What is the Paleo diet?
Table of Contents
- 1 What is the Paleo diet?
- 2 Paleo 101: The Basics & Benefits
- 3 Paleo Diet: Foods to Eat & Not Eat
- 4 The Science Behind the Paleo Diet
- 5 Being Human: Paleo is More Than a Diet
- 6 A Brief History of the Paleo Diet
- 7 The Dawn of the Agricultural Revolution
- 8 Joining the “Revolution”: Should You Go Paleo?
- 9 How to Do It: a Paleo Diet in Action
- 10 Various Paleo Diet Types & Approaches
- 11 Integrating The Paleo Lifestyle Beyond Food
- 12 How Do I Get Started?
Ask one hundred different 21st century cavemen (and women) “What is the Paleo Diet?”, and you might get one hundred different answers.
However, the definition is pretty simple:
The Paleo, or “Paleolithic,” diet is the original human diet. It embodies a commitment to eating the same foods that your Stone Age ancestors ate.
Although modern day grocery store, rush-hour traffic sitting and desk-jockey lifestyles may not totally mirror the diet of Pebbles and Bam Bam, the “Paleo diet” is backed by science as the number one diet humanity evolved to consume for health and survival.
There seems to be some confusion about what Paleo is — and what it is not.
- Is “Paleo” low carb?
- Is it boxed crackers, tortillas and protein bars that say “Paleo?”
- Is it Paleo cookies, pancakes and baked goods?
- Is it organic?
- Is it 30 days of strict eating?
- Or, is it something else?…
We here at Paleo f(x)™ have got your back. Here’s all you need to know about what the Paleo diet is, and how to make it work for you.
Paleo 101: The Basics & Benefits
Definition of the Paleo Diet
Most people define (and explain) “Paleo” as one of three things:
- a healthy diet
- the caveman diet (often with a cult-like following), or
- a restrictive diet
A traditional Paleo diet plan will typically admonish adherents to focus on one thing: Eat real food.
What is “real food?”
Answer: If it didn’t grow on the land, swim in the sea, or walk the earth, it’s not real food (or “Paleo”).
Paleo Diet: Foods to Eat & Not Eat
Eat in Abundance
- Meat & poultry (preferably organic, pastured, grass-fed)
- Wild-caught fish
- Pastured eggs
- Veggies (Especially Leafy Greens)
- Traditional fats (Ghee, Butter, Lard, Tallow, Duckfat, Coconut Oil, Palm Oil)
- Healthy fats ( Olives, Avocados, Coconuts)
- Starchy tubers (Yams, Sweet Potatoes, Butternut Squash, Acorn Squash, Spaghetti Squash)
- Fermented vegetables and fruits (Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Beet Kvaas, Coconut Kefir, Yogurt)
- Sea salt, herbs & spices (No artificial sweeteners, fillers or chemicals)
- Apple Cider Vinegar
Eat in Moderation
- Processed meat. Sausage, bacon and jerky. (gluten-free, sugar-free, soy free, and organic/free-range meat is optimal)
- Conventional meats. Tyson chicken, Purdue farms, etc. – those big name food processors
- Whole fruit. About 1-3 servings per day (depending on blood sugar balance)
- Dried fruits & dates. (High in sugar)
- Raw nuts and seeds. No more than a handful per day, preferably soaked and dehydrated or roasted; Opt for nuts lower in omega-6 fatty acids (hazelnuts, macadamias); minimize nuts high in omega-6 (brazil nuts, almonds)
- Green beans & peas. Although they are technically legumes, they are usually well tolerated
- Coffee & black tea. Limit to 1 cup of quality coffee per day (only if you don’t suffer from fatigue, insomnia or hypoglycemia, and only before 12:00 PM, and not double espresso; black, or with coconut milk or grass-fed real cream if dairy is tolerated)
- Grass-fed dairy. Considered “Primal.” Not recommended when initially “going Paleo,” but after 30-60 days of a paleo “reset,” some people may consider experimenting with real, full-fat, grass-fed sources
- Dark chocolate. 70% or higher in small amounts (ex. about the size of a silver dollar)
- Vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is especially well-tolerated
- Restaurant Food. The biggest culprit is hydrogenated oils (canola oil, vegetable oil)
- Processed & Packaged Foods. Bars, Shakes, Jerky, Chips, Cookies. Yes, even though they ARE labeled “Paleo,” and they are “Paleo-friendly,” most packaged and processed foods are dry foods with extra processing, not hydrating or nutrient-dense like real nourishing veggies, healthy fats and real proteins
- Paleo Baked Goods. Cookies, muffins, pancakes, etc. made from flours like almond, coconut, cassava, tapioca, etc; often have natural sweeteners
- Paleo Flours. Coconut, cassava, almond, tapioca, etc.
