The Basics of Paleo Living

We have to start somewhere, so let’s start with food. You’ve heard about the Paleo diet, the caveman diet, the ancestral diet. These are the catchy names people have come up with to describe a natural diet our ancestors ate before there were hot pockets, french fries, and whole wheat bread.

There’s debate inside the “Paleo community” about what is and is not Paleo. We can agree on one thing, there was no such thing as a Paleo diet. The food we ate 10,000 years ago was based on availability and technology. In other words, we ate what we could pick or kill. We ate seasonally. If your ancestors came from Northern Europe, they didn’t eat much grapefruit, and if they came from East Asia, they didn’t eat any artichokes. So the diet was as varied as the geography.

In a nutshell, most Paleo dieters agree on a few things (though there is still plenty of debates within these accepted basics).

  1. Only eat whole foods. Processing is taboo.
  2. Avoid all grains. Here’s a great summary of why to avoid any and all grains, including those miraculous whole grains that cure cancer and are essential for health and are available in fruit loops.
  3. Avoid dairy. There’s a good bit of disagreement on this one, but some level heads as well.
  4. Eat a lot of meat and veggies, eat fruit sparingly.
  5. Drink water.

We’ll dive a little deeper in future posts.

After eating, what else is there? Well for the other 22 hours in your day,re a prescription of sorts for Paleo living. Big picture, we’ll look at two big categories, waking and sleeping.

This is where it gets super simple (and still prone to much debate). We can’t make a hard and fast rule, since just like food, how your ancestors lived depended on their climate and geography. But here’s some generally accepted themes that qualify the waking ancestral lifestyle.

  1. Move a lot. Be in motion. Think back before easy chairs, before escalators, before horse and buggy. People walked all the time. Here’s where I put in the link that describes the dangers of sitting. Seems a bit like paranoia, but still, there’s something to the idea that we weren’t made to sit down all day staring at a screen.
  2. Work with heavy stuff. Move those big rocks and make a firepit, haul that carcass on your back for 5 miles, chop down some trees for fuel. Or you know, go to the gym and lift heavy weights. Remember, your folks didn’t eat unless they killed or picked. All you got to do is pick a number 3 value meal and kill it in your front seat.

When it comes to sleeping, there’s really only two things to focus on.

  1. Get enough sleep. If you are well rested, your body works better. If you are not getting adequate rest, your body hates you.
  2. Sleep in the dark. This is a modern ah-ha, since for a long time people didn’t have to worry about sleeping in anything other than darkness. But more studies are showing the benefits of sleeping in deep darkness, and limiting the amount of light stimulation you get before retiring for the evening.

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