I just finished reading what has already become one of my favorite books on health: Your Personal Paleo Code by Chris Kresser.
There is no shortage of Paleo books these days, do we really need another Paleo book? What can possibly be said that hasn’t been said already?
But Your Personal Paleo Code is different. There is no dogma here.
That’s the premise of the book: there is no one perfect diet for everyone. It really is YOUR personal paleo code.
This “code” is based on Chris Kresser’s years of experience in his busy functional medicine practice helping clients with the most challenging health concerns. And he still manages to stay up to date on all the latest nutrition and health studies. That combination is what makes Kresser a go-to source for health information.
Eating paleo is all about eating real food, and though many of the other paleo books out there can be intimidating and restrictive, Kresser’s approach is comprehensive and flexible, and most importantly – it gets results.
Highlights of Your Personal Paleo Code
1. It “respects the wisdom of your genetic template but also acknowledges your own unique circumstances”.
The paleo diet emphasizes foods we are biologically adapted to eat: meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. But Kresser argues that some of the more recent agricultural foods, like dairy and even grains, can be healthy if well tolerated by the individual.
But how do we know what is well tolerated? That’s where the 3-Step Plan comes in…
2. A “starting point, not a destination.” Step 1: Reset Your Diet
The first part of Kresser’s program is a strict 30-day reset which follows the typical Paleo approach and eliminates all the foods that contribute to disease and often are not well tolerated: grains, dairy, legumes, sweeteners, and processed foods. This reset reduces inflammation, improves digestion, burns fat, boosts energy, and identifies food sensitivities.
3. “We’re not cavemen, so why should we follow a strict cavemen diet?” Step 2: Rebuild Your Life
Kresser has a very specific program (based on his clinical experience) for reintroducing grey-area foods. Food sensitivity tests have limitations, so this really is the best way to determine your tolerance if done in a controlled manner. He advises a very specific order and timing to evaluate negative reactions to specific foods.
4. Fine tuning Your Personal Paleo Code – Step 3: Revive Your Health
Step 1 and 2 help identify what foods work for you. This final step teaches you how to personalize your diet according to your needs; tweaking macronutrient ratios, meal frequency and timing, supplementation, and the real superfoods.
5. Learning What to Eat, and Why
Eating paleo is all about eating real food, but there is so much misinformation – or too much information – it’s challenging to sort it all out. Kresser’s book includes easy to read information on maximizing nutrient density, minimizing toxicity by knowing what foods to avoid, the real facts on fat and oils, best dietary sources of carbohydrates, and optimizing protein quality. You’ll also learn about the crucial role your gut has on your overall health.
6. Not Another Diet Book
The foods we eat have a tremendous impact on our health, but lifestyle factors are often overlooked. Physical activity, adequate sleep, play, sun exposure, stress management, and social connection are all part of a well rounded approach to health. These factors make up a large part of section 2 of the book.
7. “There’s more to health – and to life – than food and that social engagement and pleasure are very important to health” – the 80/20 rule
Once you’ve done your reset and reached your health goals, Kresser recommends following the diet 80% of the time but allow for the flexibility to enjoy having ice cream with the kids, or grabbing the not so perfect meal at the airport. He believes a truly healthy body is resilient to less optimal foods. But this isn’t about having cheat meals, and those with serious health challenges or allergies or food intolerances may not be ready for this approach.
8. Tips, tips, and more tips!
Each chapter ends with a summary on how to apply the information into doable steps. There is also additional tips on:
- Eating in restaurants
- Smart Snacking
- Eating Paleo on a Budget
9. Specific Health Conditions
Kresser outlines strategies for ten of the most common health conditions people face today:
- Weight Loss
- High Cholesterol and Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- GERD, IBS, IBD, and other Digestive Problems
- Diabetes and other Blood Sugar Disorders
- Anxiety, Depression, and Cognitive Disorders
- Thyroid Disorders
- Autoimmune Disease
- Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome
- Skin Disorders
10. Bonus Content
I was blown away with the amount of extra online content (over 200 pages!) available to those that buy the book.
- Each of the specific health conditions gets a free bonus chapter online with more detailed recommendations.
- Three weeks of meal plans and recipes, and shopping lists
- Paleo Troubleshooting
- Supplementing Wisely
- Cheatsheets on Paleo superfoods, how to prevent cravings, Paleo snack ideas, and brand recommendations for fats
- Action plans and worksheets
Your Personal Paleo Code is packed with information – it’s hard to highlight it all in a blog post. But it doesn’t get overwhelming and the summaries at the end of the chapters really help.
So get a great start to 2014 by reading this book and discover your unique path towards optimal health!