The Paleo Diet
What is the Paleo Diet?
The paleolithic diet (or paleo diet for short) is often referred to as the caveman diet, the hunter gatherer diet or the stone age diet.
The concept behind this popular way of eating is the idea that some scientists think our digestive systems have not evolved enough over the years to digest grains, dairy and highly processed foods.
More than 10,000 years ago, before agricultural practices allowed us to grown and consume things like wheat, corn and dairy products in large amounts, our diet consisted mainly of meat, fowl, fish and wild versions of vegetables, fruit and nuts.
Our body’s systems were designed to easily digest these foods. Over time, with the widespread introduction of agriculture, our diet started to change and we began to consume more and more wheat and corn based foods like pastas, noodles, breads and tortillas. We also domesticated animals like cows and began to consume their milk and milk-based products like butter, cheese, yogurt and cream.
Many scientists believe that our body’s ability to process and properly digest these “new” foods has grown much more slowly than our increased consumption of them. Therefore they suggest eating like our hunter gatherer ancestors did for better health.
Loren Cordain, PhD, a Colorado State University professor and author of The Paleo Diet was one of the first to bring this idea to mainstream media and the public. He says our body has “not really adapted to these foods, which can cause inflammation… and promote disease.”
Paleo Diet Foods
So what does all of this mean on a day to day basis? First of all, we have to realize that we can’t truly eat like our hunter gatherer ancestors because our world has changed drastically. We don’t hunt down our meat in the wild, we buy it at a grocery store or specialty store. So the best we can do is find food of the best quality possible.
In paleolithic times we had no chemical sprays on our food, so ideally meat should be organic or at least grass fed rather than grain or corn fed. Organic vegetables are best too, but if you can’t afford them, just do your best to eat fresh food at every meal. Nothing processed, nothing in a can or a box. No added chemicals.
The first thing you need to do to follow a paleo diet is to cut out all wheat and wheat products from your diet (which makes the paleolithic diet great for those who need to eat gluten free).
That means getting rid of all bread, pasta, noodles, flour and any other flour or wheat containing products from your kitchen. That also includes things like baked goods, bread crumbs and baking mixes.
In this sense the caveman diet is quite similar to a low carb diet, which usually eliminates all wheat products for being too high in carbohydrates.
You also need to remove from your diet anything that contains dairy – like milk, cheese, butter, ice cream and yogurt. Corn products like tortillas and corn chips are also out.
So what ingredients do paleo diet recipes contain?
Pretty much all meat proteins are okay in a paleo diet. Eggs are fine too.
Most fruits and vegetables are acceptable paleo diet foods, with a few exceptions. Most paleo eating plans prohibit high carb containing vegetables like potatoes, corn and squash, not because they are not paleo-compliant by definition, but because versions of this diet find them to high in carbohydrates.
All legumes and pulses are off limits on paleo diets. That includes lentils, kidney beans, chick peas and more.
Paleo Diet Recipes
You can find many recipes that suit a caveman diet here on the site. Just look for recipes that DON’T contain flour and other wheat products, corn or corn containing products, legumes or high carb vegetables like potatoes.