you don’t buy organic fruit and vegetables, be sure to rinse them before eating to get rid of any pesticides that remain on the skins.
Those two steps of eliminating the bad foods, and buying the good, will start you off on a wonderful journey through the paleo world. There are some great sources on the web for even more information, with companion books and other products. I would start with The Paleo Diet (book link here), and The Primal Blueprint (book link here). Both sites have a wealth of information about the specifics of the paleo diet, and living a primal lifestyle, including a constantly updating blog. The Primal Blueprint also has a cookbook and fitness plan ebook available to fully round out a primal lifestyle.
After switching to a primal lifestyle, you will experience amazing changes with your body. Once you have read about the diet completely, and set your mind to following it, you will get results within a few weeks of starting. The internet is full of success stories with this diet, including dramatic weight loss of over fifty pounds, to getting a lean body in their 50s. Check out Murray’s story for some inspiration.
The proof is out there, but it is up to you to step up and make the Primal Leap.