How would you like to eat like a caveman? A lifestyle diet called Paleo that's growing in popularity in Birmingham bills itself as the original human diet. It takes what you think you know about healthy eating and turns it on its head!
A typical night at the Hill family house in Homewood involves lots of laughing, running and playing. The family consists of 42-year-old Caine Hill, his wife 34-year-old Melissa, 5-year-old Lorraine and 3-year-old twins Charlotte and Fox. I visited with the Hills as they prepared a typical family meal while the kids played. The house smelled of delicious home cooking, a homemade meat and tomato sauce bubbled in a saucepan on the stove. Instead of noodles with the sauce, they're having "zoodles", which is simply julienned zucchini.
Caine Hill explained what being Paleo means. "It means that when I have my meal, I don't eat the bread or the dairy," Hill said. "Foods today are moving toward convenience and we're moving away from convenience. We're trying to stick to the basics," said Hill.
The Paleo diet is simple; you can eat meats, vegetables, fruits and nuts. You can't eat dairy, grains or refined sugar. Why? The simple explanation is Paleo preaches that processed foods are confusing to your body and over time will make you sick and the Hills know all about that.
A few years ago, Caine Hill was suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and high cholesterol and his wife Melissa was worried.
"My father died of a heart attack at 47and he had underlying heart disease that we didn't know about but we knew he had high cholesterol," Melissa explained. "So when I met Cain and he was 26 and had a cholesterol of 350, it was really alarming to me because I thought I'm going to fall in love with this man and I could lose him."
Caine decided to join a new crossfit fitness program called Irontribe where he heard about the Paleo diet and decided to try a forty day challenge.
"I went from being over 300 cholesterol to below 200, which for me was a dramatic shift," he said. He knew if he could make that kind of change in forty days then a long term Paleo lifestyle would have the greatest benefit. Melissa and Cain decided the whole family would make the shift together. That means they spend a lot of time planning meals and sending their kids to school with Paleo lunches.
"The biggest challenge is what happens outside these four walls," said Melissa Hill. "We only keep things in the house that are Paleo and are nutritious and healthful, so the biggest challenge is definitely the daily life at school, birthday parties," she said.
How do they keep their kids away from chips, crackers, candy and treats? Caine Hill explained they stay focused on keeping paleo as positive as possible.
"'We've tried not to ever say 'oh you can't have that', or be mean about it, we just want to let them know you always have a choice," he said. "Here's the good things you can choose from and here are the bad things."
We happened to do our interview on Caine's 42nd birthday and Melissa prepared a special Paleo chocolate cake. It was made with coconut flour and coconut oil, eggs, honey and dark chocolate. Paleo friendly ingredients are more expensive and harder to find, but the Hills think it's worth it. Plus, they gave me a slice of cake to try and I can honestly say it was delicious!
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