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Today: Chef Pete Evans, author of The Paleo Chef, demystifies the gluten-free, sugar-free, and dairy-free Paleo diet.
Chances are you've already heard of the Paleo diet, which avoids all foods that were not available to Paleolithic humans, including most dairy products, refined sugars, grains, legumes, and processed foods. Chef Pete Evans, an Australian television personality, came across Paleo, which he refers to as a lifestyle rather than a diet, four years ago, when his now-fiancé introduced him to Nora Gedgaudas's book, Primal Body, Primal Mind. Since then, he has published his own book on the subject, The Paleo Chef, which which offers 100 restaurant-worthy recipes that take a new approach on Paleo.
Here are five surprsing facts about eating Paleo:
1. There are several variations on the Paleo lifestyle. Alternative versions of the diet include the Primal Diet, Caveman Diet, or LCHF (Low Carb, High Fat). While many people, like Chef Evans, choose to eat only unprocessed, non-dairy foods, others do not prioritize unprocessed food, and some will also eat certain kinds of dairy, like full-fat yogurt and certain cheeses -- it's all about finding out what works for the individual.
2. The Paleo lifestyle is not just about food. As Chef Evans explains, eating Paleo is as much a lifestyle decision as it is a choice to eat well. Because the process of adapting to the Paleo lifestyle raises your consciousness about what you put into your body, it may also draw attention to other aspects of your life, including your stress levels, how often you go outside, and how you choose to spend your free time. Since transitioning to a Paleo lifestyle, Chef Evans has made a concerted effort to swim in the ocean every morning to start each day refreshed -- which explains why he refers to the diet as a lifestyle.
3. Eating Paleo is accessible to everyone. Chef Evans encourages people to purchase only organic and unprocessed foods that can sometimes be expensive, but he insists that eating Paleo is possible for people all over the world. He recommends buying in bulk and checking out local food collectives as a way to bring costs down, and looking to farmers markets for sourcing hard-to-find ingredients.
4. The transition to Paleo is a smooth one. While cutting out sugar, dairy, and wheat can be daunting, Chef Evans recommends that those looking to transition to Paleo do so in steps. He suggests eliminating refined sugars for roughly a month, then cutting wheat and dairy. He recalls that after cutting out dairy and sugar for three months, he experienced a noticeable increase in energy and soon found it easy to stay away from these foods.
5. The Paleo lifestyle is intended for mental health as well as physical health. Chef Evans notes that the elimination of modern ingredients helps to improve all of the body's functions, from digestion to mental performance. He claims that inflammatory ingredients like sugar and gluten encourage the brain to run on glucose, rather than fats like ketones which can optimize mental functions.
Photos by James Ransom and Mark Weinberg; Author Photo courtesy of Ten Speed Press