Are your new year’s resolutions to eat healthy and manage your weight fading? Recharge your resolutions during National Nutrition Month! March is recognized as the National Nutrition Month which was designed to focus attention on the importance of making healthy eating choices and improve overall health. Many of us opt to watch what we eat in order to lose weight, but eating right and staying healthy also helps in combating diseases, boosting energy, and improving our longevity.
The Paleo Diet
When someone says “diet,” most people think of quick-fix fad diets or dieting products like South Beach diet, Atkins diet, and many other harmful dieting products. These types of diets can be dangerous and stressful on the body and typically do not result in long-term weight loss. The true definition of “diet” is “…the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.”
The Paleo Diet, also known as the Caveman’s Diet is a dietary plan based on foods that were commonly eaten during the Paleolithic Era around 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago. Research shows that living things function at their best when they are eating food from their natural habitat. When animals are in captivity, they are fed food that would naturally be available to them, giving them the chance to live at optimum levels. For humans, eating Paleo holds the same idea. If people were to stop eating grains and refined sugars and ate what was naturally available in our primal habitat such as vegetables, 100% grass-fed/free-range meats, nuts & seeds, fruits, & healthy fats there would be less disease, less sickness, and less overweight children and adults. Humans are not meant to eat grains; even though they’re readily available in our society today.
Avoiding both processed foods and foods marketed as “healthy”—like grains, legumes, and pasteurized dairy—will improve how you look and feel; as well as, lead to long-term weight loss and the reduction or elimination of symptoms associated with common health disorders. Our modern diet is full of refined foods, grains, sugars, and unhealthy fats that often result in chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, infertility, depression, and many others. The primary goal of the Paleo Diet is to return to a way of eating that is similar to that of the early humans. The Paleo Diet simulates the foods that our ancestors ate before the advent of farming, and is based on this one single premise – if the cavemen didn’t eat it, you shouldn’t either.
What to Eat on a Paleo Diet?
Fresh is best. Shopping the perimeter of the grocery store is ideal for the bulk of your groceries. Seek out as much real, whole food as possible. This includes foods without health claims on the packages or, better yet, not in packages at all! Focus on produce, butcher counter meats, and seafood.
Avoid foods that are modern, processed, and refined. Eat as close to nature as possible, and avoid foods that cause stress on the body (blood sugar, digestion, etc.). Eat nutrient-dense foods to maintain energy levels. Enjoy your food and hold positive thoughts while you consume it!
What to Eat:
-Vegetables of all kinds- The more colorful the better!
-Nuts & Seeds.
-100% grass-fed beef, free-range, and local animals such as pork, chicken, & lamb.
-Wild fish or wild-caught (“Wild-caught” fish may have been spawned or lived some part of their lives in a fish farm before being returned to the wild and eventually caught).
-Healthy oils such as ghee, coconut oil, palm oil, animal fat, & walnut oil.
Just the Fats
Cleaning up your diet by knowing when to use the right fats and oils is essential to improving your health from the inside out. Changing the fats and oils you use at home is the first step toward creating dishes from nutrient-dense, whole foods. Always avoid overly processed and refined forms of fats and oils. Opt for organic whenever possible!
Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, as well as, man-made trans-fats or “buttery spreads” like Earth Balance and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter are not healthy. Contrary to popular belief, these oils are highly processed and oxidize easily via light, air, and/or heat.
Ditch these unhealthy fats: Canola oil, margarine, buttery spreads, shortening, soybean oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, vegetable & corn oil.
NOTE: Unsaturated fats (typically liquid at 68 degrees’ room temperature) are easily damaged/oxidized when heat is applied to them. Do not consume damaged fats.
FOR HOT USE
Buy organic, unrefined forms of:
Ideally get these fats from free-range, grass-fed, organic sources:
FOR COLD USE
Buy organic, extra-virgin, and cold-pressed forms of:
-Macadamia nut oil
-Nuts & seeds (including nut & seed butters)
**Cold-pressed flaxseed oil is okay for occasional use but supplementing with it or doses of 1-2 tablespoons per day is not recommended as overall PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acid) intake should remain minimal.
Foods to Avoid:
-Legumes such as beans, peanuts, peas, lentils
-Grains such as barley, wheat, oats, rice, bread
-Sodas and sugary fruit juices
-Highly processed (packaged) food
Benefits of the Paleo Diet
According to experts, the benefits of the Paleo Diet include:
-Rapid, long-term weight loss
-Improved glucose intolerance
-Management of blood pressure
-Better control over appetite
Can you eat out?
While there were no restaurants in the Paleolithic Era, you can add an occasional outing in your routine. The Paleo Diet calls for simplicity, so make sure to look at the menu carefully, and if possible, opt for local, organic, grass-fed meat, or seafood with plenty of fresh vegetables!
Should you Exercise?
Yes! Although the cavemen did not consider it to be exercise, they were always on the move. You should follow the same. It is recommended to take part in at least two and a half hours of moderate to extreme activity each week, as well as, some simple muscle strengthening exercises.
Don’t Know Where to Start?
Come in to our office and pick up The Paleo Cleanse by Designs for Health and Dr. Jack Wolfson’s book, “The Paleo Cardiologist” to learn more about going Paleo from the heart expert. This March, let’s vow to eliminate the junk food and pasta which have become a staple in our modern diet. Try going Paleo and live a healthier, fitter, and a disease-free life!