It can be really easy to want to overthink this topic… often we are conditioned that we have to do things in a prescribed way that’s laid out, rather than discovering what works for us.
“Ancestral” can simply mean that we go back 3-4+ generations and enjoy foods that they would have eaten.
- Fresh, seasonal foods, generally grown locally
- Using the WHOLE animal when slaughtered – nose to tail and everywhere in between.
- Foods pickled, fermented or otherwise stored for when they are out of season
- Used FATS – from animal tissue, less often using oils, and when they used oils, they were not heavily processed, unstable oils
- No genetically modified foods/organisms
- No fortifications with synthetic additives
- No colours, “fake” (synthetic/manufactured) flavours, preservatives or additives
- Foods grown with balanced farming practices including green crops and animal manure being dug into soils and resting on the land, etc
- No synthetic fertilisers
- No high fructose corn syrups (or equivalents)
- No glyphosate or other toxins that poison the soils and leave residues for long periods (sadly variations of these have been around for at least 3 generations for most families now)
- How do we transition to ancestral eating?
You see, so many people will declare they are going to change to paleo, keto, or any number of other diets, and it ends up quickly becoming overwhelming to do so. It’s also often hard to change what we are used to, and when kids are involved, they may not be your easiest audience to work with.
To reduce the stress here, we encourage everyone to look at small swaps you can do from your current routine to get started.
- Go through and throw out (or pass on) any foods in your pantry that you no longer wish to use. Do one shelf a week or something “bite-sized” rather than having to dedicate a whole day or weekend to the task
- If using foods in packets, read labels and choose options with whole foods and avoid additives and/or ‘manufactured’ ingredients
- Shop around the outer aisles at the supermarket where you can – fresh fruit, vegetables and meat, or freshly frozen options too (ideally not pre-made meals, but go with whole food ingredients only if you need to use this option)
- Swap to organic options where you can – especially the ‘dirty dozen’ fruit and veg
- See if anyone in your neighbourhood grows produce that you could barter with – or buy. Keep things local! They may not use sprays or chemicals on their produce so it’s a win-win for you both.
Getting back to whole foods that are seasonal and less processed, so here are some more tips:
- If using new ingredients is intimidating or too challenging for your taste buds, just change one thing at a time, and save some new recipes to try. Just one new recipe per week is great – do more if you feel up to it, but one recipe is a good start.
- Keep meals simple for a while as you transition – it’s ok to have similar things multiple times within a short time (if your family is ok with it). Making fancy meals adds to overwhelm and will often undo your confidence!
- Cook extra when you make a main meal, so you have extras frozen for those busy or unexpected times – it saves you from falling back to takeaway or less desirable quick options
Save these and refer back to them later if need be – just do one thing at a time to avoid overwhelm and let you feel satisfied with ticking that off as you do it.