Because you get to eat all the bacon you want.
Ok, ok…there’s more to it than that. Although I’m not going to lie, it definitely helped.
A little over three years ago, I came across the 21 Day Sugar Detox. At the time, I was coming up on my 40th birthday and I was honestly just trying to lose a few pounds so I looked awesome in my birthday pictures. The general idea behind this program is first and foremost, extremely limit the intake of any type of sugar and is based on the premise that sugar is addictive and not good for you in excess. It also restricts you from all processed foods, legumes, grains and depending on the level you choose, restricts or eliminates rice and dairy. Basically, you stop putting crappy food and sugar in your body, and you eat clean for 21 days. This program is very close to what would be called either a primal or paleo diet. The woman who came up with this program, also wrote the book The Practical Paleo.
True to form, I decided to fully embrace this 21 Day Detox – to the point that I wanted to blog about the experience and take pictures of every meal. I think that lasted about a week. Not the program, the blog. What I didn’t realize was that eating clean meant I had to cook pretty much 95% of what I was eating. By the time I shopped, cooked the food, and did the dishes, the last thing I felt like to was writing about it.
The eating philosophy on this program was completely different than anything I’d tried before. I didn’t count calories, I didn’t worry about fat content…I just basically ate what I wanted (that fell within the program guidelines) and just used good common sense and listened to my body (ie – eating sensible portions, keeping a good balance of protein and vegetables, stop eating if you wasn’t hungry, etc.)
I finished the 21 days – and not only had I lost a few pounds, but I felt really good physically and mentally, I’d enjoyed the lifestyle change of both eating clean and not constantly worrying about counting calories. I felt healthy and just “better.” Plus, as it turned out, I really liked cooking.
I did the research on the paleo diet. I read some books and started following paleo bloggers to try and learn a little bit more about it. I could very easily spout back to you all the nutritional reasoning and benefits of the paleo diet that I found (improved digestion, better skin, immune system functioning – just to name a few.) Then I could probably find at least 100 links to sites on the internet that would tell you the exact opposite. Nutrition and health can be pretty confusing, especially when you read two sides of the coin that both seem to sound like they make sense. In the end of the day, I stayed with the paleo diet because of how I felt physically and because I enjoyed the lifestyle change that it required.
I don’t believe that there is one “right” way to eat. Obviously, there are general good principles that I believe to be universally true (eating in moderation, limiting sugar and staying away from processed food, etc) but in the end of the day, the diet that is optimal for me may not be the diet that is optimal for anyone else. Doesn’t make my diet bad, doesn’t make your diet wrong – it just means we all have different immune systems, genetic makeup, digestive issues and metabolism. I don’t preach paleo on anyone for that very reason and I try not to voice on my opinions on things (like Splenda) unless someone asks me for them.
I did get a little “loose” on paleo for the last year and I’ve recently refocused my diet (just about the time I started this blog.) I’d put on a few pounds, which I wasn’t happy about, but mostly because I was noticing that my skin wasn’t looking as good as it had previously, my energy level and strength wasn’t consistent and I was clearly having some digestive issues (I won’t go into details.)
So, here’s my paleo diet, that works the best for me and what I’m following right now:
- Meats – grass fed as much as possible
- Poultry/Eggs – cage free and organic
- Seafood – nothing farm-raised. All wild caught.
- Dairy – very, very limited and ONLY grass-fed dairy when I do
- Vegetables/Fruit- organic at least for the dirty dozen but always whenever possible
- Rice – definitely not paleo (but lots of people who eat paleo will have rice and I was for a time) – personally, I found that rice doesn’t really work well for me so I have nixed it.
- Potatoes – I don’t get why some people say they aren’t paleo if sweet potatoes are paleo. Plus, I have no digestive issues with them. I don’t eat tons of potatoes but I’ll eat them from time to time.
- Peas – technically, since peas are legumes, they aren’t paleo. But I love them, so I eat them – although typically they are in a recipe. I don’t sit down and eat bowls of peas. I don’t love them that much.
- All other legumes (beans and peanuts) – nope – they’re out
- Sweeteners – honey, maple syrup, molasses, stevia extract, and coconut sugar and dark chocolate
- Alcohol – red wine and very limited consumption
- Paleo “cheating” – honestly, letting myself have a cheat from time to time didn’t seem to work so well for me. It went from something I did infrequently but then got more and more regular for me to do. I think for now, I’m going to not do it. Hopefully I won’t cheat on my no cheating stance..
I know I didn’t get into much details on what I learned about paleo – mostly because that wasn’t really what swayed me. However, I’m more than happy to share some of my resources with you if you have any questions or are curious to learn more.