- Natural Sweeteners. Honey, maple syrup, blackstrap molasses
- White Rice and White Potatoes. Active individuals often tolerate better
- Beans. Soaked and sprouted
- Natural no-calorie sweeteners. Xylitol, stevia, etc.
- Dairy (especially conventional)
- Grains (including corn, oats, breads, pastas, rice, quinoa)
- Most processed & refined foods (80% of foods in the grocery store are processed, man-made foods)
- Sugar & artificial sweeteners (including sugar, high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, honey, agave, brown rice syrup, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, etc.)
- Beans & Legumes (including peanuts)
- Processed sauces and seasonings. Soy sauce, tamari, and other processed seasonings and sauces (which often include sugar, soy, gluten, or all of the above)
- Soda & diet soda
- Hydrogenated oils & seed oils (Soybean, corn, grapeseed, safflower, sunflower, cottonseed, canola, etc. Often used in restaurant foods, and processed and packaged foods)
Wait a second…No yogurt? No whole wheat bread or brown rice? No sugar-free ice cream? No edamame or peanut butter?!
Although the foods on the Paleo diet’s “Don’t Eat” list make up the majority of most modern day Westerners’ diets (fun fact: 80% of foods sold in the grocery store contain these ingredients), the Paleolithic diet template is founded on the belief that optimal human health is a byproduct of living in accordance to our ancestral genes.
True, there are exceptions (like coconut flour tortillas and paleo cookies that we will discuss below), but as a whole, Paleo-friendly foods are foods humans thrived upon for thousands of years (before McDonald’s happened).
Science backs this up.
The Science Behind the Paleo Diet
Although it may seem like a no-brainer that eating a balanced diet rich in natural, fresh foods (like veggies, fruits, sustainable animal meats, some starchy plants, leaves, anti-inflammatory fatty acids and oils, nuts and seeds) improves health, research proves that “going Paleo” is one of the healthiest lifestyles and diets that modern humans can adopt.
Benefits of the Paleo Diet
- Improves Your Metabolism. A 2015 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Manheimer et al, 2015) concluded that a Paleolithic diet decreases the markers of metabolic syndrome, as seen in diabetes, including waist circumference, fasting blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Reduces Inflammation. These results echo an analysis in the Journal of Diabetes and Science Technology (Klonoff, 2009), where results from 11 different studies showed a significant reduction in inflammation, particularly Type II Diabetes and Heart Disease markers.
- Extends Longevity. A Paleolithic diet has also been shown to enhance longevity. One study in the Journal of Nutrition (Whalen et al, 2017 ) followed over 21,000 men and women over age 45, finding that those who followed either a Paleo or Mediterranean diet lived longer.
- Your Vitality. Even healthy individuals (without disease or in their later stages of life) have shown benefits from following a Paleo template. A study of 14 healthy volunteers (Österdahl et al, 2008) found that all participants experienced enhanced blood sugar regulation, an increase in vitamin and mineral status, decreased inflammation and weight, and lowered blood pressure.
- Your Fitness. Beyond food, research confirms (Pontzer et al, 2017) that the Paleo diet gives way to a more active lifestyle. Those that eat according to a Paleo template, similar to hunter-gatherer populations, are much more active than the average Westerner, stereotyped by sedentary lifestyl, as well as higher rate in obesity and disease overall.
- Your Gut Health. A critical review(Valle G et al, 2017 ) evaluating paleo’s effect on the human gut microbiome in both hunter-gatherers and modern adherents concluded that a paleolithic template is connected to enhancing healthier and more diverse gut bacteria, as opposed to those that follow the Standard American Diets (Conlon & Bird, 2014).Why does this matter? You gut microbiome is made up of trillions of bacteria (both good and bad) that has a major influence on your metabolism, hormones, digestion, immune system and mood.
