When I say I eat a primal/paleo diet what I actually mean is that I embrace the principals, wholeheartedly believe that it is the right way to eat for health and weight loss and maintenance and then adapt it to suit my body and my lifestyle. Some aspects of the primal diet I have totally taken on board, some I am still working on; the rest I probably will stick with what I am already doing which seems to be working. And I guess this is the way most people who are trying to clean up their diet work although there are the so called purists who may say that their way is the only way, the primal/paleo diet fascists!!
A quick recap of what primal/paleo eating is all about; basically eating a diet similar to the one we would have eaten as hunter gatherers before the agricultural revolution and certainly before Tesco and Sainsburys! It's based on fresh unprocessed foods, mainly meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, berries, nuts, seeds and good fats (check out tomorrow's post on what are classed as good fats and what should be avoided). It may sound limited but it's surprising how many fantastic tasty dishes you can make using these ingredients. Hunter gatherers would probably have eaten insects too but most people following this diet (but not all!!) would draw the line at eating ants and grubs!
So, that is what you can eat, what about what you can't eat? (or rather I like to think of it as choosing not to eat). In a strict/pure paleo diet grains, dairy, legumes, refined sugars, white potatoes and all processed foods are out. This may seem like a daunting list to some people; as this is an eating plan for life and not just for a period of time in order to lose some weight then it is important that you can live with it long term.
OK, so how do I live with it long term, in fact more than living with it I am loving it? Firstly I embrace the 80/20 rule, generally sticking to my primal diet during the week, then maybe on Friday or Saturday having something I wouldn't normally have but really enjoy such as a couple of glasses of wine or a bowl of crisps. Secondly I make my paleo meals as tasty as I can so I always enjoy my food. Probably most importantly I eat enough to ensure I am not hungry between meals so I am cutting food cravings and the temptation to binge.
For me the foods that I will avoid mostly are grains, sugar and articfical sweetners, and processed foods. I do eat some dairy, mainly full fat natural yogurt and small amounts of cheese, especially goats cheese and halloumi cheese. This seems to work OK for me although some people may have allergies to dairy.
The aspect of the diet I am still working on is the belief that all food should be in it's most natural state, in other words free range, grass fed and organic. This would mean that meat would be grass fed, free range and organic, poultry free range and organic, dairy would be raw and unpasturised, eggs free range and organic and all vegetables organic. In the real world this makes food much more expensive especially when you are feeding a family of four. So, some of our food does follow this principal and some doesn't; I get an organic veg box delivered and buy organic fruit, some of our meat comes from a butcher that does provide grass fed and organic meat and some of it comes from a supermarket.
Food has and always will be a big important part of my life, I have never been one of those people who eats to live! By following the primal/paleo principals I have found that I can enjoy lots of very tasty foods whilst staying lean, fit and healthy. Who could ask for more?