There were many of us crowded into the large gym space. Some of us perched on boxes, some sat cross legged on the floor. A few held notebooks and writing implements, and sat with their necks crooked toward the white board in the center of the room. Others clutched paper cups with plastic lids, and eagerly sucked down what was to be their final latte before the official start of the 5 week crossfit palaeo challenge. I belonged to the latter group, and I sat in my gym clothes and puffy winter jacket and romanced a creamy coffee drink from Starbucks while listening to Mike give a kickoff nutrition lecture.
“Lean meats are good, eat them often. Beans and grains are out (this includes corn). Dairy is out. Vegetables are encouraged, eat as many as possible. Nuts and seeds are in, but if you are trying to lose weight moderate them. Fruits are in, but again, if you are trying to lean out, moderate them. No sugar, and try to limit the salt.”
“What about coffee?” Nell says.
“Coffee is okay, but try adding coconut milk instead of cream.” Mike says.
Oh thank God. I thought, as I eased my grip on the warm paper cup.
This is not the sort of diet that is supported by the USDA. It is not something that fits into the modern nutrition pyramid paradigm, and yet, it seems to actually work for people (in particular for people who are trying to lose body fat in conjunction with an exercise program). The paleo diet is based on the idea that our genetics haven’t changed much since the palaeolithic era when we first evolved into homo sapiens. Thus we are more adapted to a hunter gatherer diet than to the modern diet which heavily relies on cultivated grains.
The foods that are encouraged on the paleo diet are foods that I have often avoided in my life. Meat. Eggs. Coconut. Macadamias. These things still carry the stubborn, fuzzy residue of what was once a tightly glued scarlet letter. The health food crusaders or the low fat 90′s demonized anything that contained cholesterol or saturated fat, and I, being an impressionable youth, obediently cast them an evil eye while munching my Snackwells and pretzel rods.
The low fat 90′s are now over, and we now know that fat is not the enemy. In fact, we have likely done more damage with all of our lowfat options, than good. We are fatter, and have more metabolic disease than ever before. It’s time for a radical change of heart. It’s time to challenge the old ideas and welcome in the new ones.
So today begins the 5 week palaeo diet experiment. My primary goal is not necessarily athletic performance enhancement (although I will happily welcome the side effect) or to have fat loss (although that one is okay with me too) but to add some new cooking techniques to my repertoire and provide recipes that encourage the use of grass fed animals and, of course, fresh produce.
For the next five weeks I will be posting recipes, nutrition musings, and tips from Christina’s and my personal experience, under the heading of “Palaeo diet” on this website. If you have your own experience with the paleo diet and have some tips to share, please feel free to comment!