Written by Amanda Donohue, blogger and student pursuing an M.S. in clinical nutrition
The media is often inundated with information on the latest and greatest diets, leaving most of us lost and without guidance on what route we should take. While these new and emerging diets come with their own benefits, people are opting to go back to the way of eating that mirrors what our early ancestors consumed.
It is through the Paleo diet that we revive this ancestral way of eating as it aligns with what is available — and has always been available — in nature. It is a way of eating that consists primarily of produce, animal products, and nuts, and that removes disease-causing processed or genetically modified foods that we so often overly consume and that we may not yet be evolved to properly metabolize and digest or that come with minimal health benefits.
What is the Paleo diet?
The Paleo diet, short for Paleolithic, is a dietary plan based on foods similar to what might have been eaten during the Paleolithic era, which dates from approximately 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago.
A Paleo diet typically includes foods that could be obtained by hunting and gathering. A Paleo diet limits food that became common when farming emerged about 10,000 years ago, like dairy products and legumes.
Other names for a Paleo diet include Paleolithic diet, Stone Age diet, hunter-gatherer diet, and caveman diet.
What foods are eaten on a Paleo diet?
- Grass-fed, pastured-raised, hormone- and antibiotic-free meats, such as chicken, turkey, pork, lean beef, and buffalo (bison)
- Wild caught seafood
- Fresh fruit
- Vegetables, such as lettuce, asparagus, green beans, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and spinach
- Nuts, like almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans, and pistachios (no peanuts)
- Seeds, like pumpkin and sunflower
- Plant-based oils, such as olive, walnut, grapeseed, and coconut oil
- Herbs and spices (with no additives)
A paleo diet has no grains, dairy, beans, or legumes or foods with any refined sugars, vegetable oils, or table salt. Refined, hydrogenated, and processed foods should be omitted entirely as well.
What are the known health benefits of the Paleo Diet?
A number of randomized clinical trials have compared the Paleo diet to other eating plans, such as the Mediterranean Diet or the Diabetes Diet. Overall, these trials suggest that a Paleo diet may provide some benefits when compared with diets of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, legumes and low-fat dairy products.
These benefits may include:
- Weight loss
- Improved glucose tolerance
- Better blood pressure control
- Lower triglycerides
- Better appetite management
Paleo diet is also a great option for those who practice a gluten-free or dairy-free lifestyle since grains and dairy products are avoided and not a component in any of the evolving Paleo meal prep options, created by CavemanChef.
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