Eating a diet reminiscent of the diet of Paleolithic man is believed to foster optimal weight, health, and energy levels. This style of eating dates back over a span of 50,000 years before the agricultural revolution and is supposedly the diet upon which humans were evolved to subsist. This is a compelling argument considering the host of chronic diseases brought upon by modern-day foods that were virtually unknown to our ancestors. However, for one to be successful at sticking to the paleo diet, one must have access to those foods that made up the diets of cavemen…even when one is on the go.
Here are some tips and food recommendations for those wishing to follow a Paleolithic diet in the world of fast food, drive thrus, and vending machines:
Choose foods that aren’t messy and don’t readily spoil:
When going out for a few hours, or traveling in a car or plane, it helps to pack easy to eat food that doesn’t smell or require refrigeration. Since a Paleolithic diet is practically synonymous with a raw food diet, this can seem a monumental challenge. Trail mix comes in handy (though nuts and seeds are technically more of a Neolithic food). Use almonds, walnuts, cocoa nibs, pecans, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, or any other nut or seed available. Skip the peanuts (a legume and common food allergen), omit the dried fruit (very high in sugar), and try to get nuts that are raw and unsalted.
Choose canned fish:
Whether it’s tuna, salmon, mackerel, or sardines, canned fish can be a godsend for paleo eaters in need of quick protein. Though the quality of this protein and it’s nutrient profile is far from optimal compared to that of fresh, grass-fed, organic game meats, it is undeniable healthier than commercially available luncheon meats and jerky. Nowadays, stores are even selling convenient, serving-size pouches of fish that don’t require draining, so one doesn’t even need to stash a can opener in the car to fit in some protein. Remember, fish can tend to be smelly and messy, so be courteous to those around you.
Ditch the drive-thru, hit the grocery store:
If one has a choice between a fast food joint and a chain grocery store to grab a quick bite to eat, there is no reason to settle on fast food in the name of ‘convenience’. At the grocery store you can swing through the produce section for some fibrous, green veggies, hit the deli counter or grab a pouch of tuna for some protein, and pick up some nuts or nut butter for a dose of healthy fat. Though it’s plain, simple, and lacking in tasteful herbs and spices, this meal will do more to sustain energy and mental clarity than a fast food meal ever will. These food choices are more wholesome, and by buying things individually from the store, the confusion surrounding the mystery ingredients in fast food is eliminated.
Sometimes, go without…
Fact: our ancestors didn’t always have a constant supply of food to eat every three to four hours. Sometimes they went a few days without ingesting anything whatsoever. Though not particularly pleasant, this approach can be used as a last resort IF 1) one has followed the Paleolithic way of eating for a while and has adjusted to it 2) one is not overly hungry (despite not having eaten for a few hours) and is not experiencing a significant drop in mood or energy 3) there really is no suitable food to be found in the surrounding environment (for example, if one is at the State Fair where the only choices are cotton candy and funnel cakes). If one is absolutely starving, one should definitely eat something. However, in many cases the quick energy is canceled out by the effects of the junk food’s toxicity and resulting metabolic derangement.
This is a crash course in maintaining a Paleolithic diet ‘on-the-go’ in a modern day world. Happy hunting and gathering!