Paleo plans have become so trendy nowadays you’d think we were actual cavemen (and women). We read about these “stone-age” plans that are based on what we would eat during hunting and gathering times, a diet low in carbs and heavy in vegetables, fruits, meat, nuts and roots.
Typically the diet eliminates foods like dairy product, grains, sugars, caffeine, and alcohol.
While that doesn’t sound like tons of fun, it’s based in a concept of of improving overall health, body composition, and metabolic function. Paleo diets are also based in eating only foods that would have been available to us during the Paleolithic era. And while hunting and gathering in nature may have its perks, it’s definitely odd to some of us with more Western focused diets.
With that said, it’s certainly a fad that has caught on and even expanded into food delivery services and meal kits, and seems to be a hot topic, and even the subject of countless books and blogs.
Paleo Plans: What Are They and Where To Start
Paleolithic diet plans consists of whole foods that resemble what we ate during hunting and gathering times thousands of years ago.
While founded in the stone age, there aren’t any Paleo diet rules or restrictions that are written in stone. There are different types of Paleo plans and there is not a one sized fits all diet to stick to, some stick to low-carb diets with high animal content and others that are heavier in plants (for example, it is possible to be Paleo and vegetarian or even vegan at the same time, although much less common).
It’s generally helpful to start with a beginner’s Paleo Plan (or even meal kit, if this better fits your lifestyle and convenience needs), and focus on foods to enjoy and those to avoid than it is to focus on one singular “correct” way to eat under the diet, or think of it as restrictive. It definitely does not have to be a diet of restriction, although it’s important to remember the Paleo lifestyle, and most plans that follow the diet, will eliminate foods and drinks (i.e. dairy, alcohol, sugars, soft drinks, and some even stop caffeine) that many of us enjoy on a day to day.
With that in mind, fans of Paleo diets generally say it optimizes their energy and digestive systems, and provides the body with a lot of balance and stability throughout the day.
Paleo Plans: Types of Meals and Foods
Paleo plans are generally focused on eating more foods like eggs, fresh produce (veggies and fruits), fish and seafood, nuts and seeds, lean grass-fed meat, and healthy and natural oils.
They are also plans of elimination, meaning processed foods, refined vegetable oils, dairy product, salt, soft drinks, and cereal grains are taken off the daily menu.
But with any of these plans, it’s important to embrace all of the healthy food options and recipes you can still have, rather than viewing them as restrictive.
When getting started with a new plan, it’s also important to remember it can take time and doesn’t need to be perfect overnight, and may take some getting used to. Especially if your current diet does not restrict any food groups or meals.
One of the first steps you can take in purchasing healthy and delicious food options that fit with the Paleo lifestyle or under the plan umbrella is to grocery shop using a list and taking into account what foods are both aligned with the diet and which you enjoy the most.
From there, you can get a sense of what a healthy and balanced breakfast, lunch, and dinner would look like (along with snacks in between), and prepare and cook meals that best fit your lifestyle and work with the diet.
Sticking to the produce sections of the grocery store and purchasing lean cut meats and seafood options rather than going for the snacks section is likely a healthy step for us all to take.
If you’re still having some confusion on starting, you may also want to consider a Paleo focused meal kit plan. Meal kit plans can make it easier and more convenient to get started on new diets, especially for beginners or if you’re having trouble understanding how to shop for or prepare foods around a completely new plan.
Paleo Plans: Are They Right For Me?
Paleo plans are ideal if you’re a fan of raw foods, a diet that is heavy in fresh produce and meats, and if you’re looking to eliminate processed foods or sugars that can weigh you down (no pun intended).
Fans of Paleo plans and food options claim that following the lifestyle is much more than just a trend, and helps them maintain optimal functioning, energy, and improved clarity.
While it’s not always an easy diet plan to begin, it’s definitely a worthwhile investment if you’re feeling tired or feeling like your diet is too heavy in carbs, sugars, and processed foods.
For most of us, this is definitely not a traditional way to eat at first (coming from a more Western-oriented dieting perspective), but over time those who follow Paleo eating and diets can not only see improvements in weight management and loss, if desired, but improvements with respect to overall physical and mental wellbeing.
This is a perfect option if you’re feeling “bogged down” by the foods you’re eating, or tend to consume a lot of processed foods, caffeine or sugars that you’d like to eliminate for health reasons.
While it isn’t simple to start, it can become a great lifestyle choice and step towards feeling healthier on a day to day over time.