What does it mean to be “Primal”? Part 1: Real Food

April 3, 2012 at 10:58

Little Miss Sicky Poo

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Hearing the phrase “I’m primal” probably conjures up images like this of primitive men running around killing animals with rudimentary tools.  I know it did for me when I first heard it.  Although we don’t wear animal skins, live in caves or use spears to obtain our meals, being “primal” in the modern age has quite a few similarities to our ancestors from the Paleolithic Era.

Being primal means to return to the lifestyle and eating habits of our Paleolithic friends to honor the way our bodies were designed and intended to function.  Please be advised that when I say “return to the lifestyle,” I do not mean that you can start clubbing each other instead of having constructive arguments or go to the bathroom outside whenever the urge takes over.  I mean where ever possible within our socially acceptable and legal standards.

The Primal Way of Eating
I cringe a little bit each time someone calls this a diet because it is so much more than that.  In my mind a diet is something that you do temporarily to drop 10 pounds before your 15 year reunion.   This on the other hand is a lifestyle.  When we talk about the primal way of eating we refer to the foods that were available to our ancestors and the foods that our bodies are programmed to process.  Genetically our bodies are virtually the same as they were at the end of the Paleolithic Era, yet since then, with the advent of agriculture, we have drastically redefined the foods that comprise our overall diet.  The results on our health have been catastrophic (but I’ll get into that in later posts).  For now, let’s take a look at what the primal “diet” looks like:

  • Meat: Grass fed, free-range, organic meat of any kind; steak, bison, pork, bacon, chicken, etc. (try to avoid commercially raised meat where ever possible)
  • Offal: (Organ meat): bone marrow, liver, heart, sweet breads, etc.
  • Fish: Fatty oily fish are the best option, however, all fish are fine (avoid farm raised variety and stick to wild caught, even if it is canned)
  • Vegetables:  All vegetables are fine, however, starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes should be consumed in moderation. Try to stick with organic vegetables as much as possible.
  • Eggs: Free-range organic eggs are the best choice
  • Fruit: Berries are the best choice, but all fruits are fine in moderation
  • Nuts & Seeds & Nut Butters: Stick to raw nuts and seeds as opposed to those that are roasted in vegetable oils like peanut or canola oil.  For nut butters, try to choose varieties that have no added sugars.
  • Oils & Fats: Raw Butter, Olive Oil, Ghee, Tallow, Coconut Oil
  • Dairy:  Certain types of dairy can be consumed in moderation, however, this category stresses a high importance on raw, unpasteurized cream, cheese, milk and yogurt.  Avoid low fat options and stick with FULL fat!
  • Fermented Foods: Yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, etc.
  • Bonus Foods: Organic dark chocolate, red wine in moderation

The general idea is to avoid processed foods and eat real foods.  You want to minimize food sources that have been exposed to pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, chemicals or high stress.  All of these things contribute to an inferior food source and get passed onto you.

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