Portland-based fitness coach and activist David Bidler has written and self-published a new book, Paleo in Maine, exploring the ins and outs of following a "paleo" diet, an eating style popularized by physiologist Loren Cordain, based on the available research about what our caveman ancestors ate — and paring down from industrial, processed foods to the basics of meat, seafood, vegetables, fruits, and nuts.
As Bidler writes in the introduction to the book, paleo "has evolved into more than a diet. It has come to represent a cultural shift in the ways that we eat, exercise, play, and live. . . . Referring to the Paleolithic era, the period pre-dating modern agriculture, the paleo diet itself is a simple one. It's based on eating real foods, those which occur naturally on the Earth and have been available to us for thousands of years. The good news is that the nutrient-dense foods of our ancestors are readily available. We only have to choose to eat them."
What follows are five excerpts from the book: a first-person discussion of the diet and its impact; some tips for shopping for paleo foods; good questions for restaurants if you're eating out on the paleo diet; a recipe; and some paleo-type exercise ideas to expand your paleo-lifestyle. (We can't recommend reverting to actual cave-dwelling, though!)
MY DIET TO KEEP
Paleo Tips from CrossFit Coach Gabe Garcia
I have had an extremely competitive spirit since I was born. As one of six kids I had to compete for anything and everything. I played soccer at an elite level through my youth and went on to play at Division 1 at Wofford College. After the end of my competitive sports career, I was nudged by my sister to try CrossFit and I was hooked from the first workout. I compete regularly in CrossFit competitions and was honored to represent CrossFit 321 at the CrossFit Games Northeast Regional in 2012. I am also a certified Level 1 CrossFit instructor.
Nutrition has always been a passion of mine and I was introduced to the Paleo Diet through CrossFit. I am currently a CrossFit coach and routinely offer nutrition coaching to my athletes.
My Paleo story began September of 2010 in Franklin, Tennessee. I took part in a Whole 30 Challenge . . . I had been CrossFitting for a while and definitely saw results from the exercise. I had read some Paleo books and cut out grains, dairy, and sugar from my diet. It wasn't too big of a change from my previous diet, aside from the frequent pasta and pizza I ate previously. However, I wanted to experience what the Paleo buzz was about and see for myself if it really would improve my performance and health.
I started the challenge weighing 155 pounds with 7 percent body fat. In the first week I lost a little over 5 pounds and was probably at an unhealthy body fat percentage. I had to add healthy fats and make myself eat more, which was a challenge.
Once I learned what my body needed, the benefits were amazing. I felt better in almost every way: digestion, sleep, recovery from training, mood, and energy. All this was an improvement from a baseline that was pretty healthy to begin with. I also began to really taste food that had been masked by sugar, salt, and other additives. It definitely was an awakening to my mind, body, and spirit.