I can’t tell you how much better I feel about this challenge now that I’m no longer obsessing at every bite whether it’s 100% Paleo. No more ‘Is there some sort of bean/legume/grain/vegetable oil/refined sugar/additive in this food?’ If all I could eat was 100% Paleo foods, I would have to make every morsel at home… from scratch. That means I would have to make my own sauces, marinade my own sun-dried tomatoes and eat only grass-fed meat and organic fruits and veggies. Not impossible, but pretty darn close! If you unwillingly cheat to some extent at almost every meal, you kinda feel like a failure.
As soon as I read that a lot of Paleo-fans adhere to a ’80/20′ rule -meaning they eat Paleo at least 80% of the time- it was a weight fell off my shoulders. I could still reap the benefits of cleaning up my diet without feeling like a ‘Paleo Faileo’ 24/7.
If you are contemplating doing a Paleo challenge, I advise you to determine before you start what you’re able and willing to do (without).
Check out this funny flowchart by Cole Bradburn, it’s an easy-peasy way to see what’s Paleo and what’s not. This is not gospel for every Primal guy & gal, but it’s a good general guideline.
There is contention within the Paleo ranks about which foods make you a Lean, Mean Sexual Tyrannosaur and which plow through your body like a dirty freight train.
Here are some of the foods that some Paleo-peeps allow into the cave while others avoid it like the plague.
Some say we should leave the seed-eating to the birds, because they contain harmful anti-nutrients like phytates, saponin and Omega-6 fatty acids. The other side states that many seeds are A-ok in moderation, because they do offer nutrients.
When you get down to the root of it, coffee is a bean… and beans -like legumes- are on the Paleo black list, because of the anti-nutrients that wreak havoc on our intestines. I’m pretty sure most Paleo’s would agree that coffee is not by any means Paleo, but many enjoy it anyway… for obvious reasons! The most Paleo-approved coffee would ofcourse have to be dairy- and sugar-free.
Another food that can be made Paleo-acceptable with a little leap in logic. I’ve applied this little leap myself, thinking ‘vodka is made from potatoes, that’s Paleo!’ and ‘Wine is made from grapes, I pretty much owe it to myself to drink this!’ The stricter among us condemn the booze, but -like with coffee- many do enjoy the occasional glass. I can imagine they don’t wanna be ‘that guy’ or ‘that girl’ in their social group. An important consideration.
Some Paleo information sources say that (sweet) potatoes and other tubers aren’t worth the carb-rich calorie load for the relatively scant amount of nutrients you get from them. But, as many Paleo-veterans advise; if you’re not trying to lose weight, go for it and eat that tater!
I can imagine that saying buh-bye to yogurt and cheese forever is simply too much to face. Some Primal folks allow dairy in their diet, saying that either the human body has adjusted to ingesting the milk of other species over the past thousands of years or that at least it doesn’t significantly harm us. Some only have raw dairy, some allow themselves grass-fed butter, some are grossed out by just the thought of eating something coming out of a cow’s ‘boobies’.
‘It’s almost as bad as sugar, and sugar is evil’, say the fanatics. But I can’t for the life of me imagine a life without that little bit of sweetness. You can’t tell me my primal ancestors didn’t dance the hokey-pokey when they saw sweet berries or a juicy plum. Honey has benefits that sugar does not, such as its anti-bacterial properties. As with all sweets though; moderation is key, to keep your insulin levels from spiking (that’s bad).
Paleo forums are alight with discussions about other contentious foods and their place in the Paleo universe. I’ve done a lot of reading, but I’m getting pretty tired of the ‘yes but/no but’ game. For me, it all boils down to eating mostly Paleo wholefoods while allowing the occasional contentious, enjoyable food… if only to prevent headaches from worrying about it too much!
Only one more week to go and I’m ready, bring it on! The low-carb flu is over -if that was what it was- and I’m feeling and sleeping good! In my next post I’ll tell you about the Paleo lifestyle outside of the kitchen and my recent Crossfit experience. Ciao and as Primal expert Mark Sisson says; ‘Grok on’!