The paleo diet is a diet system that teaches followers to avoid processed foods and foods which contain artificial preservatives, colors or flavorings. The guiding principle of the paleo diet is simple.
If your ancestors from the cave man era would not have been able to access a certain kind of food, you should not eat it either.
This simple rule excludes a huge range of foods. Cave men did not eat pasta, or bread. They could eat oranges, if they lived in a climate where oranges grew, but they would only be able to eat them when they were in season.
Cave men would never eat cakes, because they couldn’t bake them. Nor could they eat chocolates, or drink soda. In fact, the diet of a cave man would have been pretty limited.
What Could A Cave Man Eat?
The paleo diet allows fresh, in season whole foods only. This means meat (preferably grass-fed beef, wild fish and free-range birds), organic vegetables, in-season fruit, and nuts.
Some foods are a source of debate among paleo diet followers. Dairy products, for example, are forbidden under the purest set of rules for the paleo diet, but some people eat them anyway.
Given that some paleo diet followers can’t agree on what’s OK and what isn’t, it’s natural to find yourself wondering ‘are chia seeds paleo friendly?’. Well, since the paleo diet permits nuts and seeds, yes, chia seeds can be thought of as paleo.
What About Processed Seeds?
The processing question does add some confusion to the issue. While the answer to ‘are chia seeds paleo friendly?’ is yes, chia gel and flour may not be paleo friendly, depending on how it’s made.
If you make your own gel by grinding and moistening seeds yourself, then it is paleo. If you buy packets of processed chia, be that in flour form or in gel form, then it probably is not paleo.
As soon as you add preservatives to a food, it ceases to be paleo in the strictest sense of the word. This is one thing that many other diet programs miss.
It’s fine to recommend that people eat a high protein diet, but if that protein comes from an animal that has been pumped full of hormones and antibiotics, it is hardly ideal from a nutritional standpoint.
Why Is The Paleo Diet So Strict?
You may be wondering why the paleo diet places so many restrictions on foods, to the point where a question like ‘are chia seeds paleo friendly?’ can have a complicated answer.
The reason that the paleo diet is so restrictive is that preservatives, flavor ‘enhancers’ and other additives are everywhere. Even something as simple as a sandwich from Subway has additives that help to keep the fillings ‘fresh’.
If you cannot be confident that sandwich meat is simply meat, with nothing added to it, then it’s clear that there’s something wrong with our modern attitude to food. The paleo diet teaches you to be vigilant, and look at what you’re putting into your body.
The rules against grains and dairy products are there because gluten and lactose intolerance are incredibly common in western society.
Humans are the only species that continues to consume milk into adulthood, but we are not really meant to do so, and a huge percentage of the population has difficulty digesting lactose.
Grains are a different issue. We can digest them in small quantities, but we struggle to extract all of the nutrients from them, and when consumed in large quantities they can cause damage to our digestive systems.
The amount of grains that the average population consumes has increased dramatically over the last few decades.
It makes sense to eat grains from a financial point of view ‘ they are easy to grow, calorie dense, and quite affordable. However, from a health standpoint fresh vegetables and meats are a much better choice.
Paleo Diet Ideas
Trying the paleo diet for the first time can be daunting. This diet requires you to eat a lot of fresh food, and if you’re not accustomed to preparing food from scratch you may find yourself stuck for ideas.
The good news is that there is a lot of support available online, and once you get used to cooking fresh food you will wonder how you ever tolerated microwave meals and processed junk food.
For some simple recipe ideas, why not try soups (thickened with chia flower), fresh burgers made from mince, fresh chicken with broccoli and asparagus, or a smoothie made of local, in-season berries with some added chia seeds and some nuts for texture?
During the first few days, the paleo diet might seem like hard work, and it’s natural to feel a little tired and drained, especially if you have spent many years eating and drinking processed products.
It will take a little while for your body to detox. You may even experience some bloating or flatulence as your body gets used to eating soluble fiber and plant products.
Those symptoms will go away quickly, and once they do you will have more energy than ever before, and your gut should feel a lot better.
It takes time for the gut to heal, but once it does, foods that you used to crave will no longer appeal to you, and you will develop a new appreciation for whole foods and the taste of fresh meat and vegetables.