As I sat down to write this, I struggled to remember how I discovered the primal lifestyle. But I think it was when I decided to cut out gluten and I just happened to stumble upon a few primal blogs when hunting for recipes. It has been a gradual journey for me – and I’m still easing into it, having just been through the upheaval of moving to a different country.
There are many different versions of primal (and paleo) lifestyles, with a buffet of different blogs and books out there. But to me, the diet part of being primal is as simple as reducing the amount of processed foods I eat; it is eating foods as close to their natural state as possible. It cuts out grains, legumes and other starchy foods. I will do my best to describe why I believe primal is right for me, but check out some other blogs that do an excellent job: here, here and here.
Our bodies can do amazing things, but we only get one body to last us for a lifetime. So it makes sense to look after the one you have, doesn’t it?! However a lot of the food we consume on a daily basis is slowly poisoning us. We eat a whole lot of processed foods, loaded with sugars and flavours and colours. We also eat a whole lot of foods that aren’t so obviously bad for us, such as bread and pasta. Humans have only been eating grains since the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago, which is a blink of an eye in evolutionary terms. Our bodies haven’t adapted to eating grains. On top of that, grains don’t actually want to be eaten. While they can’t run away like animals can (and do), they have other forms of defence. Nuts have tough outer shells, and grains have some toxic anti-nutrients such as lectins, gluten, and phytates.
The thing I love about primal is that it isn’t just a diet. It’s a lifestyle, a way to live that helps to reduce the pressure and stresses of modern life. The key points of primal that stood out for me are below:
- Eat foods as close to their natural state as possible
- Eliminate sugars, grains, legumes and processed foods
- Instead of thinking about all the foods you can’t have, think about all the amazing, delicious and healthy meals you can have. There is a plethora of recipes out there.
- Play, socialise, laugh and dance a lot. Dancing is great for both fitness and challenging the mind.
- Sleep is very important. This is when our bodies do some remarkable things.
- Walk a lot. Aim for 40 – 60 minutes each day, if not more! Even if it just to get home from work. We all moan about the public transport, so why not use something more reliable, your legs? Grab a friend and chat at the same time.
- Do some sprinting, or swim very fast, or race someone on your bike once a week
- Do some weights, whether it’s push-ups and tricep dips in your lounge, or a chest-press at the gym, get out there and stimulate those muscles.
- Have fun doing it! Stress has to be one of the worst things we can do to our bodies. A little bit is great for motivation, but too much can be a real killer.
Why? There is clearly something wrong with our current way of living. I walked down to the beach a few weeks ago, and a group of adults were climbing up the stairs to return to their car. They were in their mid-twenties; they should be as fit as a fiddle, yet they were huffing and puffing and could barely speak to each other as they climbed no more than 15 steps. Obesity levels are higher than ever before, and related health issues are costing us more than ever.
So what do I want to gain by living a primal lifestyle? Imagine a life where you can be:
- Happy and relaxed, with time to spend with friends and family,
- Healthy and energetic, with reduced risks of modern diseases because your food is nurturing you rather than poisoning you,
- Lean and strong, because fitness is a happy side-effect of your lifestyle,
- Mentally agile, able to be focussed and productive when you need to be.
Sounds okay to me.