My thoughts on the paleo diet.

Those of you who have been following my blog a bit recently might have noticed me mention the “paleo” diet once or twice on here. Ok, so a bit more then once or twice 😛 You might be wondering what it’s all about – why I am into it/how it’s working for me (and my long time readers) /how can a once vegetarian girl switch so rapidly into a different lifestyle with little or seemigly no remorse. SO I thought maybe I’d share my experiences with you and hopefully answer some of your quiestions.

First off – what is the paleo diet?  It is (as taken from a paleo webiste)a diet based upon eating wholesome, contemporary foods from the food groups our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have thrived on during the Paleolithic era, the time period from about 2.6 million years ago to the beginning of the agricultural revolution, about 10,000 years ago. These foods include fresh meats (preferably grass-produced or free-ranging beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and game meat, if you can get it), fish, seafood, fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and healthful oils (olive, coconut, avocado, macadamia, walnut and flaxseed).) Everything else is basically off the menu for one reason or another (there is PLENTY of information out there if  you want to read into it).

Why I started experimenting with it. Well aside from the fact that it’s popping up everywhere – both on the internet and the blog world, I first started looking into it as a diet that was healing for people that have various gastro-intestinal problems. Also, I was going through a very rough time finding the balance between eating too little/too much/binging and constant sweet cravings. I had already tried vegan, vegetarian, ultra-clean diets in the past so I figured – why not try something new?

Thing is – I suck at sticking to strict diets. Ironically enough after 5 years of really controlled eating habits all I want to do was break loose , even if it kills me (and believe me sometimes my digestive tract does). So I switched between looser and stricter paleo eating weeks – depending on my time/mood/motivation. Here are some of my observations over time.

– I haven’t been eating grains or beans for a while now, and have noticed a definite difference in the amount of pain I’m in on a day to day basis. Even the bloating has been more manageble for the most part. Oats still tempt me like crazy, and I definitely want to try to experiment and see if I can make them at least a little more digestible. But lets just say the last time  tried lentils – I suffered for two days afterwards.

The combo I miss most at the moment – overnight oats (sigh :()

– Dairy is a hard one for me to cut. There’s something in it that my body just craves like nothing else. However it does give me stomach issues – the week I was stictest paleo and didn’t have any was the week I felt the best.

– Paleo works best for me NOT low carb. Meaning I need to be able to eat my fruit and starchy veggies to my hearts content. Otherwise I have major brain fog, have no energy and am cranky the rest of the day. Maybe I’m not “fat adapted” yet, but there’s not too much I can do about that.

–  I crave meat now like crazy. Seriously I feel like I haven’t had a proper meal unless I’ve had some animal protein (eggs/meat/fish). Occasinally I try using peanut butter, nuts as a protein source, but it’s definitely not the same. I guess my body just craves all the protein to repair all those cells, muscles, organs that have been neglected for so long.

– In order to be at all satiated on a paleo diet you NEED to eat a lot of fat. I know I still don’t eat enough compared to how much I should, which is why I still get sweet craving from time to time. But really the meals where I have a hefty amount of fat are like night and day compaired to when I don’t.

Coconut oil is awesome! It’s seriously become a daily staple for me – I use it for almost everything.

– Paleo style eating has eliminated a lot of sweet cravings and binge/overeating tendencies. I’m pretty sure it’s the combination of eating enough protein/fat, but I’ve definitely noticed a reduced sweet craving. Sure I’ve eaten my fair share of dark chocolate along the way, but it’s no longer a post meal habit. Also if I eat a proper breakfast and dinner, generally the urge to snack/graze all day is way less. As soon as I try to eat less real animal protein or fat – those crazy cravings are back and my eating habits are all over the place. For example eating a bowl of oats with a scoop of PB would never last me over 3 hours- but 2 eggs fried in coconut oil with some turkey deli meat and a tomato last me 4 hours or more (depending on the amount of oil/deli meat) I use.

 

So although this way of eating makes me feel good and has normalized my eating habits to a certain extent – I’m wary of it because it’s pretty restricting. As someone who is still recovering from an ED (definitely more recovered then not though :P) I feel I need to be careful not to take things too much to an extreme. Which is why I try not to stay to strict – I still eat dairy and other “non-paleo” things if I feel so inclined. However doing that I still have digestive issues, whereas the week I was pretty strict with it – there was nothing of the sort.Also, it’s pretty expensive if you want to be strict with it – so I end up modifying it u quite a bit to fit my budget restrictions.

Another problem I have with paleo eating is an ethical issue. I was mostly vegetarian for almost 3 years and eating vast amounts of meat still bothers me. I can’t afford humainly raised meat most of the time, so I eat whatever is available. It just seems selfish for me to be constantly eating this much meat/eggs – even though I feel better physically then I have in a long time. No meat substitute seems to be working for me anymore, so I feel kind of trapped 😦

Alright so those are my experiences so far. If you have any more quiestions about my experiences – feel free to ask.

