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The Paleo Diet is now recognized for weight loss and helping to recover from Type-2 diabetes. But, it also helps mitigate inflammatory conditions that are a result of ingesting toxins in the food system and eating processed foods. The suggestions below are not just a temporary New Year’s resolution, but a commitment for a healthier lifestyle to support your body in the face of environmental toxins, a contaminated food supply, and viruses that attack your immune system. It’s time to really pay attention to what you eat and what you bring into your homes.
The Refrigerator and Freezer
- Sodas and diet sodas: All high-sugar or fructose beverages: This includes fruit juices, alcoholic beverages and mixers, and vitamin waters. Sugary drinks cause weight gain and contribute to diabetes. Sugar fuels cancer cells.
- Non-organic, CAFO raised meat: Processed meats, such as bacon, salami, sausages, eggs and dairy products. Millions of people in rural US communities experience harms from industrial CAFOs, including the daily reality of serious illnesses, cancer and respiratory disease, and contamination of land, air, and water by the concentrated waste.
- Processed foods: TV dinners, pizza, biscuits, bagels, condiments with bad oils, high-fructose corn syrup, wheat (gluten), soy, corn, MSG, sugar, or preservatives.
- Processed non-organic dairy and eggs: All artificial eggs and butter substitutes. Non-organic dairy products may contain rBGH, which has been linked to cancer. Eggs that are non-organic contain higher amounts of inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. Buy only pastured eggs if you can, direct from a producer.
- Non-organic fruits and vegetables: The “Dirty Dozen,” a shopper’s basket of the most pesticide-prone produce includes, apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, potatoes.
- Refined flours and packaged foods: Baking flours, potato starch, corn starch, and white rice flour. Also eliminate boxed cereals, pastas, crackers, and cookies.
- Gluten containing foods and grains: Wheat products, white rice, millet, amaranth, corn, quinoa, barley, rye, spelt, oats, bulgur, (including pastas, cookies, and breads).
- Sugar and sugary foods: White and brown sugar, agave, corn syrup, cane syrup, processed honey, cookies, candy, pastries, snack bars (even organic ones), artificial sweeteners.
- Beans and soy products: Soy is a genetically modified food, (GMO), sprayed with RoundUp, glyphosate. Only organic fermented soy products should be consumed. Beans are high in weight producing starch and difficult to digest.
- Inflammatory Oils: Non-organic, GMO oils such as soy, corn, vegetable, safflower should be eliminated from your diet. Ditch the cooking oil spray products.
Organizing the Non-Toxic kitchen
- Remove all plastic: This would include plastic wrap, zip-lock bags, plastic storage containers (use glass jars for food storage and leftovers), canned foods containing BPA and other carcinogenic compounds. Use reusable bags for produce.
- Remove harmful cleaning products: Ingredients containing DEA, TEA, and 1,4-dioxane contribute to cancer and hormone disruption. Use a sturdy scrubber sponge with castile soap, or Dr. Bronner’s, vinegar, lemon juice, essential oils, and baking soda. Or buy plant-based and biodegradable cleaning products. There are many on the market now.
- Pots and pans: Should be stainless steel or cast iron. Get rid of aluminum or non-stick, (Teflon) pots and pans.
- Cooking Tools: Suggested cooking tools would include a food processor, high-powered blender, sharp knives, crock pot, and dehydrator if you like.
The Paleo Fridge and Pantry: Setting the Stage for Success
Once you’ve eliminated the bad stuff, you may think there’s nothing left to eat, but actually there’s plenty left and it’s all healthy.
- Grass-fed meats and wild caught fish: Game meats and pastured chicken are great too as well as nitrate-free organic bacon and sausage. Leftovers from dinner make a fine breakfast with an egg on top. Homemade bone broths from pastured chickens or grass-fed cows make a healthy soup base. You will want to have these stocks on hand for soups and they are fun to make.
- Organic vegetables: Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage. Dark, leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, collards, also, onions, leeks, scallions, and garlic.
- Organic cooking oils: High heat oils would include ghee, (you can make your own) coconut oil, safflower and sunflower. For salad dressings use organic olive, avocado, and MCT (coconut) oil.
- Organic Nuts and seeds: Walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, and almonds offer an excellent source of protein which can be added to salads or eaten as snacks. Seeds would include pumpkin, sunflower, chia, and flax. Store seeds in glass jars in the refrigerator.
- Fermented foods and condiments: These would include sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles. Also, gluten-free, sugar-free and preservative-free organic mustards, ketchup, hot sauces and salsas. Olives and capers wonderful. Sea vegetables such as nori, wakame, and arame can be snacks or added to recipes.
- Healthy beverages: Sparkling waters, organic teas (iced tea), kombucha, homemade kefir, and organic nut milks.
- Organic Spices and herbs: Turmeric, cinnamon, pepper, cumin, curry, coriander, cayenne, nutmeg, star anise, cloves, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, tarragon and oregano.
- Baking supplies: Nut and coconut flours, baking soda, cocoa nibs, shredded coconut, and vanilla.
Happy, Healthy New Year. You are now ready to implement your healthy lifestyle, never to go back to harmful eating habits and ill health.
Pauli Halstead is a healthy food chef, coach and author of ‘Primal Cuisine, Cooking for The Paleo Diet.’