Intro to Paleo

Nerd Christmas | Paleo + Life

My sweetie got me the best gift: a TARDIS tea infuser. So. Awesome.

Did you have a good Christmas (assuming you celebrate it)? Ours was surprisingly sweet.
My wonderful mother-in-law had created a most epic advent for the kids, based around the Nutcracker. Each day, we read a short excerpt from the story, and then opened a gift which related to that excerpt — culminating in the gift of a DVD of the ballet as performed at Covent Garden in London. On Christmas Day, we opened presents, had a lovely dinner, and watched the video. As a final nod to the theme, we even had Nutcracker-themed Christmas crackers!
I am extraordinarily lucky to have J. as my mother-in-law; her thoughtfulness inspires me. I look forward to (someday, a long, long time from now) being as good a grandmother as she.

Speaking of looking forward: As I mentioned the other day, I am hoping that the new year brings more folks into the paleo fold. While I assume most people visiting this blog are already interested, I wanted to share with you a quick post I wrote for a friend that encapsulates what I think are the most important points to remember about this way of eating and living. Please feel free to share it with your non-paleo friends.

Intro to Paleo

Paleo isn’t a diet in the usual sense. This is not meant to be a quick fix when your pants feel too tight or you binged on one too many burritos. Instead, paleo living is meant to be something you do for the rest of your life.

So what exactly is it? I’ve written a somewhat longer intro here, but my 30 second “elevator pitch” is that paleo living means three things:

  1. don’t eat food that causes inflammation;
  2. do eat the most nutritious food you can find;
  3. take care of yourself: body, mind and spirit.

Let’s talk about these in a little more detail:

  1. Don’t eat food that causes inflammation: Paleo folks avoid wheat, sugar, dairy, corn, beans (legumes), most seed and vegetable oils, and grains. There’s a lot of scientific explanations for why this is a good idea, but the short version is that these foods irritate your gut and cause inflammation in your body. While inflammation is great, for example, when you get a cut and your body protects you by causing swelling around it, long-term inflammation is a disaster for your body. It’s especially so when you are struggling with arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, heart disease or many other conditions.
    So, when you start paleo, avoid all of that stuff for at least 30 days.
    (After the elimination period, try adding back dairy, legumes or white rice; see how you tolerate them. If you feel good after you try them, add them back into your diet occasionally for variety. The other stuff is out for good.)
  2. Eat the most nutritious food: Instead, focus on foods that have the most vitamins and nutrition. Green veggies, fish, meat, and good fats will be the bulk of your meals.
    Increasing nutrients may mean simple changes, like substituting Boston lettuce for iceberg, or cooking with coconut oil instead of vegetable oil, or making squash puree instead of white potatoes.
    It can also mean learning to love less popular cuts of meat, like tongue, heart and liver, as well as considering how your meat animals were raised (they should eat the food they eat naturally, not grains that make them fatten up more quickly).
    However you do it, the point is to squeeze in as many vitamins and minerals as possible in your meals.
    This does not mean your food will be boring! Going paleo is not about counting calories.
    Eat real, healthy foods made with real, healthy fats. You can still have burgers — just wrap them in lettuce instead of bread. You can have normal side dishes like peppers and onions or broccoli: just switch out the starch in your meals (corn, rice, beans, fries) for more vegetables. Ironically,  many people think paleo is a meat-heavy diet: I’ve never eaten more veggies in my life.
  3. Take care of yourself: it’s also important to make time to care for your body. Get enough sleep — this is one of the biggest sources of inflammation and stress (and makes it super hard to lose weight). Find some sort of exercise you enjoy and do it. Learn to meditate, pray or do something else that helps you calm your mind and de-stress.

Now I know, many folks will think “I could never give up bread” or “you’ll pry my milk out of my cold, dead hands”, and to them I say: just try it for 30 days. You can do anything for 30 days, right? I’m sure you’ve done something harder in your life. If you went to school, or learned to drive — heck, if you learned to read — you can definitely do this.

If you feel better after those 30 days, then you know something you were eating was hurting you, and you can figure out what. If you don’t feel any different? No harm, no foul. You’ve just spent 30 days eating the most nutritious food you can. There is no downside to that. But chances are, you’ll feel so good, you’ll want to keep it up.

Below is a link to the Family Resolution Revolution ebook bundle, which is on sale starting today. There are so many good books and product discounts in this sale. Whether you are new to paleo or an experienced paleo-ista, I highly recommend you check it out. A collection like this is a great way to get someone started on the paleo path quickly and inexpensively. I’ll be buying it myself as a gift for someone I love.


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