Hello everyone :)
I'm very new to Paleo (yesterday was my first day on the diet!) but I've been doing loads of research and getting my hands on as many recipes as I can find. I have a few quick questions though:
Milk - Obviously for the most part coconut milk replaces dairy milk, but are there alternatives? Someone suggested Almond Milk to me which sounds delicious, but are there any others?
Sweeteners - What do you use? I've heard yes and no regarding honey, but what about palm sugar or stevia extract?
Cooking fat - I bought rendered duck fat today because I saw it in The Paleo Recipe Book but I've never cooked with it. Pros/cons? Taste? Should I just stick with olive oil?
Chocolate & Wine - I saw a few recipes that used extra dark chocolate (70% or above cocoa content). I -love- Lindt 85% dark chocolate, is it okay to have a few squares once a week?
Likewise with red wine, which I adore. Is it allowed?
Any other tips/tricks, nifty ideas or info you found particularly useful when you started on Paleo would be much appreciated! Cheers! :)
Welcome Beatrice. As you go a long your paleo journey you'll learn there are no hard and fast rules, as such, and you'll come to know what works well for you and your own preferences on certain matters. But to help a long the way here are some quick fire answers to your questions.
Milk - Coconut milk doesn't necessarily replace dairy, it's just some people choose to do so. There are a number of reasons for this, the first being that some people do better without diary and it's certainly worth experimenting to see if this is the case by removing it from your diet for a period of time (most people would agree a minimum of 30 days). Coconut milk is, well, somewhat milky whilst being very high in medium chain triglycerides, a saturated fat that the bodily quickly utilizes for energy. If you're to continue with dairy in your diet I recommend consuming A2 raw dairy, ideally in fermented forms, i.e. yoghurt.
Sweeteners - This is potentially a big can of worms, personally I would avoid sweetener in day to day life, your taste buds will change from all the sweetness, and as such you'll stop craving ultra sweet things. If you need to use them from time to time (perhaps in cooking..) then honey & stevia are pretty good choices IMHO.
Cooking fat - Duck fat is a pretty good choice, however one thing to be mindful of if the fat comes from factory raised ducks it's likely to be high in omega 6, something which you need to keep an eye on (ideally you want an omega 3 / omega 6 ratio within 1:1 - 1:4 and less than 5% of total calories). Excellent cooking fat includes pastured butter, pastured ghee, coconut oil, pastured lard / tallow. Olive oil is less optimal for cooking because it can oxidize when exposed to heat. Saturated fats are much more heat stable and are thus better for cooking. Save the olive oil for salad dressings or drizzly over foods before eating.
Chocolate / Wine - 85%+ chocolate is a fine choice, it's low in sugar and high in fat. No dramas with a few squares a week. Dry red wine is also a good alcohol choice, it's quite widely agreed anything more than one drink in a session is less than optimal, but you decide how you want to live. Personally I like to indulge every now and again.
Hope that helps. As a parting bit of advice, eat liver (1-2 times per week) and sprint every 7-10 days. Massive pro's to both of those.
Regarding almond milk, I'd stay away for a couple of reasons: 1. I'm pretty sure it has added sugar 2. Once again, not sure, but I'd assume that it wasn't made in a way to reduce phytic acid, which blocks mineral absorption 3. It's going to swing your omega fatty acid ratio towards the omega-6 side 4. It's a processed food!
I personally eat dark chocolate periodically, and drink red wine. I'd suggest going full tilt for a month, though, and adding stuff back in. You might want to try Robb Wolf's plan for 30 days or check out http://whole9life.com/ for the Whole 30. I say this because once your diet is cleaned out you may find that you can tolerate some things and not others. I seem to do OK on dairy but wine is definitely an extravagance my joints pay for. You'll also find your taste for sweet has changed.
Hi Beatrice. I suggest you try out the Whole 30 plan by http://whole9life.com/. I cannot begin to tell you how thrilled I am that I stumbled upon this plan. I love it so much that I have decided to go another 30 days, I am now on day 42. Good luck!
I think most of what has been said has been right on the mark.
I would add one more thing, and that is to listen to your body.
When people start new diets, they trend to approach things in a dogmatic or even robotic manner. Numbers that people give out are estimates, not precise. No body can tell you how many carbs to eat for example.
The paleo diet is really a framework, with a lot of great people who can give you guidelines and help steer you in the right direction. For example check out this link on 5 versions of the paleo diet - http://www.dansplan.com/blog/787-five-slightly-different-flavors-of-the-paleo-diet
Pick one that you think fits you best, and tinker from their. Don't be afraid to question things when your body is not responding in a healthy way. As an example of this, I think too many people go too low carb thinking it is going to be magic and prevent them from gaining fat at the expense of energy (especially when they are active).
Welcome to the community and good luck!