The bottom line: The Paleo diet includes numerous benefits for your health and wellness that stems back to the beginning of time, when humans were, well…human.
Being Human: Paleo is More Than a Diet
The “Paleo diet” is most often referred to as a “healthy eating” food prescription or weight loss plan.
However, the Paleo diet is so much more than modern culture’s definition of diet (often focused on weight loss, calorie counting, macronutrients and restrictive eating).
We here at Paleo f(x)™ recognize that “Paleo” actually means: A way of life. (In fact, did you know that the original form of the word “diet,” dieta, means “a way of life?”)
The Paleo diet is a “way of life,” or lifestyle, built on the way that we as humans were intended to live.
The Paleo Diet: Beyond Diet & Weight Loss
A Paleo diet (ie. lifestyle) not only includes real food (proteins, veggies fruits and healthy fats), but it also encourages:
- Eating high-quality, sustainable, seasonal, nutrient-dense foods(i.e. organic and pastured meats, non-GMO seasonal produce, raw soaked nuts and seeds, non-rancid fats and oils)
- Hydrating with clean, spring or reverse-osmosis water
- Integrating activity, play and primal, functional movement (ie. squats, pushes, pulls, mobility, lunging, walking, etc.)and exercise (ie. strength training, sprints, aerobic endurance) into your daily lifestyle
- Restoring energy through rest, leisure and quality sleep
- Connecting(ie. spiritual connection, community connection, fostering bonds and relationships, love, connecting to your passions)
- Maintaining awareness(ie. mentally and emotionally)
- Financial health and stability (ie. Stewarding your resources and finances, minimalism, only using what you need; not wasteful; giving back)
- Using technology mindfully
A Paleo diet or way of life is about you thriving in all aspects of your health and life!
So why aren’t we thriving?!
A Brief History of the Paleo Diet
If Paleo has been the “way of life” for humans throughout millenia, how did humanity lose its way in the first place? How did frozen dinners, McDonald’s hamburgers and Quest Bars happen?
One word: Technology.
We (modern humans) can trace our lineage back some 60 million years.
Our oldest ancestors subsisted on fruit, leaves, and insects, just as primates do today. They also scavenged the leftovers of kills made by the meat-eating predators of that time.
Then everything changed…
Roughly 2.6 million years ago, things began to change: the Paleolithic Era began. The “Paleo Era” was marked by physiological adaptations, such as the opposable thumb, a decreased digestive tract and increased brain size.
What else happen? Fire and crude stone tools (ie. weapons and cutlery).
These new, positive “technologies” gave rise to neweating patterns, and what we consider today as the Paleo: As humans discovered how to use fire for cooking, and crude stone tools (for killing prey and carving food), they were able to eat even more foods.
As a result of consuming higher quantities of nutrition, humans’ brains grew larger, they ate more variety, and they developed an external digestive system that made eating enough easier.
These evolutionary changes led to the formation of the “hunter gatherer” culture (humans began forming tribes). The more humans began hunting, foraging, cooking and fellowshiping (over food) together, they relied on one another for survival and found connection in community.
So how did we get so far away from “Paleo,” if “Paleo” was how humans lived for years?
Meet the Agricultural Revolution.
The Dawn of the Agricultural Revolution
Civilization (as we currently know it) began moving away from our Paleolithic roots with the dawn of the Agricultural Revolution 10,000 years ago. This era introduced the concept of farming land on a large scale, foreshadowing our processed food industry in the coming Industrial Revolution.
The Agricultural Revolution entailed new practices for:
- Gathering and planting seeds
- “Nurturing” (and de-mineralizing) the soil
- Breeding plants
- Storing crops (i.e. packaging)
- Processing plants to maximize digestibility
- Domesticating and breeding animals
- Eating and growing foods out of season
- Less hunting and foraging; more farming
Although the wide-availability of foods and expansion of farming practices seems like a good thing, the Agricultural Revolution also may be considered our revolution in becoming anti-human.
The Industrial Revolution
On the tails of the Agricultural Revolution, the official “anti-human” diet began in the late 18th century (late 1700s) with the Industrial Revolution, the overturning of the way humans lived (forevermore).
