The Basics

the basicsHere you will get a snap shot overview of the primal/paleo, high fat/low carb approach to eating. Because there are so many different versions out there, I am going to outline my version for you.

I choose to follow a primal diet which is very low in carbs, moderate in proteins,  and high in healthy fats. My goal is first and foremost to be healthy and keep my blood sugar under control as well as try to obtain my ideal body weight . I also find that it gives me heaps of energy, clear skin and mental sharpness.

In addition I seem to be able to shake off colds quicker when I do get them (which is quite rare these days) and this way of eating keeps my hay fever allergies at bay. Popping antihistamines like Smarties really is a thing of the past!

My basic guidelines of what I put into my mouth:

Avoid completely:

  • No grains such as pasta, rice, cereal, quinoa, corn, bread (all types) and baked goods made with wheat flour – therefore eliminating all forms of gluten from my diet.
  • No beans or legumes  – they cause unpleasant digestive issues and are high in carbs.
  • No soya – they are often genetically modified and contain nasties such as anti-nutrients and phytoestrogens.
  • No sugar, artificial sweeteners, diet drinks or preservatives  –  they are all poison.
  • I avoid processed and ready to eat packaged foods with long nutrition labels and loads of preservatives, colourants and artificial flavourings.
  • No vegetable oils, margarine or shortening – they are highly processed and will damage your health.

Limited amounts:

  • I try to limit high carb veggies such as sweet potato, butternut, peas and carrots.
  • I use xylitol or stevia as sweeteners in coffee or for baking.
  • A treat for me is a couple of squares of dark chocolate (70 to 85% cocoa) a few times a week.
  • I snack on nuts such as raw almonds and macadamias. Cashews are high in carbs so I avoid those.
  • I consume a little full fat dairy such as cream, Greek yoghurt and cheese. Dairy is not strictly Paleo.
  • I restrict my consumption of fruit due to the high fructose content and so stick mainly to a small handful of berries a day.
  • I drink wine  instead of beer or sugary cocktails. Red wine is superior over white wine because of the resveratrol.

Moderate amounts:

  • I eat moderate amounts (80 grams per day) of seafood and good quality protein from animals which have been pasture-reared and grass-fed.
  • I love my eggs and can have up to 10 a week.
  • I enjoy a few cups of tea and coffee each day.

Liberal amounts:

  • I eat a lot of healthy fat (about 90 to 110 grams per day) such as avocados, olives, olive oil, butter, coconut oil and lard. Fat is my friend!
  • I eats lots of salads and low carb veggies such as cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, courgettes, patty pans, green beans, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, peppers etc. I use them to bulk up my meals and they are full of fibre and nutrients as well. These make up the majority of my carb intake each day of around 50 to 70 grams of carbs.
  • When I get thirsty I drink water and sometimes spruce it up with sparkles, mint leaves, cucumber and lemon slices.

The beauty of this way of eating is that it is adaptable for your own needs and goals – you just need to experiment a little (which I am still doing). You can choose to have more full fat dairy or maybe you are very active and at your ideal weight and can therefore eat more sweet potato and butternut. Maybe you want to lose weight quicker so you could decide to cut out all alcohol and treats like dark chocolate. You can make it work for you and your family. Even my kids eat this way although with a little more leniency on certain things.

Need some ideas for meals?

If you need some ideas of what to cook at meal times, then check out my Meal inspiration page, which has lots of photos of the food I prepare for my family. Or view my growing Recipes page.

Would a shopping list help?

Click here for a printer friendly 2 page list of foods to put into your shopping trolley. Stick it up on your fridge for a quick reference of what to eat and what to avoid.

Previous posts for further reading:

The high fat/low carb basic food list

Looking to the past for answers

10 reasons to give up grains

Not yet convinced to give up grains?

5 big fat lies we are fed

Diet drinks can make you fat

Stuff you need to know about sugar

Get over your fat phobia if you want to lose weight

Want to lose weight? Avoid these foods

What about beans, lentils and soya?

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  1. I have printed the list and I am trying to get brave and do it…..I already eat gluten free and pretty healthy. But there are of course a few things that I could still cut out. I would idealy like to loose 5-8kgs to be back to good weight for me. I have already lost 5 over the last year. My issue is I run lots and I feel like I am not loosing weight because I build muscle fast. So my shape is changing but the number on the scale isnt. Which is totally fine with me. You dont mention exercise that much.
    So what I want to know is do you ever cheat ?
    Have you lost weight consistantly ? Do you exercise lots ?

    Love Cara

    • Hi Cara, well done on the 5kg’s. I do occassionally cheat which usually takes the form of too much wine, too much fruit, too much dark chocolate, the odd non-primal dessert or some rice when having sushi. Grains don’t often slip in though. I did struggle with a weight loss plateau so I have reduced the carbs even more, am really being careful not to eat too much protein and have upped the fat. I have also been advised to cut out the dairy to see if that helps to kick start things. I do exercise 3 to 4 times a week (walking, pilates, dancing). Check out Mark Sisson’s blog as he has some very interesting things to say about exercise. I would love the weight loss to be faster ( I still want to lose another 15) but am trying to be patient. I really think that years of dieting has wrecked my body as well as years of fertility treatments and hormones. It could take some time for the rest of the weight to come off. I do notice though that I need to take my belt in a couple of notches even though there is not much difference on the scale – so that encourages me.

  2. Hi Nicky, What an incredible blog! Well done to you! I’ve been sitting here reading all the fascinating articles and digesting the information for the past hour.. Thank you so much for sharing all your experiences and knowledge… It will make it so much easier for everyone else:-)
    See you soon, Fi x

  3. Hi Nicky, what a great site, very inspiring. I’ve been trying the Banting way of eating for about a month now and am really enjoying it, but I don’t think I have the high fat percentage right. You mention 110g of fat per day. How does one calculate this? For example, if I have a piece of braaied chicken, how do I know what percentage is fat?

  4. Dear Nicky,

    I have started Banting, however I am on Cholesterol medication as well.
    What are the guidelines for someone with HBP and Cholesterol?

    • Work closely with your doctor and test regularly. Banting should improve your heart health by reducing triglycerides, increasing your HDL (good) cholesterol and reducing your blood pressure. If your LDL increases there is also no need to panic as it is probably the good fluffy particles (especially if your triglycerides are coming down.) Please check in with your doctor though and let them know you are Banting. If they aren’t supportive then find a GP who is.

  1. Pingback: Carbohydrates: How much is too much? | Primal Perks

  2. Pingback: The Basics | jaribudragon

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