We’ve stated we follow a Paleo/Primal lifestyle. We hint at our aversion to all things made with grains or refined sugars. We plug grass-fed and pastured meats, organic local veggies and fruits, wild-caught seafood and game, and free-range or N3 (that’s Omega-3) enriched eggs in our ingredient lists. We mention “substitutes” for things that most people indulge on with the Standard American Diet (SAD) – things like rice, pastas, breads, and potatoes. But what the heck are we talking about? What is Paleo? What is this thing called Primal? Why do we care?
What is Paleo?
Paleo is an abbreviation of the word Paleolithic. In the sense that we use it, it is a reference to what is known as the Paleo Diet (though we disagree with the use of the term diet in it’s modern-day “fad diet” sense of the word). It is a lifestyle, where food choices are based on their origination within the Paleolithic Era, prior to human-kind adopting agriculture and animal husbandry practices and instead finding their nutrition through hunting, fishing, and foraging. It is founded on research in evolutionary biology linking the remarkable increase in many modern health conditions with the start of the Neolithic Era and mankind’s dietary shift to primarily cereal grains and domesticated animal products, and to the even more rapid increase in these conditions as our modern diet becomes based on more and more processed versions of these foods.
Paleo nutrition, in a nutshell, is based on the consumption of wild (or as close to wild as possible such as grass-fed and free-range) animals and fish, eggs (again from wild or close-to-wild animals), and fresh vegetables, fruits and berries, as well as the consumption of nuts and seeds in limited quantities. Missing are grains, legumes, starchy tubers, dairy, refined sugars, and artificial and chemical ingredients – all things that are increasingly linked with elevated insulin levels, chronic inflammation, prohibition of nutrient absorption, and generally poor health.
What is Primal?
Primal is a little bit of a spin on traditional Paleo. Paleo tends to draw a hard line at Paleolithic=good and Neolithic=bad, regardless of whether there may be some true value to certain Neolithic foods or some true detriment to certain Paleolithic foods. Primal, on the other hand, tends to approach the matter a bit more idealistically – placing emphasis on adapting the mindset of a modern day hunter-gatherer and keeping the focus on quality, variety, and nutritional value-to-cost ratio. In our opinion, the Primal approach lends itself to be a little more forgiving, much less orthorexic, and simply better aligned with our own outlooks on life.
Primal – as a lifestyle – also emphasizes more than just the diet. It advocates healthy activity, leisure time, good sleep, and social support through group activities – all in the interest of living longer, being healthier, and enjoying life.
Why do we care?
We care because we want to do all those things mentioned above – live longer, be healthier, and enjoy life. We want to play with our kids and not get winded by simply running the length of our front yard. We want to wake up in the morning feeling recharged and ready to face another day, free of aches and pains (aside from a little muscle soreness reminding us that we’re getting stronger) or chronic illness. We want to see new things, and seek out new adventures. We want to see our children grow strong and healthy, and our grandchildren, and maybe even get to meet another generation beyond that.
It is not just about wanting those things, though: we have been doing this long enough now that we are achieving those things. At 40 and 33, we’re in better shape than we’ve ever been in our lives. We’ve achieved stable body weights and body compositions at which our bodies seem to be most comfortable (with Casey now 50 pounds lighter than before starting to live this way). We’ve seen a profound reduction in our frequency and severity of illness – from seasonal allergies to the common cold. We’ve gained strength, flexibility, and endurance. In many ways, we’ve finally figured out how to be alive. That’s why we care!