The Industrial Revolution took people out of their predominantly farm-based and rural societies, introducing new manufacturing technologies and the “food processing” industry producing more convenient food options gradually over time.
Once the Industrial Revolution was in full swing with Wonder Bread, Twinkies, pasteurized milk, and eventually, Stouffer’s Lasagna and Kraft mac & cheese, “Paleo” (real food), as we know it was far gone (at least in our Western culture society).
The Death of the Paleo Diet
By the 21st century, Americans now consume:
- Little to no vegetables (only 1 in 10 Americans eats the minimum veggie recommendation 3 or more servings every day)
- More than 54 gallons of carbonated soft drinks each year per person
- 75 McDonald’s hamburgers every second
- Three pounds of sugar every week per person (In 1900, individuals consumed 10 pounds of sugar every year)
- And more food out at restaurants than home cooked meals (1, 2)
The Paleo Diet: A Re-Revolution
Unfortunately, along with these eating statistics, the Western world’s disease epidemic also continues to be on the rise:
- Today, more than one in two adults and nearly one in six children are overweight or obese in developed countries
- Nearly one in three adults and children have diabetes
- One in three Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime
- One in four people will die from heart disease
- And one in five Americans suffer from chronic anxiety
Enter: the Paleo Re-Revolution–bringing the healthy Paleo “way of life” back to the mainstream.
As disease grows, and more Westerners wise up to the fact that something is not working with our Standard American Diet and modern sedentary lifestyles, the Paleo diet has witnessed a resurgence over the past 100 years.
The Modern Day Paleo Diet: Milestones
Although this “re-revolution” is still in its infancy, here are some milestones:
- 1939: Weston Price writes Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, A Comparison of Primitive and Modern Diets and Their Effects, showing evidence that hunter-gatherers lead healthier lives
- 1975: Gastroenterologist Walter L Voegtlin coins the term “paleo diet” in his book The Stone Age Diet.
- 1983: Pottenger’s Cats Study Released. A study that revealed the positive health outcomes of eating a real-food based diet four generations later, and evidence that processed and refined foods lead to degeneration.
- 1985: Boyd Eaton and Melvin Konner publish Paleolithic Nutrition — A Consideration of Its Nature and Current Implications, The New England Journal of Medicine, hinting at the positives of Paleo.
- 1988: Publication of The Paleolithic Prescription, an early work proposing the environmental mismatch/dis-ordinance theory, suggesting that chronic disease results from a mismatch with our ancestral genes
- 1994: Dr. Staffan Lindeberg studies the Kitavans and their health, stemming from Paleolithic lifestyles.
- 2000: Loren Cordain releases his popular book The Paleo Diet, creating a boom of interest in adopting Paleo as a “diet.”
- 2000: Art DeVany writes “Evolutionary Fitness” hinting at Paleolithic movement and fitness as “the way” for enhancing fitness metrics.
- 2007: Gary Taubes releases Good Calories, Bad Calories, hinting at the quality of food mattering more than the quantity )
- 2010: Robb Wolf writes the best-seller The Paleo Solution further spearheading Paleo as a “diet” approach in modern day
- 2011: Inaugural Ancestral Health Symposium launches in Los Angeles, Calif. as a conference for Paleolithic and Ancestral health leaders and researchers to meet and exchange ideas.
- 2012: Inaugural Paleo f(x) conference in Austin, Texas, uniting Paleo advocates, thought-leaders, researchers and explorers to come discuss and shape the movement of the total Paleo lifestyle
- 2018: Paleo f(x) is bigger and better than ever in Austin, Texas. Today the conference welcomes more than 7,000 people from around the world, continuing to spearhead and revolutionize Paleo to get back to meaning a “way of life” (not just a list of diet rules).
Joining the “Revolution”: Should You Go Paleo?
So should you go Paleo?
If you want to rewire your genes and get back to being human, the Paleo way of life is the ultimate human diet (no juice cleanses or treadmills required).
If you’re interested in adopting a Paleo lifestyle for yourself, here’s what it looks like in action.
How to Do It: a Paleo Diet in Action
Step 1: Eat Real Food
Put simply, emphasize whole, minimally processed foods, and avoid heavily processed choices.
Can you hunt, fish, or trap it? Can you pull it from the ground, or pick it from a tree? If the answer is yes, then you’re on the right track.
