Primal diet - going back to the roots of healthy eating
As some of you know, I am a big advocate of the Low-carb plan and I like to surf the various websites devoted to this diet in search of new recipes and nutritional information. It was while visiting a Low-carb forum that I first saw the term “Primal Diet” being bandied about. I’d heard of the Primal/Paleo Diet before, but had dismissed it as yet another fad. However, curiosity got the better of me and I decided I wanted to know more.
A quick Google search led me to a host of articles and websites devoted to this way of eating and I was pleasantly surprised to find it’s actually very nutritious and is a good blueprint to base any diet on.
So what is Primal/Paleo dieting? To most people, it sounds like existing purely on a mountain of meat, but that’s a misconception. The foundation of this plan is to avoid all processed food and eat purely natural ingredients. In other words, the rule of thumb is ‘If you can’t hunt it, catch it or gather it, don’t eat it’.
This led me to wonder, how much of the food we eat is actually unprocessed? Almost everything we eat has been treated in some way to give it more shelf-life, make it more attractive to the eye or to add flavour. Is this really good for us? I don’t think so.
We can apply the principles of the Primal diet to our own healthy eating plans to help us cut out as many additives and processed foods as possible. Meat, fish, eggs, fruit, vegetables, fungi, nuts and berries in their natural state are relatively unprocessed and we should be including as much of these ingredients in our daily meals as possible. Eating fresh, natural ingredients help our bodies to work more efficiently, boost our energy levels and improve our immune systems. The less complex our food, the better our bodies like it. Why? Because this is the kind of food our bodies are genetically attuned to. Even after thousands of years and the advent of agriculture, little has changed in our genes.
It’s not just about diet either. You can adapt the Primal pattern to your lifestyle too. Going back thousands of years, our ancestors were nomadic hunters. They moved around a lot, which meant steady, gentle exercise interspersed with brief spells of intense activity (hunting, building shelter, fighting, running from predators), they ate when they were hungry, slept when it got dark and rose with the sun. Today, our lifestyle patterns are different in that we sit up way into the night watching TV or surfing the net, deal with long periods of stress and eat all kinds of complex, processed foods. It’s no wonder we are so unhealthy, so maybe it’s time to consider ‘going back to our roots’.
No matter what plan you are currently following, you can adapt a primal approach by cutting as much processed food as possible out of your diet, drinking water rather than caffeine, going to bed early and taking the time to do long, gentle exercise when you have time, and a few bursts of more intense activity when there is less time to spare. Why not try it for a few weeks and see what a difference it can make? Our ancestors may have been primitive, but their lifestyle made sense.