HPC 101… class is in now session kids!
After having coffee with a friend the other night, it dawned on me (cue angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus) “AAAAAAAAAAH!”… this stuff doesn’t come naturally to everybody: Quinoa, superfoods, paleo, raw food, cacao (cocoa?!), soaking, fermenting, dehydrators etc! Some of you, as you read this, are thinking to yourselves: “Well that stuff may as well be in Japa-freakin-ese! What does it mean? Why should I change how I eat? What is Paleo?! Welcome to Hot Pink Chilli 101. Class is now in session! Over the next few weeks I’ll be introducing a few concepts and basic cooking techniques for those of you who are new and possibly intimidated but not brave enough to say so.
Straight up, my disclaimer: My name is Jodi, not Dr Jodi, Prof Jodi, Jodi Bsc.Naturopath or even Jodi Cert III & IV PT… nope, sorry to disappoint but my foodie qualifications begin and end with Mrs Jodi B.Dom.Eng QBE… which stands for “Domestic Engineer, Qualifications by Experience”! Actually, my real qualifications are Dip.Ed, and having used that for 2 years to teach a class of 48 (!) grade ones kidlets, you’ll have to forgive me if I dumb it down… I’m used to a young audience! To that end, these 101 classes have lots of links to other websites which I personally refer to, on a weekly basis. These websites and blogs are choc full of accurate information and are a continued source of reference to me as I navigate life with my (now!) healthier body.
First of all, eating Paleo (PAY-lee-oh) is definitely NOT a diet! Diets are focused on weight-loss and generally last a certain amount of time until a goal weight is reached, after which, if they’re lucky, you go onto some sort of maintenance eating plan. The paleo diet is better described by this guy as a ‘template’ – in other words, a guide, on how to eat for better health for the rest of your life. Yes, if you’re above your healthy weight range, you will almost certainly lose weight eating this way but this is generally a pleasant side-effect as your body adjusts to eating such nutritious, unprocessed, fresh food.
My definition of ‘Paleo’ is pretty obvious if you’ve been following for a while: whole, unprocessed & preferably organic, grain-free, dairy-free and sugar-free food. Paleo refers to an era in evolution when Paleolithic man were classed as Hunters & Gatherers, eating only what they could forage ie: wild & naturally grass-fed meats and fish, vegetables, fruits & berries and nuts & seeds. Anything else… was simply unobtainable. Foraged food is the opposite of purposely farmed food in that you can’t ‘hunt and gather’ oats or rice, because it is farmed with the purpose to be cultivated. You wouldn’t gather milk because milk comes from cows, which again – are farmed. As a Bible-believing Bat Mitzvahed Christian from a Jewish family (there’s definitely not enough time to cover all that now!), I do not believe in evolution, but creation by a loving God. Interestingly though, my nutrition and health journey brought me to where I am now, eating the Paleo way, before even knowing that it was a ‘movement’ or that it even had a name! I distinctly remember someone said something to me about “Paleo” and I was like “Pailey-who?!
The base foods of Paleo are:
- Nuts and seeds
Defining Paleo however, can become even more confusing when you factor in the different versions which I call: Purist Paleos vs Pampered Paleos and this guy outlines 5 experts and their interpretations (listening ears open and thinking caps on kids, grab your juice-box and settle in!):
- Prof Loren Cordain – the ‘world’s leading paleolithic expert’: This Prof has an emphasis on lean meat, only a small amount of healthy fats but strictly NO dairy, NO legumes, NO pork (now any good Jewish princess knows that that’s just not kosher!) NO natural sweeteners and definitely no grain-like seeds such as buckwheat or quinoa as well as NO starchy vegetables eg: potatoes and pumpkin (I don’t being told ‘No!’ pfft…)
- Robb Wolf – a student of Prof Loren Cordain’s: Robb puts far less emphasis on the fat content of meat, but focuses more on the quality ie: grass-fed is crucial and organic is preferable; moderate amounts of healthy oils; allowing small amounts of starchy veg, but still NO dairy, NO legumes and of course NO grains (now we’re getting there)
- Art De Vany – ‘Patriarch of the Paleo Movement’: Art allows pork in his interpretation (don’t tell the rabbi but I do like me some crispy bacon on my paleo waffles with maple syrup – hell yeah!); some dairy, like cheese and yoghurt (these are fermented foods so even I seem to be able to digest these in small quantities); an emphasis on 1/3 raw veg, 1/3 cooked veg and 1/3 meats, most importantly organ meats & game meat with grass-fed and organic being paramount; he says to watch your portions of nuts and high-sugar fruit like bananas and tropical fruits. Art is 72 years old and looks AMAZING!
