Folks the world over are adopting a “Paleo” lifestyle to manage their health – from fitness pros to college students to those simply battling the midline bulge... So, what exactly is paleo – and why is it becoming so popular? “Paleo” refers to a diet that centers around mindful food choices, eating only foods that could have been hunted or gathered in the Paleolithic era. “Going Paleo” quickly eliminates grains and most processed foods from the diet – and with this simple change, many experience weight-loss, improved energy, and a more positive outlook.
We decided to check in with our friend and Paleo Boss Lady, Diane “V” Capaldi to learn what first drew her to a Paleo lifestyle – and the types of benefits she saw throughout her conscious food journey.
Let's Talk About Paleo
Q: What drew you to first consider and then adopt a paleo diet?
A: My health was declining at a rapid pace and my physical therapist knew it. Long gone were the days I could ‘work out’ in the gym. My physical therapist had just been diagnosed with celiac and saw huge changes when she gave up gluten. She suggested I try it. At the time, I would have cut my arm off if I believed it would have helped. Within a short time, it began to make a difference with my limb spasms, so I knew food was my missing piece. I worked with a nutritionist who led me close to a Paleo lifestyle. Eventually, Mark Sisson’s blog titled Mark’s Daily Apple inspired me to make more Paleo/Primal lifestyle changes until I saw Dr. Terry Wahls's TEDx and became a Wahls Warrior following The Wahls Protocol.
Q: Is paleo “just a diet” or “quick fix” or do you consider it a way of life?
A: I guess for some it could be “just a diet” and I have met many who go in and out of a Paleo lifestyle. For me, it is not. Today I practice a bio-hacked version of Paleo. Meaning as my healing continues, I have been able to introduce foods like grass-fed butter without issue. However, my consciousness regarding food will always be a way of life. I will avoid gluten, grains, legumes, and refined sugar. If it weren’t for grass-fed butter, I believe I would always be dairy-free.
Q: How is Paleo different from or the same as Ketogenic diets or Whole 30 diets?
A: Paleo is an ancestral approach to food. In a Paleo lifestyle, one consumes grass-fed and wild-caught protein, organic fruits and vegetables. A ketogenic diet focuses on limiting carbs to increase ketone production in the body. Basically transitioning from using carbs/sugar for fuel to becoming a fat burner and Whole 30 is a 30 day reset program similar to Paleo with strict rules that remove participants from the standard American diet.
Q: What were the first positive changes you personally noticed when you went paleo, and what changed after the first, say, 30, 60, or 90 days?
A: Once I gave up gluten, the spasms I experienced in my arms and legs started to diminish. Pain would also begin to leave intermittently. Once I began the Wahls Protocol, which is a modified form of Paleo that includes 9 cups of vegetables a day, I had all limb jumping end within 3 weeks. Within 18 months, the left side of my body that had been ‘asleep’ for 25+ years woke up, and 2 years later, I was able to drive for the first time in years. Today I am 8 years in and move my body freely.
Q: Who benefits most from a paleo diet? If a Paleo lifestyle supports your best life, then you yourself benefit most. Who would benefit least?
A: I think style of eating is an individual decision based on your body and how it works best. The only thing that’s really important is getting conscious about what ingredients you are consuming and learning the truth about why we eat.
Q: You routinely take your message “to the streets” as you tour America in your BAM van. What paleo insights do you bring to those you serve?
A: Most often, the homes I visit have not begun their conscious journey with food. My first message is to spend time in your pantry reading ingredients. If you don’t know a word or if it is not a whole food, don’t buy it ever again. Next, go to the store or blogs to find healthy replacements for the things you are concerned about missing. I was worried about muffin-less breakfasts, so I batch-cooked a recipe I found online for the first 6 months of my Paleo lifestyle.
Q: How many of your followers adopt a paleo-leaning lifestyle?
A: I believe that a large percentage of my followers are getting conscious about their food choices – and that may or may not mean they’ve “gone paleo.”
Q: What key supplements support the success of a person’s paleo journey?
A: I personally believe turmeric, probiotics, multivitamins, omega-3, b & d vitamins plus magnesium. If you are on a budget in this department, I would recommend starting with a multi, probiotics, and turmeric
Regarding supplements, you always want to make sure to buy whole-food products with the ingredient list including foods you recognize. Prior to getting conscious about supplements, my supplement choices were similar to the ‘standard American diet’ – filled with toxic ingredients – and I had no idea. That’s why I am proud to be an ambassador for NutriGold. Their third-party testing and level of purity and transparency are unmatched.
Q: How can you eat paleo on a budget?
