Diets always fail, so the adage goes. But what about when your dietary decisions reflect an overall lifestyle approach rather than weight loss goals? When I embarked on my first Whole 30—a particularly restrictive but temporary Paleo-inspired elimination diet—a few years ago, one of the stipulations was not drinking or smoking any substance for the duration of the experiment. At the time, setting aside cannabis for a month was a no-brainer: I was tailoring all aspects of my consumption around giving my body a break and reducing inflammation. But for those of us interested in incorporating Paleo eating into our lives in more long-term ways, giving up all imbibing (however you may choose to do it) may seem like an insurmountable challenge. It turns out, after all, that our paleolithic ancestors were tuned in to the benefits of cannabis. Which begs the question: do an overall health-focused approach to one’s diet and lifestyle mean a total abstinence from so-called intoxicating substances? And what changes when an intoxicant like cannabis has therapeutic benefits; can these upsides even go as far as to compliment a paleo lifestyle?
It’s easy to shrug off a paleo approach to eating as just another fad diet. The beauty of following paleo guidelines, though, is that the lifestyle encourages developing a healthy relationship with food—and your eating habits—by paying close attention to the quality, source, and nutrients of your meals. Loosely, paleo encourages eating whole, minimally processed foods in the form of leafy greens, vegetables, seafood, grass-fed meat, and sustainably, ethically raised poultry. According to The Paleo Way, a strong paleo foundation also incorporates daily exercise (even in moderate or light forms, like walking) and stresses mindfulness.
This last bit—the importance of practicing mindfulness—got me thinking about how to incorporate cannabis into practices of intentionality, especially with regards to one’s diet and exercise routines. Beyond being a necessity for keeping one’s mental wellbeing in check, research suggests that your physical fitness level can actually increase from deliberate periods of active recovery. Further, some studies have shown that cannabis can benefit athletic performance; others have shown that it might even help improve lung function over time.
As it turns out, the paleo experts have addressed cannabis use many times; it seems that I am not the first cavewoman convert to clutch my stash box in fear that the clean eating police might snatch it from my grip. But luckily, paleo-minded philosophies draw heavily on scientific research and take relaxation with the same fervor they bring to the CrossFit box.
So, what do snacking, chilling, and healing look like when both cannabis and paleo are at play? Here are a few ways to fuse the two in your everyday routine:
Choose a butter, ghee, or oil
Cannabutter is nothing new; it’s been the backbone of brownies and other delectables since stoners have sought weed-infused confections. But when your diet relies on healthy fats, choosing to imbibe with clarified butter or infused oil takes on a new importance. With dosage in mind, try making your own batch of goodness and incorporating it into your smoothies, dishes, or fat balls.
Incorporate cannabis into your recovery and healing routine
It’s no secret that cannabis can help ease pain, including that stemming from overexertion or injury. Cannabis salves target specific muscles through absorption through the skin and can be a great aid when fighting muscle spasms, cramps, and pulls.
Dealing with anxiety? Try a tincture.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the gut-brain connection? What we consume can have a serious impact on our brain function and emotional wellbeing. If you turn to cannabis to help combat anxiety, try making your own cannabis tincture, using the appropriate herbs and adaptogens to suit your needs.