Paleo is a starting point, not a destination. It’s more than a simple list of “good” and “bad” foods, or a prescriptive dietary protocol. Instead, it should be thought of as a framework for achieving optimal health, using human evolution, anthropology, and physiology as a guide.
In short, the Paleo approach views the question of how to achieve health and happiness through a humble lens. Rather than presuming we have all the answers, we assume instead there are lessons to be learned about true health from our species’ past. How did humans thrive before the modern trappings of the last 10,000 years? 5,000 years? 100 years?
But rather than try to replicate the lives of hunter-gatherers because it’s trendy, viewing Paleo as a framework is much more practical. Instead of rigidity, what we have is a template – a baseline to start with, so we can test and refine what works for us individually.
With that said, the basic Paleo Framework includes the following:
- Diet – Just eat real food baby
- Organic meat and eggs from animals fed their natural diet
- Fresh fish and seafood
- Lots of veggies
- Fresh fruits
- Nuts and seeds
- Healthy, whole food fats (avocado, coconut products, olive oil)
- Full-fat dairy (if tolerated)
- Functional movement
- Quality sleep/relaxation
- Positive social interaction
Anything missing from the above list was not part of human existence until very recently (the last 10,000 years or so). We can only adapt and evolve so fast, so it’s likely our body’s are not optimized to handle whatever those modern inventions are – whether it’s wheat, pesticides, or fluorescent light bulbs, to name a few.
However, some of us may be more adapted than others, so it would be foolish to prescribe one “right way” for everybody. That said, we can be fairly certain we all started with the same basic template, and Paleo gives us as good a starting place as any to test, refine, and customize to achieve optimal health.