What is the Paleo Diet?
The caveman diet. The primal diet. The hunter-gatherer diet. The Stone Age diet. While it’s been referred to by many different titles throughout the years, the Paleo diet has always stuck to the same simple foundation, urging people to consider the age-old question: what would a caveman eat?
The Paleo diet reels in the concept of only eating what our ancestors, the cavemen, were able to eat. If they could not hunt or gather the food themselves, it was not a part of their diet. In other words, things like pasta, ice cream, and candy, the things that get made in some factory you know nothing about, all need to go. Choosing to be a part of the Paleo lifestyle is a huge decision, as it involves many sacrifices and can be a nuisance to get used to. However, the benefits are extremely rewarding. For a breastfeeding mother and her baby, the Paleo diet can benefit both parties, which is very surprising as many diets are typically unsuitable until the mother is finished with nursing.
So, what can one eat on the diet? It’s simple once you get started, and one thing to remember is to stay clear of artificial foods, mainly anything that comes readily edible out of a processed food box. Your main food groups should consist of meats, fruits, vegetable, nuts, and seafood. These nutritional guidelines seem very simple and limited, but with a little practice and the right recipes, you can get very creative with your diet, and every meal can be extremely beneficial to your overall health. This diet will shape your well-being back into the evolutionary standards that created your history’s genetics.
Paleo Diet and Breast Feeding
One important note to point out to breastfeeding mamas is that breast milk IS paleo-friendly! It is a whole food in itself that gives the baby a perfectly-balanced diet with all of the nutrients it needs to maintain optimal health. Nature has spent many, many years making it that way, to provide the best survival method for new babies in the first couple years of their life. Based on findings from way back then, Paleolithic mothers would breastfeed, exclusively, on the upwards of two to four years, not two to four months that seems to be the shocking average these days. Not to mention the fact that breastfeeding is as easy as life gets for mom – it’s free, portable, ready to eat, and not only optimizes baby’s health, but hers as well.
Breastfeeding is sadly difficult and challenging to maintain in this day and age. While most medical authorities do acknowledge its benefits for the first six months of a baby’s life, many do not continue urging the mothers to continue keeping it exclusive beyond a year. After the six month mark. the majority of moms usually begin to supplement with formula. Some even choose to quit breastfeeding all together at this point. One of the biggest reasons more and more moms are beginning to wean earlier and earlier every year, is because they are overworked, tired, and crave a desire to get back to their pre-baby body figures. What many of them don’t realize, is that they feel this way because they are not eating the right foods that give them the benefits of maintaining a healthy weight, with very little effort.
How Paleo Dieting Benefits Baby
Thus, the reason to urge Paleo dieting, especially to our nursing mamas, is huge. While most diets and detoxes are extremely limited in nutrition and can cause negative effects to both mom and baby while breastfeeding, the Paleo diet is completely whole in nutrition. The diet provides the type of nutrient density they both need during this crucial time of the baby’s life. If a breastfeeding mom begins to get improper nutrition and an inadequate sufficiency of vitamins, continual nursing will only drain her storage of nutrients further, thus eventually creating deficiencies in her milk.
That’s not to say that every single one of mom’s meals has to be perfectly balanced, and extremely Paleo-friendly. In fact, for baby to have perfectly composed milk, strict diets are, more often than not, only negative in the long run. Moms typically need an extra 500 calories a day to compensate for the extra nutrition that goes to the baby, and the pressure of most diets do not ever come close to meeting those needs. An amazing way to incorporate a Paleo diet, without strictly impacting the mom’s everyday diet, is to follow an 80/20 method, in which 80 percent of her foods consumed that day come from the Paleo category, and the other 20 percent consisting of whatever the mom wants to eat. This not only gives her body the better supply of nutrition and vitamins, but also keeps her from getting bored and psychologically depressed about a forced diet.
Some of the best Paleo-rich foods a mom can incorporate into her diet include organ meats and broth from animals (preferably grass-fed ones,) pasteurized eggs, wild-caught fatty fish like salmon, fresh fruit, veggies that are either starchy, non-starchy, or fermented, as well as healthier fats like coconut, avocado, oils, seeds, and nuts. These foods aim to provide the best form of nutrition, guaranteed to give mom and baby their best form of health.
There are countless recipes, meal plans, and books on the best ways to live a Paleo lifestyle, but as long as mama focuses on adding as many of the right foods to her diet as she can, without feeling stressed or pressured about doing so, the more her and baby will benefit. Once you start adding the foods, you will be surprised at how much happier and healthier you feel, and continuing with the diet as a permanent way of life will be easier to imagine. New moms have enough stress to deal with when they have a baby, and the best way to eliminate stress in the kitchen is to stock up on plenty of foods that will make them feel and look their best, without making them exhausted in the process. Good luck mamas!