So I’ve decided to start a blog documenting my health “journey”. Things have come to a point where I’ve had enough with how things have been going, so I have been inspired to start eating the Paleo way.
Paleo is all about returning to a way of eating and living that matches our biology, rather than our social norms and industry. What do I mean by that? It’s all about eating as nature intended – as unprocessed as possible, “food that your great Grandma would recognise” as Michael Pollan puts it in the book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto (except in the case of bread!) If you see a product with a gazillion ingredients on the label, you will not recognise most of them – they are chemicals, not food.
So, what can be eaten on Paleo? Well, hopefully I’m not going to attract derision from Paleo purists, but as I understand it (I’m a newbie remember) the following is in:
Meat, fish, poultry, nuts, seeds, eggs, fruit, vegetables, coconut products (oil, butter, flesh, milk), certain animal fats. Some vegetables such as potatoes should be limited.
Out are the following:
Dairy, grains of all types (including processed corn/maize), sugar,many industrial vegetable oils, alcohol, caffeine, buckwheat and legumes (such as beans, lentils, soy, cashews).
It’s these last few that concern me for the long term, in regards to sticking with Paleo as closely as possible. Just like @missglamourpuss whose blog and Twitter feed I have followed with a keen eye for a few months, I expect that I won’t be a Paleo purist, simply because life should be lived. We make decisions for our health and we want to do our best, but we are human with busy lifestyles and a whirl of a social life (well, mostly).
So, I can hear you asking “But, lentils are healthy surely?! Hippies eat them!” Yes, we all know hippies eat them but that doesn’t mean they are good for the body. Paleo principles hold that the foods that are restricted are not processed properly by the body’s digestive system because of various substances in them. The belief is that these substances increase what is known as “gut permeability” or “leaky gut” (great term, huh… “Honey, my gut is leaking!”). These issues are considered to affect the likelihood of someone developing an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Autoimmune disease and other chronic illnesses are exploding in the Western world and we need to ask “why” rather than just react with band-aid solutions.
It is really difficult for many people to wrap their heads around the idea of Paleo as it restricts certain foods we have been told all our lives are healthy, such as grains and legumes. In the grand scheme of things, humans have only been consuming grains for a relatively short amount of time compared to when our species first appeared. Our bodies are not evolved enough as yet to digest these foods properly. Also, when it comes to dairy…have a think about it. Humans are the only animal that consumes another animal’s breast milk…that’s kinda freaky. Breast milk serves a certain purpose (rearing young), so for another species to consume it is a little odd. Having said that, I do like dairy…I’m just not so sure it likes me or my body!
Unfortunately, many people assume that the foods are not doing them any harm as many symptoms are really subtle. Not everyone gets IBS or sinus issues. Types of symptoms can include “brain fog” (when your brain just will not comprehend information), depression and fatigue. Not fun, right?
Here is a great FAQ all about Paleo by Dr. Loren Cordain, author, scientist and one of the leading lights of the Paleo food movement. Cordain has researched and written extensively about different elements relating to Paleo.
Other paleo-type recommendations:
Grass-fed beef (not grain fed as this is not a cow’s natural diet!), organic chicken, organic meat where possible, sustainable fish (pref wild not farmed), organic, local, in-season, Cross-Fit training.
I’m taking the approach that I will be doing these where I can, but it’s not always feasible for different reasons.
I’m interested to see how my friends and family react to this new way of eating. They will be supportive I’m sure, but probably confused. Especially considering I have done gluten-free before, stopping and starting, stopping and starting. People usually ask me “can you eat X at the moment?” and even I am confused!!!
I’m a bit of a radical
I should point out that I have some really strong views about the medical profession as I have experienced it. I’m not afraid to express this opinion, since I do have some pretty extensive experience navigating the medical system – mostly in Australia but a little in the UK as well. I think the medical profession is broken to the point where only radical change will make any real difference. I don’t believe that will happen in my lifetime, but it will happen eventually. I may offend some people with these views, but I don’t apologise for my experiences. I will point out that I have had some good experiences with the medical profession, those have been few and far between unfortunately.
It is going to be a challenge trying out this new way of eating, there are no two ways about it! But I hope to do it well and have a bit of fun along the way. Join me for the ride
Note: The blog title is not a reference to the film with a similar name…there is no funny business in this blog!!! I haven’t even seen the film…but I liked the sentiment and, as anyone who knows me, I usually try to sneak a musical reference in to everything I do