From Paleo Guru Cassy Joy
Paleo has become somewhat of a buzzword in recent years, and it’s for good reason. While the name can be a little misleading, Paleo is not meant to guide you through life as a caveman. Instead, it’s more of a hat-tip to simple, efficient, effective lifestyle patterns all organized for one purpose: Optimize health through basic habits.
Over the last seven years as a business owner and forever-student of health and wellness, I’ve seen more lasting healthy lifestyle transformations that credit Paleo than I can count. My own transformation spanned roughly one full year and resulted in my losing ten dress sizes, healing painful deteriorating joints, more sound sleep, more energy, and a more positive mindset. After my own journey to lasting health, I became a certified Nutrition Consultant and have worked with hundreds of people who’ve had similar relief from pain, fatigue, and excess body fat. Because Paleo is more template than diet, it’s not without a healthy share of rabbit holes and debates over what does or doesn’t qualify as “Paleo.” That being said, my seven years exploring these sometimes-ambiguous principles have helped me to identify the five simple habits for maximum benefit.
Though I do subscribe to the belief that fast weight loss is often mirrored by short-lived results and that slow, methodical, purposeful changes are more likely to be followed by long-lived results, you CAN see progress in just four weeks following a Paleo lifestyle template. The trick is to combine strategies. Food alone won’t get you there, nor will exercise. The best approach is to tackle the issue from all sides: sleep well, hydrate enough, eat healing foods, stay active, and avoid excess exposure to everyday toxins.
Most of these strategies are relatively straightforward, but the dietary direction takes more explanation. So let’s jump into it! Get trim by following these five Paleo principles:
These common inflammatory ingredients can all sabotage your efforts towards lasting health. While they may be tolerated in small doses, it’s best to avoid them whenever possible.
- Grains (especially gluten-containing grains): Wheat, barley, rye, rice (brown and white), oats, amaranth, quinoa, corn, etc.
- Damaged Oils: Vegetable oil, impure olive oil, vegetable shortening, vegetable oil sprays, vegetable oil blends (like a vegetable and coconut oil blend), etc.
- Legumes: All beans and peanuts (except for green beans).
- Artificial Ingredients: Artificial sweeteners (splenda, sweet’n low, equal, etc.), colors, flavors, and anything else crafted in a lab.
- Processed Sugars: Refined white sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, stevia, etc.
Enjoy Healing Foods
The following foods can be wonderfully supportive of a healthy lifestyle! While portions do still matter (see #5 below), the following foods are all important categories to enjoy every day. I encourage you to keep things colorful and varied so that you’re taking in a variety of nutrients.
- Non-Starchy Vegetables: Leafy greens, peppers, radishes, green beans, asparagus, artichokes, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, mushrooms, okra, etc.
- Starchy Vegetables: Potatoes (all), beets, parsnips, carrots, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, butternut squash, etc.
- Healthy Proteins: Grass-fed and grass-finished beef, pastured chicken and eggs, pastured pork, wild-caught fish, 100% grass-fed whey, and grass-fed collagen peptides and gelatin.
- Healthy Fats: Avocado, coconut, nuts, seeds, ghee, butter from grass-fed dairy, olives, olive oil, avocado oil, etc.
- Healthy Beverages: Unflavored sparkling water, herbal tea, coffee (in moderation), water, and natural agua fresca’s.
- Fruit: Try to stick to low-sugar, high-fiber fruits such as berries.
Think Critically About “Fringe Foods”
There are several Paleo-friendly foods that, although are somewhat natural, may or may not be a healthy addition to your diet. If your goal is to trim down, I recommend either avoiding entirely or enjoying the following in moderation for your first 4 weeks.
- Dairy: If you enjoy any, opt for grass-fed and full-fat.
- Alcohol: iIf you enjoy any, opt for wine, clear liquors, and gluten-free brews.
- Natural Sweeteners: Honey, maple syrup, molasses, coconut sugar, maple sugar,etc.
Though snacking can be a great way to quickly recover from a workout, it’s also an easy avenue to overeating. I highly recommend enjoying three balanced, healthy meals each day and allowing your stomach to empty between. This method will help you truly interpret hunger queues, discern when you’re thirsty (not hungry), and eventually help realign your body’s dependency on regular doses of dietary sugar for energy.
Stay Mindful of Portions
Though Paleo-friendly foods are healing, it’s important to remember that it is still possible to overeat. I recommend enjoying 4 – 6 ounces of protein, 1 cup of cooked vegetables, ½ cup of starchy vegetable, and 2 tablespoons of a healthy fat at each of your three meals in the day. Of course, adjust these numbers based on your personal constitution, hunger signals, and if you lead an active lifestyle.