This morning we started a 30 day challenge to try the Paleo diet. By “we” I mean myself and a group of other Israeli bloggers who are all following the paleo diet successfully for a while now. Recently the Paleo nutrition and way of life has gotten some exposure in the Israeli media and we’ve been getting questions (and criticism alike) so we decided to design this challenge for people who wish to try this lifestyle for 1 month and see how they feel. The Hebrew version of the challenge guidelines is here.
So what is Paleo Diet and what exactly does this challenge entail?
Paleo diet is basically eating like our primal ancestors ate, in a way that is most suitable genetically to our bodies and the way we were designed to eat. Common sense dictates that we should be eating the way our genetics and evolution designed us for millions of years and not the way modern agriculture and pharma giants have been brainwashing us in the past century or couple of centuries. In other words – what’s been tried and true for 2.6 million years must be more relevant than what’s been causing humanity to get sick in the past 150 years… simple math, yeah?
In essence this means clean eating. Eating real, natural, unprocessed foods. This challenge is your chance to experience what a month of clean eating can do to your body. It’s not going to be easy, I can tell you that. Especially if you’re used to eating lots of processed foods, fast foods (not necessarily junk but even sandwiches) and high sugar foods. This challenge requires you give up many things that might initially seem brutal but I can promise you (from experience!) that it is worth it! The good news is after these 30 days, if you wish to go on with this lifestyle there are some things you will be able to resume eating, thus making it easier.
This challenge does require preparation and you need to go over your pantry, clean out what’s bad for you and stock up on produce that is within the challenge guidelines. You will have to cook more at home, on your own and prepare meals in advance to take to work but it’s not as hard as it sounds!
Ready to try? Here are the exact guidelines:
Paleo 30 Challenge Guidelines
Remove from your diet for the next 30 days:
- Sugar in any form! This includes sweeteners, even the natural ones like Stevia, Maple syrup, Honey etc. Remember: Alcohol is also sugar so this too is off limits for the next 30 days!
- Refined and processed oils of any kind. This may seem trivial but we will later see which oils are suitable for consumption.
- Grains – in any form. This includes refined and whole grains alike. No grains means nothing – no glutinous grains (wheat, rye, barley and spelt) and non glutinous grains (rice, millet, buckwheat, quinoa, oats and any other grain). This also means no grain products: Pasta, noodles, starches, flours etc.
- Legumes in any form. This includes Soy and soy products. (If you really cannot live without soy sauce you can look for a substitute. Some people say Coconut Aminos tastes similar).
- Milk and Dairy products. This includes cheese, yogurt, butter, cream etc.
- Preservative and additives. This means stabilizers, taste and color agents, MSG or any other artificial additive. READ LABELS!
- Sweets and snacks. This means no pancakes, cupcakes, muffins or anything like that, even if they’re made from coconut, almond or tapioca flour.
We recommend you DO NOT weigh yourself in the next 30 days. Also, do not take any other physical measurements. Try to focus on how you feel. Use these next 30 days to reconnect with your body and listen to it. Pay attention to your energy levels, your digestion, your sleep quality, clarity of mind etc.
You can and should weight in and take measurements before you start the challenge and after 30 days. You can also share your before and after photos and data on your blog, on facebook or anywhere else (if you want) to give other people information and perspective.
So what can you eat all day?
The rules are fairly simple when it comes to real food.
Eat animal protein: fish, beef, chicken, turkey, pork, eggs and animal fats. This includes internal organs (you don’t have to but they’re good for you!): heart, liver etc. and bones (bone broth is an excellent source of available protein and minerals).
Eat plenty of vegetables and leafy greens. Eat fruit and nuts moderately. You can tweak the amount of fruit and nuts as you go along (based on your how your body deals with them) but don’t base your nutrition on them. You can consume potatoes and sweet potatoes (yams) or other starchy roots but these too should be used cautiously and not become the major part of your nutrition.
Animal fats: lard, pork fat, beef fat etc. Plant and fruit oils: coconut, avocado, olive oil. You can also use Ghee – clarified butter (the only form of “dairy” product allowed in these 30 days. recipe).
Refrain from any processed foods and try to avoid anything you did not prepare yourself. You can use store bought products, provided you read the label carefully and make sure they do not contain sugars or any other additives. These include: tomato puree, some vinegar, coconut or almond milk etc.
The consumption of coffee, black tea (caffeinated) and chocolate is up to you. This challenge could be your chance to cut back or give them up completely (by the way, I cut back from 3 cups of coffee a day to 3 cups a week and I am not going to give it up completely). If you decide to go on consuming them make sure it’s without milk. sugar or other additives.
Some notes for the road:
- You don’t have to prove anything to anyone but yourself. You are committed only to you!
- It’s just for 30 days. It’s only 1 month!
- Try to complete the challenge without slipping. Don’t be tempted to “try just a bite” from someone else’s plate or finish what the kids left in their plate.
- It’s only 30 days!
- You can use the whole9 meal planner to help you. You can also use their website and other blogs for inspiration and information. A list of some is here.
- When you eat focus on eating. Don’t eat while doing something else. Don’t watch tv, answer the phone or work when you’re eating. Take the time you need to suplly your body with nutrients. Chew well, it will help you pay attention to the way you feel when you eat and after you eat and stay in tune with your body.
- And don’t forget – you’ll be done in 30 days!
Aside from food
This challenge is your chance to change a few others areas of life as well and here are some focal points:
- Sleep is important for your metabolism. It helps you recharge, maintain energy levels and boost certain bodily functions. The modern Western lifestyle makes sure we sleep as little as possible. Using artificial stimuli sich as light, computers, TV and other technology wonders we are kept awake too many hours a day. Add to that the hectic work and late night leisure and play time and you’ve got your recipe for disaster. Aim for a minimum of 8 hours of sleep every night. Try to go to sleep no later than 11:00 pm. Make the room as dark as possible when you go to bed.
- Support network. We’re social creatures and this challenge is not an easy one. Try to find the right support network for you, so you don’t have to do this alone. Whether it’s a facebook group, a blog, a Google+ community, a forum or your friends and family – make sure you’ve got companions for the journey.
- Find a way to spend time outdoors. Even if you live in the city there are still parks or the beach (or a lake). Try to find a way to spend time outside (not on the street, shopping) as many times a week as possible. It will open up your heart and ground you. Modern life took us away from nature and put us in enclosed small spaces – our house, offices, schools. This way of life has many disadvantages. It prevents you from being in the sun (crucial for Vitamin D production), it makes you breathe stale air, it makes you forget just how tiny you are in face of mother earth and what your place on it is. Go outside – it’s good for you!
- Find a way to move your body. Our bodies are designed for motion, not for sitting down all day! Find an activity you like and do it! You can also combine several activities to make it more interesting and fun. Walk, run. Dance, Swim, Go the gym, do Yoga or Pilates – whatever you like, just move!
- Find a way to de-stress. We live with lots of stress in our lifestyle and it is killing us. Too much stress elevates cortisol levels and makes you tired and sick. Stress is bad for you mentally, emotionally and physically. As with motion there are many ways to de-stress. Find what works best for you and do it.
- If you’re a smoker or consume other substances, this may be your chance to kick the habit and clean up.