Julie at Paleo f(x) in 2015 with Robb Wolf (left) and Chris Kresser (right)
Here at Fox Hill Kitchens we are enjoying the beautiful spring weather in Vermont while busily gearing up for this year’s Paleo f(x) 2016 gathering in Austin, Texas. Paleo f(x) is the place to be for seeing all the best paleo authors, speakers, newest products, and inspiration. Ideas of what the paleo lifestyle means are moving far beyond the concept of living and eating like our cave-dwelling ancestors. There are many simple changes we can incorporate into our daily routines that can contribute to our well-being. From getting outside for fresh air and sunshine during the work day to standing, walking and stretching—moving more often, sometimes vigorously, to getting enough sleep and play—working mindfully with the stresses of modern life to celebrating with friends and loved ones. And of course, eliminating foods from our diets that make us ill.
There is no set, prescribed diet that works for everyone, but the basic guidelines that define the paleo diet are pretty much agreed upon: Neolithic or modern foods that were not consumed in any significant quantity but that have become staples in the modern diet are eliminated as much as possible (at least the ones that tend to be problematic). The most obvious of these are wheat and other grains, legumes, sugars, and concentrated, refined carbohydrates. Less obvious and often harder to detect are vegetable and seed oils—particularly corn, soy, and canola—that end up in many processed foods. Meat, poultry, eggs, and fish that are wild or raised naturally are preferred, since they have a significantly more healthy fat profile. This means grass-fed and pasture-raised, as opposed to confined and grain-fed.
The paleo diet also includes adding more vegetables and fruits. Many paleo dieters consume a tremendous quantity of colorful produce, including the wonderful avocado. Nuts are eaten as well.
Grass-fed beef and one of our Awesome Bunz make for a mouthwatering paleo burger!
As a general rule, dairy is eliminated from the paleo diet, but many consider some dairy foods, such as ghee (clarified butter), to be a healthy source of fat without the problematic sugars and proteins found in other dairy products. This is where the lines get fuzzy and disagreements arise. There are many paleo dieters who feel fine consuming goat cheese, coffee, or chocolate. On the other hand, some consider any kind of baked goods to be processed food and therefore verboten. There are differing opinions about quite a few other foods and ingredients.
Some professionals in the field have carefully studied certain modern foods that were clearly not consumed by early humans, but clearly have health benefits that far outweigh any dogma about what is paleo. Others disagree, and sometimes foods widely considered to be paleo-friendly will be deemed as “not paleo” by an expert.
One thing that we can be pretty certain about is that many of the illnesses that afflict modern humans were virtually nonexistent in earlier times. Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, tooth decay, celiac and other autoimmune diseases can all improve or be avoided with positive changes to our lifestyle.
So how should someone trying to find health through a paleo lifestyle navigate the conflicting opinions within the community? Our advice is don’t stress. Many people are constantly making adjustments to their diets and seeing how they feel. Any effort that seems to be moving your health in the right direction should be celebrated.
Remember the diet is only one part of the paleo lifestyle. Relax. Go outside! Have fun!