Often times I get asked what books I recommend for starting someone who is just starting out on a paleo or primal journey. It can seem overwhelming to take the first few steps, and having a good guide makes all the difference in the world.
I am excited to write about Practical Paleo because this book has literally been a lifesaver for me! Practical Paleo is not only a cookbook with easy to follow recipes and beautiful pictures, it also explains the premise behind the paleo lifestyle. It is simple and easy to use.
Diane Sanfilippo starts the introduction by sharing her own personal experiences with eating the standard American diet (SAD) and the effect it had on her. She explains how grains were hurting her, and the positive changes that happened in her life after switching to the paleo lifestyle.
In the first part of Practical Paleo Diane explains what paleo is and how to make it work for you. She writes out in two columns what foods to eat, and what foods to eliminate when starting out. Following this chart are several guides; a guide to paleo foods, what to stock your pantry with, and a guide to food quality that explains how to read labels. If you are on a budget she explains what your priorities should be! Diane also includes special notes about common food allergens throughout the book.
The section following this explains how to navigate going out to eat on a paleo diet. This is helpful because she even lists some restaurant chains that have separate gluten free menus. Diane teaches what questions to ask at the restaurant so you can make the best possible choices but still enjoy your experience eating out! I found this section to be extremely helpful as I have celiac disease and cross contamination at restaurants can make me very sick.
The next section explains every part of the digestive system, what can go wrong, why, and how to fix it. Diane lists all the chronic inflammatory conditions that are related to poor digestive function. My favorite part of this section is the “poop pageant!” It’s a guide to understanding your poop with pictures. Did you ever wonder about your poop? Now you will understand what is going and some changes you can make to have normal poop…hahaha!
In the next section of Practical Paleo Diane thoroughly explains the concept of “leaky gut” and includes a guide to healing your gut. This section is important for anyone diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, or anyone dealing with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, asthma, celiacs, bowel diseases, mood disorders, lupus, heart disease…the list goes on and on.
Then there is a big section on blood sugar and carbohydrates-this section (the most helpful one in my case) includes a guide to dense sources of paleo carbohydates and a guide to sweeteners. This section helped me the most as I gained an understanding of why I would feel “shaky” between meals prior to going primal, and why I was hungry so frequently. Diane explains how to get off the “blood sugar roller coaster.” I had a bunch of “aha” moments while reading this section, and it really changed the way I viewed my own eating habits and health. I always assumed I had low blood sugar and needed to eat frequently. I now rarely feel hungry or shaky and don’t snack nearly as much. Thanks to Practical Paleo I am off the blood sugar roller coaster!
The first part of Practical Paleo ends with a bunch of frequently asked questions and the answers to these questions. Diane covers alcohol consumption, coffee, cholesterol, FODMAPS, nightshades and more.
The second part of Practical Paleo contains different 30 day meal plans. There is a meal plan tailored to support autoimmune conditions, digestive health, blood-sugar regulation, thyroid health, cancer recovery, heart health, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, fat loss, athletic performance, and general health. All the recipes for the meal plans are included in the book! How awesome is that?!
Following the 30 day meal plans are the recipes. Practical Paleo is filled with grain, soy, and legume free recipes that have beautiful pictures. My kids LOVE the pumpkin pancake recipe and they are very easy to make with simple ingredients. Other favorites in our house include the spaghetti squash bolognese and the apple streusel egg muffins.
Following the recipes are tear out guides! Practical Paleo contains a guide to stocking your pantry that you can actually take to the grocery store with you. There is a guide to fats and oils, sweeteners, sources of carbohydrates, and a guide to gluten that includes the most common sources of hidden gluten! If you do not want to tear them out of your book, or purchase the kindle edition, these guides are available on-line HERE.
If you are even considering changing your lifestyle to a healthier and happier one, I cannot recommend Practical Paleo enough. It is worth every penny! It also makes a great gift 🙂 Just read through some of the reviews on amazon, and you will be sold!
Over the next couple weeks I will review some other great books for starting out on a paleo/primal journey, the next one being Well-Fed!