Paleo: What to Eat, Not What Not to Eat
For a long time we’ve been basing our diet decisions on what not to eat: don’t eat fat, don’t eat carbs, don’t eat sugar. We’ve tried eating a diet limited to cabbage soup, restricting calories by only eating grapefruits, prohibiting complex carbs and protein during the same meal, lowered or totally immured fat in everything, only choosing high protein but low carb, a specific ratio of carbs, fat, and protein or meals based on restrictive whole grains and veggies. We’ve excluded so many foods from our plates it’s no wonder we’re so confused what to eat now to look after ourselves.
So maybe we’ve all been told what not to eat for so long that it’s time we started with what we should. And of course on a paleo meal delivery blog you’re expecting to read that it’s the solution we’ve been waiting for. And of course that’s absolutely right! Sure Paleo tells us what to avoid, but its more what we can eat, allowing us to fill up first on what we need instead of filling up on fillers and non-foods.
Eat Organic, Grain Free, Antibiotic Free
If you’re from the history of dieters rolling your eyes at yet another ‘way to eat best’, you’re seeing meats and thinking mad cow disease or heart disease; meat is just bad. And if we were talking feedlot animals, eating under enormous pressured conditions in every way possible, then I’d agree with you. But with all the paleo dieters, or just a sign of the times, we’re forcing more awareness of organic growing than ever, and of pasture raised meats: naturally hormone and antibiotic free simply because they’re eating what they’re meant to eat. And reared this way, they are indeed a whole food for us: even the fats are not only delicious but nutritiously naturally free of toxins and instead full of nutrients we have been omitting for our health. We are indeed what we eat, in fact what we eat eats, what nature intended, unaltered chemically, genetically or prescriptively, for naturally good health. That said, let’s not all rush out and eat as much meat as we can. Everything in moderation (even moderation!).
Eat Healthy Fats
So back to the healthy fats thing, after thirty years of no fats, let’s talk butter. One thing you cannot deny is that it tastes really good. Yet lots of us still don’t eat it because we feel we should eat something less tasty, apparently making it better for us, despite being chemically laden and far worse for us that the real deal. The low or no fat diet has really done a number on us! And for too long we’ve not just been low or no fat, especially no saturated fat and most certainly no butter! But saturated fats are one of the main ingredients especially for our body’s pro inflammatory mechanisms. So a good thing to omit then? No way! The truth is we need a balance of as much pro inflammation as we do anti inflammation. It’s a self regulating system. So we need all fats, saturated and unsaturated and everything in between. Our bodies are far too out of whack and even more complicated than a this-for-that mentality could even begin to fix! Let’s just suffice, it’s all about the balance: eat your butter. And your olive, coconut and sesame oils, your duck fat, beef tallow, lard, the whole egg, macadamia and avocado oils. Mix them up. Enjoy them with each meal. They’re what bring everything together, including our low fat flailing health.
Which leads us to considering the importance of proper accompaniments: there are a few vitamins (A, D, E, and K) that are only soluble in fat. That means that they are not bioavailable unless they are eaten alongside fats. Similarly, there are other foods that can improve the bioavailability of nutrients. The organic acids found in fermented foods improve absorption by forming soluble compounds with trace minerals. Ascorbic acid in citrus fruits, tropical fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts makes certain iron compounds more soluble. Ascorbic acid can also counteract the inhibitory effect of phytate and may enhance the absorption of other trace minerals like selenium. Finally, animal protein enhances the absorption of zinc, iron, and copper. Yup, we need to eat whole food, all foods, great variety, and even more, to eat with enjoyment.
Ok so that last bit about enjoyment is not just to make you smile. But then again it is. Enjoyment is what food is all about. Scientifically it’s our cephalic response: the sight, smell, thought, or taste of food, and the greater the appetite, the more intense the response. It’s the start of all our gastric juices, beginning digestion before we even eat, ready for all the very best foods we’ve now elected to eat knowing they’re what our bodies need. It could even be more important than the food itself!
Paleo enables us to turn dietary restrictions into culinary opportunities. And to start every meal with boundless possibilities rather than a long list of nos. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!