I met Nutritional Health Coach Madeleine Shaw a couple of months ago at an SBC workshop and after mopping the sweat from my brow I told her that I was curious about going paleo. The food philosophy, which has been getting a lot of attention lately from bloggers and the media owing in part to its popularity among A-list fitness fans such as Miley Cyrus to Megan Fox advocates ingredients that our Stone Age ancestors would have eaten 8,000 years ago. In a nutshell paleo means ditching processed foods, refined sugar and basically anything that we know is not good for us and instead enjoying natural ingredients, including meat, fish, nuts, seeds, berries and green vegetables.
Luckily for me (and anyone interested in finding out more), Madeleine has just launched a 5-day programme with EatEvolve, the UK's first pre-made paleo meal delivery company. EatEvolve are not big on the word 'diet', like Madeleine they see paleo as a lifestyle rather than a quick fix and like all lifestyle changes switching to paleo does involve a certain level of commitment. The meals in Shaw's Get The Glow programme are all wheat free, dairy free and gluten free and EatEvolve swear by the principle 'No sugar, no grains, no nasties'. This doesn't mean giving up fat altogether - there are plenty of quality omega 6 fats on the menu - but saying goodbye to sugar and snacking is essential.
Here are 5 other things I discovered when I embarked on Madeleine's Get The Glow program with EatEvolve...
1. It's the perfect way for a newbie paleo to get a (literal) taste of what it's like to eat clean... Meals are delivered in vacuum pouches, which can be stored for up to 7 days or frozen and ensure nutritional integrity remains intact. A welcome pack is provided highlighting the mains and recommended sides, but it's easy to mix and match depending on your schedule and tastes. If you've never gone paleo before and aren't sure what to expect, the cleanse gives you the opportunity to dive in without having to check labels and learn a new repertoire of dishes. Having said that the experience really inspired me to experiment with my own paleo dishes once I'd completed the program.
2. It's VERY filling... Traditionally my meals have been based around brown rice, quinoa and potatoes and although I eat plenty of vegetables and fruit too, I wasn't convinced that I would feel full if I cut the carbs. This is definitely not something you have to worry about with Get The Glow. All the meals are made up of two pouches (a main meal and side dish) and everyone who saw one of my plates during the cleanse was amazed at just how much food I was consuming. That's not to say that you'll be overeating - all the meals range between 450-600 calories per meal, but the recipes are nutrient dense and made with free range/ grass fed meat and organic seasonal vegetables.
3. It's not all about the food... During the cleanse, as well as saying no to sugar and snacking, Madeleine suggests certain lifestyle adjustments in order to get the most out of the experience. The main thing that I struggled with was saying no to my morning latte, as the only liquids recommended are fresh water, coconut water and herbal teas. It's also suggested that you sleep between 10pm and 6am, as these are the best times for optimum detoxification so that rules out that post work glass of wine. What you may feel you're lacking in sugar and caffeine can be made up for with pampering: long baths, yoga, meditation and making time for yourself are all cleansing essentials.
4. It's great for the gut... One of the main focuses of the program is healing the gut, as Madeleine explains, 'it is where we absorb all the food. If we don't have a good digestive system then you won't be absorbing all the goodies we put in our bodies.' As well as starting the day with warm water and lemon to get the digestive juices moving, probiotics are provided in the pack to heal the inner eco system and beat the bloat.
5. It's seriously tasty... With dishes including Red Thai Curry, Chinese Pork and Rhubarb Crumble, this is not your average cleanse. Get The Glow is all about eating in a way that you can sustain once you've completed the program and re-educating the body and mind to enjoy natural ingredients rather than reaching for packaged products every time you're hungry. I was also left with increased energy and an enhanced appreciation of quality food.