Paleo 101: What is a Paleo Diet?

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The first question I always get asked about a Paleo diet is “What is a Paleo diet?” Simply put, a Paleo diet is a hunter-gatherer diet that is plant-based. A lot of women shy away from a Paleo diet because they often associate large knuckle-dragging dudes waiving around giant drumsticks, beating their chests, and doing Crossfit with eating Paleo (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But that isn’t always the case. So let’s get the facts straight about what it entails to eat a Paleo diet.

Plants. Our ancestors at a lot of plants and a lot of fiber. And although they weren’t exactly juicing kale, they consumed greens, roots, and tubers because they were simple and easily available.

Fruits. When in season, our ancestors also ate wild fruits and berries. It should be noted that the previous generations of fruits and vegetables were far more bitter than our current breeds, and that fruits were a seasonal item and not always available in colder climates. Natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup were hard to come by and were consumed very, very occasionally. Case in point: if you’ve ever tried to raid a bee’s nest for honey or tap a maple tree for some sap, you’ll know what I’m talking about here.

Wild-caught fish and grass-fed meats. Since feedlots were not exactly part of the hunter-gatherer ethos, whatever animals were caught and killed were the ones that got eaten. And they were raised naturally to have a 20:1 omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, keeping inflammation and all the white-flour diseases (diabetes, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, IBS, and autoimmune conditions) at bay.

Fats. Saturated fats found in the flesh of wild-caught animals, as well as coconut meat, were also a part of the hunter-gatherer diet. Raw nuts and seeds were consumed in small amounts, and avocados also provided heart-healthy natural fats.

Starches. Roots and tubers (think parsnips and sweet potatoes) rocked the Paleo cave, and winter and butternut squashes also fit the Paleo bill.

What can a Paleo diet do for you?

Eating whole, clean foods can help clear out metabolic clutter and reestablish healthy hormonal balance. Without refined carbohydrates, you can balance your blood sugar, sleep better, burn body fat more efficiently, control hunger and cravings, decrease PMS, have more energy, and lose weight. Time and time again I am humbled by the changes this diet has made in people’s lives.

To read more about my Paleo Chic diet, check out Cavewomen Don’t Get Fat.

New to Paleo? Get my Paleo Chic Jumpstart Kit to begin your journey!