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Posted on 02-21-2017

With American Heart Month ending, I thought it would be a great idea to share some information about a popular nutritional lifestyle sweeping the nation. Have you heard any of your friends or family saying they are eating paleo now? Did you wonder what they meant? The paleo diet is much more than the “caveman diet” nickname it is given. Following a paleo diet has been shown to balance blood glucose levels, helps you feel satiated for longer, help prevent heart disease and cancer, helps relieve symptoms associated with digestive issues, gives you more energy and usually results in weight loss. Did I mention, unlike fads, these are long term effects?

If I had to describe the paleo diet in one sentence, I would describe it as a diet that focuses on individuals eating whole foods and avoiding foods that are overly processed. Did you know most grains are processed? That means cereal, pasta, vegetable oil, dairy products, most alcohol, and juice should be avoided when eating paleo. A simple trick to know if a food is okay to eat is to ask yourself if it came in a box, jar, or bag? If so, these foods probably aren’t on the paleo diet nutritional plan. If you’re like me you must be thinking, “No pasta, forget it!” I have been there too but once I learned about the foods you can eat while eating paleo, I realized it isn’t as daunting as I believed.

Anything that is plucked straight from the earth is on the paleo diet- fruits, vegetables, and fresh meat. However, this does not include canned fruit and veggies or meat that is coated in flour and bread crumbs. Eating paleo means eating foods in their purest forms. Eating organic and avoiding pesticides, antibiotics, and other chemicals is the goal of the paleo diet. Do the best you can when following this diet plan, it can get expensive. If you can’t afford to go completely organic, write down a list of the food you typically eat during the week. Try to buy the organic alternative of the foods you eat the most. Take baby steps and allow yourself to adapt to these changes. It won’t happen overnight.

A surprising yet alarming fact about processed food is that they are addicting. When you eat processed foods, your body will begin producing vast amounts of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is also known as the pleasure neurotransmitter. As you eat processed food your body will begin to produce increasingly more dopamine. This will result in you craving the junk food even more. That is why you may randomly get craving for “cake” or “pizza” because your body is having withdrawals! Once you eat these foods, you may notice bloating in your stomach. Did you know that eating processed foods is also linked to chronic inflammation and digestive issues? This may be the cause of discomfort after eating meals! All the vitamins and minerals within these foods were removed when they were processed, so your body is ingesting empty calories. Why waste calories on food that won’t fuel your body?

In my opinion, one of the greatest requirements of the paleo diet is exercise. Unfortunately, it has become public knowledge that Americans spend more time sitting than exercising. According to a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, Americans aged 18-64 spend over 17 hours a week watching television and only 1.9 hours a week exercising. Many people spend their days in an office staring at a computer screen only to come home and watch television. Our bodies weren’t meant to be this sedentary, our bodies need movement to stay healthy and strong. By following the paleo diet, you are not only choosing an improved nutritional path but you are dedicating yourself to a healthier lifestyle. Food is the fuel used to transform your body and mind into positive sources of wellness.

All this information may be overwhelming but remember that you can take small steps. Making one positive change is better than no change at all! I have compiled a list of foods that are allowed on this diet, and it isn’t just meat!

What is allowed on the paleo diet?

Poultry • Turkey • Chicken Breast • Pork Tenderloin • Pork Chops • Steak • Bacon • Pork • Ground Beef • Grass Fed Beef • Chicken Thigh • Chicken Leg • Chicken Wings • Lamb rack • Shrimp • Lobster • Clams • Salmon • Venison Steaks • Buffalo • New York Steak • Lamb Chops • Rabbit • Goat • Bear •  Eggs (duck, chicken or goose) •  Asparagus • Avocado • Artichoke hearts • Brussels sprouts • Carrots • Spinach • Celery • Broccoli • Zucchini • Cabbage • Peppers • Cauliflower • Parsley • Eggplant • Green Onions  • Butternut Squash • Acorn Squash • Yam • Sweet Potato • Beets •  Coconut oil • Olive oil • Macadamia Oil • Avocado Oil • Grass fed Butter • Almonds • Cashews • Hazelnuts • Pecans • Pine Nuts • Pumpkin Seeds • Sunflower Seeds • Macadamia Nut • Walnuts • Apple • Avocado • Blackberries • Papaya • Peaches • Plums • Mango • Lychee • Blueberries • Grapes • Lemon • Strawberries • Watermelon • Pineapple Guava • Lime • Raspberries • Cantaloupe • Tangerine • Figs • Oranges • Bananas

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