Pete Evans, Australian celebrity chef, cookbook author and co-host of the competitive cooking show My Kitchen Rules and Moveable Feast has touted the benefits of a Paleo diet for the last six years. But his newest cookbook focuses on the latest buzzword in nutrition circles: gut health. The Complete Gut Health Cookbook: Everything You Need to Know about the Gut and How to Improve Yours serves as a how-to guide to get your gut in shape via a traditionally Paleo, grain-free diet that also includes an extra dose of probiotic-rich, fermented foods. Together with nutritionist Helen Padarin, Evans created a meal plan that he claims can transform your digestive system from sluggish to supercharged in just four weeks. He recently spoke to us from Brisbane, Australia, about his favorite probiotic-rich foods, why he avoids legumes and how best to take the leap into paleo.
What is a "healthy gut"? And what foods are the most essential for achieving this?
There’s not one food that achieves a healthy gut; it’s a dietary approach. It’s a low-carbohydrate healthy approach, but it’s also taking out the most common inflammatory foods: dairy, grains, legumes, refined and toxic oils and refined sugars. So, what’s left is basically vegetables, seafood, meat and fruit.
When did you go Paleo and what spurred this?
About six years ago. It’s done amazing things for my family and myself. The results have happened very, very quickly. By eating this way, you can lose weight and keep it off sustainably. It’s the perfect formula for a healthy life. Of course, you have to look at stress levels, how you sleep, and movement, and vitamin D and also the types of beverages that you consume as well.
For those who are hesitant of transitioning into a Paleo lifestyle, what would you suggest as some starter tips?
Ditch the dairy, ditch the grains, ditch the legumes, and eat a low-carbohydrate, Paleo diet. There isn’t really a shortcut to it. You either do it or you don’t. [Laughing] I’m not going to sugarcoat it and say you can do one thing and not the other, because that would be irresponsible of me.
Get started now! Download our free 2-week Paleo meal plan.
You're famous for avoiding legumes in your cookbooks and diet. Why do you choose to avoid them?
They can be quite toxic for our digestive systems. More and more research shows that they aggravate our digestive systems. There’s so much evidence that says legumes can cause issues in our guts, so you’re better off avoiding them if you can.
What are some of your favorite go-to meals?
Well I think the first thing we should include in our weekly diet would be a good quality bone broth. Chicken is always the easiest or the most palatable for people and for the whole family. I’d say cook up a chicken and vegetable soup once a week and eat that a few times, and if you can, add fermented vegetables like sauerkraut. [Fermented vegetables] are making a huge return because of their probiotic goodness. By adding the probiotics in the fermented foods and by adding the bone broth, you’re basically healing the gut.
Is there anything else you'd like to share with our Clean Eating readers?
Just jump in, give it a go! But always work with a health professional if you’re changing your diet. At the end of the day, it all comes down to the choice, and it comes down to what people value most in their lives. Do they want to potentially have chronic illness and be in pain and be overweight and not achieve what they want to do in life? Or do they want to be feeling energetic and strong? [Laughing] I know which one I choose!