Wednesday, October 19, 2011

so about this whole "paleo" thing...

I've known for a long time that my body just doesn't like sugar. Or simple starches. Or grains. Or soy. Or dairy....  Which to be honest...sometimes sucks. Especially when you like to bake. 

But a few months ago I realized how much I hated feeling like crap. And I spent a lot of days feeling like crap. Even with going to the gym, watching my "diet", losing a little bit of weight in the process, and even keeping a food journal... I still often felt like crap. 

So about 2 1/2 months ago I decided it was time to seriously change the way I eat... and bake. I've been working with nutritionist Cheryl Harris since February of this year. She is amazing and very intuitive. She already knew I needed to radically change the way I was eating. Me, though? I was resistant. Very. Very. Resistant. 

Who wants to change the way they eat? I knew I needed help. And I wanted advice... but this girl can be rather stubborn about actually accepting help and making real change. For many people it takes time and usually a rock-bottom experience to get to the place when you absolutely know it's time for change. That place when you are simply compelled to change. 

Cheryl understood that though. She didn't push. She suggested. She listened. She planted seeds of change. And eventually those seeds took root.

You may remember me talking about Overeater's Anonymous a month ago... the events that led up to that was my rock-bottom moment. That was when I KNEW I had to change. And so it began... I slowly started removing carbohydrates and grains from my diet. Gluten, of course, was already out. Dairy was already out (except for butter, which doesn't bother my tummy), soy was already out, I had been avoiding legumes (other than peanut butter) for months, so honestly this transition to meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts & seeds, healthy fats, and eggs almost seemed natural. 

Now... several months or so into this new "food" journey, I realized there was a name to the type of food plan my body likes best. "The Paleo Diet." I really hate labeling things, it seems like anything labeled becomes a fad. A trend. But it was kind of cool to hear a "name" for the way I need to eat. 

I've always had problems digesting grains, beans, and dairy. You know... the staples of the American diet. None of them liked me. Not one little bit. 

So with the help of my friend Heather, I jumped into Paleo. We both wanted to feel better. We both wanted our tummies to start behaving. So we just took the plunge and went shopping. Shopping for real food. For vegetables like kale, purple cabbage, celery, broccoli, carrots, onions, garlic, zucchini, and avocados (oh how I love avocados!). For proteins, meats like fresh ground beef, roasts, chicken, turkey, bacon... Mmmmm... bacon! And eggs, and lots of 'em! Fruits like mangoes, apples, raisins, cranberries, bananas, and pineapple. Healthy fats like almond butter, tahini, olives, olive oil, butter, coconut oil, and coconut milk. For the occasional treat -- baking with almond flour or coconut flour and sweetening with honey, dates, or fruit. We started learning simple ways to prepare food. I started using ingredients like balsamic vinegar, and different types of stone-ground mustard to flavor and season meats, chicken, and salads. 

I started using amazing books like newly published Sarah Fragoso's "Everyday Paleo" from Victory Belt Publishing -- chock full of healthy, easy, ONE dish meals that I could make in minutes to serve for dinner. I felt blessed to receive a review copy of this cookbook from Victory Belt at just the right time. I have truly NEEDED cookbooks like this for so long. Cookbooks that focus on using fresh vegetables, healthy lean meats, eggs, and fruit. SO many cookbooks, especially gluten free cookbooks focus on the starches. On the pasta. The bread. The muffins. The cake. The things that simply don't work for my body.  I'm so glad paleo-type cookbooks like this are finally becoming readily available! (Sarah's book in particular is so easy to use, focuses on EASY family meals, and even includes shopping lists, meal plans, and a workout strategy at the end. I highly recommend reading her blog, or purchasing her book for great recipes and ideas!) Sarah, your basic, real food recipes have helped me more than you could ever know!

I have loved the process of FINALLY finding meals that simply make me feel good. Fresh food, happy tummies, a better attitude, and great outlook on life... this paleo thing has been good to me. 

I know it's not for everybody. Some people really do perform and feel better with more carbohydrates in their system. Yet, I believe everyone can benefit from more fresh, real foods. For me though, it's been realizing that my body TRULY cannot tolerate processed carbohydrates. No more white sugar, no more baking with gluten free grains & starches, no more gluten free pasta. And finally, I can honestly say I rarely miss those things anymore. I've enjoyed the challenge of baking with almond flour and coconut flour. I've enjoyed wholesome, real meals without the starch. And the vegetables? I don't think I'd be able to function very well without them now. Fresh vegetables have become a true daily staple. 

