Friday, October 20, 2006

A Brief Paleo Diet Meal Plan

It's best if you can go "cold turkey" on modern foods and go right to eating a completely Paleo/ancestral diet for the first four months, or at least four weeks, so that you can see the difference an ancestral diet makes. Even if you go completely Paleo you will likely inadvertently eat some modern foods at times, since so many store-bought and restaurant foods contain modern ingredients, and you may find that you have sensitivity reactions to some of the modern foods when you mistakenly eat them or reintroduce them after avoiding them for a few weeks or more. These reactions should dissipate over time for most people, but they are instructive about the ill effects of modern foods.

Our ancestors didn't eat dramatically different foods at different times of the day. Sandwiches did not become lunchtime staples in America until the 1900's when bakeries started pre-slicing bread and cold breakfast cereal did not become popular until the twentieth century. Our Paleolithic ancestors cooked the fruits of the day's hunt and generally continued to eat them at each meal until they were gone, along with the fruits, vegetables and nuts that were gathered. When the meat or fish was too plentiful to be eaten in a few meals they dried, smoked or froze it (when the weather was sufficiently cold) to preserve it. To eat more like our ancestors you should try to follow the same principals, cooking meat and fish for dinner and finishing up leftovers at breakfast or lunch, drying, refrigerating or freezing any surplus.


Instead of the typical breakfast foods of cold cereal with milk, toast, bagel, muffin, donut, bacon or sausage for breakfast, an ancestral breakfast will typically include some combination of leftover or fresh meat, fruit, nuts or seeds. Breakfast is best suited to foods which are easy to prepare and digest quickly, so vegetables are less emphasized with this meal, but they can still play a role if you are creative (for example, veggies can be included in omelets). Eggs are common in the breakfast of both the Standard American Diet and the ancestral diet, but some ancestral diet advocates, like Loren Cordain, suggest limiting the intake of eggs because of concerns about weight gain and blood cholesterol levels. Choose omega-3 enriched eggs and think of the extra expense as an investment in your health.

Sample breakfast (your actual meals may differ depending on your needs, your appetite and your preferences):
Bowl of diced apple, shredded carrots, raisins and walnuts
Cold or reheated lean pork chop leftovers


Instead of the typical sandwich or burger in a bun, an ancestral lunch will tend to more resemble a light dinner.

Sample lunch:
Ground beef and red sauce on spaghetti squash
Tossed green salad with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice
Melon and strawberry slices
Water with lime wedge


Dinner is the American meal that most resembles the ancestral way of eating. Try to forego modern components like bread, pasta, milk, margarine and butter.

Sample dinner:
Lean beefsteak
Steamed broccoli
Buttercup squash
Pitted, diced Medjool dates mixed with slivered almonds
Mineral water


Ancestral snacks include fresh fruit, homemade beef jerky and dried salmon strips with no added salt, raw vegetables like carrots and broccoli, cold chicken breast and other leftover meats, sardines, unsalted or lightly salted nuts and seeds, dried fruit, trail mix, hard-boiled eggs, shrimp, homemade vegetable juice, and fruit smoothies (blended frozen fruit or fresh fruit and ice).

For more Paleo menus and ideas read The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain, Ph.D. and NeanderThin by Ray Audette and see "The Paleolithic Eating Support List's Recipe Collection" and
"A Sample of Paleo Recipes".

There is controversy over how much animal fat, particularly saturated fat, to include in a Paleo diet, with Ray Audette advocating far more than Loren Cordain. The issue is too complex to get into here, but suffice it to say that you would include more animal fat in your Paleo meals than the sample meals here if you side with Audette. I find I can eat more animal fat than these meals contain without negatively affecting my LDL cholesterol levels, but I kept these sample meals relatively lean for those concerned with saturated fat (though there is more fat than the low-fat diet faddists would advocate).

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