If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you’ve likely heard me talk about paleo or Whole30 or clean eating…I mean, I did the Whole30 and blogged about my experience a few years ago (if you want a giggle, go back and read), and we’ve been eating mostly paleo in my house ever since.
Does that mean I’m perfect? Nope. It does not. But it does mean that I feel better about feeding my family and the positive impact that the diet has had on our health.
And honestly, I think that paleo gets a bad reputation a lot of the time. Sure, if you want to get technical, the name “paleo” comes from the “paleolithic” era. This was a long time ago (like thousands of years ago) when our ancestors were hunters and gatherers.
Paleo Diet 101
Does that mean that a paleo diet means you eat mammoth meat? NO. No it does not. In fact, a paleo diet basically means that you’re eating in a way that is closer to nature (and yes, there is an ongoing debate about the merits of paleo, but we’re going to pretend that it doesn’t excist for the period of time that it takes you to read this post, ok?).
What Can You Eat on a Paleo Diet?
Of course, being a “diet,” going Paleo has food guidelines. The paleo diet was created to increase the amount of whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods; while reducing the number of gut-disrupting, hormone-disrupting, and inflammatory foods.
But this doesn’t mean there are only a couple of foods to choose from! There is a pretty wide variety of food to choose from in the paleo diet.
You can include fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds, meat (including organ meats), seafood, healthy fats, fermented foods, herbs, and spices.
The paleo diet excludes processed and refined foods (e.g. sugar, vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, etc.), grains (e.g. wheat, oats, rice, etc.), dairy, and most legumes (e.g. beans, lentils, peanuts, etc.).
The paleo diet can be thought of as more of a “template,” rather than a strict set of rules.
It’s a diet that seems to be easy to maintain, and with little to no negative side effects. There is no measuring or counting of calories or carbs. And there are plenty of delicious and nutritious foods to choose from.
Many proponents of the paleo diet even encourage experimentation by adding in a few of the (healthy whole) foods on their list of exclusions. High-quality dairy, white rice, or potatoes may be added to less restrictive forms of the paleo diet.
How does the Paleo diet affect health?
Several clinical studies have been done to find out whether there are health benefits of eating this way.
Some of the research has shown that the paleo diet can help with weight loss and belly fat. That alone may be reason enough to give it a try.
Not to mention its effect on several modern-day chronic diseases. For example, it can improve risk factors for heart disease. It has also been shown to reduce inflammation, improve glucose tolerance, and even reduce symptoms of some autoimmune diseases.
It’s also thought to be “gut-friendly” because it includes a lot of high-fiber foods (i.e. fruits, vegetables, nuts & seeds), fermented foods (which contain gut-friendly probiotics), as well as being full of nutritious natural foods.
Who should consider a paleo diet?
Some people recommend the paleo diet for those with food intolerances or autoimmune diseases. Those at high risk for heart disease or diabetes may also be good candidates to give the paleo diet a try.
If you react to gluten or lactose, this diet removes them both by eliminating all grains and dairy.
Even if you don’t choose to go paleo, the elimination of added sugars, processed and refined foods can (should?) be a goal to move toward.
Is Paleo for you?
The paleo diet is based on what hunters and gatherers ate thousands of years ago. It is a whole-food based, nutrient-dense diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds, meat, seafood, and fermented foods.
Science has shown that it can help some people to lose weight, reduce risks of heart disease, improve glucose tolerance, and reduce inflammation.
At the very least, eliminating added sugars, processed, and refined foods are a great goal, even if you decide not to “go paleo.”
Here’s one of my FAVORITE paleo recipes!
Recipe: Paleo Banana Muffins
- 3 large eggs
- 5 mashed bananas
- ½ cup almond butter
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ½ cup coconut flour
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- pinch of sea salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Line 12 muffin cups with liners. In a food processor or stand mixer, blend eggs, bananas, almond butter, coconut oil, and vanilla.
In a large bowl mix coconut flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Add blended wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until combined.Spoon batter into muffin tins, ¾ full. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can top muffins with walnuts before baking.