Progression to Paleo: Evolution Step II


Fitch's Corner lets you Pick Your Own. By Leslie Why Reap

Hello my tall, speedy, well rested readers!   How are we doing with Step 1 of the Nutritional Evolution?  21 days have elapsed.  Are you in charge?  Consuming your veggies, fruits, water and real?  Shunning the refined and packaged nastiness containing HFCS, Polyunsaturated Fats (PUFAS), and other unrecognizables?   Excellent!  I deem you ready to tackle Step 2.   You are going to focus on high quality foods with nutrient density (think yams not grains) and in some cases energy density (think good fats not baked goods) while steering clear of those center grocery aisles.

One newly acquired pearl of wisdom from the author (that’s me!)…remember that we all have varying abilities to handle higher protein/“good” fat diets.  Just because a 40 year old, 150 lb male can eat 6 ounces of protein and a nice dose of fat at every meal and successfully go Paleo overnight, does not mean that everyone can.  So please proceed with your head attached to your shoulders (I’ve earned the right to say that) and be smart about this transition.   Check in with yourself after each meal and throughout the day.  How is my energy?  Is my digestion the same, better or worse?  Going 100% Paleo overnight with a dramatic increase in animal protein and fat can affect your digestion (read : liver, gallbladder, gut).  The typical American lifestyle has taken a toll on your body.  If you start to feel any bloating or sluggishness, increase your water intake, ensure that 50% of your plate is fruits and vegetables and start with smaller amounts of protein and good fats and increase slowly as your body adjusts.  This approach will facilitate a healthy transition  and allow your liver and gallbladder to bounce back a bit.

Okay, here we go!

A.  Go Against the Grain

We accomplish two goals to by eliminating grains from our diet.  First, we start to eradicate the state of hyperinsulinemia (chronically high levels of insulin in the bloodstream) that can cause the chronic inflammation associated with obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.  Secondarily, we eliminate the “anti-nutrients” that naturally occur in whole grains:  phytates, glutens and lectins.   As Mark Sisson states in Primal Blueprint, “Grain consumption offers minimal nutritional value and generates high insulin response.  The phytates (binding agents) in grains inhibit the absorption of minerals. Glutens (protein) disturb healthy immune function and promote inflammation.  Lectins (protein) inhibit healthy gastrointestinal  function.” 

Instead of grains, choose sweet potatoes or yams, acorn, butternut or spaghetti squash, pumpkin, Portobello mushrooms, or eggplant.  If you still cannot let go of all grains, choose quinoa or buckwheat and eat them just once a week.  Quinoa and buckwheat are considered “psuedograins” and are gluten free and high in protein but are still relatively high glycemic with a rating of 53 and can cause digestive stress in individuals.  

So explore the produce aisle and see what starchy veggies you can find to fill your belly.  You will start to normalize your blood sugar and strengthen your immune system, while reducing your anti-nutrient intake AND your chronic inflammation.

B.  Eat High Quality Protein

It isn’t enough anymore to just eat beef, salmon, seafood, chicken, turkey and eggs without knowing where it comes from, what it was fed and how it was kept during its lifetime.   If you have been keeping up with my posts then you have read what can be fed to conventional cows.  Farm raised salmon populations are often vaccinated and always fed synthetic carotenoids or other substances to gain their rosy hue.  Conventional chickens, turkeys, pigs and cows are often fed pesticide laden, genetically modified soy & corn and spend most of their life on low doses of antibiotics.  So if you can’t get your animal protein from a local, free-range and grass fed source, make a trip to Whole Foods or a local Natural Food Store.  Before you go, check out this very handy site.   It outlines the safest seafood to eat with the lowest toxicity AND whether you should look for farmed or wild.  Wild caught is NOT always safer or better.  Check it out and eat more seafood!

Now, a word about dairy….“true” Paleos don’t eat it AT ALL.  However, since we are still evolving AND since I like the Primal approach for our Step II, eat a little dairy IF it agrees with you.  Two caveats though, it has to be raw and/or fermented and full fat.    When you remove the fat from dairy you are left with just a whole lot of sugar (lactose).  This is increasingly difficult for our bodies to digest due to declining levels of lactase as we age.   So choose kefir and yogurt (both virtually lactose free and chock full of immune boosting probiotics), raw butter & cheese, raw cream, or raw milk (if you must).   Again hit a farmers market or local farm, Whole Foods or look online to find these.   There is nothing like a cup of rich, organic coffee lightened with raw cream and sweetened with a little stevia or raw sugar and enjoyed with a dear friend or a good book.

C.  Increase the Good Fats and Eat Homemade Dessert (once in a while!):

Fat doesn’t make you fat.  Did everyone hear that? Yes it is true.   The right fats, in the right ratio, are actually a very critical, energy dense, macronutrient.  Fats are required for brain health, hormone production, skin health and organ protection.  But what are good oils?  Let’s start with what to use for which purposes.  High heat cooking requires a very stable oil such as animal fats (from organic, grass fed sources), grass fed/pastured butter, coconut oil, and palm oil.  Olive oil can be used if the heat is kept to 350 or below and for the wok, dark roasted sesame oil adds a unique and appealing flavor.   Delicate, high Omega 3 oils such as borage, cod-liver, krill, hemp seed, salmon, hi-oleic sunflower or safflower oils all blend nicely into smoothies or salad dressing.  These fragile Omega 3 oils should come in a small dark, bottle and should be refrigerated and used quickly as they go rancid.  All of these oils should be organic whenever possible.

Alright, onto more fun things like the dessert…but shhhhh…. true Paleos don’t eat dessert either (unless you consider fruit dessert)!   Not surprisingly, we want nutrient density and healthy fats, even in our desserts.  This element of fat will slow down the insulin response and will be heavenly on your tongue and contribute to satiety.  I hear you saying, “dark chocolate is great but it really isn’t dessert.”    How about berries drizzled with dark chocolate?  How about chocolate coconut cake?  How about whipped coconut milk chocolate mousse and berries?  Homemade cheesecake?  Brownies?  Chocolate chip cookies?  All of these can be made grain and dairy free.  Granted, many of these desserts have coconut in them so if you are allergic or would like to be, then try these:  Flourless chocolate torte, Almond Orange cake, Cup Custard,  Hazelnut biscotti… the list goes on.   Are you sensing there may be a catch here?  There is, you need to make these treats yourself.   Keep in mind though that studies show that when you cook, clean, create, make, mow, knit, build, braid, sweep or just simply get up out of a chair and increase your productive, physical activity, that your brain is flooded with the natural anti-depressant neurochemicals,  serotonin and dopamine.  So step away from the computer and go bake yourself a delightful, nutrient dense, semi-primal, and oh-so-satisfying dessert!


The Primal Blueprint, Mark Sisson, 2009