Eating caveman style
MEAL PLAN EXAMPLE
A standard meal plan for Cody Fleming of CrossFit Junction includes:
Breakfast — scrambled eggs, a sliced avocado and a tomato
Mid-morning snack — beef jerky and nuts
Lunch — leftovers from the night before (a meaty dish), plus a potato or fruit & veggies
Dinner — a meat and a vegetable, and occasionally a starchy carb like potatoes or squash
Fleming noted that carb sources for him are generally fruits and starchy vegetables, and he tries to match up his carb source to his daily level of activity.
For paleo meal ideas, visit http://www.paleomg.com.
PALEO DIET NO-NO’S
Grains — barley, buckwheat, corn, oats, quinoa, rice, wheat, etc.
Legumes — black beans, lentils, garbanzos, peas, peanuts, pinto beans, navy beans, soybeans, etc.
Dairy — cheese, cream, milk, sour cream, yogurt, etc.
Sugar — brown sugar, corn syrup, maple syrup, artificial sweeteners
Certain oils — canola, corn, cottonseed, marbarine, peanut, safflower, sunflower, etc.
Source: Paleo for Dummies book
What is a paleo diet, really?
For most folks, it’s a trendy buzzword evoking funny images of men and women running around in furs, carrying clubs and eating meat off the bone. Stop someone off the street to ask, and they may say, “Isn’t that when people eat, like, raw meat, bugs and seeds?”
Talk to someone who practices a “paleo” diet, however, and they’re more likely to explain it as a movement toward eating whole foods without preservatives and genetic modifications, 8-10 servings of fruits and veggies per day, and getting plenty of exercise.
“Paleo isn’t a diet; it’s a lifestyle,” said Lacey Bouton, 24, of Grand Junction. “And everyone has their own idea about what paleo is.”
To Bouton, keeping a paleo diet means she generally doesn’t eat grain — like wheat, rice, corn, etc. — and she stays away from dairy. Foods she’ll consume daily include meats (beef, chicken, fish, etc.), nuts, plus lots of fruits and vegetables. Basically, it’s food in its most basic form without refined sugars, modified grains and pesticides.
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She also believes a paleo diet jives more with the hunter/gatherer lifestyle earlier humans followed before the agrarian age hit 10,000 years ago, a fact she learned while researching her senior thesis on the evolution of food. Bouton recently graduated from Colorado Mesa University with a degree in biology.
“When you adopt something as a lifestyle, there are always situations where you eat something that’s not paleo,” Bouton noted. “It’s hard to stick to it 100 percent, but you do the best you can.”
Family dinners or vacation often means she bends the rules a little; Bouton really likes sushi with rice, for instance.
“When I make food for myself, I’m never going to put dairy or grains in it,” she said.
Another Grand Junction resident, Joe Sheader, keeps up his paleo diet as a way to stay in tune with his “body’s proper function.” Sheader makes a living creating exercise and food plans through High Mesa Fitness, and he incorporates a “primal diet” into every aspect of his life.
“It’s wanting to align yourself to how your body evolved to function,” Sheader, 53, explained. “It’s incorporating diet with a more minimalist lifestyle, including weight training (with kettle bells, club bells and sandbags) and animal-kinds of movements.
“At a basic level, we’re recognizing that, in a post-industrial world, we’re living out of harmony with how our bodies adapted. We live so differently than what we’re hard-wired for; we suffer disease and impaired health, and a significant part of that is diet. But it’s also how we live our days. We’re not outside as much, our sleep goes against our biorhythms, and we get less exercise.”
That’s why Sheader avoids sugars, grains (especially those containing gluten), and processed foods in favor of free-range meat, organic veggies and fruit, plus good fats (found in avocados and coconut oil, for instance). And he gets plenty of exercise outdoors, not in the gym.
“I avoid all grains as a general rule,” Sheader said, and he thinks soda is as bad as cigarettes with all the additives.
But, Sheader also preaches moderation, not deprivation.
