Eating like a caveman to maximize your health
Contrary to popular belief, bacon and other fat-laden foods won’t make you fat—sugar, carbs, and a sedentary lifestyle will.
Diets and labels often go hand-in-hand. There are diets that eliminate entire food groups: vegan, vegetarian, lacto-vegetarian, ovo-vegetarian, pescatarian; fad diets: gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, sugar-free, carb-free; diets made famous by celebrities like the Lemonade Diet (Master Cleanse) that Beyoncé did for 14 days; and extremely ridiculous diets, like the Cabbage Diet or the classic Grapefruit Diet.
With so many options and choices regarding food—such a simple yet essential facet of our everyday lives—it’s no wonder that most of us are overwhelmed and confused about what to eat and what not to eat. One day, the media says fruits are good for you; the next day, not so much.
According to the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation, 60 per cent of Canadians are overweight or obese. We are, as they say, “overfed and undernourished”. Even with this astounding reality, it’s no surprise that the diet and weight loss industry—a multi-million dollar money-making machine—will keep trying to sell us on Hydroxycut and the Ab Circle Pro.
So what, then, is the solution to all of this nonsense? Think back to our ancient ancestors and how they survived and sustained their hunter-gatherer days without any gadgets, gimmicks, pills or potions. They simply ate real, whole foods that were grown or hunted from the ground – no GMOs (genetically modified organisms) or questionable “Frankenfoods” made in factories.
Introducing the Paleo Diet, also known as the Paleolithic Diet (think dinosaurs) or Caveman Diet, a simple and easy-to-follow concept about mimicking how our ancestors ate, moved and lived over 10,000 years ago, before cows were milked by machines and the invention of the Twinkie.
Essentially, you’re eliminating all processed and inflammatory foods from the modern S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) such as Frappuccinos and everything bagels, and replacing them with nutritious, healing foods such as smoked salmon frittatas and green smoothies that complement our bodies’ genetics.
It’s simple science; no calorie counting needed.
What to eat:
- Meats – preferably free-range and organic (e.g. chicken, beef, wild-caught fish and seafood)
- Vegetables – lots of leafy greens (e.g. kale, spinach, swiss chard, parsley)
- Fruits – choose low-GI (glycemic index) ones (e.g. berries, lemons, apples)
- Healthy fats – don’t be afraid of fats, eat plenty (e.g. avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, butter, bacon)
- Nuts and seeds – in moderation (our ancestors wouldn’t have had access to a tub of cashews)
What to avoid:
- Grains (e.g. bread, rice, pasta, quinoa, cereal, muffins)
- Artificial/refined sugar
- Dairy (e.g. milk, yogurt, ice cream)
- Legumes (e.g. beans, peanuts, lentils, soy: tofu, soy milk, vegan substitutes for meat)
It helps to think of food by nutrients and not by food groups, as the Canada’s Food Guide would like us to believe. You want to make sure that you’re eating an abundance of proteins and fats, while keeping carbohydrate intake to a minimum. Your protein source should come from meats and eggs, fats from the list above, and carbohydrates, mainly from leafy, green vegetables and one or two fruits.
The ironic thing is that you can eat all the broccoli you want and your carb count will still be lower than if you were to eat a bowl of instant noodles. To visualize it, your plate should be 80 per cent vegetables, 15 per cent protein, and 5 per cent fat. A lovely example would be a bowl of steamed spinach with chopped chicken breast and avocado drizzled with olive oil.
Here’s a sample meal plan so you can see how easy it is to eat Paleo in a day:
Breakfast: bacon, eggs, and a green smoothie
Lunch: lemon-infused chicken and steamed kale
Dinner: steak, asparagus, and mashed sweet potato
Snack: rolled turkey and apple slices
Following this natural, holistic way of eating will inevitably eliminate diseases such as obesity, leaky gut syndrome, migraines, chronic fatigue and more. Instead, you will be diagnosed with glowing skin, shiny hair, healthy nails, sparkling eyes, copious amounts of energy, amazing sleep, and excess weight that melts right off.
As with everything, make sure it works for you. Significant factors such as age, gender, occupation, activity level, and health issues should be considered. Even though the Paleo Diet comes pretty close, there is no one, perfect diet that every individual will thrive on. Tweak as necessary. Have “cheat meals” and get right back on track. Be mindful of moderation.
However, having astonishing health doesn’t stop with dinner—incorporate the Paleo way to how you eat, sleep, exercise, and manage stress. As cliché as it sounds, don’t think of it as a “diet”, but as a lifestyle. Eat clean, sleep well, move daily, and de-stress. Instead of putting emphasis on what you can’t eat, focus on the exciting new world of foods and flavours to introduce to your palate.
To learn more about the Paleo Diet, some must-reads are The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain, Ph.D; The Paleo Solution by New York Times best-selling author Robb Wolf, and Paleoista by Neil Stephenson. For delicious, Paleo-friendly recipes, visit thepaleodiet.com, nomnompaleo.com, paleoleap.com, or paleogrub.com. Embrace your inner caveman (or cavewoman!)
*** Sozanny Chea is not a health expert, nutritionist, dietician, or health care professional – just a true believer from her own personal research and experience. Please consult your practitioner if you have any concerns.