- Mark Real-Men-Eat-Lettuce Sisson: Mark places a bigger emphasis on plant foods, with only moderate consumption of nuts, seeds and their oils but believes that raw, fermented dairy is fine in small amounts, as are starchy vegetables and wild rice. This guy is a 57 year old powerhouse of a man with abs to match, if these foods did that to him, I want some!
- Paul & Shou-ching Jaminet – an Astrophysicist and a Molecular Biologist (smart much?!): The same basics with an interesting twist – preferring that 65% of our diet consist of plants only, with 65% of your calories coming from fats. They have a big focus on toxin-free, unprocessed foods and so campaign strongly against vegetable oils calling them liquid evil (I agree, ask me why) but also allowing small amounts of cheese, starchy vegetables and rice.
Sooooo, where does that leave us, anyone even more confused? The bottom line is the same across the board so I’ll summarise (does anybody need a toilet break yet?):
- Lots of colourful & green leafy vegetables play a huge role in your daily intake
- Meat is just as important, and if it’s a) grass-fed and b) organic, its fat content should not matter as it will be nutritious, rather than toxic to your system. I’ve long supported a local Queensland farm who strongly believe that 100% grass-fed, organic meat is the only meat to eat! (sadly, they temporarily aren’t delivering to the sunshine coast)
- Fresh fruit is great, just make sure you are careful with the high-sugar ones such as bananas and tropical fruits like mangos & lychees so balance it out.
- Nuts and seeds are crucial to your diet, but again, don’t overdose. Wherever possible soak your nuts to activate them to aid digestion and maximise mineral absorption.
- Healthy fats are crucial. Use coconut oil and ghee to cook with, preserving their integrity as they heat and use olive, avocado & macadamia oil, raw, for maximum nutritional benefit – drizzled over food once cooked and on salads. Stay away from liquid evils and I’m not even talking about booze!
- Natural sweeteners like raw honey, maple syrup and agave nectar can be healthy in moderation
- Avoid entirely: Grains, refined sugars, processed foods and legumes (I’m not 100% legume free, the jury’s still out on how they affect my body)
There you have it: Paleo by definition.
Being exceptionally stubborn by nature – I will not be defined by a label, not even one I so strongly believe in like The Paleo Diet. Having stumbled upon this way of eating by way of food elimination confirms to me that this is how my body functions at its optimum. The fact that it has a name, well frankly, is a bonus! That said, I would say I fit in somewhere Robb Wolf’s and Art De Vany’s guidelines… throw in lifes-too-short-not-have-healthy-treats and there you have me: let’s call it Jodeo!
How to go forward with this information? Test it out for yourself, don’t take my word for it that this is how you should eat – so suss it out: Cut out one element at a time for 4-6 weeks, whether grains, dairy or sugar – keep a food/mood journal and see if you feel any different. Do you notice fewer headaches, better digestion, less bloating and farting, long-term health symptoms such as arthritis disappearing? Re-introduce them back into your diet after 4-6 weeks and make the same observations: are you afternoon cravings suddenly back, are you sluggish, is your head foggy again or are you struggling to sleep now? That way you’ll know if your body is better without them or not.
I hope you learnt something in my abridged class, for more in-depth information and to learn more, read:
So what do you think? Please add your 2c and let’s educate each other to better health! What would you like to learn about next kids? Mrs Jodi is open to suggestions! Oh, there’s the bell, don’t forget to wash your hands…