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Primal Gourmet’s Ronny Joseph Shares Secrets of Paleo

New York Minute Magazine seeks to empower women in every way imaginable, including healthy eating and living. Through promoting healthy living, we have had the opportunity to meet many inspiring food and health bloggers like Carmen from Every Last Bite, Teri from No Crumbs Left, Alex from the Defined Dish, and Cristina from Castaway Kitchen.

We recently had the opportunity to meet another awesome blogger and advocate for healthy eating and living. Ronny Joseph runs a successful food blog titled Primal Gourmet. Ronny is an art history professor from Toronto, Canada who has a passion for food and the Paleo diet.

Ronny struggled with his weight and body image after years of unhealthy eating habits. In his late teenage years, he knew he wanted to make a change and improve his health for the better, but struggled with where to begin.

After continuous years of unsuccessful dieting, Ronny Joseph began what he defines as his true health journey in December 2012, when he wrote a list of what he wished to accomplish in 2013. He did not want to focus on numbers or dates. Instead, he wanted to achieve an overall healthy lifestyle, so his list included goals like “Practice moderation” and “Just breathe.”

Ronny Joseph

Image by Ronny Joseph

In March 2013, Ronny began the Paleo diet, which is essentially only eating meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. He revamped a passion he had for cooking and geared it towards making meals that follow the Paleo diet. Alongside regular exercise, Ronny was able to lose weight and improve his quality of life immensely.

We had the opportunity to chat with Ronny about his own personal experience with a journey to healthy living, Paleo eating and cooking, and what inspires him.

How has your background led you on the journey to healthy eating? Have you always eaten healthy, or was there a moment or experience that caused you to change?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been uncomfortable in my own skin. As a child, teenager, and young adult I was overweight, lacked confidence, had low self esteem, and wasn’t very active. I have vivid memories of waiting for everyone else to leave the locker room before changing after gym class.

I tried time and time again to eat healthy and lose weight. When I didn’t achieve my goal of dropping x-number of pounds in y-number of days, I felt like a failure. And every time I did manage to shed a few, I felt good about myself and rewarded my efforts by indulging in the same food that got me there in the first place. Without fail, I ended up packing on even more weight than when I started. I relied on food as comfort only to realize that it was what was holding me back. It was a vicious cycle.

I hit my point of no return on the night of my 27th birthday. I decided that I would approach things differently. Instead of focusing on the numbers (pounds lost by days passed), I wrote a list of 10 healthy resolutions that were not quantitative. They revolved around things I wanted to achieve for myself and they had nothing to do with weight. You can read them on my blog.

The very next day, I started my health journey.

What led you to choose Paleo and Whole30? Could you explain a bit more about the diet and the program to any readers who aren’t familiar with them?

A few months after I started my health journey, a friend introduced me to Paleo. He invited my brother and I over for lunch and cooked us a Paleo meal. It was simple. Some baked sweet potato, grilled chicken thighs, and a salad. I felt satiated but not lethargic. It was so strange to me because up until that moment, every time I ate to the point of feeling full, I knew that a crash was on the horizon. That didn’t happen this time.

I stumbled upon Whole30 on social media and quickly related to members of the community. I actually completed my first round of Whole30 without even knowing it because I was following a strict approach to Paleo in the beginning.

For those who are unfamiliar, Paleo prioritizes eating vegetables, quality sources of meat (pasture-raised, organic, antibiotic and hormone-free and, where applicable, grass-fed), fruits, nuts, and seeds. It also entails avoiding just about everything else, specifically the known culprits: grains, dairy, refined sugar, legumes, and alcohol.

While the guidelines are clear, I’ve come to realize that different people approach Paleo differently depending on a number of factors, be it geographic, financial, or social. Some exercise an 80/20 split, others a 70/30. There are those who follow a Paleo lifestyle without eating organic meats because it’s cost-prohibitive or it isn’t a readily available option in their neighborhood. Conversely, others choose to have a glass of wine with their dinner on the weekend, or some raw cow’s milk with their grain-free granola. Paleo is a series of guidelines rather than a set of hard and fast rules.

Whereas Paleo has shades of grey, Whole30 is black and white. It is a 30-day program designed to rehabilitate your relationship with food. Similar to Paleo, the program requires eliminating the known culprits (sugar, dairy, grains, alcohol, etc.). Unlike Paleo, there is no straying from the program. You must commit to it for 30 days before beginning a reintroduction phase whereby you slowly reintroduce foods into your diet in an attempt to identify how they affect you.

How has blogging about healthy eating changed your life as opposed to keeping it within your own life/offline?

I’d be eating this way regardless.

The biggest change is hearing from those who cook my recipes. I have an unbelievably supportive community of engaged readers that never cease to amaze me. So many people have shared how I have inspired them to cook for their family and friends and, more importantly, to cook healthy! I am very grateful to play even the smallest part in their lives.

The other major difference is I can now expense my grocery bills!

What are some physical and mental benefits you’ve experienced by eating healthy?

More energy, strength, endurance, stamina, mental clarity, confidence, and self-esteem, to name a few. I should clarify, though, these improvements are also largely due to regular exercise.

Ronny Joseph

Image by Ronny Joseph

What’s your favorite recipe that you’ve made, and what about it makes it special to you?

I really don’t have a single favorite but you can never go wrong with Shakshuka!

Based on your experience, what is the first step one should take in their journey to healthy eating?

Stop delaying. There is no such thing as a perfect time. There will always be an event, wedding, job, reason, or trip that will have you questioning when to take your first step. Just start!

Outside of cooking and blogging, what are some other things you do in your spare time?

I am a Professor of Art History, so it’s the blogging and cooking that takes up most of my spare time! Aside from that, I’m an avid cyclist and movie buff!

What inspires or encourages you in your everyday life?

1. My wife and family, first and foremost. They’ve always had my back, especially in the beginning.
2. The desire to contribute to a healthier food landscape is also very important to me. I could have just as easily developed a blog where I share unhealthy recipes, but impact is something I take very seriously.
3. My community of readers. Seeing them cook my recipes, hearing their stories, and listening to their feedback is nothing short of amazing!

To see what Ronny Joseph is cooking and to learn more about the Paleo diet and Paleo cooking, follow his Instagram page and visit his website!

Featured Image by Ronny Joseph

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