Regular blog readers know my feelings on the connection between diet and health. I started my journey to discovery about 3.5 years, ago, when I went gluten-free. Ever since, I have pushed to find the root cause of my body’s mission to attack itself in myriad ways, and further modified my diet. These days, I’m evolving my diet in reverse, and eating mostly like a cavewoman.
Paleo is very hot right now. The New York Times even did a recent article featuring Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo, one of my favorite cavewomen. Despite the fad, there are real health benefits behind it, especially for those with autoimmune disease. I’m talking science-y stuff here. Since I already ate mostly whole foods, and I had already cut out gluten and cow’s milk dairy, I decided to try a one month experiment with my own version of this diet. Here’s what my “mostly cavewoman” diet has looked like for the last month:
What I Eat (Regularly, 85-90% of my diet):
- Grass-fed and/or organic meats at most every meal:
- Bacon (Nitrite-free, Sugar-free)
- Fish (Salmon, tuna, cod, grouper, snapper, flounder)
- Shellfish (Shrimp, crab, mussels, oysters)
- Organic eggs (pastured when I can get them)
- Lots and lots of vegetables (6-8 cups every day). Here are some of my favorites:
- Sweet potato
- Winter squash
- Whatever fruits are in season. I’m lucky to live in Florida, where it’s always growing season. I also love frozen berries, especially in smoothies.
- Nuts and seeds
- Organic almond / coconut milk
- Organic, non-GMO soy milk
- Gluten-free organic Tamari soy sauce
- Olive/coconut/avocado oils
What I eat occasionally (10-15% of the time):
- Brown / jasmine rice
- Sheep / goat’s milk dairy products (products = cheese)
- Dark chocolate
- Coffee and tea
What I Don’t Eat:
- Processed foods of any kind
- Foods with added sugar / artificial sweetener*
- Gluten-containing products
- Cow’s milk dairy products
* A note about sugar: This beast is addictive, and it is everywhere. I do not cook with sugar, and I limit the amount of sugar everywhere I can, but it’s not a perfect science. I also confess to enjoying a Diet Coke from time to time. I know, I know. Soda with aspartame is the worst kind of transgression! But it’s a long held vice, so for today, I choose limits over total deprivation. Also, I’m human. Let the hand slapping commence…
If you made it through the lists, you’ll notice that my diet resembles Paleo. That is by design, but there are a few key differences:
- Wine: Strict Paleo diets remove alcohol, but a few times a week, I enjoy a glass (or two) of good red wine. It’s soul satisfying to share an evening, and a glass of wine, with my wife after a long day. We’ve also made a hobby of discovering new ones together. Unless I am desperate, I won’t get rid of it.
- Soy: This is my biggest daily variation from pure Paleo. I am aware of the issues regarding soy. I buy the best products I can, all organic and non-GMO, and I do not use it excessively. My wife has a coconut allergy, so our family meals cannot include coconut, whether aminos, milk, or oil.
- Brown/jasmine rice: I’ve tried, but I really can’t get down with cauliflower rice. I adore roasted cauliflower, and I love zoodles, but I am also okay eating brown and jasmine rice from time to time.
- Potatoes: Though potatoes were recently added to the Whole 30 protocol, many Paleo folks choose not to eat them. For me, they’re pure comfort food to my Scottish blood,
- Beans: Since I started eating this way, I haven’t really craved beans. However, I’m keeping them on the list for now, because they’re delicious, and because there is conflicting evidence about their nutrition.
- Non-cow dairy: A small hunk of manchego, gooey goat cheese on a bunless bison burger, or a bit of shaved pecorino romano over zoodle pasta with meat sauce can make my day.
This is what works for me. Some of the foods are verboten, but I don’t pretend to be a Paleo purist. To this point, I haven’t adopted the autoimmune protocol (AIP) either, though I’m not ruling out a trial down the road. And my diet evolution has been wildly successful. In just a month, my energy is up. My digestive problems (just going from gluten/dairy free to mostly cavewoman) have been reduced by 60-70%. I’ve even lost a few pounds, though thanks to age and Prednisone, weight loss is a maddeningly slow process.
Right now, my major obstacles revolve around eating this way on the road, and making time to cook what I eat. I’m still wrestling with both. In my next post, I’ll share what I’ve learned so far, and will give you a list of caveperson resources I love. Until then, I’m heading back into the kitchen!