Adam’s Paleo Diet In A Nutshell
A guest post from Space Girl Organic‘s customer Adam
Well hey there, Spacegirls!!!
As promised in this post I’ll dive a little deeper into the paleo diet. When it comes to food selection there are a number of different angles you could approach from; some of which include types of food (meat, veggie, fruits, etc), macronutrient distribution, seasonality, and then of course the various moral, ethical and political methods…
When it comes to paleo eating there is no ‘one single paleo diet’. Everything, every choice exists on a continuum of ‘less good’ to ‘more good’ and ‘less good for me’ to ‘more good for me’. To explain that better I’m going to use dairy as an example. Dairy lives in a paleo gray zone; you see where as it isn’t in line with the recommendations of the ’30 day challenge’ (more on that later) there are some people who definitely handle dairy better than others and some groups of people who thrive on dairy quite well. People who definitely should avoid dairy are those among us who are lactose intolerant or casein intolerant, and those that come from herding ancestries can probably partake of dairy without much concern. That being said it is really up to the individual to determine how well they can handle dairy and work from there. Personally I enjoy dairy only occasionally; tending to stick to butter, cream, cheese, and cultured forms of dairy. I also limit the quantity of dairy I consume when I do partake.
Ok, I think that was enough of a sidetrack now lets get to the meat and potatoes of it…
So what do I eat anyway?
We are going to approach this by ‘dividing’ foods into a handful of categories; Meats, vegetables, fruits, and grains.
Whereas there are ‘better’ choices and ‘worse’ choices when it comes to meats, veggies, and fruit, for the most part you can navigate these areas thinking about how your great grandparents would have eaten.
Meats: wild caught, grass-fed, pastured selections are better than CAFO (standard commercially raised) options. Avoiding fatty cuts isn’t really necessary on the better end of the spectrum but definitely avoid the fats on CAFO meats. The reason for that has a lot more to do with the distribution of Omega-6 fatty acids and Omega- 3 fatty acids but there are other reasons as well… I am not a doctor or a profession scientist so I’ll leave it up to you to find sources you trust to learn more. Lastly, it is important to roll in things like offal and other meat sources into your diet. When you start comparing nutrient content little if any other food can compare to a high quality bone broth or, the king as far as I know, a nice grass-fed cow’s liver.
It may be a little tough to stomach but well worth it occasionally for the nutritional benefits.
Grass-fed liver with organic kale is a nutrient load fit for royalty!
Veggies: As far as veggies goes can you really ever eat enough? Organic is better than not organic, but not in all cases. Variant colors are also good to ensure a broad spectrum of nutrients. Typically a diet’s should consist primarily of vegetables, by volume. Another way to say that would be that if you fill your plate more than half of it would be covered in delicious delicious veggies.
Fruits: Fruits are pretty much in the same boat as veggies as far as selection. Stick to organic, particularly for the thin-skinned fruits or fruits that you eat the skin. Thick-skinned fruits like bananas and oranges are less of a concern since any poison on the skin is discarded; although there may still be a concern with soil quality and seepage. The main concern with fruit is its high sugar content. Most people, as far as I know, will agree that sugar is not so good for you… so why then are fruits supposed to be so healthful when they are packed full of sugar? Sure a fruit is definitely a better option than a candy bar; things like nutrient content, fiber, and such help with that, but they are still full of sugar and will still spike your insulin levels.
So when it comes to fruits it is best to consume in limited quantities or consume them around periods of heavy exercise when the body is primed for glycogen uptake.
–side note: starchy vegetables like potatoes and winter squash fall into that ‘high carb’ category as well… they will hit your blood stream a little slower but they will still impact your insulin levels as all that deliciousness turns into glucose and hits your bloodstream.
Grains: now is where things get interesting… Most people don’t classify grains as a separate category from ‘veggies’ but they definitely are separate. Grains are seeds but generally are limited, in thought, to things like wheat, rye, oats, barely, buckwheat, rice, corn, millet, and quinoa (pronounced keen-wha) to name a few. Most people find it unfortunate that most grains are straight out of the paleo diet, as in you really really shouldn’t eat them. The strongest of which are the first one listed above. Wheat, rye, barley, etc. There are some that paleo folks do enjoy from time to time but since they are all pretty high carb they should be kept to a minimum. Things like quinoa and rice are among the least objectionable so some people consume more than others there… personally I avoid grains completely in my home cooking but will occasionally have rice if we order Chinese or something…
One thing that makes many of the ‘staple’ grains so objectionable is gluten. Studies suggest that a large part of the population is gluten sensitive without even knowing it. I’ve heard estimates as high as 1/3 of the population. From my personal experience, almost everyone I know who has gone gluten free reports feeling better when off of it and feeling worse as soon as they eat it again. I will touch on what gluten is and why it is so bad for you in another post but for now lets just accept that gluten wreaks havoc on the gut.
The gluten issue aside, the nutrient content of vegetables far outweighs that of grains, and on that note so does organ meats.
Well… that is Paleo in a nutshell… I think I’ve rambled on long enough… I think my next post will show you how we make tacos! They are delicious!