Thinking About Going Primal/Paleo for the New Year: What Does That Entail?
Going primal/paleo is about adopting a new lifestyle that emphasizes building new habits to clean up our diet, exercise more optimally, have better sleep hygiene, and learn how to manage the stress in our lives. It focuses on adopting an ancestral health approach.
Embracing a primal/paleo lifestyle means we apply ourselves to mimic the way our ancestors lived, as reasonably as possible, within our modern world boundaries.
We want to eat whole foods rather than processed foods, get enough exercise and low-intensity movement throughout the day, get adequate sleep, and minimize stress triggers on top of learning how to better handle overall stress.
It is important to carve an optimal lifestyle for ourselves that works along with our ancestral roots, not against them.
So What About the Food?
When it comes to the primal/paleo-approved foods that are okay to eat for most people, here’s an overview of the main staples you will want to have on hand (as highlighted in The New Primal Blueprint, by Mark Sisson):
- Baking ingredients: coconut, almond, or other nut flours, tapioca starch, and arrowroot powder.
- Beverages: water, unsweetened teas, full-fat coconut milk, or unsweetened almond milk (great for smoothies).
- Coconut products: butter, flakes, flour, milk, and oil offer medium-chain fats; good substitutes for dairy, refined vegetable/seed oils, and wheat flour.
- Condiments: yellow mustard, plus mayonnaise and salad dressings made with avocado oil or olive oil and without excess or artificial sweeteners.
- Dairy: raw, fermented, high-fat, and organic products are best (cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, kefir, whole milk, yogurt) – to eat in moderation.
- Dark Chocolate: my favorite snack/treat! It has to have a cacao content of at least 75 percent, ideally 85 percent or higher.
- Eggs: local, pasture-raised, or certified organic for high omega-3 content. If you buy eggs from pasture-raised chickens, the yolk is going to have a deep-yellow/slight orange color. This color is a sign of a nutrient-rich egg.
- Energy Bars: when pressed for time, primal/paleo-approved bars can be pretty handy. I particularly enjoy the Bulletproof Collagen Protein Bars, Primal Kitchen Bars, and Epic Bars.
- Fats and oils: I like to use avocado and extra virgin olive oil. Coconut oil, grass-fed butter, and animal fats (bacon grease, chicken fat, lard, tallow) are best for cooking.
- Fish: wild-caught from remote, pollution-free waters. Small, oily, cold-water fish are preferred: salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring (SMASH). Certain farmed fish are okay (domestic Coho salmon, trout, and some shellfish – not shrimp). Check the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch (seafoodwatch.org) for up-to-date recommendations.
- Fruit: locally grown (or wild), organic, in-season preferred. Berries are best as they are low-glycemic. Go strictly organic with soft, edible skin fruits. Moderate intake of higher glycemic fruits.
- Herbs and Spices: high-antioxidant and flavor-enhancing.
- Meat and Fowl: local, pasture-raised, or USDA-certified organic. If you must eat conventional meat, choose the leanest possible cuts and avoid consuming the fat as it is where some of the meat toxins are stored, not in the liver.
- Nutritious carbs: go for abundant vegetables, low-glycemic fruits, nuts and seeds, dark chocolate, sweet potatoes, yams and other starchy tubers, quinoa, and wild rice.
- Nuts, Seeds, and their derivative butters: they are a great way to curb any hunger throughout the day. Also, raw almond milk is a great substitute for dairy milk.
- Prebiotics: cooked and cooled white rice and white potatoes, green bananas, raw potato starch.
- Probiotics: fermented foods like kefir, kombucha, pickles, sauerkraut, and yogurt, and even dark chocolate!
- Snacks: berries, avocados, canned sardines, dark chocolate, hard-boiled eggs, jerky, nuts, olives, seeds, and other high-fat and/or high-protein, low-carb primal food.
- Vegetables: locally grown, organic, in-season is best. Opt for strictly organic for large surface area (leafy greens) and soft edible skins. Eat the rainbow!
To get a nice sum-up of the above list of primal/paleo-approved foods, you can check out my post about The Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid.
Happy New Year!
Sisson, Mark. The New Primal Blueprint : Reprogram Your Genes for Effortless Weight Loss, Vibrant Health, and Boundless Energy. Oxnard, Ca, Primal Blueprint Publishing, 2017, pp. 480–1.
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