The Wild Foods Guide To The Paleo Diet
Learn about the Paleo diet; how to follow one, why it works, recipes and more!
The Wild Foods Guide To The Paleo Diet
This Wild guide might not appeal to everyone... but it is for everyone.
For all humans, that is.
You see, one of the biggest hurdles for people when it comes to nutrition is their currently-held belief system surrounding food.
- Some people have moral issues with eating animals. Others don't.
- Some people don't like vegetables and won't eat them and so their bias towards grains and other processed foods is a hard habit to break.
- Some people say they want to be healthy but they aren't willing to do things that challenge their current belief system.
The Internet is fraught with people that defend both sides of every point no matter how obvious either side often seems.
And nutrition is one of these hotly debated topics.
The best advice I can give you is this before reading this guide is: open your mind when it comes to nutrition (and just about everything else).
There is much we still don't know about human biology, nutrition, the universe, quantum mechanics, history, well, everything.
And there's new research that comes out on a regular basis, giving us a bit more to go on with each passing year.
All that said, if you were to take the current available research and combine it with the empirical results of millions of people that have changed their nutrition for the better, what you'd get is an eating plan that closely resembles the paleo diet.
Don't be dogmatic
Many are turned off by the word "Paleo."
Even more hold many preconceived ideas about what a Paleo diet is—like the idea that it's about eating pounds and pounds of meat.
At Wild Foods, we veer away from the word Paleo for this very reason.
Another thing I've learned over the years is the following:
- There's no absolute definition of "Paleo."
- The foundation to proper human nutrition is rooted in eating Real Food.
You'll see me capitalize Real Food often throughout this guide and others on this site... it's that important.
Proper nutrition is first and foremost Real Food.
People on the Internet love to argue about nutrition; whether you should eat red meat or not, whether grains are "bad" for you or not, how many carbs is healthy, and so on.
But they are completely missing the point most of the time.
The human mind wants to label things so it can fit them neatly in a box labeled "resolved."
But that is not how you get results in today's age. Nowadays, the wisest of the wise are those that keep an open mind and make a point to not commit strongly to either side.
The basics of nutrition are simple to understand, hard to implement, and all the Internet debating is just a deflection.
The vast majority of all that is a waste of time until you can get the basics down. And even then, most of it doesn't move the needle all that much and so isn't worth the extra effort for anyone not competing in something.
If you get Real Food down, the rest is mostly trivial.
But I don't want to go too much into Real Food just yet. There's plenty more where that came from...
This is a guide to the Paleo Diet.... or better yet... our version of a Paleo Diet.
As I've already said, there are many misconceptions surrounding the Paleo diet. There's also no single definition of what constitutes a Paleo diet.
The fact is, any diet that's based on incomplete information, the way evolutionary biology is—which Paleo is based on—is going to have a wide range of interpretations.
Labels Don't Matter
For whatever reason it's a quirky human trait that we all have this burning desire to want resolute answers to things in life so we can fit them into neat little boxes
When it comes to nutrition, this is a fool's errand.
Whether you eat vegan, vegetarian, fruitarian, Slow Carb, Zone or already follow some kind of Paleo diet, you can probably learn something from the other diets out there.
And you should.
But we aren't interested in debating the pros and cons of many diets. We are only interested in providing information so you can be better educated when you decide to implement whatever eating style you decide to follow in your life.
That being said, if we were forced to define the version of nutrition we recommend at Wild Foods, it would be this:
A Real Food diet that closely resembles that of a Paleo diet, but with more loose recommendations about individual foods as long as it is Real Food.
We believe that nutrition is 80% Real Food. If you get that right, it's really hard to screw the other stuff up. It tends to just take care of itself.
You can choose to eat no meat, lots of meat, or moderate meat. You can choose to eat no seafood or a lot of seafood. You can eat high carb or low carb.
And so on, just make sure it's all Real Food.
Of course, each one of these dietary decisions is going to produce a result in your body. (And if you decide to never eat animals or animal products, please get your blood work done and make sure you are supplementing with b-vitamins and omega-3s.)
If your goal is optimal health, track what the mirror says, what your body is telling you and what your blood work shows.
Then throttle the food you eat to get the best results in all three of those categories.
With that introduction and disclaimer out of the way, enjoy the Wild Foods Guide To A Paleo Diet below!
The Paleo Diet
“Eating a Paleolithic diet is not about historical re-enactment; it is about mimicking the effect of such a diet on the metabolism with foods available at the supermarket. There was no one diet eaten throughout the entire Paleolithic, nor is there a single diet eaten by contemporary hunter-gatherers. Hunter-gatherer diets can vary substantially depending on the geography, season, and culture. Even so, the commonalities among hunter-gatherer diets provide useful parameters for a healthy modern diet.”
There is no single exact version of a “Paleo” diet that we can point to and say, “eat like this.”
Each author, nutritionist and Paleoist (is that a word?) tends to have their own version of Paleo.
People want to turn nutrition into a simple black and white set of rules. It makes life easier, yes, but life's never as simple as that.
Neither is nutrition.
Nutrition is not so easily defined, nor does it fit neatly into a little box.
