I’ve never been one for fad diets. I never did well with the added stress of counting calories, or writing down every particle of food that passed my lips. I’d always thought that though I occasionally ate “bad” foods, overall I ate pretty well. I just assumed that my myriad of health issues were the reason my weight kept fluctuating with almost no change in my net calories (ie, little change in my activity levels or my food intake).
This weight fluctuation was not minimal; sometimes it was as much as 20-30 pounds up or down in just a few months. I didn’t want to spend every moment of every day being a food tyrant, especially since my behavior seemed to have so little effect on my weight and energy levels. But I’m finding out that it’s much easier to eat so that my body thrives than I ever thought it would be.
It seems like so many people are gluten intolerant now, but I suppose part of that could just be our increased awareness. I have a dear friend who found out she is a full-blown celiac, and it has been amazing to see how much better she has felt since she eliminated those grains from her diet. She is starting her own business making paleo/primal meals (http://www.gourmetcavegirl.com), and she asked if she could use our family as “guinea pigs” so she could get input from people who are not used to eating that sort of diet.
Now, Rob and I have been trying to cut down on our carb intake for a while, and trying (fairly unsuccessfully) to add more veggies. Katie and I had been discussing trying a paleo diet, partially because she’s been suffering from migraines, and one of her potential triggers is nitrates, which are difficult to avoid in wheat flour. After trying Michelle’s awesome paleo meal, and asking her LOTS of questions about being gluten free, we decided to take the plunge.
If you don’t know much about the dietary aspects of the paleo lifestyle, in a nutshell it involves eating meats, fats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds, avoiding grains and dairy, and limiting high-carb items like potatoes and beans. You are encouraged to get as many of your foods as possible from local and/or organic sources, and to avoid processed foods as much as possible. Primal is very much like paleo, with the primary difference that it allows dairy for those who tolerate it. Anyway, we decided to go primal, because we LOVE our cheese! We may attempt a dairy-free experiment at a later date (or maybe not!). At the very least, we knew we wanted to remain gluten free for the first several weeks, minimum.
We have tried several times in the past to incorporate more veggies into our diet, but we’d find them spoiling before we’d used them all (because we’d eat them well for a while, and then they’d get pushed to the back of the fridge and “forgotten”). But we hoped that with so many appealing recipes at our disposal, we’d be able to kick that bad habit of wasting food.
So we started the experiment a little over a week ago, and I can’t even describe how much better I feel! I think I must be one of those people who is gluten sensitive without realizing it. My energy level is way up, and I haven’t suffered from acid reflux. I know how ridiculous this sounds, but cutting out sugars and most carbs has left me with far fewer hunger pangs, even though I’m sure I’m eating fewer calories. And it’s nice to not have to measure my foods. The important thing is that you’re putting the RIGHT foods in your body.
Speaking of measuring and counting calories, although weight loss was not my primary motivation for trying this change, I have lost a noticeable amount of weight in the past several days, without really increasing my activity level. Definitely a nice bonus!
As this will be an ongoing experiment, I’ll post several updates over the course of the next few months. This is intended to be a permanent change in the way we eat and take care of ourselves, not just a temporary weight-loss attempt. We’ll be trying lots of new things, and I’d suspect that we’ll like some of them, and others…well…not so much.
Dear Readers: Do you feel like you get enough veggies in your diet? What do you think of the idea of tossing grains altogether?
How many of you have tried the paleo/primal lifestyle? How did you make it work for your family? How strict are you with the dietary guidelines? Do you have a favorite online resource or book? My favorite primal lifestyle site is http://www.marksdailyapple.com/ I know there are lots of other great sites out there.
If you’ve never tried it, what makes you reluctant to give it a shot? Is this the first time you’ve even heard of paleo or primal?