Think paleo: no grain, no sugar, no processed food

Think paleo: no grain, no sugar, no processed food
By Anuradha Sawhney Dec 08 2014
Tags: Leisure Writing
I am writing today about my version of the paleo diet that’s becoming increasingly popular around the world. The diet advocates a fat heavy diet, with meats and fish, but we all know the adverse effects of consuming such foods, especially with animals treated the way they are and hormone and antibiotics injected into them that are then are passed on to consumers. This is how the paleo diet can still work without the meat.

First, what is the paleo diet? It’s the diet presumed to have been followed by our ancestors. It comes from the word paleolithic. In early days, there was no processed food and no added sugar available. People did not drink milk, so there were no dairy products either. People hunted their foods, cooked and it and ate it. There was no diabetes, no hyper tension, no cancer, no heart disease. These are all diseases which have come about as a result of modern day convenience foods like breads, cakes, puffs, biscuits, chewda, dairy, maida, sugar, hydrogenated oils as well as ready to eat meals.

Even during the time when our grandparents were growing up, the food they ate was nutritious and devoid of any additives. People grew their own grains, ground them, cooked with them using oil that was not adulterated, grew their own fruits and vegetables and used jaggery for sweetening, rice straight from the farm and no maida whatsoever.

Have you noticed how that generation is so much more healthy than the ones that came after them? My grandparents lived to be almost 90 years old, and it was a healthy 90 years, not riddled with diseases and ailments. I do believe that this is because in their growing up years, this generation had access to good food, free of all adulterants, so much so that it did not matter whether they smoked (my grandfather smoked every day) or ate meat (he was a non vegetarian) or even drank, they still led a healthy life till the end. It is only since the commercialisation of foods as well as a sedentary lifestyle and stress that all these diseases made their appearance.

Paleo diets don’t allow the consumption of legumes, grains, dairy, packaged products that have added sugar as well as hydrogenated oils. So what can you eat? Well, you can eat nuts and vegetables. And because we cannot envisage meals without breads and rotis, it’s easy enough to make a healthy version without using flour. How? Substitute nut flour in your bread instead of maida, make a smoothie out of coconut water and coconut cream instead of milk, eat a lot of sweet potatoes and yams as they have complex carbohydrates, don’t use hydrogenated oils, steam or lightly cook your vegetables so their nutrients stay intact.

Dr Jeya Prakash from London says when he was in medical school, they hardly ever saw anyone with diabetes or hypertension below 60 years of age. Now it begins at 25 and people have cardiac arrests at 30. The reason, he says, is a combination of stress, sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy food habits. Instead of an allopathic approach to health, Prakash follows the paleo principle of recommending food that aids the “absorption mechanism of the stomach” — nuts, vegetables, herbal juices, spirulina…” Also, he says no grains. No sugar. No processed food. No milk.” Basically food that nurtures your body.

If you are trying out the paleo diet, please remember to keep your protein intake proper. Consult your doctor before changing your diet.

(The writer is a vegan chef and author of The Vegan Kitchen: Bollywood Style!)

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