Again–I am not an expert and urge you to do your own research. The paleo/caveman diet is simple. Eat real food. Lean meats, vegetables, eggs, fruit, some raw nuts, honey, etc. No sugar, corn syrup, soy, or anything modified. This does not work for everyone, and it's certainly not the only way to be healthy. I am not saying that dairy and grains are bad. I just tend to avoid them because this is a lifestyle that works for me. I've never felt better, and I believe that the way I eat has drastically improved my body, mind, and the way that I work out.
These days, we eat food designed to last on a shelf for months and then wonder why our bodies can't break it down. Boxed cereals, pasta, cookies etc. Pop tarts are not food. Soda is poison.
This doesn't mean you can't have the occasional treat. These brownies are one of my favorite desserts, and are paleo friendly. And if you really want to splurge on a Sprinkles cupcake, go for it. I had one while on the paleo challenge and still lost 1/4 of my body fat in two months. I try to stick to one cheat meal a week and do not believe in depriving myself. I also have some big goals. I am working on getting below 20% body fat (athlete status) in the next few months.
The paleo challenge is a more intense version of paleo. It involves lowering sugar intake and eliminating alcohol. No bananas, grapes, larabars, almond milk, or sweet potatoes (all are paleo friendly but not paleo challenge friendly), for example. Too much sugar. I chose to eliminate all fruit except for berries which are lowest in sugar but would have apples on occasion. And really–if an apple is the worst thing you've eaten all day, I think you're doing pretty well. We were allowed one glass of red per day although I tried to keep it to 2-3 glasses a week. I am on another challenge with a few friends and have had two glasses the past two weeks. It's just about being healthy most of the time.
Instead of baking with wheat flour and sugar, you'll use almond or coconut flour and honey. This isn't about deprivation. It's about providing your body with the best possible nutrients that you can. And if you really want some pizza, a non-paleo cupcake, or another treat–you should have it. But you shouldn't eat that way on a regular basis.
What I typically eat/drink
Breakfast: 2 organic free range eggs, organic turkey sausage, and a few sliced strawberries, blackberries, and/or blueberries. I will sometimes make an omelet with 2 eggs, some egg whites, and lots of veggies.
Lunch and dinner: I usually make a few servings of some sort meat and veggies and then alternate between the two for lunch and dinner. I've been relying heavily on my crock pot but plan on mixing things up a bit more. If I have a salad, dressing is always olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Snacks: vegetables (jicama is a favorite), a few raw almonds, or some strawberries. I will sometimes have a larabar. They're delicious. And I'm so excited that a friend of mine from CrossFit is launching a line of bars that are much healthier (and taste better) than larabars. I'll let you know when they're available. He dropped a few off for my trip to CA last week and they are the perfect snack!
Alcohol: red wine or tequila with soda water and lime (paleo margarita)
Beverages: water, iced americanos, and coconut water after an especially intense workout. I love la croix coconut sparkling water as well.
What's always in my pantry:
Lots of spices!
Almond and coconut flour
In my fridge/freezer:
Chicken (organic/free range/grass fed–always!)
Frozen fruit (I love frozen strawberries)
Coconut La Croix
Black cherry Klarbrunn sparkling water
Fruit / berries
When I need a treat:
Enjoy life chocolate chips
Hail Merry macaroons
Go Raw organic lemon super cookies
A few links/resources:
What is the paleo diet?
What is CrossFit?
My thoughts on CrossFit
Nom Nom Paleo
My friend Gina's blog–River North Paleo Girl
Other paleo blogs I love–Civilized Caveman and PaleOMG
And of course, the place that changed my life: RNCF