So that's why I'm doing this... to feel better. To be better. To be on the right track for my body. And I finally feel like I'm heading down the right track... how about you? 

And if you're wondering about the husband.... well he's slowly adjusting. He's still in that lovely little resistance phase... so I understand... and I appreciate that he's being a good sport! :-) All good things take time. And I'm thankful he's at least willing to try!

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  1. Very informative. Glad you feel like you have found whats right for you!


  2. I read every word thinking, yes! I know what you mean. Following the Paleo concepts, I have started feeling so much better and really enjoying what I eat, too. I am not a fan of labels, either, but it is nice to have one word rather than three sentences to describe what we can and can't eat to feel our best, isn't it?

    I agree, too, about enjoying the cookbooks. While I love reading many gluten-free cookbooks and magazines, almost every recipe is for something I can't eat.

    Keep us up to date about how this is going for you.


  3. thanks for sharing this with us, some great information. it seems every is talking paleo these days, so I grabbed a book from the library to learn more. and now this great post! so happy you have found a way of eating that works for you and makes your body feel right!

  4. Carrie,

    I know what you're going through. My husband and I are doing a similar anti-candida diet (the kids are trying). It was hard to realize how our eating habits would have to change - and hard to actually change them. But we're feeling better, and knowing how this kind of eating is healing our bodies makes it worth it.

    I look forward to seeing your new recipes - I've been experimenting a lot too!

  5. Carrie, We went paleo/primal about two months ago. It's the first time in years I haven't had any migraines or stomach upset. I was resistant to taking beans out of my diet, but figured that if soy were a problem here (it is... majorly) others could be problematic as well. :) It's so nice being able to eat and not feel bloated or otherwise icky after eating. And thank goodness for almond and coconut flours when I do get the urge to bake!

  6. There is nothing worse than feeling like crap when you think you're doing all the right things! So glad you have found what works for you, Carrie!

  7. I'm right there with you, on a very similar journey. I am gluten-free and have to watch many other foods due to migraines. I recently cut out most carbs after reading Taubes' Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It. I reviewed it on my WTWFA blog.

    Good for you for finding a way to feel better!

  8. Carrie, you have expressed a parallel journey to the one that I am on! Thank you so much for sharing.

  9. The stigma of anything paleo has kept me from even considering it (I'm a runner and gym rat and drank the carb-load Kool Aid). But my gluten free diet doesn't seem to help quite enough. I react to foods still, and my gut tells me it's the weird new grains I'm using to substitute for wheat. I'm still afraid to say it out loud, but inside, I'm thinking a paleo plan is where I'll find true relief, and oddly, freedom.

  10. I'm glad you shared. My family has been gluten free for years. This past year my husband has transitioned to Paleo - which means most of the family's dinners are paleo, which the kids barely touch. I admit, I am the one resisting and allowing the kids their indulgences.

  11. Great post! Your nutritionist sounds amazing. Best of luck on your new journey and I look forward to checking in. :)

  12. Carrie,
    You've done such an amazing job of listening to your body and taking great care of yourself in 2011. It's fantastic that you've learned to find your own rhythm!

  13. I tried Paleo for about 6 months about a year ago now, and I have to say it didn't work very well for me. I just got too skinny and I was always low energy and the lack of carbs gave me terrible headaches. BUT Paleo totally changed my way of thinking about the foods I eat. When I first became gluten free I just wanted to replace everything I used to eat, but I realized subbing one processed food for another isn't helpful. I'm a college student so realizing this was not easy on me! Now though whenever I bake I turn to coconut flour first, and I now use honey, agave, or palm sugar for sweetening. I used to be a sugar junkie but paleo really helped me control that. I also learned that while I can do cheese in moderation (low lactose cheeses) and some yogurt, milk is pretty much off the table for me. I also got hooked on smoothies, explored and fell in love with tons of new veggies, and stopped relying on potatoes as a side dish. I think that even if the paleo diet doesn't work out for some, we can all learn a lot from it!