What IS a Paleolithic Lifestyle?

December 18, 2011 in Categories: , , , , , by

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(originally posted November 15, 2011)

A paleolithic lifestyle is about more than just nutrition.  It’s about getting ALL of your paleolithic ducks in a row.  When we approach our lives this way, we are addressing both our short- and long-term health as well as our longevity.  This is where everything comes together so we can feel great AND keep feeling great for a long, long time.  So what exactly are these caveman ducks that must be lined up, you ask?

ducks color

1. DIET:  I suggest committing to a paleolithic diet for the rest of your life, as outlined in my post “So, What Exactly IS Paleolithic Nutrition?”.  I also suggest including gluten-free cheats from time to time (more details on how to do this coming soon).

2. STRESS:  Do what you can to reduce your stress levels.  Go for walks.  Meditate.  Try yoga. The stress hormone cortisol works against you in almost everything you are trying to achieve with better nutrition.  Getting enough sleep, eating a lower carbohydrate diet, eating a 1:1 omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, and making sure that your exercise isn’t too strenuous will all help lower cortisol. Yes, these are not your average ducks; they are intertwined.

3. SLEEP:  Prioritize good quality sleep and aim for at least 8-9 hours every night.  Your brain and your body need this time to repair and to recharge.  The difference in your energy level and mood when you’ve had enough sleep is huge.  Plus it helps regulate your cortisol levels! Read more about the importance of sleep in this excerpt from The Paleo Approach.

4. EXERCISE:  You don’t need to go crazy, but it is extremely beneficial to include as much low-strain exercise as you can in your life (like walking, hiking, playing, gardening, swimming, etc.).  In addition to this, some strength conditioning is very beneficial (weight lifting, martial arts, pilates, yoga, etc.).

5. BEING OUTDOORS:  We get so many benefits from just being outside: the biggest of which is the vitamin D that our bodies make when we are exposed to the sun.  This can help fight depression, regulate your stress hormones, and regulate your circadian rhythms leading to better quality sleep!

6. YOUR SUPPORT NETWORK:  New research is finding that one of the keys to longevity is to have a strong, active support network.  This includes relationships with your family, your friends, your co-workers, your neighbors and your religious and community groups.  In some ways, maintaining this network is more challenging than ever with how many people move away for school or jobs (like my husband and I did).  But in other ways, it’s easier than ever with long-distance phone calls and social networking.

It’s okay if paleolithic lifestyle becomes a constant work in progress.  It is for me and I know it always will be.  I will post more details and ideas on these aspects of a paleolithic lifestyle in the future.  For now, just do your best, accept your limitations and challenges, and be positive!


I’m not paleo, but I eat a sort of similar diet due to intolerances and my current food therapy program. I think focussing on good nutrition, and trying to have a balance of health in all areas of means that I also have a similar overall health outlook to the areas listed in this post…with few notable exceptions:
Play and new experiences – whether it’s playing with a new recipe in the kitchen, or playing with children, I find this an important part of my life where it’s okay not to have an idea about the outcome. It helps me de-stress, and link with my support network, and can often include being outside or getting exercise.
Doing things that are meaningful (helping others) is also an integral part of my life, and it not only helps reduce stress, but also teaches me so many new things, or life lessons.
I think appreciating what you’ve got is so intertwined with stress management; I find listing things I am thankful for a good way to help me reduce stress, and gain back a better perspective.
And most importantly, spiritual health. My faith in God is such a key point in my life, that I find everything else connects to it. If my spiritual health is not healthy, then my other health areas struggle too.

Do you find any of those areas apply to your life? I’d be interested to hear back =)

Yes, I am a big fan of fun, laughter and play, also in appreciation and being intentional. There’s actually compelling research showing reductions in stress hormones from all of those things.

I’m just starting. I was just diagnosed with Pernicious Anemia – a B12 deficiency and Leaky Gut. I have felt terrible for a long time and I’m happy to finally have a diagnosis…especially one that seems to fit my ailments. The Paleo Approach makes me nervous especially since it is so strict in the beginning, but I’m ready. Wish me luck. Lula

This is so perfectly timed for me. I am a little more AIP Paleo than “normal” Paleo, but it’s been such a gift to have someone with kids who “gets” it. ;) I actually have planned to do a vision board (or 4) for our new year. One for me, each of my kids, and us as a family. Your ducks are already printed out to be used! lol It’s everything I want to focus on, in one neat image. haha Thanks for this!

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