The Paleo diet, AKA the caveman diet or hunter-gatherer diet, is a modern nutrition plan based on the presumed diet of wild plants and animals that would have been consumed during the Paleolithic era. But let’s be real. No one KNOWS what Caveman ate. In reality, most of the plants and animals that were around during the Paleolithic era don’t exist anymore. So, the real point of the Paleo diet is to eat the most nutrient dense, unprocessed diet that one has access to. Research has started to show that many modern foods can cause inflammation and/or sensitivities that many people are not even aware of. These sensitivities can be responsible for all kinds of health issues-digestive problems, skin issues, seasonal allergies, and more serious conditions like autoimmune disorders. I really thought there couldn’t really be anything to this when we started eating Paleo, but when my energy skyrocketed, my skin cleared up and my pesky old sprained ankle pain started to go away, I started to think there just might be something to all this.
The Whole 30 is the program created by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, authors of It Starts With Food. The point of this 30 day “reset” is to eliminate all “the inflammatory, insulin-spiking, calorie-dense but nutritionally sparse food groups” from your diet letting your body “heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be provoking.” It is SUPER STRICT Paleo. For 30 days. So why start this blog with the most “limiting” form of Paleo? Because Dallas and Melissa make a rather crazy statement about the Whole 30, that for us has been totally true (and really, who doesn’t want to sleep really well at night, and get rid of all their aches and pains!):
This will change your life.
We cannot possibly put enough emphasis on this simple fact—the next 30 days will change your life. It will change the way you think about food, it will change your tastes, it will change your habits and your cravings. It could, quite possibly, change the emotional relationship you have with food, and with your body. It has the potential to change the way you eat for the rest of your life. We know this because we did it, and tens of thousands of people have done it since, and it changed our lives (and their lives) in a very permanent fashion.
So, what can you eat? Lots of yummy unprocessed goodness! Meat, fish, eggs, LOTS of veggies, a little fruit and good fat.
What can’t you eat?
-Do not consume added sugar of any kind, real or artificial. No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, stevia, etc. Read your labels, because companies sneak sugar into products in ways you might not recognize.
-Do not consume alcohol in any form, not even for cooking. (And it should go without saying, but no tobacco products of any sort, either.)
-Do not eat grains. This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains and all of those gluten-free pseudo-grains like quinoa. This also includes all the ways we add wheat, corn and rice into our foods in the form of bran, germ, starch and so on. Again, read your labels.
-Do not eat legumes. This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy – soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).
-Do not eat dairy. This includes cow, goat or sheep’s milk products such as cream, cheese (hard or soft), kefir, yogurt (even Greek), and sour cream… with the exception of clarified butter or ghee.
-Do not consume carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. If these ingredients appear in any form on the label of your processed food or beverage, it’s out for the Whole30.
-Do not try to re-create baked goods, junk foods, or treats* with “approved” ingredients. Continuing to eat your old, unhealthy foods made with Whole30 ingredients is totally missing the point, and will tank your results faster than you can say “Paleo Pop-Tarts.” Remember, these are the same foods that got you into health-trouble in the first place—and a pancake is still a pancake, regardless of the ingredients.
So, what does this look like in “real” life? Part of the reason for starting this blog is to show you that it is totally doable! There is NO calorie counting. If we get hungry, we eat more, as long as we follow the rules. It is not low fat, it doesn’t even have to be low-carb, as you can see below. This is what I ate yesterday. Breakfast: 2 hard boiled eggs, 1/4 avocado, and a banana. Lunch: Grassfed burger leftover from our cookout the day before, carrots, and potato salad (made with Paleo approved homemade mayo). Dinner: Oven roasted chicken breast, roasted sweet potatoes, zucchini noodles with balsamic/olive oil marinated tomatoes (from our garden!), and summer fruit for dessert.
And it is possible to do this with a busy life! My mom’s group met this morning, and we always have brunch. I ate a couple of hard boiled eggs before I left (my quick, go-to breakfast), took roasted root veggies with me to the meeting, and then ate some raw fruit/veggies while there. Both our girls had soccer practice at different times on opposite ends of town, so make ahead dinner was in order. The rest of the day looked like this. Lunch: leftover roasted chicken over a huge salad with some of those roasted veggies. Dinner: Salmon cakes and cut up veggies.
That’s the gist! It all sounds kind of harsh, doesn’t it? But, really, it is only 30 days! As the Hartwigs say, it is NOT the Whole 365. We do not eat like this 100% of the time, but we will get to that later. If we can do this in our busy family, you can do it, too!