Guest post by Jessica Milligan
What is the Paleo diet?
The Paleo diet is based upon eating wholesome foods that mimic the food groups that our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have thrived on during the Paleolithic era. Essentially what that translates down to is: EAT fresh meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and healthy oils and AVOID dairy, legumes, grains, refined sugars and processed foods.
Why do people choose to eat Paleo?
Many people adopt the Paleo diet simply to lose weight, but it can be much more beneficial than just dropping a few pounds. Removing certain inflammatory foods can do wonders for gut health, skin issues, energy levels and even auto-immune disorders. As someone with a severe dairy intolerance, the Paleo diet fit nicely into my lifestyle. It allowed me to honestly evaluate how I felt eating different foods and adjust accordingly. That being said, the beautiful part about a Paleo diet is that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Eating 80-90% Paleo can be just as beneficial to your health. For me personally, I tend to stick to this because that’s what makes it a lifestyle. I know I feel best eating predominately fresh foods, but I still enjoy a good piece of sourdough bread or my grandmother’s homemade meals every now and then.
I want to eat Paleo, but how can I do that practically?
The hardest part about starting any kind of lifestyle change is the starting itself. It can seem very overwhelming at first, especially with the dos and don’ts. My philosophy is always to add first, then remove. When we command ourselves to restrict, the thing that is off limits entices us even more than before. Restriction never lasts long-term, and like I’ve said, this is a lifestyle. Instead of going all in at the beginning, simply start incorporating more Paleo foods into your meal plans. With the Paleo movement being so large, the Internet recipe box is bursting at the seams. Try swapping white rice for cauliflower rice or order a Paleo meal from Zoës Kitchen, like these salmon and shrimp kabobs with roasted vegetables, which are my favorite items off their menu.
Once you get a taste for high-quality meat and fresh veggies, you’ll naturally stop reaching for greasy pizza every night of the week. After a while, there won’t be pressure to eat a certain way, because it will be apparent what foods make you feel good and which make you feel bad. At that point, you’re able to make wiser decisions on what “non-compliant” foods are worth having (like my grandma’s pumpkin pie). You’ll start to feel fuller longer, less lethargic, and more satisfied all day long.
How do I eat Paleo when I’m not at home?
We’re human. Social humans. Which means, that we can’t expect every meal we eat to be inside our paleo-fied homes. So what can you do if your friend asks you to go out to eat? Choosing a restaurant that serves Paleo options is a solid play. Zoës Kitchen has an entire menu dedicated to the Paleo diet, where you can order without worrying if your meal may contain dairy or any other non-paleo food.
As someone with a serious food intolerance, being able to order out without the fear of getting sick after is a definite plus! I love going to Zoës Kitchen because they have a fantastic menu full of made-fresh-daily, healthy options for all diets, meaning you and whomever you’re with will be satisfied before you leave.
Holidays and events can be a bit trickier. If it’s potluck style, simply bring a side dish and/or a dessert that is Paleo. You’ll be able to enjoy the food along with everyone else and share how wonderful Paleo food truly tastes! If you don’t have an option to contribute a dish and you don’t know what will be served, sticking 100% to a Paleo diet can be very difficult. These are the times were the lifestyle portion comes into play. Eat the meal and enjoy the event. We have incredible bodies and they will recover from anything we ate that might upset our homeostasis (This excludes serious ailments such as celiac disease or lactose intolerance). Life is way more than what we eat.
Paleo beyond the food
Food is important, and it is technically what the Paleo diet focuses on. However, I believe that when you adopt a high-quality diet, a high-quality life needs to be cultivated as well. Wellness is composed of many other aspects besides nutrition. How we move our bodies plays a very important role in how we feel on a daily basis. Whether you’re a crossfit junkie or you love to walk, staying active can greatly improve our wellbeing. Another major component of wellness is SLEEP. The most overlooked area of health. Making sure you not only get enough sleep, but that you get quality sleep is vital to living a full and vibrant life. And my favorite area of wellness: social. As we discussed earlier, the Paleo diet is a lifestyle meant to help us feel our best so that we can live our lives at full capacity. That may mean enjoying a batch of cookies with your sister or it might mean cooking a Paleo meal for the whole family. Integrating this diet into your life shouldn’t take anything away from you, but rather add more vibrancy to the life you already have.
Want to learn about more paleo options at Zoës Kitchen? Check out how we prepare our salmon kabobs!