Right quick, let’s get this out of the way: I am an affiliate for the Personal Paleo Code, meaning that if you click through my site and decide to buy it, I’ll get a commission. Nevertheless, every opinion expressed here is truly what I think. I don’t feel the need to lie to you for a few extra bucks. Cool? Cool. Onward.
Not long ago, Chris Kresser released what’s probably the most thorough guide in existence for paleo eating, while it by no means limits one to “strict Paleo” foods. You can really kind of choose-your-own-adventure this thing and use it to suit your particular needs/issues and the goals you have in mind.
There are three main stages to it, which are Reset, Reintroduce, and Refine, each with a guide to keep you anchored in the purpose of that particular stage. All the while you have the Progress Tracking App to record your vitals and your goals, and the Meal Plan Generator to churn out a variety of recipes from a large, varied database compiled from lots of blogs and cookbooks.
Beyond this, there are enough guides included for everything that it really will save the Paleo newbie or someone refining their routine a hell of a lot of legwork and research. These guides include: what to shop for, kitchen equipment, fats and oils, an on-the-go guide (man, this would have made traveling easier in the past), as well as worksheets for you OCD-ish hyper-organized types to document just about anything you’d possibly like to.
Reading through this first step, it walks you around the pitfalls and dogmatic thought patterns and habits to avoid. A guide gives you a large pool of the types of foods you can eat freely or in moderation during the reset period, and the specific ones that you cannot eat, in order to get the best results.
There are listed caveats and tweaks for what to do in your individual situation with a specific issue, e.g. insulin resistance, autoimmune issues, gut issues, adrenal fatigue, etc., and you can search recipes based on your situation. Of course, you don’t have to exclude anything in the recipe database if you don’t want to, since you know you won’t come across anything nefarious, i.e. the so-called “neolithic agents of disease.”
The “Reintroduce” section has a spreadsheet of different food groups that you may have eliminated during the “Reset” stage, such as dairy, nightshades, and sweeteners, with a thorough list of each and the best order in which to reintroduce them, and why. This could save tons of googling and deciding which of the many information sources out there to believe.
This is where you can really nerd out on this stuff if you want to. For shoring up any issues that are nagging you, this step serves as a great “what do I do if…” kind of FAQ. It will point you to procedures for a different specific situations, such as the Iodine Protocol guide for thyroid irregularities, the FODMAPS guide, autoimmune protocol, and others.
Well God knows life would have been easier if this program existed when I first changed my diet. One thing that it does really well beyond any program or book that I’ve seen is realistically acknowledge the nuance and grey areas involved with finding a diet/lifestyle that works optimally for you. There’s no true-believer “THIS STUFF WILL KILL YOU” going on here.
The ability to customize it to suit your needs in a multitude of ways based on your goals, allergies, likes and dislikes, etc., and have it kick out a specific set of meals, routines, and eliminations/reintroductions like some kind of black magic – this is probably the best thing about it.
I think I track with Kresser’s general approach to diet more than just about anyone else I’ve come across, with his gathering of supporting research and extensive clinical experience which provides a lot of real-world experience with people to draw from. It’s one thing to have coherent ideas about how things work, and another to have put it into practice with real people and identified the often non-intuitive situations that you run into when making a lifestyle change.
I thought at first that the array of features was kind of intimidating and took me a minute to figure out where to start. There’s a “before you begin” link at the top of the home page, but it sidetracks you into the tools section, and once you get into the action workbook, you’re pointed back to the home page again to watch the intro video. The intro video could be made more immediately obvious from the outset.
The program overall takes some sitting down and reading through to get your bearings and decide how to proceed. Then again, if you can’t pull it together to do that, then you’re probably not going to pull it together to go from an all-over-the-place crappy diet to an optimal diet, anyway.
This might just be my own peevishness as someone who isn’t in love with cooking for cooking’s sake, but I think it could use some more quick, simple recipes. Everything I’ve seen in the recipe database looks great, but am I going to make a breakfast dish with 17 ingredients or do things like zest lemon or finely dice veggies for my lunch regularly? In a perfect world, I would. That said, most recipes will be fine when you’re short on time if you possess at least one skill of a good cook, which is to improvise and make a recipe more simple or fit what you have in your spice rack at the time.
It won’t be quite the godsend to the veteran as it is to the newbie. If you’re humming along perfectly health-wise and you’re satisfied with your food and your supplements, then it’s probably not for you. It’s clear to me that the people that have the most to benefit from this program are relative Paleo newcomers who are needing some structure to make a big change, or someone who still has some nagging issues and really wants to get their specific health concerns worked out as much as they can with diet. For those people, it’s unbeatable.
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