My quiestions for the day:

What are your thoughts on the paleo diet?

Any advice on my dilema with following a strict diet and not becoming obsessed with it?

 

 

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6 comments

  1. I’m going to try this, love. I’ve noticed a big difference in my energy levels when I eat more protein and fat and less carbohydrates. However, I have the worst problem with actually eating “proper-sized”meals. I don’t know if it’s because of anxiety and the fact that I am scared that if I eat a “bigger”meal, then if I start snacking, I would be eating even more…which is a good thing, but still scares me. How did you get out of that mentality?
    love you.

  2. I have a friend that suffers the same stomach issues that is trying this and is swearing by it. I’ve been feeling like crap lately because I’ve been barely eating any proper red meat and have been eating too much processed stuff. It gives me such low energy in the afternoon that I fight against napping. I’m slooooowly trying to eat less sugar (especially since my body HATES sugar that isn’t in the form of glucose) and I’m slowly feeling better. Just need to find more different food combos. Would love to see some paleo recipes 🙂

  3. This was a really helpful and informative post. I’ve been hearing about the Paleo diet a lot lately, but wasn’t sure quite exactly what it was. I’m glad to hear that it is working well for you, and especially that it’s reducing some of your stomach discomfort. I’ve actually been wanting to experiment with my own diet (mainly cutting out grains) to see if it would help my stomach, but I’ve had some of the same concerns about you as far as it being too restrictive goes. It’s hard to find a good balance, especially with an eating disordered past, and I think we have to be more careful than others about becoming too restrictive with our diets. However, I think the fact that you are aware that it could be a problem means that you will be able to recognize and deal with it appropriately if you feel it’s a concern.

    Also, I agree with Katy – I would love to see some of the Paleo meals/recipes you’ve been making, just to get a better idea of what eating Paleo-style is actually like.

  4. I really liked reading this post,it was very insightful and informative. Plus,I loved to hear about your personal experience concerning this diet; I am really glad it seems to work well for you,Liz! 🙂
    Anyhoo,I am still kind of doubtful because that paleo-thing sounds really really restrictive to me. I think I’d probably be craving carbohydrates ALL the time – complex ones,I mean – especially since I’ve been eating pretty much of a low-carb diet for a long time {for ED-reasons} and never felt really satisfied.

    • Yeah, I guess that’s one of the reasons I tend to veer from sticking to this diet too strictly – i don’t want it to become another obsessive diet. I want to eat what I what, when I want with minimal stomach issues. And if I MUST have them I want it to be totally worth it 😛

      And your comment totally proves my point that everyone’s body is different. I can eat carbs (even complex ones) till I feel like popping, but I won’t EVER feel satisfied without a heafty dose of real protein. So it really is 100% individual thing.
      Hope you’re doing well!

  5. Hey, thanks for the last email…so many thoughts I wanted to write back…your words so relatable, wise, etc…

    I think you still llook uber tiny in you photos girl. Don’t be afraid to CONTINUE to recover. The bony wrists, etc…you’re beautiful of course, I just don’t want you to “think” you are “all finished”.

    I wouldn’t go strictly paleo. Decide to ADD versus subtract.

    I’m a complex mystery to me with intense digetsion troubles also (and so obsessing over food because of that , yet that make the food complicated = stress, which means the craziness has to stop.

    A blog “hunt gather love’ recently had a good post about her break-up with paleo and its orthorexic traits…
    I have a problem wth nighttime eating. Like I eat . A lot. And I mean A LOT. And I don’t “starve” myself during the day either and never really did. I was never a low cal girl or an exerciser, so I feel totally alien amongst many of you bloggers I stumble upon.

    I do think “Matt Stones” diet recovery is spot on: EAT what you want, recover your metabolsim (real pancakes, real pizza, real treats and milkshakes and cheeseburgers”. …It also coincides with the work of Gwyneth Olywn on “Your Eatopia”. Alll valid stuff for sure.

    I’m having a complicated time now, not wanting to eliminate potential digestively bad foods because I’m loving that (and I binge on them, yipes), but binging and not doing anything about it (no exercise, definitely no restriction or purging). And my stomach fills up super fast too.
    I can’t access or afford organic or hormone-free chicken, etc either…so I have to just buy the regular stuff, cause not sure I should just “not eat it” because off that.. Its complicated.

    I envy your ability to THINK (no brain fog) and to work and study and EXERCiSE…boy do I envy that 🙂 I’d love to see a few full meal plan days from you. Emal me if you can give me a sample of 2-3 full days (don’t have to be paleo, trust me, no judgment here). Or maybe you know of good sites or bloggers with plans they follow that you would trust yourself to follow too? I know the secret is to LET GO and eat what I want and not what I should, but I ……ugh.
    I just am tried of this cycle and I’m old now….at 27 I shoul’ve takenn care of it. Now at 31, I’m older, my metabolism and hormones,everything…now I’m just worried and lost !


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