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Paleo 101

Real. Whole. Unprocessed.

The paleo diet (or lifestyle, as I like to think of it) has become increasingly popular these past several years. The paleo lifestyle isn’t a “fad” diet, and it isn’t going anywhere. Eating paleo just means eating real, whole, and unprocessed foods. What’s faddish about that?

Also known as the “caveman diet,” the name “paleo” refers to a period of time when people only ate grass-fed game, wild-caught fish, nuts, vegetables, berries and occasionally, other fruits. These people lived before the time of modern agriculture and the domestication of animals. When they needed meat, they hunted, and they gathered their berries and nuts. There were no grains planted in fields, no milk past weaning and subsequently, the population wasn’t plagued by many of the diseases that are seen today.

Even though they had to find, hunt, and kill most of their food, your Paleolithic ancestors were still eating better-quality food than most of the world is today. Not only are the hundreds of quick-fix weight loss products wreaking havoc on the human body, but the Standard American Diet (SAD) – with grains at the helm – is believed to contribute to a number of diseases caused by inflammation.

So, right now you’re thinking that you need to move to a forest and take up hunting, fishing and gardening to be on today’s Paleo diet, right? That couldn’t be further from the truth. This lifestyle simply requires a shift in your thinking. First, you will need to learn what foods are considered paleo “yes” foods and paleo “no” foods. From there, all you need to start on your journey toward paleo success is a simple shopping list, an open mind and a whole bunch of recipes! And while starting out cooking paleo may seem intimidating, the truth is that many of the recipes adored by families the world over can easily be converted to paleo-friendly options with a few carefully chosen ingredients and some fun substitution. When it comes to cooking paleo, it’s all about getting creative.

But why do paleo?

The answer is simple: because it’s being kind to your body. One of the most significant benefits of adhering to a paleo lifestyle is the potential for decreasing your risk of developing a number of chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Decreasing the risk of developing diseases can also be achieved by consuming a well-balanced, nutrient-dense, modern-day diet low in unhealthy fats, processed foods, refined carbohydrates and preservatives. But the popularity of paleo nutrition continues to expand. People of all ages, demographics, and fitness levels are climbing aboard and sailing back to ancient ways of eating in an effort to negate the impact of years of unhealthy eating habits and sedentary lifestyles.