Practical Paleo Review – Part 1

Hey everyone! Okay, I’m doing a series this week. Three posts reviewing Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo of Balanced Bites, which is also a three-part book. See how it works? I got an advanced copy of the book (for free, which I think means that I’m a real blogger now?) to review and share with you all before the book comes out on August 7th. I’ve been soaking this thing up since I got it, and just finally got my lazy butt around to writing it up. You know how I am. Okay, let’s get started.

The first part is called “The Why – Food and Your Body” and it’s the background info. This is all about what different foods do inside your body, and how you can choose what you eat to get you the health results that you want. I’ve read a lot of stuff on paleo nutrition (a lot a lot) but I can say without hesitation that is is one of the most thorough treatments of the subject I’ve come across. Most books will have some fluffy filler stuff, but Diane really just gets right to the meat and sweet potatoes (see what I did there?) of the biggest issues in paleo land, talking about the basics of digestion, what causes leaky gut and what a leaky gut can do to you. She also gets into how you can survive eating away from home, which is always a big question for people, and even goes into the history of failed nutritional policy in America. Awesome stuff! She really manages to cover much more ground that I would have thought possible, but manages to give everything the depth and breadth that it needs to make sense without belaboring any of it. As a man who lives to belabor, I’m legit impressed with her ability to make things clear without just soaking up space with extra words. This is a heck of a section, and one that I’d be happy to refer people to if they want a full breakdown of what the paleo diet is about, how we all got here and why it works for us. It’s excellent! I also really liked the guide to dense paleo carbs, largely because it follows the section where she explains that paleo isn’t necessarily low-carb, and that quality, non-irritating carb sources can definitely have a place in your paleo diet. That’s so refreshing to have it just laid out like that in black and white (and color!). So many people just miss the boat on that issue, both paleo folks and non-paleo folks. Diane explains why there are such things as good carbs (nutrient-dense foods) and bad carbs (refined sugars and grains without any nutrients) and who should be eating how many to reach their goals. It’s really very cool how she lays it all out.

Let’s talk about style. The book is beautiful and big! Laid out very nicely, and extremely colorful. It’s like a coffee table book, really. There’s plenty of text, but it’s all interspersed with photos and diagrams and whatnot. The pictures of the food are artistic, and the guides are well-organized and easy to use. The guides! Dude, let me tell you about the guides. So she’s got these one-page guides basically summarizing a lot of different concepts or whatever. Let me get you some examples. There are 11 of these one-page guides in the first section, from a very comprehensive list of paleo-friendly foods, to a full-color guide to your poop (seriously, it’s in there and it’s fascinating). Some of these are things that I’ve trawled the net for, trying to cobble together an understanding, and she just gets it all summarized on one page. Specifically, I’m thinking of the guide to food quality. Diane lays out which meats are best, which are okay and which to avoid, then does the same with eggs, dairy, seafood and produce. It’s really very cool! An explanation of all the terms right on one page. And then, and this is a big and then, those same guides are available as tear-out pages in the back of the book. This is brilliant. You can put ‘em in a notebook, magnet them to your fridge, whatever. The best part is that they’re doubled up. Pulling out the ones in the back doesn’t mean that now your book is devoid of guides, so you can always still refer back to the book. You just have extra guides, all full color, to do with as you will. It’s an awesome idea, and one I really wish someone else had thought of before.

Finally, let’s get into the little goodies she’s got tucked away in here. For one, she’s got Section 2, which I’m really excited about, and all of her food guides include lists of things that are nightshades or FODMAPs. That’s awesome. She explains what those are and why certain people would want to avoid them in Part 1, then sets up meal plans that either include or exclude those, depending on your health issues in Part 2, then in Part 3 she shares all her recipes and when one of the ingredients falls into one of those categories, she makes note of it and gives you a safe alternative for your eating plan. It’s really cool and thorough! She also has brand recommendations throughout, which I also love. Because food and supplement quality can vary so widely between brands, it’s super handy to have someone just come out and say which brands are good. I know I can buy them and test them myself, or research them myself, but seriously it’s nice sometimes to just have someone tell you straight up “Applegate Naturals lunch meats are solid. Go with those.” Even if you’d already been eating them, it feels really good to get the confirmation.

Okay, I’ll stop now. I’m trying really hard not to quote large swaths of the text at you here, because there’s so much good stuff that I want to share. I’ll get to the next section hopefully tomorrow, but you know how reliable I’ve been lately with my blogging predictions (Sure, I’ll blog every day oh wait I mean the opposite of that) but I’m definitely excited about this book and want to share it all with you folks. I’ll be back soon to talk about Part 2, though. For reals, ya’ll. Thanks for reading!

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