When you first start looking into paleo eating, you’ll find a large diversity among followers. There’s a lot of variation among different people. I’ve met people who are super hardcore and eat raw meat only. I’ve met others who allow dairy 100% of the time and believe that Paleolithic people used animal milks (and therefore we should be using them too). If you read Marks Daily Apple, you’ll find he subscribes to an 80/20 philosophy (shoot for true paleo eating 80% of the time).
As I’ve written before, I have quite a history when it comes to reading books on nutrition and fitness. I have taken something valuable from just about everything I’ve read. For this reason, my Primal Rules for Paleo eating are different than others. For starters, one of the main arguments for the Paleo Diet is that we should be eating what our ancestors ate and nothing else, because we are still evolutionary challenged (so to speak) and those are the foods we are still “wired” to eat. Therefore, people who are very conservative Paleo eaters, choose not to eat anything that wouldn’t have been available to our Paleolithic “Fathers”. I can understand where they’re coming from, and I believe the reason they’re on the conservative side of things is that their reasoning behind eating that way is about our ancestors and evolution. I think a little differently.
I am in this 100% for health and nothing more. I subscribe to the Paleo lifestyle, but I also see the benefit of some of the foods we have today. Add to that that I am one of six family members and the only Primal eater (at least right now). I have to admit, the more strict of a diet I choose to eat, the more difficult it is for me and my family at dinner time.
I am of the opinion that just because our ancestors didn’t eat [it], that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not healthy or I shouldn’t eat it. In light of all my reading, one of the most important factors in eating Primal has to do with regulating blood sugar. That is a huge part of why the Paleo Diet is so successful, because it doesn’t send your blood sugar on an all-day roller coaster ride. For me, that is the most important aspect of eating this way. I have read too much and learned an equal amount about my body, and I know that keeping my blood sugar as steady as possible is what matters most to me. That said, I also know there are foods we have today that our paleolithic counterparts did not, and I also know they won’t wreak havoc on my blood sugar. They include low-carb yogurt, milk, cheese, and some legumes like green beans and peanuts (neither of which bother me).
I don’t necessarily eat these things everyday. Yogurt is maybe 3 or 4 times a week to mix it up. Milk is a treat in a latte which I probably have one every other day (and milk sugars do not cause the same kind of chaos as other sugars; also, if you drink whole milk you have all that fat to slow them down). Cheese is once a week- maybe. The legumes I mentioned are even more rare- maybe twice a month.
My rule of thumb on determining whether or not to allow something to be part of my diet is this:
- Will it mess with my blood sugar?
- Does my body seem to like it? (I ask this now because I have learned that beans and I don’t get along)
- Besides the first two, is there any other added benefit to eating it? This could be because it’s healthy, but sometimes (like cheese) it makes family dinner once in a while a little easier.
I have no issues with adding foods that aren’t considered full Paleo, if they meet my criteria. I simply want to feel good and I would rather choose to set my own rules according to my own body and lifestyle.
So, there you have it. Next time you see one of my recipes and it has cheese in it, remember why my rules are different. I will always try to leave notes about modifications that can be made for the 100% Primal Eater.