Pete Evans

Why Paleo isn’t restrictive

Why Paleo isn’t restrictive

For me, the foods I can eat living in a Paleo way are limitless because there’s such a large selection of natural, organic, seasonal and sustainable whole foods to choose from. Not only do they taste great and can be used to create flavoursome dishes but they have also helped to transform my own physical and emotional health.

For me, the foods I can eat living in a Paleo way are limitless because there’s such a large selection of natural, organic, seasonal and sustainable whole foods to choose […]

That’s why I don’t consider Paleo to be at all restrictive for me. Instead, eating this way has transformed so many areas of my life.

Physically, I’ve found freedom from blood sugar crashes, digestive issues and skin irritations and, because I focus on eating nutrient-dense foods and fermented veg, I’ve healed and sealed my gut. This means I absorb as many key vitamins and minerals as possible from the foods that I eat and so enjoy lots of vitality and energy.

As a person, I now have a real sense of purpose about where I’m heading with my life because I have the focus and mental capacity to tackle anything. My immune system is strong and, because I don’t get sick very often, there are rarely times where I just don’t feel like doing much at all.

Paleo has also allowed me to find balance and, as a result, I’m a far better and more patient partner to Nic and, when I’m with my family, I’m able to be fully present. It’s such a gift and one that’s given me the drive to, as a chef first and foremost, encourage people to use recipes and ingredients that put their health first.

Every day I wake up, I feel I have the head space to tackle whatever I need to do, learn what I need to learn and live life to the absolute fullest.

And while there is lots of conflicting info in the media about what you should and shouldn’t eat when it comes to Paleo, that is not at all what its concept is about. Instead, I’ve discovered it’s about finding rich rewards, not focusing on the restrictions.

Because at its heart, Paleo is simply about eating foods that are the completely nutrient-dense and satisfy not only the body and the mind, but also the palette. It’s a celebration of vegetables, of living and eating with the seasons, of making sustainable choices by getting food straight from the source and embracing a wide variety of good-quality proteins and fats.

I eat with gusto the foods that satisfy me personally because while Paleo is a framework, it’s a framework that needs to be used to construct a tailored blueprint with what works for you and your own body.

As a chef, living in a Paleo way has also broadened my palette and allowed me to truly understand why there is so much more to food than just its taste, texture and flavour. It’s also given me a real thirst for knowledge about how we can impact our biochemical make-up and live in better physical and mental health through the foods we consume. And there is so much diversity in what you can cook because Paleo is an adventure into real food – from nose-to-tail eating to bone broth to pickling and fermented vegetables.

I’ve travelled a lot and eaten in many countries but, honestly, learning to cook this way has been an explosion of the senses from the moment I get on the tools in the kitchen to the way I feel after I’ve consume a meal.

It’s opened up a whole new world of amazing ideas and food combinations that are just as much about healing, fuelling and protecting the body and mind as being super-delicious to eat. Because nothing tastes as good as real food straight from the source.

I was in Alaska filming my next series of The Paleo Way recently and was blown away by the freshness of flavour in each and every dish.

Some of my favourite dishes right now are a Jamaican goat curry with cauliflower rice and bone marrow with gremolata because they are both full of flavour and are packed with so many great herbs, spices and nutrients that I always feel amazing after eating them.

I also love that I can eat as much healthy fat as I want to and my blood sugar stays stable because of this high fat intake. No longer do I get mood swings when I’m hungry nor do I lag in energy at any point during the day because my body is fine-tuned to burn the food I’ve eaten in a long, slow and sustained way. The benefits of this for my busy lifestyle are enormous.

Scientifically, fat is also where it’s at with lots of research now pointing to it having a key role in powering the brain, which is made up of 60% fat.

And importantly, Paleo doesn’t sit in isolation of research either. Sure, we might take our cues from what our ancestors ate prior to the invention of agriculture 12,000 years ago but this knowledge is also much further refined with the most up-to-date 21st century nutritional science available.

We also have far more challenges than our ancestors ever faced with environmental toxins and pollutants wreaking havoc on our health, as well as our top soil being washed away and with it many key minerals that our bodies need to function well.

And, as each year passes, more and more scientific research backs up the potency of how many nutrients (and key vitamins and minerals) your body can absorb by eating diet abundant in organic, seasonal vegetables, some fruits, quality protein from land and sea, good fats, nuts and seeds and a bit of fermented veg to give your digestion a good, natural hit of probiotics.

Research has also pinpointed processed foods, refined sugars and carbohydrates and wheat as causing reactions and physical anomalies in so many people.

That’s why with Paleo, gateway allergens, such as gluten and dairy, are removed because they cause issues for so many of the world’s population. What happens when these types of foods are eliminated from the diet is that it strikes at the heart of addressing a wide range of issues that can be as simple (yet as uncomfortable as) bloating and digestive problems through to far more serious health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes.

That’s why I initially decided to eat this way because, after studying to be a health coach at the Integrative Institute of Nutrition (IIN), Paleo is the way of life that made the most sense for me because it isn’t restrictive and the science backs up its ethos.

It’s also a way to protect and honour our plant and animal life and to minimise our ecological footprint on the earth so that we can sustain it for generations to come.

There is a food revolution afoot as more and more people discover the wellness, energy, zest and vitality that comes from eating natural, organic wholefoods. And it’s also a moment in time where the world is taking a hard look at how we’ve evolved and how the human race can continue to evolve in a positive way that’s vital and harmonious to the survival of the earth and that re-connects us with the simple, most important things in life.

Paleo is not only a way to eat well but a way to get in tune with your body, to learn to listen to what it’s telling you and to respect and nurture it so that we have the clarity, energy, focus, drive and mental capacity to fulfil our true potential.

Cook with love and laughter,
Pete

By Pete Evans

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