The very-popular Paleo diet (meaning you eat from the land and sea—fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meats, and fish—not out of packages) tends to evoke a burly, masculine image chomping on giant turkey legs.
Not surprisingly, “the Caveman Diet” has taken hold with Crossfit enthusiasts and bodybuilders. With the ladies; not so much. So author Nell Stephenson’s new book, Paleoista, brings the lifestyle and diet to women who may be a little more skeptical. And fashionable.
“Sometimes it’s nice to have a woman’s perspective,” Stephenson explains. “Paleoista is about following the Paleo diet in a modern way without feeling like you have to be too cave-y.”
We chatted with the nutritional and Paleo lifestyle consultant about her approach, and what she keeps in her super tidy, super organized fridge.
So, how long have you been eating Paleo? I’ve been Paleo for over seven years, and it’s so easy to do. It’s the only way I’ve ever found to eat healthy where you don’t feel like you’re missing anything. I also found it was the only way to eat that I feel satiated and don’t actually want things I would miss or crave on a typical diet. I have a ton of energy, and it’s really difficult to not get to your ideal, lean body weight when you eat this way.
I guess I expected your fridge to be stocked with meat. Do Paleoistas eat less than “caveman” types? No, if you look at the picture, there’s a tray of chicken I have marinating. In the freezer, I have pounds of grass-fed ribeye, salmon, and organic chicken.
You also have a ton of vegetables. Absolutely. I eat them with every meal. I think a big mistake people make with the Paleo diet is they think it’s just meat and don’t eat nearly enough vegetables. I’m a big fan of balance.
Your vegetables are so neatly arranged. Do your prep them in advance? Yes, I schedule two one-hour kitchen sessions in the week for prep. That one hour involves steaming batch after batch of veggies, baking some chicken and fish, washing fruit, and spinning dry greens. This way, you have your fridge prepared for a few days and then you only have to choose meal components.
I’d imagine a lot of people would have a hard time creating a full meal from what’s in your fridge. Can you give us an example of what a typical meal might look like? I start with vegetables, add some protein, add some healthy fats, and then maybe some fruit. If you follow that template, it becomes so easy. For example, I’ll make kale with grilled chicken and olive oil or an arugula salad with wild salmon, avocado, and some blueberries. Breakfast can be hard for people but you can start with a veggie omelet or soft boiled eggs over veggies. If you think of it as just another meal, it really helps. Steak and broccoli is one of my favorite breakfasts, but not everyone is comfortable with that.
Ha! Sounds like that could take some getting used to. Is it hard to eat out? Not at all. In my book, I cover a lot of things my clients have asked about, like being comfortable with asking the server lots of questions or calling ahead and asking if the restaurant can accommodate you. Something that looks Paleo, like market fish and fresh vegetables, is always a good choice. People expect it to be weird and tricky and complicated, but it’s not. You just eat food and don’t eat things that aren’t food. —Lisa Elaine Held
For more information on Nell Stephenson or the Paleoista diet, recipes, and lifestyle, visit paleoista.com or check out her book Paleoista: Gain Energy, Get Lean, and Feel Fabulous with the Diet You Were Born to Eat.