As you may know, I've been having digestive issues since December. Well I'm tired of being sick and taking medicine that doesn't really help. I've decided that by the summer, I would like to feel physically and mentally healthier. So I've completely changed my diet and started working out again. The last week of March, I did a Daniel fast to clean my system. On April 1st, I did a two day Bone Broth diet. I've eaten strictly Paleo ever since.
What is Paleo?
If you believe in "cavemen" and evolution then the Palaeolithic (paleo for short) diet will make sense to you. It cuts out all processed foods and sugars because it is not something that existed back then. Although I do not quite believe in cavemen, the processed foods are terrible for our bodies. I've cut out legumes (beans, peanuts, etc.), dairy, grains, processed foods. Those foods cause inflammation, which probably don't help an already inflamed stomach right? Due to the foods forbidden on the Paleo diet, I consume a lot of protein and very few carbohydrates.
What I've learned thus far...
My first thoughts: this is super hard. Honestly, who would've known how much I'd miss all of those terrible body pollutants. Somedays, I do (each day less and less). I miss eating half a pint of Talenti Sea Salt Caramel Gelato when I've had a long week. It also sucks being forced to get a salad with no dressing when I go out to eat with friends. I’m learning how to control cravings at the end of the day.
Paleo is pretty darn cool. It's literally eating (almost) everything normal diets eats except using ingredients that are easy for the body to digest and won't make me sick. So it may seem like an inconvenience, but I cook practically everyday (or meal prep during the weekend). There are so many cool recipes out there. I also feel more connected to my mind and body.
Meal prep can be fun. No more bland meal prep Sundays! There are so many tasteful Paleo recipes out there. You just have to look. If you don’t like a recipe, change it. Those small changes make recipes taste good and cooking fun (because you can’t cook from a box anymore). I’ve gotten much more involved in prepping. Cutting up all of my ingredients and searching for new recipes makes me happy to make new meals!
Have snacks. There are Paleo friendly snacks. I love Larabars (although the natural sugar content is high), fruit, and nuts.
Do your research and read ingredients list. Avoid high sugar contents, even if it is natural (Paleo doesn't include processed sugars, but you know). Once you know the specifics, things will get easier. Just make sure you understand what different ingredients mean (like how sugars has a billion names) and what to avoid.
Be accountable to someone. This is so important. Have someone that will keep you from breaking your diet even when it's the hardest. I told someone about my new lifestyle and a few days later he convinced me not to go to a national smoothie franchise because they use processed sugars which will hurt my stomach. It was one of the best things someone has done for me.
Have a realistic goal in mind. I used to eat a lot of breads and sugars (candy was my vice). So I set a date. I won't cheat until June 3rd (that's my birthday). I have this feeling that by June, I won't want to cheat anymore and I will be less likely to go on a binge. Choosing a sooner date may have been too soon while a later date would be too far away. Two months is a good amount of time to learn to cook with different ingredients. It also gives my body enough time to make start feeling rejuvenated.
You will have food failures. Oh man, I really messed up a chicken tender recipe last week and disliked myself for 2 days, but it happens, Paleo or not! There are also food successes. I made the best paleo pancakes from a recipe I found online. Although the consistency was slightly different, they tasted better than any regular flour pancakes that I’ve made.
Don't assume that a "copycat" recipe will have the same flavor or taste. It's okay, after two weeks, my taste buds are starting to change. I crave bad carbs less and less and good carbs more and more. Literally, I was drooling over fruit in grocery store the other day. Some items may even taste better than the originals (try apple chips, you will never want a potato chip again).
Your stomach will adjust. I'll spare you the deets but know that just because your stomach hurts the first week, don't assume that it's not working or making you feel worse. Give your body time to get rid of all of the bad stuff. The fatigue will go away and you will start having more energy than ever before. You will begin to sleep better. You will also learn the difference between hungry and thirsty (because sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference). Once your body gets used to this lifestyle, it may be hard to go back.
This can get expensive. When you first start, you will probably have to buy all new pantry items (almond flour, coconut flour, and other non-processed ingredients). Those add up quickly. If you like to have snacks (I sure do), fruit and fruit bars add up quickly. There are ways to save money. Fresh food markets and specialty grocerers sometimes have those products for cheaper.
Your relationship with food changes. You’ll stop liking the smell of food fried in canola or vegetable oil. Fruit will become desert. You will become more patient for food to cook. These are good things. Don't beat yourself up if you decide this lifestyle isn't with you. Instead incorporate healthier options in the future.
Thanks for sticking around this long. If you enjoyed the post tell me in the comments:
1. What is your favorite fruit?
2. What is the hardest diet you've done?
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