Recently, I’ve had a number of people ask for more information regarding the food choices my family makes. I’ve made many posts here with tips and articles, but I have yet to give a simple game plan for someone who’s starting from scratch. I’ll do that now!
Why Should I Change What I’m Eating?
If you’re eating the Standard American Diet (SAD), odds are you’re experiencing some of the common side effects: digestive issues, joint pain, skin issues, lethargy, anxiety, depression, etc, etc. Some people think these are just the “pains of getting older”. Others will go to the doctor, who will prescribe you pills to lessen those symptoms, but that won’t address the cause. Changing your diet likely will. Either way, it’s certainly worth a shot to try!
But I’m Already Eating Healthy!
I used to think that too. Orange juice, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, pasta, low fat salad dressing, Gatorade, skim milk, peanut butter. Those were some of my favorite foods and I thought I was doing great! But, the truth is many of those foods are loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients. And the low fat foods combat the simple fact that fat is actually good for you! But, the worst offender may be the grains. Grains (bread, pasta, corn, beer, etc) cause many digestive problems and wreck havoc on our bodies.
So Where Do I Go From Here?
I know most of my food posts relate to Paleo; however, we’ve recently been leaning more towards The Perfect Health Diet. It’s very similar to Paleo, but there’s a bigger emphasis on carbs. We’ve (I keep saying “we” because my wife is the brains behind this operation and does an insane amount of research) read numerous articles – and even seen it in ourselves – that low-carb eating doesn’t work long-term.
Most people don’t have the time and/or the inclination to do a ton of research on changing the way they eat. So, my simple suggestion is read this one page on The Perfect Health Diet and try it out. Give it a few weeks before you form an opinion. Sometimes a few days is all it takes before you start feeling really good. Many of the aforementioned problems will start to magically disappear – joints won’t hurt, skin will clear up, your mind will feel clearer, your mood will improve, and hopefully more. It sounds too good to be true, but it’s all related to what you put in your body.
What If I Want to Read More?
It’s great to take my word for it, but there are so many good resources out there to help you understand what’s going on in your body as well as motivate you to keep at it!
- The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf – the book we read to get us going down this path; it’s great! Minus the few heavy biological chapters, it was funny and informative.
- The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson – I haven’t read this or any of his other books, but I’ve read an innumerable amount of his blog posts. He’s a great writer who backs up everything he says. Plus, wouldn’t you want to look like him when you’re 58!?
- Perfect Health Diet by Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet – Admittedly, I haven’t read this, but their diet is spot on with what we believe, so I’m sure the book is great.
Give It To Me In Simpler Terms
I’m trying to keep this simple, but if you’re still wondering what foods to buy, let’s try this. Each meal you should have some of each of the 3 macro-nutrients. Here they are with some example foods:
- Grass-fed beef, wild-caught salmon, free-range chicken and eggs, bacon, etc*
- Grass-fed butter, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, almond butter, macadamia nuts, lard, beef tallow, etc
- Any veggies, fruits, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, white rice
* -Keep in mind that whatever animal products you eat, you’re also eating whatever that animal ate. Thus, the emphasis on free-range chicken and grass-fed beef. Same goes with eggs and pork – if you’re able to get them from a local farm or somewhere where the animals are cared for and fed properly (aka no grains), you’re better off. However, that’s not an option for everyone, so do what you can!
Below are some sample meal ideas to get you off an running. Or here are some more. Once you get used to this, it becomes easier and easier. Try experimenting with herbs and spices (especially fresh ones). Look online for Paleo recipes or check out the many great recipe books.
- I posted about this a few times because it’s difficult! But, you can’t go wrong with bacon and eggs with a fruit smoothie
- Hamburger (sans bun, of course!), salad w/olive oil, sweet potato
- Chicken, veggie, white rice stir fry
It’s a big change when you go to the store as you stay only on the outside wall where the produce and meat departments are. You very rarely need to venture through the aisles because that’s mostly processed foods! There are a few processed foods that are okay, but you’re best to stay away as much as you can. For instance, potato chips seem simple enough because the ingredients are potatoes, oil, and salt. However, 99.9% of the time, the oil is one of the awful varieties (sunflower, safflower, peanut, etc), so you’ll want to avoid them. Luckily, we’ve recently found (at Ollie’s, of all places) Olive Oil Potato Chips. These are a decent option if you have kids and are looking for an quick carb option.
