Paleo Diet: the Primal Lifestyle

Paleo. It can be a polarizing topic, as many people liken it to other fad diets, plans, and weight-loss programs designed to separate you from your money. The reality is that paleo can be a godsend for many, potentially most of us. Following a few general guidelines, one can adopt a paleo or early-human, primal paleo diet… and potentially increase alertness, health, optimize body weight and increase overall vitality. As the saying goes, you are what you eat!

What is a Paleo Diet?

IMG_2704A Paleo diet in its simplistic definition is a lifestyle-cum-diet comprised of foods that early-man would have had access to. For example, nuts, berries, seeds, animal protein (chicken, fish, beef, pork, goat), greens and vegetables of all types and of course water. NOTE: there is no sugar, dairy, alcohol, breads or grains; it is what we as humans ate for millennia…

I know, I know: fun police coming to ruin my delicious McDonalds Happy Meal. Let me say it again: YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT.

This may seem restrictive at first, but with a little creativity and some help from the interwebs it is amazing what you can create within these guidelines. There are literally hundreds of websites dedicated to paleo cooking, recipes and plans; there are some amazing books as well, and some blogs that specify the details of Paleo eating and lifestyle.

Why Paleo?

What does this have to do with organizing? Well it is a bigger-picture issue… health, food, and well-being are all connected to feeling alert and organized. How can you keep your space clean and pure, but not your body? Your body is your temple; a temple is a space… see where I am going with this? Simplifying your meals and improving the quality of your life go hand-in-hand with organizing.

A paleo diet is part of a healthy lifestyle because it is the only system of nutrition (note, not ONLY a diet!) that works with your individual body chemistry and genetics to help you lean out, get strong and stay that way. Our modern diet is full of refined foods and sugar, trans fats and engineered nutrition is at the root of diseases such as obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, depression, and a host of illness. Paleo is base don millions of years of evolution–not pseudo-science or factory-farm marketing campaigns. Remember the Food Pyramid? Notice how it is essentially disproved now? Yeah, ancient man had it pretty well figured out, and we evolved to eat meat, veggies and nuts/seeds NOT McRibs and Twinkies.

By dropping a few of the Bad Things from your diet, moderating intake of a few others and increasing certain foods, you can seriously affect your health and wellness for the better.

OK, So What Can I Eat? What Can I NOT Eat?

Paleo is pretty simple:

Lean Proteins

Lean proteins support stronger musculature and healthy bones and teeth. Immune system function can also be affected, as your body is getting what it needs to create energy without wasting energy filtering out all the bad stuff. Protein fills you up, so you are not tempted to graze at the snack bin at the office… tempting, but (literally!) deadly.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are good for you; period! They are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other stuff only a nutritionist, biologist or major food geek would understand. What do we need to know? Vegetables have been shown to increase health, reduce disease and they taste great to boot.

Fruits Dairy
Vegetables Grains
Lean Meats
Processed Food & Sugars
Seafood Legumes
Nuts & Seeds Starches
Healthy Fats Alcohol

Healthy Fats

Research studies show that diets rich in monounsaturated and Omega-3 fats can drastically reduce instances of obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart diseases and even brain function. Many people struggle with this; we were told for years that eating fat was BAD, low-fat was GOOD… but this was sponsored by food companies, not science. Just look at our obesity epidemic for conclusions!

Saturated Fats

Saturated fat has been demonized. What is the basis for this position on Saturated fat? Are current recommendations for VERY low saturated fat intake justified, or is it fear-media based on food group lobbyists? How much saturated fat, if any should one eat? Without a historical record and scientific perspective these questions can be nearly impossible to answer. Here is a link to a guy named Professor Cordain, who looks at the amounts and types of saturated fats found in the paleo/primal diet: Saturated fat consumption in ancestral human diets: implications for contemporary intakes.

One of the greatest moves away from primal eating is the amount and type of fat found in modern grain feed animals vs. the amounts and types of fats found in grass-fed animal proteins. What is clear: wild meat is leaner and has relatively low amounts of saturated fats, but is loaded with significant amounts of omega-3 fats such as EPA and DHA. In this paper Professor Cordain analyzes the complete fatty acid profile from several species of wild deer and elk. The bottom line: free range meat is far healthier than conventional meat. Fatty acid analysis of wild ruminant tissues: Evolutionary implications for reducing diet-related chronic disease.


So what we can discern from all of this can be boiled down to this: simplicity. Similar to organizing a closet or your home, it is all about keeping what is necessary and loved, and discarding the junk. This quote can apply to home or diet:

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or beautiful.” — William Morris

Eat good-quality, organic vegetables and fruits and grass fed meats; eat raw; eat simply, with little or no sugars, and minimize carb intake. The result? A healthy, paleo/primal diet that can make you feel great, reduce diseases and illness, stabilize weight and keep you full of energy. Give paleo a try, it is not hard and really has benefits beyond the summaries here. Check out Paleo Priority for more information and great recipes!