Venture further down the nutrition rabbit hole and you find people that want to answer questions like, "How many calories should I eat?" and "How many carbs, proteins and fats?"
As a general rule, people want to be told exactly what to eat because that's easier than having to self-experiment. The problem is, for most things, there's no single answer for anything health-related because each human is a different animal.
But there is one nutrition Truth that you can base all of your nutritional efforts on and that is: Real Food.
When you make your foundation Real Food, the other stuff tends to figure itself out. Further, you have much more flexibility in the other stuff, like how many carbs or protein to eat.
When you focus on Real Food, you can eat a wide range of foods in various quantities and remain healthy and lean... and when you get to that place of healthy natural leanness, you can maintain it with ease.
At this point, weight loss becomes a simple decision. So does gaining muscle. No matter what you want to do with your body, you make a few simple tweaks—like increasing your calorie intake to gain weight, or decreasing your carb and total calorie intake to lose weight—and bam: results.
I'm not exaggerating here. Not in the least.
What happens when you go Real Food is going to be unique to you, but it's going to be something great, I can assure you of that.
The following guide is about the Paleo diet, or the hunter gatherer diet, with the Wild Foods focus of Real Food as the foundation.
We have done our best to remain as unbiased and non-dogmatic as we can with our recommendations, which is why you'll see recommendations that don't typically fit into conventional Paleo wisdom.
If this challenges your Paleo sensibilities, try instead thinking of this guide as The Guide To The Optimal Human Diet In The 21st Century if it makes you feel better.
After all, the basis of what we recommend for nutrition is based on eating Real Food.
Beyond getting Real Food down pat, we are pretty lax on grains, dairy, and the other things that strict Paleos like to crucify.
Real food is centered around raw ingredients and usually require cooking and prep.
This is why the Real Food recommendation doesn’t always jive well with most people; because it's hard and you have to invest time.
After all, people want a fix. Then, on top of that, they want that fix to be as close as possible to what they're already.
Delusional. <-- Don't be like this.
People would rather hear:
- “Don’t eat meat.”
- “Don’t eat carbs.”
- “Don’t eat grains.”
- “Don’t eat sugar.”
- “Don’t eat fat.”
- “Buy raw ingredients, take them home, and cook and prepare that food for yourself.”
I'm here to tell you that proper nutrition is never going to be a quick fix. And while Real Food doesn't make the physical process of eating clean easier, it does make it simpler.
Nutrition is a lifestyle. Cooking, preparing ingredients at home, a morning mug of Wild Butter Coffee, and so on, are parts of an active, health-conscious and self-aware lifestyle.
If you want optimal health, you have to cook the highest quality Real Food ingredients you can find on a daily basis. You have to make smart decisions when you are out with your friends. You have to limit how many drinks you have. And so on.
What is Real Food?
Real Food is food that is raw, alive or minimally processed.
(Some foods require processing, such as cacao and coffee beans, but that does not disqualify them as Real Food. In this case, it depends on how the food was processed that matters. Always get the highest quality foodstuffs you can. One of our missions here at Wild Foods is to provide those ingredients.)
Prepared foods at the grocery store and in restaurants are full of long ingredient lists, many of which you won't be able to pronounce, and do not qualify as Real Food. One could argue it's not food at all.
The foundation of Real Food is you have to control the cooking/processing process as much as you can.
This is how Real Food looks in action: You buy the raw ingredients then you cook and eat them.
Sometimes “cooking” is nothing more than chopping up some leafy greens or slicing some strawberries. Other times you'll throw a bunch of fresh and raw ingredients into the slow cooker so you can enjoy a hot Real Food meal later.
Sometimes you'll grab an apple and eat it. And so on.
An aside on the food industry:
In his great book Cooked, Michael Pollan predicts that the next evolution of the food industry corporations doing more and more of our cooking.
Think restaurants. Think pre-made ready-to-eat on-the-go foods. Frozen dinners. And so on.
You can already see this trend taking over in many parts of our society.
In fact, go to a place like NYC and you'll see millions of people that rarely cook food at home.
The more the corporations cook our food, the more our food is processed, refined, and full of cheap and artificial ingredients. The more likely it will contain GMOs, pesticides, factory farmed, cruelly treated meats.
This is badddd news for the already declining health of the average American.
Remember this: When corporations cook, you lose.
Cooking Is Mandatory
This is partly a guide to Paleo and partly a guide to general healthy eating. As I stated above, we're going to mix the two as we go.
For success in any Real Food eating plan, you have to cook. There's no way around it.
Without cooking, you're only other option is to rely on the corporations for your nutritional needs, and when you do that, your health is going to suffer. (It's also more expensive.)
Remember The Basics
The answer to human nutrition is Real Food. Whether that's a Real Food Vegan diet, or a Real Food Strict Paleo diet, the foundation should be built upon quality Real Food ingredients.
Keep this in mind as you progress through the rest of this guide.
A few Real Food Tips to get you started:
- Start reading labels.
- Don't eat anything you can't pronounce.
- Buy fresh and raw and cook and prepare for yourself.
- Invest in a slow cooker.
- Learn how to make a basic salad dressing and make delicious homemade salads often.
- Canned fatty fish is one of the most nutritionally dense foods you can eat. (And oysters.)