Let me explain briefly what I understand to be Paleo nutrition.
I enjoy the Whole30 program by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig when I reference the what and whys of paleo. They do not focus on evolution or history and instead focus on “how food in today’s modern world impacts our health and habits” (The Whole30)
In their first book, “It Starts with Food” they go into detail on the 4 good food standards:
- Food should promote a healthy psychological response
- It should promote a healthy hormonal response
- Support a healthy gut
- Support immune function and minimize inflammation
Certain food groups break one or more of those food standards.
These food groups are:
- Sugars, sweeteners and alcohol
- Seed oils
In a Whole30 program, for 30 days all of these items are eliminated entirely. They call it a health “reset”.
During the 30 day program the only foods consumed are vegetables (a LOT of vegetables!), eggs, meat, seafood and fish, fruit, nuts and healthy fats.
During that time cravings and unhealthy relationships with food change, hormonal and immune functioning improves and the gut heals. Some people need more time than 30 days. Please refer to their books, It Starts with Food and The Whole30 for a more in depth look at the science, and details on the program. They also have a fantastic website with a lot of free content should you have specific questions about the program – they do their best to answer everything!
The idea is that after doing this “reset”, one has essentially created their own control environment to test out those foods that they had cut out for 30 days. During a detailed reintroduction period, one can then decide what foods can come back into their diet, and in what quantities and frequencies.
A Whole30 baseline is “Paleo”
but so is the diet that each individual decides works for them after they have assessed the foods they want re-introduced after the 30 days.
A couple things remain constant – avoiding processed foods, and eating a hefty serving of veggies at every meal.
Some people include full fat and/or fermented dairy products. Others enjoy gluten free grains in moderation. Some even deem it acceptable to their bodies to enjoy legumes or gluten grains in low frequencies.
Paleo can look very different for everyone!
One common misconception is that in a paleo diet we eat A LOT of meat. Now I guess that “a lot” is relative to ones perspective, but I would simply like to point out that really we eat moderate amounts of meat and A LOT of vegetables.
If you have ethical reasons for wanting to refrain from eating meat, could you still consider going paleo?
Now it wouldn’t be exactly paleo, but as I mentioned above it looks different for everyone anyway, so why not make it look like what works best for you?
Seeing that so many of the plant based sources of protein are essentially eliminated from a paleo diet (and to be honest, most people after doing a Whole30 probably don’t bring back things like soy or other legumes and seeds), we need to get creative here to still respect the good food standards as defined by the Hartwigs.
If you are comfortable eating eggs and dairy, these items can easily be included in most people’s diet without much issue. Full fat dairy is best and more specifically fermented dairy like kefir and yogurt are proven to be very healthful.
A paleo vegetarian may also need to include seeds and hemp in the diet. Still need to avoid all gluten grains, even seitan, but you can include fermented soy like in tempeh. And finally
the easiest way to make paleo accessible is to soak or sprout your beans and legumes.
I hope that this helps! The Hartwigs do cover this topic in their books and on their website: Veg-Whole30
I also found these interesting reads on the subject!
Also another great resource for more on what Paleo is can be found at:
So no matter what your thoughts were on my post about Ahimsa & Paleo, I hope that you can see that there is room here for everyone, in a variety of ways. Nourishing your body in the most healthy way possible is a big step towards a happier, healthier and more balanced version of you.
I don’t eat much of the foods I listed above for vegetarians, so please if you have insights do share!!!
What are your thoughts on today’s Blog post?
If you are a vegetarian, how different would your diet look if you paleo-fied it?
Please share your questions and comments below! I’d love to hear from you!