Eating Paleo / Primal foods reverts to a very basic diet consisting of meat, fish and seafood, vegetables, eggs, herbs, nuts, seeds, fruit and healthy oils. You’ll see at least one common factor here: all of these natural foods can be eaten with minimal to no form of processing or altering.
And, like the cavemen that inspired this diet, you can enjoy this bounty in its purest form. This, in essence, is very similar to the gluten free diet thanks to the omission of the range of grains (wheat, rye & barley). This Paleo (or caveman diet) is one that dates back to the days before grain was ground and milled in to powder form and subsequently used as the basis for the western modern-day staple. As you continue reading, you’ll see how this way of eating supports life without gluten.
My own experience with eating paleo foods
Shortly after I discovered my own gluten intolerance, I quickly grew bored and wanted to try new recipes within the bounds of a gluten-free diet. As luck would have it, I talked to a friend around this time who introduced me to Paleo / Primal foods. This friend isn’t sensitive to gluten, but she just wanted to feel healthier. She started describing what these caveman diet recipes consisted of, and explained how she had much more energy, was losing weight without trying and how she wasn’t getting sick as much. When she explained that the foods don’t include grains and are naturally gluten-free, I suddenly understood why so many people with celiac disease (CD) were utilizing this diet in their own lives.
Personally, I was thrilled that getting rid of gluten made my painful symptoms go away, but I was still unsatisfied with my meals. Although the processed foods I was now eating were gluten free, they contained a lot of useless calories.
This is when I decided to take my gluten-free diet a step further and go Paleo. My biggest worry was I wouldn’t have time to cook, but with a good recipe book, I found a lot of delicious and creative options that took 15 minutes or less — many processed meals take longer that in the oven!
Today, I enjoy eating colorful plates of veggies, meats and other natural foods that keep me satisfied and alert all day. Best of all, I can eat as much as I want and my body won’t gain weight. I’ve never experienced that before.
Differences between Paleo and Primal
By now, you’ve seen us refer to “Paleo” and “Primal,” but you’re probably wondering what the differences are. There are a lot of ins and outs to this question, but in a nutshell, here are the main differences:
- Paleo tends to stay away from dairy, saturated fats and restricts egg consumption. Dr. Loren Cordain is the foremost authority of this way of eating, and his book The Paleo Diet Revised is widely acclaimed.
- The Primal diet allows these foods and takes it a step further by encompassing a holistic approach to life. For a more detailed explanation of the two, check out the What’s the Difference Between Primal and Paleo? post by Mark’s Daily Apple.
Compatibility of paleo and gluten free
As mentioned, Paleo / Primal foods are naturally gluten free. This begs the question as to whether there’s anything else you should be mindful of.
The answer is yes.
As with a standard gluten-free lifestyle, you should always be aware of where your food comes from. Although Paleo / Primal doesn’t include grains, if you purchase packaged food, such as sunflower seeds, make absolutely sure that the seeds are not processed in the same facility as wheat or other gluten grains. You can usually find this information right on the container.
Planning your meals
The biggest key to success with this diet is planning your meals. Since you’ll be incorporating lots of fresh veggies and fruits, do your shopping ahead of time. I personally hate to shop so I started a little container garden to grow my own produce and make things easier. To some people, this planning can be a significant challenge. I’m definitely in that category. Try to find a routine that works and stick with it. In a month or so, you should be well on your way.
Keep it simple or varied?
When you’re just starting out, you can make life easier by making double or triple portions of food so you can consume it over a period of several days. For instance, I always cook extra protein and make giant salads for the week so I can easily incorporate it my daily routine. The downside is the limitations of what you’ll be eating during the week, but it’s a great option if it helps you stick to a healthy meal plan.
Try to get in the habit of making at least three different variations of meals in the beginning. As you start to make recipes from memory, you can add more to your week. A widely varied menu takes more planning, organizing and preparation, but variety keeps the food more interesting.
Eating paleo can be fully compatible with your lifestyle (in the vast majority of cases) if you sit back and take a little time to think it through. You may discover skills you never knew you had and a new exciting world of eating if you can vary the meals as much as possible throughout the week.
The Gluten-Free Cuisine recommends talking to your doctor or nutritionist before making any major diet change. This is especially important if you are still healing from Celiac disease or have another serious health condition.