Are you interested in going Paleo in 2016 but not sure how to start? Has Paleo piqued your interest but you need something more than a list of what you can and can’t eat? Then you should check out Primal Eye staff writer and Paleo blogger Rebecca Field’s how-to books promoting the Paleo lifestyle – Introduction to Paleo and Paleo: 12 Weeks to Change Your Life.
When I first ditched conventional healthy eating, I assumed Paleo wasn’t structured enough for me to follow, so chose a different low-carb route in the beginning, finding my way to Paleo a few months later. One thing I’ve noticed when people start out Paleo is that many require a very structured plan that takes away all the thinking; it’s like they initially need to be spoon-fed a bit of information, recipes, and tips on implementing this lifestyle huge lifestyle change, bit by bit. Field’s books do just this.
Introduction to Paleo
This short book briefly touches on information and aspects of the Paleo diet and lifestyle, and is packed with many handy tools for those who are interested in trying the Paleo diet. Despite the book being only 111 pages, don’t let its small size fool you. It has enough information a Paleo newbie needs to begin their own Paleo journey, or at least to test it out. The book gives a brief overview of the diet, its benefits, and several sections on implementing the diet in real life. It also contains a seven-day plan, detailing the following for each day: a set of three meals plus dessert, macro-nutrient breakdown, exercise suggestions, stress management tips, sleep tips, self-awareness exercises, and help with planning meals for the following day. Then, each recipe mentioned in the meal plan is included in the book in order of meals of the day. Also included is a handy grocery list for shopping for your week of Paleo, and finally a quick guide of the approved and not approved foods under the Paleo diet.
It includes specific tips for planning, addresses some of the concerns and issues that pop-up with Paleo (like it being expensive, restrictive, and time-consuming), contains advice on sleep and stress-management, and my favourite section of all – in-depth information on nutrients in foods, more specifically looking at micro-nutrients.
Field has also included anecdotes of her personal experiences with the Paleo diet and lifestyle, as it relates to sections in the book, which I think makes it more personable. As Paleo rookies we’re all guilty of assuming everyone had an easy start and does it perfectly – this book explains how to make it work for you, rather than how to implement someone else’s individualised approach. It also includes some information on the many hormones involved with eating, satiety, and hunger, as well as the transitioning side effects, which, in all of my reading on the Paleo and primal diet and lifestyle, I have yet to come across. I think this is vital for those new to the diet in order to understand that the initial ill-feeling we all experience when embarking upon a Paleo diet is normal.
As for the recipes in this book, I tried the Sausage and Egg Peperonata (p.57), as I’m in need of fresh breakfast ideas. This was a savoury tomato sauce of onions, peppers, and sausage, baked in the oven with eggs cracked into it, resulting in a hot, comforting meal. I loved this dish because its instructions and ingredients were simple, which resulted in quite a delicious meal. I’m now keen to implement baked eggs into my daily Paleo regimen.
While there is enough information contained within the book for Paleo rookies to initially wet their feet, Paleo veterans might find that there isn’t enough scientific information in the book in comparison to other guides on this diet and lifestyle. Readers might initially struggle with the lack of photos in the recipe section as well – I personally like to see what the dish might look like before trying it. Some recipes contain ingredients made from other recipes in the book, like the Roasted Vegetable Wrap lunch option made with leftovers from the Tandoori Chicken dinner option; I think it would’ve been helpful to include page numbers to link recipes used in other recipes. Finally, the meal planner doesn’t include page numbers to the recipes it lists for each day, and the book doesn’t have an index, making the task of finding recipes a bit more onerous.
Paleo: 12 Weeks to Change Your Life
I feel like this book was written by Field and her team after a period of reflection post-Introduction to Paleo. It picks up where Introduction to Paleo left off, and has been written for those who are looking to commit themselves to Paleo in the long term. As the title indicates, the book is geared to a 12-week programme designed to transform your diet and lifestyle. It includes specific tips for planning, addresses some of the concerns and issues that pop-up with Paleo (like it being expensive, restrictive, and time-consuming), contains advice on sleep and stress-management, and my favourite section of all – in-depth information on nutrients in foods, more specifically looking at micro-nutrients. In my experience reading Paleo and primal books, I’ve not come across a section that focuses on specific vitamins and minerals, so I found this to be most useful and interesting.
With detailed grocery shopping lists for all 12 weeks, and 12 weeks’ worth of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners (and sometimes desserts!), you really have all you need to stay Paleo for three months.
In the section ‘The Paleo Store Cupboard’ (p.7), there is a more in-depth list of Paleo-friendly foods to eat, and there are also great UK-specific tips for buying local produce and quality meats; Section 12 on ‘Practising Self-Awareness’ is quite good as well. The book contains a case study of someone’s personal experience with the 12-week programme, again giving a more personal and relatable touch to the programme. There are photos for almost all recipes, and the graphics in the book make it visually appealing. And finally, there is a handy index of recipes at the end of the book too.
The real point of the book, and its bulk, is the 12 week meal plan. With detailed grocery shopping lists for all 12 weeks, and 12 weeks’ worth of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners (and sometimes desserts!), you really have all you need to stay Paleo for three months. And as if that wasn’t enough, there are over 200 recipes for readers to choose from.
I tried several recipes in this book. The Breakfast Smoothie (p.123), made with almond milk, almond butter, coconut oil, berries, and banana was a delicious and fattening way to start off the day. The Breakfast Salad (p.127) was a very large and filling meal that could easily be eaten at any meal of the day. Baked Eggs Peperonata (p.126) was another meal I enjoyed and will make on a weekly basis. And finally, the Sausage and Pepper Casserole (p.268) was a very hearty and comforting meal, which made great leftovers.
There is a handful of basic recipes, like Bacon and Eggs, Full English, Omelettes, and Lettuce Wraps that seasoned chefs wouldn’t need. Those new to cooking however, would most likely appreciate these initially. Also, I found that the recipes took longer to cook than the book suggested. These small issues aside, the book is very complete.
The meal plans in both books only contain three meals per day, which some readers might think isn’t enough food, but trust me – it is enough! The serving sizes are quite large, and many meals contain the combination of protein and fat, which together makes for a lasting feeling of fullness. Once over the transitioning-to-Paleo hump, you shouldn’t require snacks to keep you going throughout the day, as Field suggests.
Introduction to Paleo is a great way to test out the Paleo diet to see if it’s right for you. It’s an ideal book for those who aren’t interested so much in the science behind Paleo, but rather the implementation of it.
Paleo: 12 Weeks to Change Your Life is for those who want to commit to Paleo long-term, but need some specific help with it. It takes the thinking out of implementation, isn’t overloaded with the science that some people skip, and is easy to read. With its meal plan, shopping lists, and recipes, it’s more than enough to help people on their Paleo journey.
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An informative introduction to the Paleo diet and lifestyle. Intended for the novice Field explores nutrition in depth but simplistically, provides comprehensive meal plans, and of course many of her delicious recipes to fuel you throughout your day and transition you smoothly into the world of Paleo.