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Mind Body and Soul: Embracing Your Inner Caveman – Natural Food for Better Health

By Andrea Conway

The fundamentals preached by today’s nutrition and fitness experts have remained consistent for decades: eat a healthy, balanced diet and get plenty of exercise.  But while many people will join a gym or take up a sport to satisfy the exercise requirement, the “healthy, balanced diet” part isn’t always easy.

Surprisingly, the answer to this conundrum has been around, literally, for ages. The Caveman Diet is a lifetime way of eating that focuses on consuming all-natural foods that humans originally had to hunt for and gather:  lean meats, seafood, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Also known as the Paleo Diet (named after the Paleolithic Era when cave people lived), the Caveman Diet is gaining increased attention from those who swear by the enhanced athletic performance and overall wellness it provides.

Processed foods, additives, preservatives and other chemicals weren’t a part of anyone’s diet in pre-historic times. Our ancestors hunted wild animals for meat, fished from lakes and streams and plucked vegetables out of the ground. Everything was fresh, pure and consumed almost immediately. Today, we can take advantage of many of the same types of food and feed our body a more natural diet. Best of all, the hunting and gathering has been done for us, so we don’t need to do battle with a wooly mammoth to get dinner on the table.

What to Eat

The Caveman Diet offers a great deal of flexibility and features alternatives that allow for more “haves” than “have-nots.”  Basic food choices might include:

Lean Meat – all visible fat should be trimmed before cooking. Examples include London broil, flank steak, extra lean ground beef and top sirloin. Lean pork chops and pork tenderloin are also acceptable. Poultry breasts are a good choice, but only with skin removed.

Seafood – is a strong part of the diet. Boiled shrimp, tuna, salmon, lobster, red snapper, Dungeness crab and steamed clams are all good options.

Nuts and Seeds – includes all nuts with the exception of peanuts.  Try flaxseed, sesame seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans or pine nuts.

Fruits and Vegetables – that grow on trees, vines or in the ground are all good choices. All types of melons and berries are acceptable, as are most citrus fruits. Veggies can range from tomatoes, cucumbers and celery to leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach and kale.

What to Avoid

Processed and preservative-laden foods that contain high amounts of trans-fats, saturated fats and other ingredients with little nutritional value are exempt.  Foods to keep off of your plate include:

  • Cereal and breads including crackers, rice, noodles, pancake mixes.
  • Dairy products such as milk, cheese and ice cream.
  • Fatty and processed meat like sausage, bacon, ribeye steaks and lunch meat.
  • Canned or pre-packaged tuna or salmon.
  • Refined sugars that include cakes, pastries and cookies.
  • Foods high in sodium such as frozen dinners or boxed meal mixes.

While this may seem like a heavy set of restrictions, Geri Lynn Grossan, a registered dietician and nutrition coach who practices in Summerlin, insists that there’s no need to feel hemmed in by food limitations.

“Anything can be modified,” says Grossan. “Those concerned about eating red meats can go with chicken, fish and turkey instead. If you love to drink milk, you can substitute it with almond milk or coconut milk. As for grains, there are work-arounds for those, too, such as quinoa. Trader Joe’s even carries a complete line of gluten-free products. You just have to look at what’s out there.”

Planning Your Shopping Trip

Preparing your shopping list in advance can work to your advantage before you head out to the grocery store. As you plan your healthy meals for the upcoming week, a little prep work can pay huge dividends, and you can learn to be your own best advocate of what you and your body really need. Purchasing salad mixes, pre-sliced vegetables and fruit chunks at the store will reduce the time needed to prepare a week’s worth of caveman friendly cuisine.

“When visiting your grocery store, it’s best to stick to specific sections which are usually found along the perimeter such as your produce, lean meats and seafood,” says James Stella, owner of Kaizen Crossfit in Summerlin, who often takes his students to grocery stores for Caveman Diet shopping lessons. “The idea is to steer clear of the types of preservatives that would enable food to sit on your pantry shelves for extended periods of time.”

Today’s Menu

Countless meal combinations exist, so there’s always a chance for variety. Dr. Loren Cordain, a professor at Colorado State University who co-wrote The Paleo Diet for Athletes, offers some ideas on what a typical day following the Caveman Diet could look like:



Broiled Atlantic salmon



Carrot sticks


Vegetable salad with walnuts

-Shredded Romaine lettuce

-Sliced carrot

-Sliced cucumber

-Quartered tomatoes

-Lemon-juice dressing


Broiled lean pork loin


Celery sticks

Macadamia nuts


Vegetable avocado/almond salad

-Shredded mixed greens



-Slivered almonds

-Sliced red onion

-Lemon-juice dressing

Steamed broccoli

Lean beef sirloin tip roast



While studies have shown a multitude of positive health benefits for Caveman Diet participants, it’s important to always consult a health professional before trying any type of diet or changing your normal routine so that you can find a diet that fits your specific situation and nutritional path.

Whether embracing the Caveman Diet simply means eliminating potato chips to snack on almonds or avoiding soda to quench your thirst with a tall glass of water, the underlying message is clear: engage in healthier choices that benefit your body for the long-term.  Your level of commitment to the Caveman Diet is up to you, but health experts agree that the more one adheres to it, the better the results.

The Missing Links

The following resources will help you reap the benefits of our ancient ancestors’ nutritional guidelines:


Access Paleo nutritional information to accompany daily Crossfit workout routines.


Find unique recipe ideas to satisfy any caveman’s cravings.



Get started with a professional nutritional evaluation and program to fit your needs.



Locate Paleo Diet-oriented healthcare providers throughout the United States.


Receive a free food matrix, quick start Paleo Diet guide, and shopping list.


Order pre-made “PaleoKits” to use for meals or snacks on the go.


Purchase Dr. Cordain’s books, including The Paleo Diet for Athletes, and get the most out of the diet.

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