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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