Whichever way you fry it; nutrition is a huge part of everyone’s life. What we choose to put into our bodies impacts how we live, our health, and sometimes even the health of others around us.
So why are people choosing paleo? Every now and then, the Plate Up team will catch up with our paleo pals or wholefood fanatics for their take on making some healthy lifestyle changes.
We thought we’d start with a guy you might recognise, Plate Up co-founder Art Green.
You’re a little bit of a pin-up boy for paleo. What’s your background and your involvement with the paleo world?
I have always been pretty active and into fitness, and grew up eating healthy food from my parents’ farm and gardens. So fresh, healthy wholefoods and being active have always been the norm for me.
As I got older I played sports and then studied sports science at university to try and learn everything I could about our bodies and how they work. After uni I managed a gym at a mining village in the middle of The Pilbara desert in Perth, and it was here I really started experimenting with nutrition. I worked four weeks on, one week off, so used my four week stints to try everything from vegetarian and ketogenic to Isagenix, raw food and then paleo.
Learning and experimenting with food and nutrition lead me to join my friend Ryan Kamins in our business CleanPaleo and now Riot Foods. This taught me a lot about business and also the current nutritional landscape in NZ.
Still finding convenience to be the main difficulty with eating healthily, my fiance Matilda and I decided to start up Plate Up, which again is a way to help people stay on top of their health and nutrition but are pushed for time.
Talk us through how you became paleo: Why did you take up this philosophy?
As I mentioned before, I tried a lot of different nutritional philosophies before I started living a predominantly paleo lifestyle. I wanted to test the waters and see how my body responded to different fuel.
Mitch and Ryan told me how it helped them. Mitch with a sports injury and Ryan with his mental health, so I did my homework and then gave it a try myself.
It sounds a bit lame but it was like a light switched on for me. I was sleeping better, had more energy, had more mental clarity, and was still eating all the foods I enjoyed.
I go through periods of sticking to paleo pretty strictly, and periods where I’m far more lax. I don’t let food restrictions get in the way of socialising (I still have a beer and dairy every now and then), I just see the paleo lifestyle (paleo foods) as the ideal framework for humans from a nutritional point of view.
The results must have been pretty convincing for you to adjust your whole lifestyle. What sorts of changes did you see?
As well as sleeping better and having more sustained energy throughout the day, I found I was able to exercise to the high intensity I wanted and recover well - while still eating the foods I enjoyed. I also found a reduction in my body fat percentage.
One of the biggest things about living a paleo lifestyle for me has been that I just don’t seem to get sick anymore. Every now and then I get the start of a cold, but it never takes hold. I used to get the flu at least once a year but since I started on paleo I haven’t had it at all - touch wood!
There is also lots of research to show that paleo lifestyles can benefit your overall wellbeing through helping to regulate the hormones in the body and improving your gut health, and I believe I have felt these, too.
Clearly paleo is something you believe in wholeheartedly, but there is quite a bit of contention out there. Do you ever doubt the paleo life?
Well, I haven’t looked back since I went paleo, but I also believe there is not one true answer to optimal nutrition — at least not one which applies to everyone.
I think the key to finding the best nutritional regime for your body is to educate yourself as much as possible about the different options and try things for yourself to determine what works best for your body and makes you feel great.
For me, paleo is perfect and I truly believe it is the best lifestyle I can live.
Are you ever tempted to stray away from paleo? How do you stay on track?
I always consider myself to be paleo, but I don’t stick to it 100 percent. I have some dairy, a beer every now and then, and I’ve been known to eat the odd almond croissant. I also like going out for a meal sometimes without having to think about what I can and can’t eat…
I think it’s important to still eat foods you enjoy without worrying about the negative effects they are having on your body. You also don’t want to cut yourself off from other people and doing things you enjoy because of your “diet”.
The good news is, I believe the paleo lifestyle enables you to still eat foods you enjoy, never feel hungry or unsatisfied, and still be able to hang out with your mates without being “the weird paleo guy”.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about being paleo?
Probably what I said above, that you think you are going to have to make all these really hard changes that will completely disrupt your life - but you really don’t. Just give it a go and see if it’s for you, I gave paleo a go and just never stopped. That and also that eating paleo means eating heaps of meat - for me paleo is basically a plant based diet supplemented with ethically farmed and ideally organic meat.
What’s your favourite paleo meal?
Probably just a hearty salad packed with fresh leafy greens, broccoli, avo, kumara, spiced chicken and haloumi. Mmm!