Is Paleo catching on?
I think we all know the answer to that question is undoubtedly yes. Almost every day now I get an email from a friend, long lost middle-school buddy, extended family member or stranger in my mailbox saying "Hey! I just wanted you to know that I have started the paleo diet and I love it! I love your blog and I am excited to cook some yummy things!" First of all, I love that I, Brittanie Duncan, am now that "paleo girl" my friends and family know and turn to for advice and/or encouragement on their paleo journey. To be associated with healthy living makes me very happy.
A couple of cool things are happening around Austin that point to the growing popularity of this lifestyle. First, my favorite supper club is hosting a Paleo dinner this month. I just about did a backflip when I heard that this afternoon. The second is the PaleoFX conference that is coming up in March.
When I first moved to Austin, I read an ad in the Austin Chronicle for Pink Avocado Catering's Bread and Circus Supper Club. My husband and I went, on a whim and had a BLAST. I mean, it was spectacular. The multi-course culinary extravaganza follows the funky theme of the night and the wine pairings are nothing short of harmonious, albeit unexpected in many cases. We loved the set up: a few rows of picnic tables where you sit next to people you have never met, but who become your best buddies by the third course. It was an awesome way to get to know some new folks in this great town. We are faithful lovers of the Bread and Circus Supper Club, although we have had conflicts for a couple of months and missed some great ones! Then, today I got an email from the Austin Primal Living Group inviting me to "Bread and Circus Supper Club goes Paleo!" I checked out the menu on their website and drooled on my laptop. Lay down some napkins and go check it out. If you are in Austin, you MUST come to this. Get your tickets and I'll see you there!
Secondly, the biggest names in Paleo are coming to a 3-day blowout of a conference run by Keith and Michelle Norris called PaleoFx. Anybody who is anybody in the paleosphere will be there, spreading the word about ancestral diet, exercise and lifestyle. To be held at the Palmer Events Center in South Austin, this conference will feature everything from the science behind paleo to cooking demonstrations by the biggest names in paleo food blogs. Guess who is now the Food & Beverage Tribe leader for the event! Yours truly. I am so excited to connect with the people who inspire me every day. Are you coming to PaleoFX 2013? Let me know if you are!
The first time I stumbled on Mark's Daily Apple, I thought this Paleo thing was INSANITY. Then, the more I looked at my own lifestyle, the more I realized I needed a change. I started paleo, felt immediately younger, stronger, healthier and happier, but I still didn't talk about it much. It is kind of hard to explain what you are doing and why.
How do you defend your lifestyle?
More of a lifestyle than a "diet," this way of life is not radical, although at first glance it may seem unconventional to the food standards we grew up believing in. When people ask me what it is all about,
I like to start by saying that it is all about eating real food. Its about real food that looks, smells, feels and tastes like food found in its most pure and natural form. That brings me to the most important parameter of the paleo diet: Do NOT eat processed food. That means anything that comes in a box or wrapper, for the most part. That means instead of eating say, something with blueberries in it like a blueberry filled Poptart, just eat blueberries. Instead of Goldfish, eat real fish. And instead of some boxed cereal "fortified with protein and whole grains," choose a source of whole protein you recognize, like eggs! This concept is the root of why this lifestyle is "ancestral." If our ancient ancestors arrived in 2013 on a time machine, what would they recognize as nourishment? Certainly not alot from the middle aisles of the grocery store.
The second thing I like to say is that Paleo followers eat the highest quality of whole foods that are available to them. I like to look at the food I am about to eat and ask myself, "How is this going to nourish my body?" If it is a good meal, it will usually go something like this: that steak is full of protein that is good for building muscle. It is lower in Omega-6 fats than conventional grain-fed beef, so I know I am reducing my risk for systemic inflammation and therefore, cancer and diabetes. Then I'll look at my roasted organic broccoli, happy to know I am getting lots of healthy vitamins and fiber. I know it was not sprayed with dangerous chemicals that can wreak havoc on my immune system. I will have cooked this all in a healthy fat like coconut oil, which I know is essential for healthy digestive and brain function. Then I look at my glass of wine and know that I am taking care of my sanity. Just kidding, but not really.
Then I'll get into what foods I choose not to eat. This part is tough to explain to others, especially if you don't live to understand it all like I do. i sometimes feel like I have to defend myself when I tell people that because I eat Paleo, I don't eat grains, gluten, dairy, sugar or legumes. Sugar people always understand. Gluten is pretty easy as well. Then you get to dairy and people wonder where you get your vitamin D and calcium. I answer, "from the sun and leafy greens." And how do you live without cheese!? Barely, I answer. Then there is the "whole-grain" argument. What about fiber? I get plenty of fiber from unprocessed, whole-food sources like fruits and vegetables. No rice? No. I consider rice to be a nutrient-poor, empty waste of calories. And finally, why no legumes? Legumes are seeds of the plants we eat that are dense source of carbohydrates. They also contain antinutrients that bind to the good foods we are eating and therefore, render them worthless in nourishing our bodies.
At this point I have usually lost my audience, and I am sure you have also quit reading. I just wanted to talk a little about how to defend your diet as you embark on this new lifestyle. Do yourself a favor and educate yourself on why and how this paleo movement is changing lives.