So, let me first start by saying that every BODY is different. So though I advocate for paleo and primal lifestyles I also recognize that due to certain situations someone might benefit more from say, a raw food, vegan, or vegetarian diet. That being said, I firmly believe those kinds of diets should generally only be used short term and for detox purposes, as opposed to a long term diet change. (and NO, I am not a doctor and am not giving “professional” advice here- educated opinions only.) I also believe every BODY has certain consistent needs, no matter who you are. I have read too many studies and stories about different deficiencies and diseases from these other diets (including the Standard American Diet), not to mention my OWN personal experiences with every single one of them in the last 20 years. All of this has lead me to believe that they are neither an ideal nor sustainable (for the body) way of eating. Of course, as I said before every BODY is different and I recognize some people CAN seem to sustain themselves well on these different diets long term. I, however, was not one of the lucky ones who could make that work. I also believe in listening to your body. It knows what it needs, and sometimes it needs one thing while everyone else is doing another. Don’t let someone else’s experience influence you to do the opposite of what your body is telling you. Continually listening to your body will help you adjust your diet as needed to provide it with the best care. In the long run, that is all that matters.
So why did I join the Paleo/Primal movement?
(Keep in mind this is not one of those comprehensive-specific-detailed-referenced-articles-that-are-trying-to-prove-a-point here. this is just little ol‘ me giving an opinion based on experience. I’m saving the “scientifically referenced prove-it” stuff for other posts)
It just feels RIGHT. I base almost all of my decisions on my intuition, impression, emotion- whatever you want to call it. I always have. Ever since I started learning about paleo/primal living, everything I had ever learned about nutrition and diet (true and false) started clicking together in perfect understanding. Things just started to make sense. There have been a ton of “aha” moments for me in the last 2 years. Past negative experiences started to take on new meaning and explanation where before there had only been confusion. Again, that is not to say it will be right for YOU, but this is where my journey to health has taken me.
It cuts out most common food allergens. There is a growing population of people realizing they have a gluten intolerance so much so that nowadays you can find gluten free items in almost ANY grocery store, not just health food stores. The Standard American Diet (SAD) model relies heavily on grains for nutrition. What’s worse is that the vegan and vegetarian diets tend to lean heavily on grains (and legumes) as well, which severely limits the kind of safe diets available for the gluten intolerant. In comes the Paleo/Primal diet to the rescue, which removes all grains from the equation. Grains, unfortunately, have been given quite the pedestal of glory throughout our dietary history, but sadly do little to sustain actual long term health. This is due to the anti-nutrients they contain, namely lectins, phytates, and gluten, which can lead to Leptin resistance. Leptin resistance is a precursor to obesity…. YIKES! The paleo diet also cuts out most dairy, except (if you are Primal) the raw or fermented grass-fed kind.
It regulates hormones. Eating Paleo can help regulate hormones like insulin, which is basically the trigger for your body to either take glucose from your bloodstream to use for energy, or to store in your cells as fat. Due to its GI tract soothing abilities, a paleo diet can help your body absorb nutrients more effectively which can also have a direct effect on your hormone balance and fertility. In short, eating paleo/primally helps you #RESPECTTHEHORMONES, got it?
It is anti-inflammatory. Grains are as inflammatory as they come, though sprouting and soaking do reduce the effects. Lectins straight up damage the walls of your intestines, which leads to leaky gut syndrome. And that, my friends, is where food sensitivities start. I personally have seen a marked decrease in inflammatory pain caused by Endometriosis since I transitioned to a Paleo diet. On top of that, the psoriasis and general skin rashes I have had practically my whole life have mostly disappeared (when I am staying on track and not sneaking naughty doughnuts from the shop, that is! lol).
It’s easy to make. One of the hardest things about the raw food diet for me was the massive amount of prep work it took to make anything. Soaking, dehydrating, ect it took hours and sometimes days of work. Yes, you can just eat fruits and veggies without doing a dang thing to them, but honestly where is the fun in that? food has to be fun for me. I love cooking. Cooking is fun (just not HOURS of it). It’s also tasty and makes me feel better than strictly raw food ever did. In my humble opinion, the Paleo diet takes the best of all the others and mashes them perfectly together. From raw, vegan and vegetarians we get all the fruits, veggies and nuts (fresh and cooked), meat eaters we get grass fed meats, fish, and BACON. Paleo is heavy on the veggies and reasonable with the protein. And you can have a whole meal in under an hour unless you are getting fancy. I’d call that #WINNING. Besides, if I am going to be consistent with something, it really does need to be SIMPLE.
Because FAT IS GOOD. Fat has been demonized for a very long time, but in all reality, it is absolutely NECCESARY to live. Your brain NEEDS it to function properly. If most of us hadn’t been raised/fed by our well-meaning parents to be sugar burners (via excess grains and sweets) we would be burning fat optimally for our energy needs instead of just storing it and burning sugar for fuel like most of us do now. Besides, I love ghee. It is tasty, basically dairy free-ish (the water and milk solids are removed during the cooking process) and it is good for you. What more is there to say? I’m sold, anyway.
It’s more environmentally sustainable than you think. Especially if you keep your coconut, nuts, and exotic oils down to a minimum and buy as locally and seasonally as you can, anyways. (For more information check out Paleo Foundation’s article: Is The Paleo Diet Sustainable? )
It’s satisfying. Less cravings, less hunger, you lose weight, you gain energy. NO more blood sugar crashes. It tastes good. (Also there is bacon and ghee involved). It’s a dietary dream come true!
Did I mention the bacon and ghee??? Okay, it doesn’t make up THAT much of my diet but I DO love having a little uncured bacon once or twice a week and a bit of ghee with my eggs. Seriously, it makes life worth living.
You don’t have to work your butt off to get fit. The saying “no pain, no gain” has been the fitness industry’s war cry since like FOREVER, but the Primal lifestyle takes a more natural, realistic, and decidedly less damaging approach to physical fitness. The primal lifestyle advocates for LESS exercise and MORE movement. Simply put, you move more often during your day, and then every so often you throw in a quick sprint or weight workout for some extra oomph. Chronic cardio is a fitness DISEASE so to speak. and people are doing it WAY too often. Burnout is nothing to aspire to. Working out too much makes you over eat and throws your body into constant fight or flight mode, not to mention all the inflammation from overworking your body. On the other side of the spectrum working out minimally gives your body ample time to get stronger while staying away from injury and burnout. So yeah, I like that primal fitness lets you take a chill pill on the crazy fitness fads and allows your body to do its thing with minimal effort. #SCORE!
These are just a few reasons of MANY but the more I study the more I realize just how life changing this lifestyle can be. In about two more months (or less!) I will have finally completed my Primal Blueprint Health Coach program and hope to start using that to help others on their journey as well! Can’t wait to be officially certified! I have learned SO MUCH already I feel like my head might explode. SO SO worth it if you want to understand your body and how everything connects, even if you only want to use the info personally. It really brings it all together for you in a way that my years of at-home internet research only touched on. I originally started out just wanting the knowledge for myself but the more I learned the more I felt like it needed to be shared. Seriously, it really is LIFECHANGING. Check it out if you are interested in the pink link above and let me know if you have any questions in the comments below, I would be happy to answer any you want to throw my way!
If you were inspired by this post or if you have any thoughts or tips to add to this discussion be sure to let me know in the comments below!