Now, that’s fine and dandy if you live off the grid. But what if you’re like the rest of us? Happy (well, kinda) humans living and loving in the modern zoo. Urbanites, suburbanites, and those in rural communities? Well, let’s look a little closer, because a Paleo diet works for you folks too.
Think farmers market. Think perimeter of the supermarket – produce, meat, seafood, and eggs.
For further clarification, here’s a brief review of your Paleo food list:
These provide micronutrients, fiber, bulk, and variety to your diet. Examples:
- Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and chard
- Cruciferous vegetables like brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower
- Mushrooms and fungi
Meat, fish, fowl, eggs
- Appropriate quantities of these provide protein and fat-soluble vitamins.
- The best options are 100% grass-fed meat, wild-caught fish, and pasture raised fowl. These are going to be the most nutrient-dense varieties.
- Pastured Eggs
- For fat-soluble vitamins and hormonal health.
- Nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut, animal fat from healthy animals (grass-fed beef tallow, grass-fed butter, ghee, etc.), extra virgin olive oil
Herbs and Spices
- These provide flavor, variety, and micronutrition to meals.
- Nearly any and all qualify here – salt, pepper, basil, oregano, rosemary, chili powders, cinnamon, cumin…no additives, sweeteners or fillers.
Roots and Tubers
- Intake varies based on your activity level, but these starches replace grains. On average 1 to 2 servings per day is appropriate for most people, with more if highly active. Some choices include yams and sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, yucca, plantains and winter squashes.
- Most people do well with 1 or 3 servings per day, unless they’re severely metabolically broken.
Bone Broths and Fermented Foods
- Great for gut health and digestion. Some of our favorite fermented food sources include kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, kefir and kombucha.
Don’t eat this (red light):
- Dairy (conventional)
- Grains (including corn, oats, breads, pastas, rice, quinoa)
- Most Processed & Refined Foods (80% of foods in the grocery store are processed, man-made foods)
- Sugar & Artificial Sweeteners (including sugar, high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, honey, agave, brown rice syrup, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, stevia, etc.)
- Beans & Legumes (including peanuts)
- Processed sauces and seasonings. Soy sauce, tamari, and other processed seasonings and sauces (which often have sugar, soy, gluten, or all of the above).
- Soda & Diet Soda
- Hydrogenated Oils & Seed Oils (Soybean, corn, grapeseed, safflower, sunflower, cottonseed, canola, etc. Often used in restaurant foods and processed and packaged foods)
Gray Area Foods; Eat in Moderation (yellow light):
“Gray area” foods are the foods that some can tolerate well, and others can’t at all. The amounts you consume of these foods may also vary depending on your current health status, health goals, nutrient needs, gut health status and lifestyle.
- Processed meat.
- Whole Fruit.
- Raw Nuts and Seeds.
- Green Beans & Peas.
- Coffee & Black Tea.
- Grass-fed Dairy.
- Dark Chocolate.
- Vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is especially well tolerated.
- Restaurant Food.
- Processed & Packaged Foods. “Paleo” bars, shakes, crackers, cookies, etc.
- Paleo Baked Goods
- Paleo Flours (Coconut, Cassava, Almond, etc.)
- Natural Sweeteners. Honey. Maple Syrup. Blackstrap Molasses.
- White Rice and White Potatoes
- Beans. Soaked and sprouted
Various Paleo Diet Types & Approaches
Once you’ve got the nuts and bolts squared away, you may benefit from a slightly varied version of a Paleo, template.
From “Primal,” to Ketogenic to Bulletproof to Autoimmune Protocol and beyond, there are tons of “tweaks” many people make to the Paleolithic foundation, based upon their bio-individualized goals and health.
What’s the difference? Aren’t they all just like Atkins or something? Not quite! Here’s a brief overview of some common varieties of Paleo:
What we have described above. Based around evolutionary biology and food quality above all. Example: Loren Cordain’s The Paleo Diet
Mark Sisson’s approach to Paleo. Includes a little more wiggle room for indulgences like alcohol, dark chocolate, and dairy. Check out The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson.
The Keto Diet (or Keto-Paleo)
A low-carbohydrate, higher-fat diet designed to teach the body to efficiently metabolize fat. Puts greater emphasis on food quantity than food quality, as reducing carbohydrates while upping fat intake is the primary goal of the ketogenic diet.
