The Caveman Diet: Why go Paleo?

The Caveman Diet: Why go Paleo?

Why The Caveman Diet? What’s the difference between that and, say, keto? Or vegan? Or Atkins?

The answer is beautiful in its simplicity. The Paleo diet (a.k.a. The Caveman Diet) is unique in that it is not a diet so much as a mentality. It is a new way to look at life and a wonderful filter through which to make your food choices. Rather than saying, “I can only eat this many carbs today because of my diet,” you can say, “I can eat a full meal and it is going to be delicious!” 

This is because unlike the ketogenic diet, where you are forced to cut carbs to a dangerous degree to the point where your body is practically in starvation mode so you lose weight quickly, you are simply funnelling your food choices so that they are all of a healthy variety. You don’t want to eat junk food, things loaded with excess salt and preservatives and who knows what kinds of hidden sugars. You want to eat the foods that are naturally loaded with the nutrients our bodies need in order to thrive. You want nature’s diet!

That’s why the Paleo diet came into being. The man who founded it wanted to influence everyone to eat the way our Paleolithic ancestors ate, because it wasn’t full of carcinogens and unknown risks. It was a clean, pure way to get your food so you were able to function through the harsh elements and survive.  Some may argue that if the Paleo diet was so great, why didn’t the Paleolithic era people live longer? The answer to that is simple. They lived in very dangerous conditions. They didn’t have advanced medicine the way we do today. They were able to fight through diseases naturally that might have wiped us out because their immune systems had to be tough to weather the elements. If they had managed to gain access to the kinds of technology we have developed today, there’s no telling what kind of world we would be living in now!

In any event, the Paleo diet is a natural way to keep the body balanced, keep the mind clear and alert, and provide us with the flexibility and nimbleness that we might have needed thousands of years ago in survival situations.

We are lucky today that this kind of diet isn’t as necessary as it was then. Can you imagine watching someone who was raised on a diet of fast food and processed, pre-packaged meals try to outrun a wild animal? Or better yet, fight and kill it with just their ingenuity and crude tools? Or even someone who was on a keto diet, putting their body through a lot just to shed a few pounds quickly. They might end up passing out without the proper amount of carbs in their system. Do you think people who are mistreating their bodies for convenience would win in a life or death situation? No way!

The principal behind going Paleo is simple. You want to operate at your maximum potential. The body runs on fuels, and that’s simply the way it is. What we feed ourselves equates to the quality of the gasoline that we put in our cars. If we are eating fruits, vegetables, and meats regularly, that’s a pretty standard type of gasoline. But if we are filling up on junk food and preservatives, high fructose corn syrup and pre-packaged processed foods and fast food, we might as well be putting diesel in an engine that is supposed to run on unleaded. We need to try harder to treat our engines better before they break down! Going Paleo is a great way to get rid of the negative foods that are impacting the body, even if it is in invisible ways. When we are eating foods that are unhealthy, it affects us in ways we sometimes don’t realise until it is too late to change it. For example, eating foods high in salt and fat can start affecting your arteries. You don’t feel it happening, and it can be a huge surprise until your doctor tells you that you need to work on your cholesterol. Worst case scenario, you have a heart attack before you even notice that anything has gone wrong. Heart disease is one of the leading killers in the United States of America, and it isn’t difficult to see why. 

Fortunately, going Paleo is simple. It’s clear-cut, and it’s easy to see why it’s such a great choice. Instead of clogging arteries with fatty red meats and fat and sodium, it includes foods that are lean and contain healthy fats that help the heart, not hurt it. And that should always be the goal when it comes to making choices that affect your body. You want to help it, not hurt it. Because everything you do will come back to haunt you. If not now, then when you reach a higher age and your body really starts to feel the toll of your choices.

It’s never too late to improve your health and make changes that will benefit your body and mind! While it can be daunting at times to undertake any type of new lifestyle change, especially when it comes to deeply ingrained habits like eating, the fact remains that we want to better ourselves, our lives, and our health. And if going Paleo is the way to get there, then there’s no reason not to begin right away! In the next chapter we will discuss some of the basics. So put your thinking caps on, because now is the time to figure out how to fit Paleo into your life.

What is Paleo?

This is the question probably burning the brightest on your mind right now. What in the world does going Paleo mean, exactly? What can you eat, what aren’t you supposed to eat? And why are some things allowed while others aren’t? Didn’t dairy exist in the caveman days? Or did it?

Source: Wikipedia Le Moustier Neanderthals (Charles R. Knight, 1920)

Well, to put it simply, the Paleo diet is distinguished by the fact that cavemen didn’t use salt or seasonings on their food. They ate what was available to them, they hunted their meat on foot and they gathered their berries and nuts and seeds as they travelled. Most of the time, they did not live stationary lives. They had to follow the herd, so they were always on the move. Paleo isn’t just a diet. It is a lifestyle. Eating Paleo approved foods and leading a sedentary lifestyle simply won’t have the effects you are hoping for it to have. You still want to be active and get a healthy amount of exercise every day. You want to get your heart rate up once in a while and know that you are using your body to its fullest potential.

That isn’t to say you should be unsafe about it. If you have restrictions and limitations, speak to your doctor about the types of exercises that are best for you. Paleolithic man did not putter around in the cave all day watching TV or playing on their phones. They got out and moved, and they ate what nature provided to them to make it through the elements. So no, it isn’t accurate to say that the Paleo diet is going to be a magic fix to your weight issues, because it isn’t. Like any diet, it works best when coupled with other healthy habits and an active lifestyle. 

Anyway, let’s get into the nitty  gritty of how this caveman diet works. Here is a simple list of the foods that you should be eating on a paleo diet. These foods include:

  • Lean meats. Think the kinds of animals you might hunt, particularly grass eating animals, such as deer. Game meats.
  • Vegetables of all kinds.
  • Fruits of all kinds. 
  • Fish, salmon particularly. Anything you know have a lot of omega-3s.
  • Seeds, nuts, and oils made from the seeds and nuts. 

Seems pretty simple, right? Now let’s talk about the kinds of foods you don’t want to be eating. These include the following:

  • Beans, lentils, peas, etc. Basically, no legumes of any kind.
  • Dairy.
  • Salt.
  • Starches, like potatoes.
  • Fast food.
  • Refined sugars.
  • Junk food.
  • Processed food. 
  • Grains. Yes, this includes bread

And that’s about all there is to it. That is the beauty of going Paleo, and ultimately its entire purpose. Simplify your life by simplifying the foods you eat. Take out all the things that are full of additives that are difficult for our bodies to process so that we are able to make better progress without anything unnecessary clouding our minds and clogging our arteries.

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