A: You can eat Paleo on a budget by following the dirty dozen and clean 15 when buying vegetables. You can also work directly with a local farmer or CSA. Also, try buying less desirable cuts of meat to slow cook for optimal yum while saving on the per pound price. The ultimate way is to plant your own food.
Q: Food preparation can be a major challenge for many Americans, as it can take so much more time to prepare real, whole foods from scratch. What quick tips do you have for our audience?
A: Roasting and crockpot cooking are huge time savers. Batch cooking is also a great tool. If I am not doing those, I find myself making one-pan meals.
Q: Do you have any favorite quick-fix dishes?
A: I have tons of recipes you can find that I have published for both Whole Life Challenge and Breaking Muscle. Most of them fall into the quick-fix category because I still have to be mindful of my daily hand usage. I’ve included a couple of my favorite recipes at the end of this article.
Q: Are there particular chain restaurants you love that have paleo-friendly options?
A: I would not say I “love” them but Chipotle offers a salad option. I honestly prefer to eat at home unless I’m in California where there are many options like Burger Lounge, GreenLeaf, and Café Gratitude, which are a few of my personal “home away from home” favorites.
Q: Do you think “paleo” is a fad that will fade into the background? Is it already fading / being replaced by Ketogenic or Whole 30 diet plans?
A: I see Paleo as being a lifestyle that many have lived and are living. In the current context, Paleo enthusiasts are simply shining some light on what others might have been doing since the paleolithic era. I see Whole 30 and Keto as therapeutic resets, not lifestyles.
Q: Are there benefits to going part-way on a paleo journey? Or are the benefits “all or nothing”?
A: I took a slow and steady approach and experienced benefits before I went full Paleo. I gave up gluten first and then all cow dairy, and went on from there.
Q: What key takeaways would you like our audience to better understand about living a paleo-based lifestyle?
A: Slow, steady, sustainable steps are the best way to lifestyle changes. I gave up gluten first, then all cow dairy, and went on from there. Community matters. Paleo is not limited to food.
Q: What additional resources do you recommend someone review if they want to get more serious about living a paleo lifestyle?
Try Some of V's Delicious Paleo Recipes
SLOW COOKER POMEGRANATE PULLED PORK
This pulled pork recipe is not only tasty, but easy to make using a slow cooker. Plate it with a salad, baked sweet potato wedges, or sauerkraut, and an avocado.
Prep time: 10 minutes • Cook time: 6 hours 20 minutes • Servings: 10
- 4 pounds pork butt or shoulder
- 1 cup of organic pomegranate juice
- 2 medium onions chopped
- 1 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt
- 1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon of duck fat or fat of choice
- ½ cup of red wine
- 5 garlic cloves
- Heat a pan over medium high heat with fat of choice.
- Cover meat in salt and pepper.
- Once the pan is hot, add the meat. Brown it on all sides for about 5 minutes.
- Remove the meat from the pan and put in slow cooker.
- Add onions and garlic to pan, cooking over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
- Add onions and garlic to slow cooker.
- Add the pomegranate juice and red wine to the slow cooker.
- Set the slow cooker to low or 10 hours.
- After 9 hours, remove any strings on the pork and shred the meat in the slow cooker.
- Keep the cover on for the remaining hour of cooking in order for the pork to absorb even more juices.
- Serve and enjoy.
CROWD-PLEASING ONE-PAN CHORIZO HASH
The best part of one-pan meal-making is that both the preparation and clean up are ultra-simple.
Prep time: 10 minutes • Cook time: 35 minutes • Servings: 4
- 1 lb chorizo ground or links
- 2 medium sweet potatoes or butternut squash diced
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 pint chopped mushrooms of choice
- Bag of mixed greens or slaw
- 2 ripe avocados
- Bag of plantain or other baked vegetable "chips"
- 3 stalks of fresh rosemary
- Coconut oil or fat of choice
- Pink Himalayan salt
- Ground black pepper
- Heat skillet to medium using fat of choice.
- Add onions and mushrooms, cooking until onions are golden in color (about 10 minutes).
- Next add potatoes or squash, cooking for another 10 minutes. (You can add in any extra veggies like Brussels sprouts you've got laying around, too.)
- Add chorizo, breaking apart if ground or cutting into 1/4-inch rounds if links.
- Sprinkle with fresh rosemary.
- Add desired amount of salt and pepper, mixing all together.
- Cook for about 15 more minutes allowing the flavors to marry together.
- Mash avocado and add a little salt to create a simple guacamole side.
- Serve with chips over greens or slaw. Enjoy!
If you want to turn this into "breakfast," just put a fried egg on top! This recipe is compliant on Kickstart, Lifestyle, and Performance — just watch out for your chorizo ingredients!