FAQ: What about Atkins?
Atkins is indeed a low-carbohydrate diet. The difference is in terms of food quality; there are tons of highly processed foods like bars and shakes that are Atkins approved but certainly not Paleo approved.
Primarily aimed at reducing inflammation, balancing blood sugar and hormones, and increasing cognitive performance, all achieved by improving fat metabolism. Based around the popular “Bulletproof Coffee.” Bulletproof differs from Paleo because of its emphasis on “Bulletproof” supplements and shunning of higher carbohydrate foods like fruit and tubers. The Bulletproof Diet lies somewhere between Keto and Paleo. Check out The Bulletproof Diet by Dave Asprey.
A very strict 30 day elimination diet founded on Paleo principles, the goal of which is to fight food addiction and help identify problematic foods on an individual level. Promotes whole, real foods, shuns all processed foods, including those made with “Paleo” ingredients. Check out the books It Starts With Food and The Whole30 by Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig for more information.
CrossFit Paleo Diet
Largely Paleo, with a little more added carbohydrate from some “non-Paleo” sources like oats, rice, and potatoes. Also includes supplements in the form of pre, intra, and post-workout performance aids. The typical CrossFit diet is focused more around performance than longevity, though this doesn’t apply to all CrossFit athletes.
Slow-Carb (by Tim Ferris)
Paleo minus starch and fruit plus beans. Meals are based around lean meats, vegetables, healthy fats, and beans. Different than Paleo, Slow-Carb shuns tubers and fruits because of their carbohydrate content and potential effect on blood sugar.
Fasting for a predetermined period of time, shortening the eating window. Popular IF protocols include daily 16 hour fasts with 8 hour feeding windows, or weekly 24 hour fasts. Less of a “diet,” more of a philosophy. You can combine damn near any diet with a practice of intermittent fasting, be it Paleo, Primal, vegan, vegetarian, Bulletproof, Standard American, or anything between.
Integrating The Paleo Lifestyle Beyond Food
Now with your food squared away, here are other ways to take the “Paleo plunge” outside the common definition of “diet:” lifestyle.
Optimal fitness is a huge component of the Paleo lifestyle. As mentioned earlier, the need to move is woven into our DNA. This doesn’t mean you have to become a professional athlete; the goal is simply to be active. What does that look like?
- Lots of low level activity. Walking is the classic example here. Our ancestors walked…a lot, and we’re built to do the same.
- Changing positions and favoring movement throughout the day. If you’re used to sitting at a desk for work, try standing. Rest in a deep squat when you can, hang from anything that is safe and can support your weight. Greater movement variety will develop greater mobility in a greater amount of positions, making you healthier overall.
- Bouts of high intensity training as your schedule and recovery allows. This is what people typically think of as fitness – strength training, sprinting, running, CrossFit, any type of structured fitness program falls here. Pay attention to your recovery – make sure you’re not exercising more than you can recover from. Some people can train two times a day six days per week, some manage twice a week before burning out. Respect your level and do what you can manage.
- Play. Make sure movement is FUN. Ultimately, the “best” training routine is the one you’re most likely to stick to. Find something you enjoy, that you look forward to, and that you can do consistently. That’s where you’ll find your ideal fitness training.
- Stay out of the “middle intensity” zone. That is to say, walking and sprinting are in, jogging is out. The same intensity idea should be applied to any exercise modality.
Sleep and Recovery
Sleep is vital to good health, and you need more. Period. 7 hours a night is a bare minimum, 8-9 is ideal. You may think you can get away with less, but even short-term sleep deprivation carries some awful consequences for human health. A few top tips:
- Sleep in a fully dark, cool room. Blackout shades might be a good investment, depending on where you live.
- Getting sunshine throughout the day will keep your circadian rhythm healthy.
- Avoid electronics at night. Electronics emit blue light that messes with the production of melatonin, a hormone that’s necessary for sleep. Blue blockers are your friend!
Tribe, Connection, and Close Personal Relationships
This is an item that can go overlooked even in the healthiest circles. We are social animals – tribe keeps the body and mind healthy. We need a team and support system. What does tribe look like?
- Join a small gym like a CrossFit box or martial arts academy. These places have a tendency to breed community through a shared desire for self-improvement.
