Paleo, Paleo, Paleo. Man it’s all I hear these days and I am getting a little bit sick of it. Whenever it comes up in conversation with someone, the majority of the time the response is oh ya, that diet! You’re a caveman right, you can’t eat anything on that diet, it’s not sustainable, it’s too restrictive, you don’t get fibre, it’s Atkins, low carb is bad for you, cavemen died at 30 :-?… yada, yada, yada. Basically all the crap comments and thoughts that come from individuals who really just don’t know what they are talking about. First off, they don’t understand what “paleo” encompasses, and second, they don’t understand the actual science behind this lifestyle change; and that’s actually what it really is…a permanent lifestyle. Ultimately, I don’t want to spend hours trying to explain everything behind the diet to them so I generally respond by saying it is actually really easy and very sustainable once you get past the first couple weeks and for me it was easy right from the start. So, in reality, Paleo is simple!
At the end of the day, when you put a diet change in context of the everyday complication and events that make up our lives, a change in the food we eat should really be a trivial change. But here is the problem, these other incorrect opinions of paleo are what gets the attention. Why, because who really wants to hear about a lifestyle change that can actually be very simple? No, for some reason humans want to hear about controversy…right? So, in comes the media to stir up the pot and feed half or untruths to the public; which, unfortunately, can easily become popular belief.
I am very happy to say that currently, there is much more recognition and appreciation for a primal/paleo/ancestral/#JERF way of living and eating. This is a fantastic move in the right direction; however, as is with many things that gain such popularity, people want to cash in on them. Unfortunately, cashing in on new and popular trends tends to involve creating controversy. Like I mentioned above, straight forward facts are boring, so we must create controversy and conflict to grab peoples attention. This, my friends, is one of the main areas where confusion about a pretty straight forward, and arguably the healthiest, lifestyle originates. The other area that creates confusion is when people, likely with only good intentions, start to educate others on the benefits of above said lifestyles without a really solid understanding of the facts. There are so many solid resources out there on this stuff, and we simply have to point people to the respectable blogs, books, eBooks, resources, etc. Check the blogroll on my home page, or my resources page for more detail.
In light of all the confusion out there and naysayers professing the impossibility of living this way, I am here today to show you that Paleo is simple…period! or Primal or Ancestral or #JERF, whatever you want to call it. I just use paleo because it’s the most recognized term.
Simple Paleo – Food Preparation
Arguably the most important part of this type of lifestyle, and at least the part that gets the most attention, if food. Therefore, this post will focus on food. Yum, you’re paleo…And the comments start flying: then what can you eat, what do you eat instead of bread, how do you eat lunch at work, it must be really hard to make food yourself for each meal, I guess you could never eat out, that’s way too much work, it’s not sustainable, it’s too restrictive. Aside from the most common “how can you not eat bread” comment, I hear a lot about how much time and effort it must take me to prepare all of my meals for the day, particularly breakfast and lunch. Here is my explanation of how I accomplish this unbelievably difficult task (sense the sarcasm).
Simple Paleo – Breakfast
What I normally eat for breakfast:
Some type of meat (ground pork, bacon, beef, whatever)
Some type of root veg (sweet potato, yam, plantain, turnip) sauteed in oil (lard, tallow, coconut oil, ghee) and spices (whatever you want, but I almost always throw turmeric in the mix)
I also might mix in other veg with the roots (avocado, spinach, mushrooms, etc)
3 eggs fried in butter
I mix the meat and veg together and put the eggs on top so the yolk drains into the mixture.
Yikes, sounds complicated right…no so much. Yes, I have to wake up a little earlier a couple times per week to do some prep work. Two times per week I will cook a bunch of meat and veg mixtures so they will last me for 2-4 days. This way, when I get up in the morning for the next few days, all I have to do is microwave the leftovers and cook up a few eggs to put on top. It is very quick this way. Cutting and cooking the root veg takes the longest; so, if you are lower carb, or just want to skip the root veg, it makes it that much quicker. You know what else you can make a few days in advance…Bacon! Also, good quality frozen veg can be quicker to cook up this way and save you some time.
Ground beef, eggs, and plantain chips cooked in palm oil.
