Yesterday began my journey into the Paleolithic, and I didn’t even need a time machine. I am referring of course, to the infamous Paleo Diet. If you have somehow never heard of the Paleo Diet, or any of its other nicknames: Paleolithic diet, ancestral diet, or caveman diet allow me to give a very brief introduction. The Paleo Diet is a movement where essentially us modern day humans are to channel our ancestors and their dietary proclivities. Using ones local grocery store as the grounds for their newly adopted hunter-gatherer lifestyle, they are to shun processed foods of all kinds like packaged sweets, cookies, chips along with bread, pasta, and rice.
Why in the world would anyone do this? Well, by focusing on only what our ancestral caveman relatives could hunt and gather it emphasizes healthy, unprocessed foods.
In my effort to learn a little more about this, I discovered that there are a lot of inherent benefits. Weight loss, muscle gain, improved digestion, better sleep are just a few of the health benefits people tout after ‘going paleo’.
The General Practices of the Paleo Diet:
- Lean protein and meats- good
- Vegetables- very good
- Fruits- good
- Seeds and Nuts- good
- Sugar- BAD!
- Legumes- BAD!
- Grains (pastas, breads, rice)- BAD!
- Dairy (cheese, butter, milk)- BAD!
I have had some hangups about trying the Paleo Diet, both in terms of I can do it (no bread???) and if it was all really worth it. So in my quest for self-improvement challenges, and my interest to get conditioned for my Swim Around Lido Key (only 6 weeks away!) this seemed like a perfect opportunity for me to test run Paleo.
To make matters difficult, on a recent trip to Seattle, I rediscovered my love for BREAD. This particular bread experience took place over a plate of linguini and clams in a small restaurant in Ballard, north of downtown Seattle. The bread was a crusty loaf with a delicate sprinkling of sea salt over the top and the homemade butter was something I could have eaten on its own (it was truly that good). I am not going to lie, this was a wonderful, but very poorly timed food experience. So, I had to overcome (or at least stave off) my deeply devoted love of bread…
I also discovered, after an initial trip to the grocery store that buying fresh produce and quality protein does not come cheap. I will likely need to pick up some clever recipes to make this a little more friendly on my wallet.
Before I could start my challenge, I also needed to figure out what was going to work for me. While the basics of Paleo are all the same, there is some room for interpretation, and I had to ultimately decide what would work for me.
So here are the details of my Paleo Challenge:
- 21 days of Paleo
- Focus my diet around proteins, vegetables, fruits and some seeds/nuts
- No bread, rice, pasta or processed food
Here are my non-Paleo compromises (to keep me sane):
- Corn– specifically pop corn. It is my one go-to snack. I have to have it. And technically, while most paleo-purists will say that corn is not approved, I will argue that it is still vegetable-ish
- Salt– again, in true Paleo terms, you aren’t supposed to have sugar OR salt but I have to be able to season my food and I use salt as one of my main kitchen staples
- Cheese/Breadcrumbs– I am going to allow myself the occasional allowance of cheese to sprinkle onto particularly boring dishes or breadcrumbs to liven up and bind together protein. But again, this will be a periodic exception and by no means a habitual practice.
- Coffee and Creamer– I am not a regular coffee drinker, but my Sunday mornings are sacred to me. I sleep in, have breakfast with the boyfriend and enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee with creamer. I have decided I am keeping this as a once-a-week treat.