By Jenn Bruer
The other day a good friend of mine asked, “can we go Paleo and still be vegetarians”? I nearly laughed out-loud because it seemed like a funny oxymoron to me since meat is such a big part of the Paleo diet. I try to never push my beliefs onto others. But here was an opportunity to give some advise.
I suggested to go “Paleo without meat”! Not truly Paleo of course, but that’s okay! Paleo is not supposed to be a box that we need to squeeze into. Frankly, it’s way more about getting OUT of the box we’ve been in! Paleo should be thought of as more of an arrow, an arrow that says “go this way”….the way toward health. Health is fluid and not a straight-forward math equation.
If you want to be more “Paleo” you have to find your own personal “Paleo Style” and it can evolve as you make changes. Let me tell you about MY Paleo Style…
Although I don’t fit into a “box” of health rules, I’ve been on the Paleo/Primal path since Sept 2011. I almost never eat grains; if I do it’s only because it’s a very special occasion and my MIL has violently forced me (okay she doesn’t resort to violence but how can I say “no” to my MIL!). Yes, on occasion I have my mother-in-law’s plum pudding and other traditional gluten-filled treats. When I “cheat” with grains, I am careful to take extra probiotics in the days to follow as I know my gut will have to adjust, and I will also lower my carbohydrate intake for a few days to give my pancreas a rest. This is not something everyone has to do but I personally have signs of insulin resistance (as MANY people do and have NO idea). Signs of insulin resistance can sometimes be, but are not limited to: excessive tummy fat, fatty liver, skin tags, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome PCOS, obesity, adult acne, appearance of dark patches on the skin or “hyper-pigmentation”, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, constant hunger and sugar cravings, etc.
I eat less dairy. I omit cream from my coffee and replace it with coconut milk but I do have a piece of cheese a couple times per week. To be fully Paleo, I should give up dairy all-together and maybe one day I will, to further heal my body and reduce inflammation even more. But for now I choose to include dairy because I tend to go the “low-carb route” and cheese is a good low-carb alternative.
I never eat at fast-food restaurants (don’t get me started).
I try to always remain on the low-carb side of things and focus my diet mainly on low-starch vegetables, good quality fats, and meats. Again this is because of my sugar “issues”. Anyone suffering with excess weight likely has “sugar issues”.
I limit my coffee to one per day, especially since caffeine can be taxing on my adrenals. Ideally, I’d like to have NO coffee and if I get there, great; if not, that’s okay too, because that’s my Paleo Style.
If you haven’t noticed yet, my Paleo Style is pretty down-to-earth because, as a mom feeding a large family, I need to be mindful of my stress levels; stress is a very BAD thing for health. I don’t scream or run with fear from food, I just try to look at every meal as an opportunity to feed my body with building blocks that prevent disease and heal damage from a previous Diet Coke addiction and other crazy things. I never buy or cook with vegetable oil, but if I go out for Wings with my friends, the wings will likely be deep fried in canola oil. But I stay calm about it and eat extra green veggies in the days to follow to detox that Franken-food out of my body.
Anyone attempting to go 100% Paleo will likely fail and then go back to eating 100% SAD (standard american diet), and that’s WAY worse than going “Paleo without meat”!