I'm writing this post as I get inundated with emails and I don't always have time to answer every single email, I run a full time business and this is just a side passion of mine that is run with the goodness of my heart, there is no money being made from this blog, serious! I ask that you read as much as possible before emailing me questions, I have YouTube videos (up close and personal), Instagram (food ideas), Facebook (everything I do), Pinterest (daily eats and recipes), Twitter (geek stuff) and a ton of recipes and the kinds of foods I eat when in weight loss mode that should help you to get started. Please bear in mind I am not a coach, counsellor or psychologist. Many of your questions go beyond my level of expertise.
Here are some of my favourite resources to help get you started:
Marks Daily Apple 101
Perfect Health Diet
The Paleo Mom
The Holistic Nutritionist
Julianne's Paleo & Zone Nutrition
A Change of Life - Lynda's a passionate blogger like myself
A very interesting podcast on Leptin that is worth the listen, it gets into the nitty gritty at about 24 minutes: http://paleoparents.com/featured/tpv-podcast-episode-110-leptin/
What is Primal?
Firstly you need to educate yourself!
These are my two favourite books for beginners!
You cannot expect to just start eating Primal, Paleo, low carb or clean eating or whatever you wanna call it without understanding the whys. Knowledge is power, without it you are just floating around hoping that something will work. When you know better you'll do better - Maya Angelou
Remember that whenever you read something positive about an Ancestral Diet there will always be an opposing side. There is huge controversy around nutrition and that is why I believe educating yourself. Only with your own experimenting will you find what will work for you. This post might not be helpful or it might be the life changing read you needed. Maybe in 12 months time you will be emailing me a success story.
You must recognise that you are not going on a "diet", Diets just don't work! If you've tried to lose weight and failed miserably then you will already know this. I don't think of the way I eat as a "Diet", I never have and I never will. I never felt limited, it was all about the choices I made to nourish my body, not to restrict myself. If you start eating this way and after 30 days it doesn't feel good, normal or sustainable then perhaps it's not for you.
Now I'm all for endorsing an Ancestral Diet but I'm not going to tell you how many calories you should eat. This is a very individual thing and I don't think it's helpful to have yet another person telling you eat x and y and you will lose weight, it's just not that simple - for most people anyway.
When you remove the refined carbohydrates out of your diet and include more Vegetables, meat, eggs, seafood, nuts, seeds and a little bit of fruit you really start to understand how these foods satiate you. For me this was life changing. I had been on so many "diets" before and rode the blood sugar roller coaster of eating every 3 hours, little and often, whole grain, low fat etc.. I was just a wreck. I didn't understand natural hunger because I felt hunger constantly, I never felt satisfied and I thought I was doomed to be fat forever. Until I did my research and experimented, I figured out quite quickly that I only felt full once I reduced the carbohydrates, increased the fats and protein. It truly felt like a miracle. Even to this day almost 5 years later I still feel the same. As soon as I increase my carbohydrates too much (say above 150gms) I get crazy hungry, my mood is all over the place and all of my old symptoms such as depression, panic attacks, pcos, meniere's symptoms and migraines all come back with a vengeance.
Fat is your friend! For many when starting to eat Primal you will naturally increase your fat, with carbohydrates being at a lower level you need to get your calories from somewhere and you don't want to go crazy on the protein. When I started to increase the fat in my diet it was like night and day, the sense of calm I felt. I had been starving my brain of fat! Listen to this amazing podcast about Cholesterol Clarity to help clear things up for you. The biggest misconception about when you eat low carb is that you are licking butter off a spoon! Well some people might do that but realistically that's just not the case. Be sensible, don't go slathering it over every single food but just don't fear it, it's not really that complicated. Cook your eggs in some butter, use cream in your coffee and cook with coconut oil or lard, you don't need to drink the stuff.
Once you can wrap your head around what food will fuel your body best it gets a lot easier. The simple term "Just Eat Real Food" applies here. Generally if it's man-made it's not going to be healthy, yes there are some exceptions to this rule - olive oil, coconut oil, dark chocolate etc.. What I'm getting at is things like bread, pasta, chips, biscuits, cakes, soft drinks etc..These foods will not serve you well. I'm all for having a little ice-cream or cheesecake every now and then but I keep it to a minimum.
It can be a lot of work to prepare all this "real food". Yes to make your food from scratch it is rather time consuming. Planning is key, for busy people this will mean having to put aside some time perhaps on a Sunday and cooking a weeks worth of meals, things like crustless quiches, meatballs, primal lasagne. If you think you don't have the time to do any of this then you need to assess how much your health is worth.
One of the things I hear a lot is...I can't give up my bread. Well really if you can't give it up then don't do this. Simple really. However if you really want to change your health by eating an Ancestral Diet then bread just isn't part of it. Same goes for sugars... What about carbs?
Well I eat carbs, I eat a ton of vegetables, lots of leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, spinach, kale, lettuce, zucchini, green beans the list goes on! I eat some starchy tubers, generally about 1-2 servings per week, I don't eat them everyday as I just don't feel great if I have too many carbohydrates. I do eat some fruit but I do choose things like berries, coconut, pineapple, lemons, limes etc..the occasional banana! Just remember that fruit is like natures candy so just be cautious.
When it comes to "treat" foods I tend to limit them. Most of the "Primal" or "Paleo" friendly substitutes for your old favorites are fine but will never replace good old fashioned real food. Read Julianne Taylor's take on it, I agree wholeheartedly with her: Are paleo muffins and treats really paleo?
What kind of things do I eat?
For breakfast I generally have eggs, I love eggs and I have them anyway I like, poached, soft-boiled, hard-boiled, fried, omelettes, scrambled. With my eggs sometimes I'll have things like tomatoes, avocados, mushrooms and bacon. If I don't have eggs for breakfast then I'll often have them for lunch. If you don't like eggs or cannot tolerate them then you can always have leftovers for breakfast, or invest in a really good protein powder and have smoothies. Some people make primal Noatmeal or check out these Alternative Breakfast Options
Lunch I often find myself having a choice of meat with veggies or a salad, sometimes it's just bacon and eggs, leftovers or whatever I feel like. Sometimes I'm not even hungry and I'll just have a small snack like nuts, cheese or a decaf coffee with cream.
Dinner is normally always Meat and Veggies. I choose things like Steak, Lamb Chops, Pork Belly, Chicken, Duck, fish etc.. Then I often make things like Roast Pumpkin, Sweet potatoes, baked potatoes, Cauliflower mash, Cauliflower rice or Zucchini Noodles.
Even an amateur cook like myself can make some pretty great food, you can see my Recipes here: http://primaljourney.blogspot.co.nz/p/recipe-links.html
When I lost my weight I did do it by lowering my carbohydrates significantly and I was very successful on about 30-50gms a day (ketogenic levels) - which I'm a bit apprehensive to endorse these days as I have suffered some hormone dysregulation because I went too low carb for too long.
For the first two weeks when I first started I did count my calories to around 1600-1800 but then I stopped counting, I was lucky that just by lowering my carbs I was able to successfully lose about 500gms - 1kg a week. Your mileage may vary. As for exercise I can hand on heart say that 90% of my results were solely from changing the way I ate. Exercise wasn't a big part of it but I do regret not getting into exercise as much as I did once I'd lost most of my weight. I have a preference for pilates, walking and weight training and I do it when I feel like doing it!
Please Note: I have based all the above information on my experience and my understanding. This is purely my opinion and should not replace your doctors advice. It is incredibly important for you to figure out what works for you with something we like to call n=1. Please educate yourself as much as possible and don't take anyones information as gospel, even this page.