Simple Paleo – Lunch
What I normally eat for weekday lunch:
Some type of meat or fish
Some mixture of frozen vegetables (can include root veg or squash depending on the day) mixed with a random dump of spices based on my mood
Topped off with a tablespoon or 2 of the wonder that is coconut oil! (I keep a jar at my desk)
Before I started eating this way, making my lunches actually was much more difficult and confusing (I think). I didn’t really like sandwiches and classic work day lunch items, so I tended either to go out for lunch or dread the meal I had packed with me…unless I was ambitious enough to make a sweet breakfast style wrap. Anyway; again, preparing food ahead of time really makes a huge difference. So, for the meat/fish portion of my lunch I will do one of the following: use leftovers from dinners or pick up some type of quality ground meat and cook up an amount that will cover 2-3 lunches. I separate the servings into my actual lunch containers, top them off with the frozen veg and spices and I am good to go. I just heat it up at work and top with coconut oil to taste. Don’t have a microwave? make a salad with cold meat or fish on it. I am not a big fan of cold meats, but my wife is, so I am sure many of you out there will not mind it either.
Ground beef, sweet potato, green beans, spices, and coconut oil…Not pretty but still yummy!
Simple Paleo – Dinner
What I normally Have for dinner
There is no norm for dinner, it varies widely depending on what we have in the fridge/freezer and what we have planned for.
For my wife and I, dinner is the most time consuming meal with regards to preparation. We simply enjoy making super delicious food for dinner. However, if we workout or have other plans after work on a given day, we will make something quick and easy like burgers, fish, or stir-fry. In the summer, when we want to be outside as much as possible, the crock-pot really helps as a time saver. If there are leftovers from dinner we usually use them in our breakfasts or lunches.
Pan seared herb crusted salmon, and sauteed red peppers and mushrooms in ghee I think.
Lamb Burger; bed of julienne zucchini with avocado sauce; topped with fermented relish and sauteed red peppers; and coconut or palm oil roasted root vegetables.
Simple Paleo – Snacks
First off, yes, I eat snacks during my workday. Why? I get hungry and/or bored. Is it necessary to have snacks between meals? Yes, maybe, no. Basically it depends. I like it so I do it. On weekends I don’t snack much because I am out doing things and not sitting at a desk all day. My snacks can include:
75-85% quality dark chocolate (like 2-4 squares worth/day)
A piece of fruit
Nuts of some kind (I like to keep this to a minimum)
Limited amounts of nut butter
Plantain chips (store bought) – However, I have to watch it with these because I can mow down 2 bags without noticing so I have reduced eating these to more of a rare occurrence.
Before you ask, no I do not eat all of these snacks everyday except for dark chocolate.
Simple Paleo – Other
Dude, what about meal timing, intermittent fasting, calorie counting, carb counting, fat counting, protein counting, etc, etc? Well quite honestly, if I didn’t mention it above, I don’t over think it. Meaning it’s a real waste of time for the average person to worry about all that stuff if you are eating solid real paleo type food. At the end of the day, I eat real food when I feel hungry and when it fits with my daily schedule. Anything other than that causes too much stress, and stress is one of the things this way of eating and living is meant to reduce. One exception is intermittent fasting: for me this may or may not happen on the weekends depending on what I am doing on any given day. Basically, I don’t let any specific meal time get in the way of the day’s fun so I tend to either skip breakfast or lunch, or have something much smaller than I normally would during the week. I do not plan such fasts, they just happen based on the day. So, at the end of the day, sit back, relax, eat your #JERF paleo food, and you will feel much better. If this approach doesn’t make you feel better, or if you are a professional athlete, then you can dive into more individualized plans to get you on track or improve your performance. This is where you will need the help of a qualified medical/nutritional practitioner who knows their stuff.
Simple Paleo – Eating Out
Personally I almost never eat out for lunch, at least at work. On weekends, we will go out from breakfast/brunch/lunch often enough, and also go out for dinners. We have most definitely cut down on dinners out since transitioning to this way of eating, and even more so after we really began to understand the dangers of gluten exposure and industrial vegetable oils. However, this in no way means that we cannot go out for dinner. It simply means that we just have to be a bit more careful of where we go and what we order. Here are some of the steps we take:
Research restaurants in your area that have safe food options for you.
Ask for a gluten free menu if they have one.
Tell the server that you have a gluten allergy. If you are super worried about gluten exposure, lie and tell them you have a severe allergy, even if you don’t.
Try and stay away from deep fried foods since they are most often fried in some type of crap oil like canola or sunflower. However, if they say they deep fry with lard, tallow, duck fat, or palm oil, please tell me what restaurant it is because I am going there immediately!! Anyway, I haven’t found one here in Vancouver that uses animal fat for deep frying.
Steak houses tend to be the best option since it is pretty easy to just get a steak and veg.
Alright, so there it is, my reasoning for why I think Paleo is simple. A little bit of planning and effort goes a long way, and trust me, if I can do it, I guarantee you can too! Have Fun and enjoy it.
The Barefoot Golfer