“If my mom, who’s now 92, makes an apple pie, I’m not going to say no,” he said with a smile. “I think wine is OK, too, or even a beer now and then. I don’t like to get too rigid, and I try to avoid fanaticism.”
Sheader also acknowledged that eating a paleo diet is merely mimicking what humans used to eat, and it’s not an exact science.
“I’m not eating bugs and lizards,” he added.
Cody Fleming, a co-owner and coach at CrossFit Junction, also adheres to a “paleo lifestyle” to complement his career in fitness.
“The reason that paleo works so well with CrossFit is that you’re getting nutrient-dense, high-quality food, avoiding anything that’s processed or artificial,” Fleming said. “People eat to better fuel workouts and activities.
“If you eat those types of foods to drive performance up, a secondary result is your form is going to change, too. You’ll lose body fat and increase muscle mass,” with other benefits like lowering cholesterol and better sleep. “Improving performance is my main reason for being on it, but the more you learn about it there are a lot of cascading, positive effects.”
CrossFit is “a high-intensity model” of exercise, Fleming said, which is why a protein-heavy diet is suggested by coaches. “Just about every workout we do is under 30 minutes, and those would be long ones. Most of them are down to 9-12 minutes,” including running, rowing machines, jumping rope, gymnastic movements, using “odd implements, like kettle bells and sandbags,” plus free weights.
And like Bouton, Fleming noted the paleo diet was developed to get back to the basics, similar to what was ingested before the agricultural revolution.
“It gets you to question what you’re eating,” he said. “Do you think it’s better to eat an organically grown potato, or a box of pasta with an ingredient list that’s 30 items long? Obviously, the organic potato is the better choice.”
But, Fleming warned of taking the diet too far, as well — like eating raw meat, too much meat, or only eating fruit in June and July.
“That’s going overboard,” he said.
WANT TO GO PALEO?
When shopping for paleo meals, Rachael Rudolph, a certified nutritional consultant with Grand Junction’s Rimrock Chiropractic, suggests cutting out the whole middle of the grocery store. Instead, she says folks should stick to the edges of the supermarket when choosing meals.
“It actually takes me half the time to shop, which is wonderful,” Rudolph noted.
She also stressed that keeping a paleo diet isn’t about eating tons of meat; rather, it’s about eating food from healthy animals, and going organic as much as possible.
“It depends and varies on what individuals decide is best for their overall health and lifestyle,” Rudolph noted, which may mean including certain foods with dairy or grains in moderation, depending on the person.
And though it may be hard to live a paleo lifestyle, especially with young children, for more success Rudolph suggests variation in recipes and allotting time for home cooking.
“It’s a lifestyle change that we’re going for,” she said, with balanced, primarily organic meals being the end goal.
Dr. Scott Rollins, a Grand Junction physician specializing in complex medical conditions, suggests that folks interested in going paleo eat “lots and lots of fruits and veggies with limited amounts of lean meat — preferably fish or venison or at least grass-finished if (eating) beef (or) poultry.”
And though Rollins said many doctors still support a diet with lots of grains, he has long disagreed with that.
“Minimize grains, I say,” he noted.
Living a “paleo lifestyle” does comes with specific challenges, however.
Traveling can be a huge issue, as snacks and meals along the way are often processed and laden with no-no ingredients.
Packing food for car trips is the best way to stay on track, Sheader said.
Plus, food costs tend to go up when buying organic produce and meats.
To combat rising prices at the supermarket, Fleming suggests always buying meat on special, then figuring out how to prepare it.
Eating out in social settings can be difficult as well. That’s why everyone questioned said a little indulgence now and then isn’t the end of the world.
“I think most people who follow a healthy diet have some moderation about it,” Rollins said. “I subscribe to the 90/10 rule — eat really healthy 90 percent of the time, then don’t feel bad when you miss that 10 percent. Enjoy it.”
And when asked to sum up what living paleo means to her, Rudolph said: “It’s about eating wisely to nourish yourself, not eating blindly to fill your stomach.”
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