As you may have noticed, I have referred several times to our Paleo Lifestyle. I am hesitant to call it a diet, because that term is so overused, that it is almost ruined in our society. Living Paleo means treating your body like it was designed to be treated, listening to your body’s signs, and symptoms and treating them appropriately. More specifically, living Paleo means eating real food that provides effective energy and optimum nutrition. In order to achieve a state where we can listen and respond to our body’s needs, we need to eliminate toxins and added stressors that irritate our systems.
The Paleo Diet
*eliminates all processed foods, including grains, legumes, and dairy.
These foods damage our intestinal lining, causing gut irritation and inflammation, promote leaky gut syndrome, and damage our immune systems.
*incorporates high quality animal protein with every meal
Animal protein is essential for muscle strength and recovery. The best types of proteins are grass-fed meats, pasutre raised poultry, and wild caught fish. They are free of the added antibiotics, growth hormones, and corn and grain feed used for farm raised animals.
*uses fresh, seasonal, locally grown fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are essential for good nutrition. One of the benefits of the Paleo Diet is that all of the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in fruits and vegetables are more readily processed by our bodies in the absence of grains and sugars which prevent optimum absorption.
*nourishes with healthy fats from coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds
Healthy fats have been an essential part of my family’s recovery. Healthy fats give fuel to our brains and promote neurological recovery and development (note:the peanut is considered a legume and technically not a nut)
Eliminate all grains? Even whole grains?
It is important to think of grains as a plant that lives in the wild and must defend itself from predators like any animal would. Grains and like plants use toxins called anti-nutrients (lectin, gluten, phytates) to protect themselves from being eaten. That is why they must go through extensive processing to be edible for humans. The heavy processing still leaves inflammatory agents in the grains that wreak havoc on our digestive systems, insulin regulation, and other bodily functions. Contrary to Conventional Wisdom, even whole grains are not healthy.
How do I do it?
I realize that it sounds like a huge sacrifice to give up these foods that we’ve come to know as favorites. I understand this, but the health benefits of giving up these foods have far outweighed any sacrifice for us. It is important to undergo this change slowly. Take one meal at a time, one day at a time. Try not to think ahead to a lifetime without bagels or sandwiches. Just like any lifestyle change, it takes time.
Some families benefit from a one time purging of the pantry and refrigerator to make the move to Paleo, and this may be the best approach for you. This approach did not work for us since Charlotte had sensory-based anxiety around food and a high carb diet had turned Dana into a very picky eater. We had a to take a slower approach to dropping the bread-like items and adding the new foods. More information on this is in Recommendations & Advice.
As long as you are making progress on the Paleo transition, I’m going to say that it’s okay to keep a few of your favorite foods around the house as long as you know that you will eventually get rid of them. Those slow-to-leave-the-house foods for us were breaded chicken nuggets and oatmeal (for the girls) and beer (for us). We still achieved tremendous results by chipping away at eliminating bad foods and incorporating new, real foods at the same time. The process became easier as we learned to love delicious Paleo foods.
What does this look like?
The change doesn’t feel as different as you might expect. Just like before, my kids have their likes and dislikes, but overall they feel good about the foods they eat and look forward to eating meals as a family.
A typical day in our household starts with scrambled eggs, a few strips of bacon and fresh fruit for the kids. I’ll typically skip the fruit and start the day with the eggs, bacon, a side of avocado and a cup of black coffee with honey.
For lunch, my kids eat quality lunch meat, more fruits or leftover veggies from last night’s dinner, and some quality fat like coconut chips, walnuts and avocados for a feeling of fullness that leads to less snacking in the afternoon. I love to heat last night’s leftovers for a quick lunch. Other times, I’ll break out a Paleo cookbook or hop on a Paleo Blog for some inspiration and a delicious and nutritious lunch.
An afternoon snack for the girls is typically a fruit smoothie or natural applesauce and some coconut milk.
For dinner, we love Sarah Fragoso’s Everyday Paleo cookbook and cook most of our evening meals from there. My kids’ favorites are meatloaf, brussel sprouts, and sundried tomato chicken bake.
For more information on delicious Paleo recipes and websites under Paleo Community.