Hello and happy Thursday. I hope it’s been a great day for everyone! Mine has been good minus a small freak out about the paint color I chose for the living room (I second guess EVERYTHING) and the fact that it’s dark and cold at 6 p.m. now…but I’m going to have to get over that.
I receive a lot of questions about the paleo style of eating and how my diet has changed over the past year. Given that we just kicked off a new paleo challenge at Metro CrossFit with a paleo potluck, I thought this would be an ideal time to get you up to speed on my thoughts around it.
Let’s start with what paleo is.
This image shows a pretty accurate picture of the general makeup of the diet although many would put the meat, fish, fowl and eggs on the bottom of the pyramid and move up the veggies and fruits. Basically, you focus on eating the way that people did before processed foods and sugar became mainstream. The general gist of it is, “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar.” Think the whole hunter-gatherer principle. This style of eating omits many of the common allergens such as gluten and dairy and emphasizes foods that are more nutrient-dense and naturally occurring.
The paleo diet is very popular among the CrossFit crowd although I was very surprised to find that at my CrossFit Level 1 Trainer Course that the ZONE diet is their diet of choice and paleo was given no attention. I’ll go more into detail on ZONE in another post. I can’t knock the paleo diet as many in my gym have had amazing success with it providing huge weight loss breakthroughs and performance gains. I have watched the transformations happen before my own eyes.
That said, paleo is not for me but I have benefited from learning about it.
We hosted our first paleo challenge back in April when I was new to the gym. I decided that I wouldn’t go paleo but that I would cut out dairy, gluten and sugar. At this time I was eating an 80% vegetarian diet and had been for years. My diet was heavy on processed soy, beans and carbs and light on lean protein. I totally changed that and I feel SO MUCH BETTER. I have reintroduced dairy, gluten and sugar into my diet but in more limited amounts and coupled with lots of lean protein and lots of healthy fats. I try to avoid gluten when it’s easy to (although I do not claim to have any sensitivities) but I don’t stress about it. I don’t buy bread anymore (I keep a loaf of gluten-free bread in the freezer). This is huge for me because I used to eat a sandwich almost every day for lunch. I tried giving up dairy but I just love Greek yogurt too much but I dont’ really find that I have a hard time digesting it. I have tried to buy more goat dairy when it comes to cheese and almond milk instead of traditional. And as far as sugar, I still have work to do on that front but I refuse to live life without cookies and cupcakes.
I think that paleo is a good starting point for many people who are struggling with making a change in their diet or figuring out what works for them and what they feel good eating. Paleo allows you to cut out those high-allergen foods and then you can play with reintroducing them and it will be easier to see what your allergens/sensitivities are. I am 100% in the camp of there not being a “one size fits all” diet solution. You have to figure out what works for you and that may be totally different than what works for your spouse, best friend, child, running partner, etc. And it’s easy to take any diet to the extreme and I have seen this with paleo. I loved that in our CrossFit course, they encouraged cheat meals (note, meals…not days!) and encouraged people to act normal around their friends and at parties and not be the weirdo bringing your own food. Please keep in mind that I am sensitive to those who do have serious allergies. I’m just encouraging you to keep moderation and having a life in mind.
Okay, now let’s talk paleo food. It’s delicious and I might eat paleo if I always had access to a spread like we had at our challenge kick-off party! YUM! I’m going to share some photos and recipes with you!
I contributed those “Paleo Pizza Bites” that you see in the red dish on the left. It’s a button mushroom stuffed with sausage and topped with marinara sauce. I got the recipe from a fantastic paleo blog, PaleOMG. I took these to the paleo potluck and a friend’s housewarming party and they were gone in a matter of moments at both.
Chicken salad with avocado herb dressing. It’s a spin on this recipe from Multiply Delicious. You must check out Heather’s blog. She’s one of our CrossFit athletes and an extremely talented and creative cook.
Cauliflower Carrot Herb Mash. This recipe was also from Multiply Delicious and crazy addictive.
Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole. Recipe coming soon. I’ll update the post with it. I went back for seconds.
Pumpkin pie bars. I’m also trying to track down this recipe for ya.
This is just a small taste of all of the amazing food that we had at the party but I thought it would be interesting to share. I would love to hear your experiences with paleo and thoughts on the diet. Also, if you have any recipes to recommend, please do!