Monday, 21 March 2011

the primal diet : at a glance

like i mentioned in my previous post, i gain a lot of recipe inspiration from the fantastic primal diet and lifestyle community on the internet - it's been such a help to find low carb recipes to help me manage my diabetes better, as well as a great resource for nutritional information.

i first thought about a more traditional, return-to-the-roots kind of eating style once i had finished john robbins healthy at 100 (yes, i know i mention this book all the time!). in his book he looks at different cultures that thrive in their old age - he looks at the foods they eat and the way they live. and it struck me just how differently these cultures ate... some ate high fat, some ate lots of fruit, some ate fermented dairy - yet they all lived strong and energetic lives right up until their 'old age'.

it got me thinking about what sort of diet my ancestors would have eaten. our westernised society is so far removed from something 'traditional' - how was i supposed to know what sort of food and lifestyle my body would live to 100 on?

from then on, i did a lot of googling, from traditional english foods, to medieval cuisine, to finding the dates of overseas food importations, to the roman diet... i even got out my bible to flick through for some hint at diet advice (hum, well Jesus ate fish, bread and wine, so these must be ok?!?)

anyways, somewhere along the way i stumbled into the paleo / primal online community (and my goodness is it large!), who were all claiming better health and happiness whilst living this lifestyle, that seemed to have their ideals set firmly in a natural, wholefoods logic that appealed to me - and they didn't seem to be selling me anything either, which gave the community some sort of credibility.

so what is the primal or paleo diet?
well, it is a hunter-gatherer style diet based on the presumed diet of those living in the Paleolithic era (10,000 + years ago). it consists of food that can be hunted, gathered or fished - like meat, seafood, eggs, fruit, vegetables, spices, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, and herbs. it is also important with this diet to follow the lifestyle guidelines that match the diet plan, like getting good sleep, lifting heavy things, avoiding pesticides, etc (more info here)

there's a lot of information out there about the paleo or primal lifestyle, so instead of me waffling on about it, check out these delicious blogs for recipes, exercise and nutrition ideas:

final conclusion: 
so, i guess you might want to know if i will be following a primal or paleo lifestyle from now on? well, yes and no. i sort of already have started following it by accident, in that on my new diabetes diet i am  eating lots of protein and hardly any carbs. i think i'm probably 80% primal at the moment - and it does make me feel pretty good - granted i eat mostly vegetables, and not nearly as much meat as the other primal bloggers profess to enjoy.

the primal diet has also helped me to discover new recipes and ways of cooking particular vegetables. i also like understanding more about the nutrition side of it, so i'm more clued up when it comes to explaining the benefits of eating a low carb diet. (it's also helpful for those of you who are dairy free, gluten free, grain free, diabetic or wheat free, just fyi)

and finally, i think the paleo lifestyle is really very brilliant. i would highly recommend it as a sensible way of getting fitter and feeling better - it's very logical and easy to incorporate into your everyday life. more sun? check. more regular sleep? check. more time with family? check. walk around barefoot? check. go dog walking? check. weight lifting? well, maybe at some point.

what do you think? have you heard of or experimented with primal/paleo food before?

currenty listening to: l.i.f.e.g.o.e.s.o.n. by noah and the whale


  1. I've started to hear more about this diet recently and it sounds really interesting. As a veggie that eats mostly vegan I think I'd be rather stuck on trying this out but it did actually get me thinking about diet and how I think that each individual needs to find a way of eating that works for their body and their food 'ethos'. Glad that its helping your diabetes!

  2. I don't think I've ever heard of a primal diet! Sure, things similar, but not called a paleo or primal diet. It definitely sounds very logical to me, though, and makes me thing of In Defense of Food, comparing a group of Australian bushmen who thrived and lived so well out in their bush, and yet when moved to civization and allowed to eat things like packaged breads, not needing to hunt their own meats, and rely more heavily on packaged food, their weight shot up and health started dwindling. Sounds like one of the more sensible "diets," out there. You mentioning they're not trying to sell anything gets them bonus points, too ;)

  3. I've got the book which I still need to read, you just reminded me! Food looks delicious x x

  4. All of your food looks amazing! I haven't read this book, but your food is making me want to!

  5. I first heard about this diet about a year or so ago on Mark's Daily Apple, I already eat probably 60-70% along those lines minus the times I eat microwaveable meals from healthy choice lol. Thanks for sharing those blogs, I enjoyed visiting them, there are so many delicious recipes! I can't wait to try the sundried tomato chicken recipe!

  6. A friend of mine has been doing this diet for weeks now and said it has really worked for her. I personally don't like to used the word 'diet' (in anything but a 'balanced diet'), but I appreciate this diet might work for some people :-)

  7. It's something I've been hearing about more lately. I think there was an article in one of the broadsheets about it earlier in the year as well. It is interesting and I've been interested in reading various bloggers' takes on it. I'm not sure it's for me at the moment - I love my grains too much to give them up.

  8. Hi, Alissa! Just wanted to thank you for the mention. A distinct honor and pleasure to be listed in such good company. :)

    Hoping that your ongoing efforts at blood sugar stabilization are fruitful! I can identify with you when you write about feeling significantly different on a lower-carb diet - I'm a whole different person, myself!

  9. I love this post! Its very informative and all your food looks so good. I have never heard of the primal diet but have recently started to hear more about paleo.

  10. I am also a type 1 diabetic. Were you advised to follow a low carb diet, or was it a personal choice?
    Diabetes today shouldn't hinder your ability to eat nearly anything! The advice is to eat as you would regularly and match your insulin to that.
    i know for myself i rely on carbohydrates, be they low GI, and do not forbid myself from having a few squares of chocolate or a apple crumble made with sugar or some icecream, etc.

    I just wonder whether low carb is really good for anyone? ESPECIALLY a diabetic/?

  11. Thanks for the awesome comments!

    Jess - I read about that trial too, and it definitely fits with the primal way of life - there's a few things like that in the Robbins book.

    Jennifer - Glad I could direct you to these tasty blogs, it's always great to hear of other's doing well on this way of life. Such an inspiration!

    AO - You are most welcome!

    Anonymous - I wrote a post in response to your question on my Juvenile Diabetes blog at:

  12. Hi Maryann,

    If you eat a low carb diet as a T1 Diabetic, there's far less margin for error with insulin. Avoiding the hypers and hypos is a real plus.


Thanks for leaving a lovely comment - have a wonderful day ♥