Paleo Primal Overview

Ok, so you stumbled onto our site or a friend told you you had to come check out the Cavegirls, and you're wondering what the heck are these ladies talking about. What's this Cavegirl stuff all about, and what in the world does Paleo or Primal mean? Well, here's the low down.
The Northwest Cavegirls are a group of women living in the Pacific Northwest, USA who all have opted to follow a Paleo or Primal lifestyle. This way of eating is sometimes called the Caveman diet. And, well, since we’re not men we’ve opted to be Cavegirls.

Here are a few definitions:
Paleo Diet — Often the default term to refer to a high fat, low/no carb diet that strives to eliminate dairy, sugars, legumes, and grains. In specific, it refers to Dr. Loren Cordain‘s dietary recommendations or more recently the teachings of Robb Wolf.
Primal Blueprint — The dietary, exercise, and lifestyle recommendations promoted by Mark Sisson. Essentially Paleo, but with a more relaxed attitude. Allows for minimal dairy if not intolerant and the occasional alcohol indulgence.
Benefits of the Paleo/Primal Diet
Reading the links above can give you more of the science and studies related to the health benefits of the paleo/primal diet, but bottom line is this: The Cavegirls have removed processed foods, grains, sugars, legumes and dairy from our diet and have replaced them with healthy meats, veggies, fruits and nuts. As a result we've seen these things:
  • Leveling of blood sugar - some people who are diabetic or borderline become more insulin sensitive and have more normal blood sugar levels
  • Weight loss  - Cavegirls Kate and Angie have experienced this as well as our caveman husbands!
  • Lowering of triglycerides - Cavegirl Beth has experienced this first hand. Read her bio to find out more
  • Clearing of Acne/Dry skin - All of us have had remarkably better skin since starting the paleo/primal lifestyle
  • Better gut health and digestion - We've all had less gas and bloating and have less tummy issues than we had before
  • More energy - without the insulin spikes caused by sugar and grain consumption energy lasts all day without that afternoon nap
Ok, I'm sold! Now what?
Need ideas on what to eat or how to plan a menu around the paleo lifestyle? Check out our posts on Weekly dinner meal plans or check out this one that has a list of Breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks for a week! And last but not least, need a list of what to shop for to fill your paleo pantry? Here ya go; a Paleo Shopping list!

Paleo/Primal Foods
1. Eat lots of Healthy Grass-fed, hormone and antiobiotic free, nitrate and nitrite free Meat of all kinds and eggs
2. Eat lots of Healthy Organic Vegetables and fruits
3. Eat lots of healthy oils like olive oil (not for high temp cooking) and coconut oil (ok for high temp cooking)
4. Eat some nuts like almonds, macadamias, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts
5. Drink coconut milk or almond milk
6. Eat some nut butters like almond butter or pecan butter
7. Walk often, lift heavy things, sprint occasionally and play hard

Foods that are not Paleo
1. Don't eat grains of any kind including wheat, barley, oats, corn, rye, rice
2. Don't cook with unhealthy oils like soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil or other vegetable oils
3. Don't eat legumes like beans, peas, peanuts or peanut butter
4. Don't drink alcohol that contains gluten or excess sugars (red wind in moderation is ok)
5. (if you have a dairy sensitivity or intolerance) Don't eat or drink cow's milk dairy including cheese, yogurt, ice cream
6. Don't eat starches like bread, rice, corn or potatoes
7. Don't eat processed foods and sugars. If it comes ready to eat in a package on the shelf, or if it's a prepared food, it's probably not going to be good for you.
8. Don't kill yourself with chronic cardio that damages your joints and bones but doesn't build strong muscles

What to expect in the first few weeks of living the Paleo/primal lifestyle
First, I’d suggest reading Robb Wolf’s book the Paleo Diet and Mark Sisson’s book the Primal Blueprint. Both give a great overview of the reason why eating real food is healthier for you and why a lot of people are gluten intolerant without even knowing it. They each have websites as well with great forum sections. And there are a ton of paleo recipe sites out there, but obviously I think NorthwestCavegirls is best. :)

I think the most important thing to keep you on track and make it easy is to keep a lot of pre-prepped snacks and pre-cut veggies ready to eat. Have plenty of healthy meats and veggies to cook for dinner. I almost never spend more than 30 minutes making dinner, so paleo doesn’t mean complicated at all…almost the opposite.

The first week is probably the hardest. In day 3 or 4 I went through a sugar withdrawal during which I got a headache and muscle aches and had strong sugar cravings. After that, I was good to go. I found that I wasn't as hungry at any point in the day and I wasn't hungry when I got out of bed at all. I used to be starving when I first woke up, but since I gave up grains and sugars I’m not really hungry until mid morning and don’t get “snacky” in the afternoon. I’m just not as hungry as before. I have a week of breakfast, lunch and dinners listed on the site, but for basic ideas I’ve listed some below.  And Cavegirl Kate posts her meal plans every week with more great ideas for dinner.

I like to keep snack foods on hand like:
1.       a walnuts and raisin mix,
2.       beef jerky (read ingredients to find ones without sugar),
3.       cut veggies like carrots, cukes, celery, pickles, etc.
4.       cheese if you’re eating dairy
5.       fruit
6.       boiled eggs

Also, planning breakfast is very important.  If you have time to make eggs and sausage/bacon that’s awesome. But breakfast is usually a quickly prepared and eaten meal. So having some of these things on hand  makes the morning go smoother:
1.       boiled eggs,
2.       Paleo muffins, pancakes or scones made ahead
3.       fruit,
4.       smoothie ingredients (We have lots of smoothie recipes under the Drinks category)
5.       Pre-made paleo porridge that you can warm up (that recipe is there as well)
6.       Leftovers
7.       Nuts, raisins and coconut flakes with almond or coconut milk poured over the top (cereal substitute)
Lunch is also tricky if you’re bringing your lunch to work. I like to eat:
1.       Lettuce or chard wrapped sandwich (deli meat, cheese, and veggies wrapped in leaves)
2.       Leftovers
3.       Chicken sausage with sauerkraut and other chopped veggies (warm up at work)
4.       Chef salad with homemade oil and vinegar dressing

There are also lots of paleo baked good recipes on the blog to satisfy the need for a “treat”, but if the goal is weight loss then you want to reduce foods with any kinds of sugars including honey or maple syrup and limit nut intake.

Health and Wellness Disclaimer:
None of the Northwest Cavegirls are doctors. We don't have degrees in nutrition, either.  However, we have researched diet and nutrition and experimented with such food findings on ourselves and our families. We have found that eating the simplest, most natural, diet gives us the best health. The Paleo/Primal lifestyle is very simple. It works because this natural, non-refined food is what our bodies want to eat. It gives us the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fats and proteins our bodies need to function correctly without adding all of the other non-nutritive bits found in non-paleo foods. We do research to the best of our abilities and read as much as we can to stay informed, but the bottom line is: We are not Doctors. If you are considering changing your diet, exercise routine or lifestyle, we suggest you talk to your doctor first.

Financial Disclaimer
The Cavegirls rave about a lot of products simply because we like them and want to tell you about something we think you might like as well. We do not receive financial compensation from any company to endorse their products or review them. However, if any of the manufacturers of our favorite products would like to compensate us, we would be happy to discuss endorsements and ad rates!  ;)

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