Paleo and “What do you eat?”Posted: December 29, 2011
(This is an edited version of a Note that was originally posted on Facebook to help friends who continue to inquire about Paleo and how I’ve been living that past year.)
In easy terms, the answer is: Plants and Protein.
Paleo (Paleolithic Diet) is the way you eat and from there, the way you live. I started living (as) Paleo (as possible) in January of 2011. That was after almost of year of throwing the idea around, researching the heck out of the concept and making subtle changes to my standard way of eating in preparation. Going from the Standard American Diet to a real-food Paleo Diet is quite a change. It’s okay to ease yourself off one and into another. In fact, it’ll help habits stick and stay. My first step was cutting portions and talking about it with my adorable husband who loves to feed me and is an amazing cook. But if I wanted my body to change (this all started, after all, out of vanity alone) I had to be real and ask him to PLEASE start scooping me HALF of what he had. The day finally came when I started passing on the starch portion of the meal altogether. But that was over time and by choice.
It’s all by choice. That’s the beauty of life. Every thing we do is because we have decided to make a move. YOU must want this, it’s for no one else. My husband made it clear he was NOT interested in Paleo or giving up his TastyKakes, and that is HIS choice which I must respect. Fast forward to January 2011 and I turned to him one night “I’m doing it. No more grains, no more processed food. I’m going Paleo.” He smirked at my random declaration of immediate change (as I do this often) and agreed to support me. DONE.
From there out, it’s been Protein, Plants and Water, which translates (for me) to: eggs, beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, fish, crab, scallops, greens, peppers, onions, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, olives, avocado, almonds, walnuts, cashews, coconut oil, real butter… you get my point. If it’s not fresh, it’s not Paleo. I also try to eat grass-fed meat and dairy, free range and VEG FED eggs (read labels, a lot of those organic eggs are being fed grain, tricky), wild caught sea life, local/organic veggies and the like. But these labels are not a deal breaker and I buy meat on sale whenever possible, I have a family to feed after all. I eat very little fruit (natural sugar IS sugar) I drink my coffee black or with heavy cream for a treat. Good fat. Red wine. I learned to love cooking!
Now reality says “Yes, I’ve eaten a sleeve of Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies, had too many frozen mini KitKats or Reeses cups… I have the occasional bowl of ice cream, a few beers or a mini pizza.” But this are not often and I always feel like crap after the sugar spikes. I see these moments as learning experiences. In fact, each time I go off-Paleo, I realize more how unimportant those ‘treats’ are and their taste is becoming less and less gratifying as my year has progressed. I think sometimes, it’s only just to prove that I’m in charge and no one can make me do anything. A little rebellion goes a long way.
Getting back to basics. I always recommend reading through the FAQs section at http://www.RobbWolf.com, which began my obsession with Paleo after a friend recommended the same to me. I think his exact words were “If you’re really serious, check this out.” Boy was he right! But I’m also a focused, obsessive compulsive woman who loves a good mission. Researching this way of life and how many amazing benefits you can experience from filling your body with clean fuel is my constant motivation. If I stopped reading and LOVING what I read, I believe I’d lose my focus and go for all that ‘delicious’ easy food that makes us sick and fat.
Some of the changes I personally experienced from this (drastic) diet change over the last year are: lack of headaches, stabilized mood, loss of belly fat (yes, even that gross mom gut), leaner body, lack of body odors, regular bowel movements, shortened/lightened menstrual cycle, lack of illness… It’s an endless list and one that could be even more vast if I had my cholesterol, blood sugars, body fat, vitamin levels and whatnot checked at the beginning. Another thing I never did was a Before picture, which is a real bummer. I was just too embarrassed by the lack of aesthetic beauty my body had morphed into after 2 children in 2 years and settling into married life. I urge you to take a photo and forget about it until you’re ready for an After. You won’t regret it!
Anyone can make a change! Each time you choose a drink or a snack, you have the opportunity to try something new. Whether that is a new approach, a new vegetable, a new recipe or a new filtered water bottle, keep things interesting and FOCUSED. My best advice when making changes in life is TALK ABOUT IT. If you promote yourself as one thing, it’s a lot harder to fail. Convince others of your passion and you’ll live up to the name you create. Small steps lead to larger steps and soon, you’ll be full of energy, passion and a new view on life and wellness.
A few things of note:
– Set yourself up for success!
– Focus on what you CAN eat, not on what you can’t.
– Don’t sweat the small stuff. Condiments and dressings – No one is perfect and if you live by the 80/20 rule you have room for these little delights in life without stressing out over the details.
– Your choices become more on point and focused over time. There is a learning curve and it’ll get easier and healthier. Don’t stress perfection, just keep making good choices.
– Research effects and history of food and obsess over the Paleo heavy hitters; read blogs (ha), books, reviews.
– Recognize that you are currently addicted to grain and sugar. It is like quitting smoking. After 3 weeks, you’ll feel (and look) better. Promise.
– Always be prepared. You MUST have a snack or leftovers available. When you first go Paleo, you may notice you go from satiated to ravenous in the blink of an eye. Make extras at dinner, always have a roasted chicken and hardboiled eggs in the house (great as a snack or on salad) and bring an insulated bag with fresh snack options in the car when you’re out for the day. Seriously.
– Google is your professor. Search “Paleo _________ ” for recipes, ideas, advice and reviews.
Onto the easy stuff: FOOD ideas and staples in my life…incidently, my husband and kids are Paleo by proxy and I’d say they are easily at 70% most of the time. It’s just so easy. You’re eating real food and fueling your body with premium gas. When you put in the low-grade fuel, your body begins to reject it through fatigue, headaches, behavior malfunctions and the like.
Snacks – on the go or at home!
– Hardboiled eggs
– Raw veggies
– Whole fruits
– Cupped fruit (in water) drain in the street, it’s just water!
– Almonds, other nuts or mixed nuts
– Any leftover or cut up protein – roast chicken, meatballs, dried beef, YUM and fueling
– Frozen banana smoothies, add any berries, dark chocolate, etc to taste – get creative!
– Dried unsweetened fruits
– Nuts baked with honey and maple syrup, shaved coconut, and drizzled in dark chocolate (Granola bar) leave the chocolate off and stir while baking to make your own cereal
– Nitrate free deli meats rolled up – add avocado, tomato, mustard to the inside for flare
– Egg muffins (great for on the go breakfast too!)
Please add your go-to snacks in the comments section – this is just a quick start!
I believe the meals are pretty obvious, but I’ll go over a few sides to help you spice up your protein. The Big Ass Salad (BAS) is a staple to the Paleo diet, at least in my case. Any sandwich, wrap or burger can be placed atop a bed of greens and enjoyed. No excuses.
Breakfast needs to change in your mind as well. Eggs and (uncured, grass-fed) bacon are tops, but any leftovers from dinner the night before or protein that’s been prepared are great to start the day. Coffee black if possible. You’ll wean yourself off the sugar, trust me. Until then, 80/20, use it wisely.
Sides to Protein
– sauerkraut (great for your complexion)
– roasted vegetables drizzled in butter and salt – different pairings create different experiences
– raw veggies – root veg will also keep those sugar cravings at bay, grab a carrot!
– steamed veggies – get funky with your food and add spices
– mashed cauliflower
– baked sweet potato
– baked apples with cinnamon or onions
– sautéed veggies
– fruit salad
– eggs, cooked or boiled
That’s all I have for now. It’s a start!
I love talking Paleo and fitness (different time) so please don’t hesitate to share and continue the conversation upon finishing this note.