A mate back in Blighty was after recommendations on alternatives to milk and this led into a discussion on my Paleo diet which I’ve been on for 2 months or so. Feeling suitably inspired, I’ve decided to write about the how, why and wherefore of going Caveman.
You might not want to read the next 2 paragraphs whilst eating.
I’m currently on a working holiday in Australia and eating within a budget. As part of this I was having Couscous with veg (Bell peppers/Capsicum, Celery and Courgette/Zucchini) every day on my lunch break at 1pm. An hour later, like clockwork, I started having bad stomach aches and breaking wind. It was foul smelling and very embarrassing. Going to the toilet was not comfortable. The only cause could be the Couscous. I did some reading and found that Couscous contains gluten, a protein that some people can’t stomach.
I started to think about other times I was having digestive trouble. When I was back home, my family would have to leave the room shortly after I’d start drinking Ale. When I was working night shifts back in the UK, I’d only eat soup and a few slices of wholemeal bread throughout the night but again my colleagues were suffering in my presence.
I tried going gluten free for a week. I swapped wheat based muesli for oat based muesli, couscous for brown rice, wheat pasta for rice pasta. And I felt incredible. Imagine, if you will, that you’d felt lethargic for years and not even known it. Suddenly, I had loads of energy and could sleep for a full uninterrupted 8 hours (even despite the snores of fellow backpackers sharing the hostel dorm).
I started paying attention to food labelling for the first time. It’s surprising the amount of stuff that has wheat flour added to it. OK, so I have to pass on biscuits and cakes when they’re being offered out but I’d rather spare myself the discomfort and embarrassment.
The Ultimate Old Fashioned Diet
It was whilst searching for gluten free recipes that I learnt about the Paleo diet. Paleo= Palaeolithic. The principle is basically- if we didn’t eat it whilst evolving then don’t eat it.
This means no grains, no dairy (milk), no legumes (they contain a lot of chemicals that play havoc with the bowels unless soaked and cooked to death), no processed sugars and no oils containing a lot of trans-fats (canola oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil).
Back to food labelling again and sugar and salt seem to be added to nearly everything out there.
Some people are a lot stricter than others. Paleo 2.0 is by and large built on the same principles but allows more cooking, for instance white potatoes are not Paleo but are ok under 2.0 (so long as you peel the skins).
I eat Paleo 2.0 food in combination with the Bodytrim eating plan, this means eating at least every 3 hours to stop the body going into energy storing mode.
I do most of my cooking on a Sunday evening to free up time in the week, and freeze/ defrost as needed. I’ll cook a batch of 75 gram meatballs for my snacks in the week.
A typical day looks like this-
Breakfast: 3 eggs scrambled with a mushroom and 50g of pre-soaked and cooked Quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-wa’). A handful of Blueberries. Green Tea.
Mid morning protein snack
Dinner: 150g Tuna or Chicken with peppers, celery and courgette. Possibly with 50g carrot or sweet potato every other day. Piece of fruit.
Afternoon protein snack
Tea: 150g Beef, Lamb or Kangaroo with non-starchy veg.
Pre-bed protein snack.
I cook with Extra Virgin Olive Oil but there are other Paleo friendly oils such as Cocon
ut, Almond and Clarified butter (Ghee). I’m liberal with black pepper and Balsamic vinegar.
I give myself a free day every week but even then I try and stay Paleo. On my free day I’ll drink Cider, Perry, Mead or Wine (There is a woeful lack of gluten free beers), I’ll snack on Brazil or (soaked) Walnuts instead of meat. I’ll put honey in my tea and have dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa, normally 85%).
This is followed with a protein only day.
Just as prior to the diet, I take a multivitamin and cod liver oil pill and even though there’s a fair amount of fibre in the diet, I also take a tablespoon of psyllium husk in a pint a hot water before bed.
More than just food
Reading around other aspects of the Paleo lifestyle, there are those who shun modern cosmetics and use only water to clean themselves. I’ve stopped using anti-perspirant but I am far too vain and conscious of body odour to go wholesale Swampy.
I found out about Castile soap (saponified olive oil) and as luck would have it, found some for sale in a shop the next day. I use it only on my pits and bits and use a Castile based shampoo once a week (normally after my free day), but rinse my hair in the shower every day. I’ve found that I no longer need to use hair product as my hair is a lot less frizzy now, though I’ve read that 100% Aloe gel makes a good natural hair gel (and after sun balm).
Being in Oz, sun care is important so I wear a rash vest and use a zinc cream as a sun block. I’ve started electric shaving until I can get round to finding (or making) a natural shaving cream. I’ll still put on a bit of aftershave when I go out, but aim it for my shirt collar rather than skin. My only other concession to modern cosmetics is toothpaste but I am on the lookout for a decent replacement for my Colgate.
Being on the road, I have a few concerns over being able to get Quinoa in remote places. I might have to make a concession and eat Brown rice for a while, and with soaking for a day, this still seems a better plan than other choices (Corn, Oats) as a short term thing.
This is a personalised account based on my own reading and what feels right for my own body, I don’t go about telling people how to live their lives (and expect the same courtesy in return), but if you’re interested, try going gluten free (no wheat, rye or barley) for 2 weeks or so. See if you feel more energetic. After that, try gradually cutting back other non-Paleo parts of your diet. Do what feels right for you.