- Get connected with a Paleo meetup group, or start your own! Most major cities will have some kind of Paleo group that meets to discuss food, fitness, health, and longevity. See if there’s one in your area!
- Spend more time fostering your close, personal relationships. These relationships have arguably suffered the most in our modern environment. There are many theories for why this is, but probably the most compelling is the FOMO or “next best thing” idea.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, Vitamin D deficiency AND Circadian Rhythm disruption are real. Fight them by:
- Getting 30-60 minutes of sunshine or fresh air per day.
- Opening blinds to windows in doors.
- Turning off screens at night time and eliminating artificial light exposure as much as possible.
- Support sustainability and permaculture farming practices.
- Eat as close to the earth (in-season, local, etc.) as possible.
- Take breaks from your computer, desk and to-dos to pause, look up and take a deep breath (of fresh air) in.
Stress is the enemy and number one driver of all disease—mentally and physically. Fight it by:
- Detoxifying your home. Ridding of plastics and toxic cleaning and beauty products.
- Sharing openly and honestly. Not bottling up emotions inside.
- Adequate rest, nature, clean water, movement and quality food (previously discussed)
- Doing things you love.
- Just saying “no” and avoiding over-commitment.
Stewardship (Financial Stability & Independence)
Financial stability is Paleo? Indeed it is.
- Economies are woven into the very fabric of modern society.
- Just as our ancestors had to contend with the unpredictability of the elements, you have to navigate highly unpredictable economic forces.
- To learn more, check out The Last Safe Investment – this is the best book you’ll ever read on the subject
Lastly, part of the Paleo lifestyle is a sustained practice of mindfulness, spirituality, meditation, giving, gratitude, and connecting with nature. This encourages mental health and well-being, and inspires a more positive outlook on life. And yes, happiness is Paleo!
How Do I Get Started?
Getting started with Paleo is simple. All you have to do? Get back to being human—the way your genes were wired to live. If you want to take the plunge, here’s your 4 step game plan:
Step 1: Try a 30 day Paleo reset.
- Prioritize real food and clean water for those 30 days
- Use these Easy Paleo Recipes to cook meals at home
- Incorporate daily movement, 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night and intentional time spent with other people and doing things you love
See how you look, feel, and perform
Assess from there: is something missing? Do I need to do more? Or maybe do less? Find the approach that works for you, be it Paleo, Primal, Keto, or otherwise
Attend Paleo f(x)™ and take it to the next level
Here are some of our favorite Paleo “101” type resources to help you on your journey:
Robb Wolf’s masterpiece. Considered by many to be the bible of the Paleo diet. Contains all the whys and hows behind the diet.
This counterpart to The Paleo Solution is focused on finding individual differences in dietary needs through some very basic self-science. Contains a 30-Day Reset to get you on the path to health, and guidelines to a 7-Day Carb Test to determine what varieties and quantities of carbohydrate work for you.
Mark Sisson’s approach to Paleo. Contains tons of information on diet, but almost more importantly, a ton of important lifestyle tips like how to get more movement and sunshine.
Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig’s simple 30-day plan to reset your metabolism and reestablish a healthy relationship with your food.
Our online TV service that contains all filmed sessions from 5 years of Paleo f(x)™. Lots of Paleo 101 talks, and several more specialized conversations, should you choose to follow any of those rabbit holes.
- Paleo f(x)™ – The annual Paleo conference event in Austin, Texas every spring.
Get it? Got it? Good!
The bottom line: Keep it simple.
Although the question, “What is Paleo?” may seem like it opens a can of worms, you can’t go wrong with simply being human and living as you (and your body) were intended.
About the Author:
Dr. Lauryn Lax is a Doctor of Occupational Therapy, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Functional Medicine Practitioner, author and speaker, with over 20 years of clinical and personal experience specializing in gut health, intuitive eating, food freedom, anxiety, hormone balance and women’s health. She is also a published journalist, and her work has been featured in Oxygen Magazine, Women’s Health, Paleo Magazine, Breaking Muscle, CrossFit Inc, USA Today, ABC and CBS News. She operates a virtual Functional Medicine & Nutrition practice, Thrive Wellness & Recovery, LLC, working with clients around the world to reinvent the way their body looks, moves and feels.