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?