The only other processed foods we like are GoGo SqueeZ Applesauce and Bare Fruit Apple Chips. They each have exactly ONE ingredient: apples. Also, I’ve kept a running list of packaged foods we like – including olive oil, butter, and coconut milk – on this Pinterest Page.
- Okay to eat
- Meats, seafood, vegetables, fruit, starch, healthy fats, nuts / seeds
- Processed foods, sugars, grains, dairy, legumes, vegetable and seed oils
I rarely write 1,000 word blog posts, so hopefully this was helpful! As usual, I’d love to hear your comments whether you post them here or write me personally.
Here’s my family’s latest obsession for breakfast: banana sandwiches! They’re a great source of carbs and can have a lot of healthy toppings. Plus they’re fun for the kids. Here’s what I like:
Another tasty option is to take the same above ingredients (except use frozen bananas) and blend them into a smoothie.
* – Blanched almonds have been peeled, thus they’re much easier on the stomach and better for people with food sensitivities
** – Raw honey (not the typical honey from the store that’s loaded with sugar) has many great properties including seasonal allergy prevention. Your best bet to find some is your local farmer’s market or a bakery like Five Points.
- 3 eggs from Jacob’s Acres Farm
- scrambled w/tbsp coconut oil
- 1/4 avocado
- sundried tomato pieces
- Trader Joe‘s salsa (not pictured)
- frozen strawberries
- organic blueberries
- fresh mango
- sliced banana
- cacao nibs
- shredded coconut
- 1/3 c coconut milk (not pictured)
Breakfast is easily the hardest thing to change when adjusting to Paleo because everything we used to eat had grains in them. But, adding some fun toppings and mix-ins to eggs and fruit can really spice them up and make them taste even better. With all of this good fat (see: coconut, avocado), I was left satiated and feeling alert and energetic the whole morning.
If you’re trying the 30 Day Challenge or if you just simply want to eat better, breakfast is a great place to start. I used to eat a fairly “typical” breakfast, but I can absolutely say I go through the day feeling better with more energy when I keep it Paleo-based.
Typical breakfasts include orange juice, cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, and even venture out to bagels, pancakes, and donuts. Many of these foods are loaded with sugar or gluten, both of which can hurt you short- and long-term. But, what else is there to eat in the AM? I wondered the same thing when I first changed my diet, but I’ve come to love the options.
Some ideas for Paleo breakfast foods:
- Smoothies – so many possible combinations here, it’s mindblowing. Here’s a great eBook with 70 fantastic ideas. Here are some samples:
- Omelets – I used to never like eggs, but I’ve really come to enjoy them as of late. It helps that we’re buying them directly from the farm or are getting the good, cage-free, Omega 3 eggs from the grocery store. The better eggs truly taste better. But the omelet is such an easy and awesome vehicle to get a bunch of morning fat and veggies! Make it in coconut oil, mix in some green peppers, tomatoes, onion, spinach, bacon and/or sausage and then sometimes top with salsa – what a meal!
- Bacon – It takes on legendary status in the Paleo community, but if you get the right kind (no nitrates), it’s the perfect source of quality fat for your diet. Sometimes I’ll have a fruit-based smoothie and a few pieces of bacon for breakfast.
- Another tid-bit: you can microwave bacon and it’s quick and much less messy! Put a paper plate in the microwave, then a few paper towels, then the bacon laid separately and flat, then a few more paper towels. Microwave for 3 minutes (give or take) and viola!
- Eggs – I usually lean towards an omelet, but any kind of eggs in the morning make me feel incredible. I really do have my best days after eating eggs!
- Fruit and nut butter – This makes a great midday snack, but it can easily be breakfast too. An apple or banana with almond butter are my favorites.
- Berries and coconut milk – Another great snack / breakfast meal because the berries (straw, blue, black, rasp) are super nutritious (very susceptible to pesticides, so you should try to go organic) and the coconut milk makes it almost like yogurt. Don’t confuse the coconut milk with the watered down one in the carton. This coconut milk is in a can and can be found in the Asian section of the grocery store. Our favorite is Thai Kitchen.
- Leftovers – not very sexy, but if you have leftovers from good Paleo meals, there’s nothing wrong with steak or a burger or veggies for breakfast.
What do you think? Do you have any other breakfast meals you’ve enjoyed? I’d love to hear!