Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What the heck is "Paleo" anyway?

     I’ve put off writing this post/page for quite some time. Why? Well, frankly I’m not the best person to answer this question. If you ask me how to make guacamole, I can calmly tell you how to go about it in a logical, descriptive fashion.  I’m a chef, and I’m best at teaching people how to cook. I’m not so great at teaching people about the nutrition I believe in, however. When people ask me what paleo is, I get emotional, flustered, and it comes out like verbal diarrhea. I feel very passionately about this way of eating and lifestyle, and I feel like if I fail to explain it, and they will never know how they can change their life completely. But I can tell you, that my life has changed completely simply by changing what I put in (and on) my body. 

    Chances are my old view of “healthy eating” was much like yours is now. I thought I was supposed to eat low fat, whole grains, veggies, fruits, lean meats, and I knew I was probably supposed to stay away from sweets. When faced with the choice of  “regular” or “diet,” I was supposed to choose the later, and I was sure that Lean Cuisine, Weight Watchers, Special K, Skinny Cow, and 100 Calorie Packs were good choices. I’m not saying I always chose those foods, and I have certainly done my fair share of indulgence eating. But I thought I knew what was healthy.

    What I discovered after happening upon the Paleo Diet, is that our idea of “healthy” has been hijacked. Food and Drug advertising is cleverly disguised as “information” and “education.” We have completely lost touch of real food in favor of something that comes in a box, that is shelf stable, cheap, quick to prepare, or just eat right away, with the assurance that it will improve “heart health” or whatever other claims are labeled right on the front of the package. They couldn’t write it on there if it wasn’t true! Or could they? I bet lawyers that work in the food industry are paid VERY WELL. 

     So what do I believe now? I believe that grains, legumes, refined sugars, genetically modified and processed foods should be avoided at all costs. Yes, I believe that ALL GRAINS, including whole wheat, corn, brown rice, quinoa, steel cut oats, and whatever other “healthy” grain you can think of, should be AVOIDED.  I believe that fat doesn’t make you fat, and that lard, butter, and other animal fats, when sourced from healthy, grass-fed and pasture raised animals, are not only good for you, but essential to good health.  I believe that SOY, in all its forms, is toxic to the body, and causes infertility and man-boobs, just to name a few things. I think that Splenda, aspartame, and all other artificial sweeteners cause cancer and diabetes, and that they are just as dangerous to society, if not more so, than meth, heroine, crack cocaine, and any other illegal drug.  I still believe that fruits and veggies are good for you, so I haven’t completely fallen off the deep-end, but you are probably thinking I’m pretty darn close. Before I lose you completely, I am going to send you to some other websites by people who have less of a verbal diarrhea problem than I do, and explain this all properly.

     For an all-encompasing post that I wish I could have written myself, go check out FitBomb’s explanation. It is the mack-daddy, and his wife is the amazing woman behind Nom Nom Paleo, my all-time favorite paleo food blog. If you are intrigued by Henry’s explanation of why we should eat this way, and want to know what to eat TONIGHT, go check out Michelle’s extensive Recipe Index

      Haven’t gotten enough yet? Go check out the site BalancedBites from the awesome Diane Sanfilippo, author of my favorite Paleo book, Practical Paleo. Oh, and go order that book. It has everything you need to know. She is also the creator of that beautiful picture at the beginning of this post. She has not paid me to promote her books and sites, but I just FIRMLY believe you should go check out her stuff, because she knows what's up, and does an awesome job presenting the information.

Speaking of books, here are the ones I have read:

Here are some more that I plan to read when budget allows (this list is ever growing) :

     Cookbooks I have, and some I want (wishlist noted with asterisk ***, hint hint mom, or anyone else who needs to buy me something!) Some of these aren't published, but are available for pre-order:

      If you can’t find these in your library, and don’t want to spend any money to learn more, check out these free websites and food blogs for more information and wonderful recipes. There are tons more paleo sites than just these listed, but these are my favorite and I frequent them most often:

1. The aforementioned, Nom Nom Paleo
2. The Urban Poser – the paleo baking queen!
3. Against All Grain – beautiful photos, and delicious food
4. Paleo Parents – fellow Virginians, authors of “Eat Like a Dinosaur” and the new “Beyond Bacon” , as well as my favorite free podcast, “The Paleo View”. I hope to raise my kids the way they raise theirs, because their awesome 3 little boys will EAT ANYTHING! Well, anything Paleo!
5. Balanced Bites – I know I already told you to go check it out, but I’m telling you again because its that important. She also co-hosts a podcast that’s awesome called “The Balanced Bites Podcast”
6. PaleOMG – funny blog, yummy recipes
7. The Spunky Coconut – the first foodblog I ever followed, and still awesome, and don’t you just love the name? She has a bunch of books.... oh, I want those too!
8. Mark’s Daily Apple – Mark Sisson posts EVERY DAY and therefore has exhaustive archives. Have a question? Do a search on his site first, because he’s probably written about it and can link you to his sources. AWESOME SITE.
9. Whole9Life – great site if you are interested in doing a cold turkey, “Whole30” days of strict paleo
10. The Domestic Man - very cool recipes and since its written by a man, its more manly
11. The Paleo Mom – Scientist turned foodblogger, awesome info, well researched, and co-host of “The Paleo View” podcast. She lives in Atlanta (I think its’ cool because I grew up there) but she hails from Canada
12. Cookin’ Up Life – She’s hails from Alabama, my birth-state!
13. The Healthy Home Economist – She’s more Weston A Price than paleo, but I love her no-nonsense approach, and she has either taught me, or linked me to more information that has taught me everything I need to know about the dangers of soy and vaccinations, among other things
14. The Wellness Mama – another Paleo eater, but her site is more focused on holistic DIY recipes for natural remedies, homemade hygiene products, natural cleaning solutions/checklists, and other mommy-related info.
15. The Mommypotomus – similar to the last one
16. The Clothes Make the Girl – from the author of Well Fed
17. Virginia is for Hunter Gatherers – some more fellow Virginian Paleo Eaters
18. The Food Lovers Kitchen – all hail this awesome couple! Beautiful books and blog!
19. Chowstalker – a clickable photo database for Real Food, Paleo Recipes!
20. Dessertstalker – same as above, but only desserts. Can you say foodporn?

     Well, that should be enough to get your feet wet and your mouth watering. I feel confident that I have given you enough tools to help you change your life like I have changed mine. Now please, can we just get back to the food? Because that’s what I know best.

** No one paid me to write this, or promote their sites and/or books, nor do I take any credit for the photos/images in this post. These are my genuine recommendations, from one friend to another, and should not be taken as medical advice for legal purposes. Please note that some links are affiliate links, but I only recommend products I actually love.**


  1. What a great post!! I am totally linking to this on my post today :) Thanks for the link love-- that is so sweet of you! Love that you were born in Alabama!

  2. Thank you for sharing ! Great information.

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