6 Ways to Optimise Your Paleo Meals
4 March 2018
4 March 2018
If you are already eating Paleo then you will automatically be avoiding certain foods (such as refined sugar, grains and processed foods) that can make our bodies inflammed and negatively effect our weight, energy and mood.
At the same time there are a few traps that we can unknowingly fall into. With this in mind here are a few ways you can optimise your meals for maximum nourishment and energy:
Fruit, dried fruit, fruit juice/smoothies, honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar/nectar are all Paleo, yet there is often a misconception that because they are natural they don’t “count” as sugar. However, they are sugar none the less and the more we minimise our intake of these (particularly in the morning) the more stable our blood sugar levels will be, which is beneficial for energy, weight and avoiding food cravings. Whole fruits such as berries are great as they are low in fructose, high in nutrients, and they taste lush too. You can also use Stevia and Xylitol as sweeteners and they won’t spike blood sugar levels.
Make vegetables the star of the show
“Meat is the new ketchup” Mark Hyman
One of the mistakes us Paleo folk sometimes make is making protein the main feature of our meals with veggies on the side (or none at all)! Vegetables are full of phytonutrients and antioxidants, polyphenols galore plus soluble and insoluble fibre. The more we eat the more we nourish our body, and our microbiome and mitochondria will thank us for it! Eat plenty in terms quantity and variety and combine with healthy fats to optimise nutrient absorption.
Include quality animal protein
Not all meat/fish/eggs are created equal. There is a saying (although I can’t remember where I first heard it) that you are what you eat ate. This is a great saying and its absolutely true. Most animal protein is industrially raised, fed on grains (and worse) and given hormones and antibiotics….all of which affect the optimal functioning of our bodies if we consume them. Wherever possible go for meat that is grass fed/chicken that has been naturally reared, and free of antibiotics and hormones, wild fish and eggs from naturally reared birds. And be careful of marketing and labels such as “organic” and “free range”. These can be very deceptive, so investigate your meat sources thoroughly.
Include plenty of healthy fats
Contrary to what has previously been drummed into us (and to a degree it still is), low fat diets are not beneficial for our bodies and brains. It is therefore important to include plenty of fats in our meals. Quality sources are avocado and cold pressed avocado oil, wild oily fish, grass fed meat/offal, egg yolks, raw nuts & seeds (in small quantities), raw virgin coconut oil and MCT oil, and extra virgin olive oil.
Eat local and seasonal where possible
This helps you to get the best tasting, healthiest food available. The same reasons that keep the cost of seasonal food down also drive its quality up: The food is grown closer to you so it doesn’t spoil on its trip, it’s harvested at the peak of its season and sold during its season, before it spoils. This typically means you’re getting fruits and vegetables that haven’t had time to lose their flavor or nutrients whilst being shipped.
Use non-toxic cooking methods
The oils we use to cook food in, and our cookware and cooking methods can be toxic to our bodies. To minimise this use coconut oil, avocado oil (and Ghee if you choose to include this in your diet) for cooking, and reserve other oils such as nut oils and olive oil to be used raw. Avoid cooking food at very high temperatures and opt for non toxic cookware
The ideal composition of our meals will depend to a degree on factors such as food intolerances, whether or not we are following a ketogenic diet, how active we are, and whether we are eating pre or post exercise, or protein fasting. However in general these principles will help you to upgrade your meals to get you feeling and performing your absolute best.