the paleo adventure

A week ago TODAY I jumped on the Paleo train! "Paleo" is becoming kind of a buzzword and I have always been extremely skeptical of all the trendy fad diets that pop up constantly. I have always been small and thin, I've always had a great metabolism (knock on wood!) and I've never had to give a second thought to anything I ate. I've never counted calories--I don't even read labels. In high school when I was a varsity soccer player, I would eat two snickers bars and some french fries before playing a 90-minute game and have no problem. Food was fuel and I never thought twice about anything I was consuming. My thoughts on food have changed drastically over the past several months. For one, my younger brother is extremely health-concious and has been really influential in getting my parents to think about the food we're eating as a family. We started getting all-organic food and in an effort to cut down on my headaches, I cut all processed foods out of my diet, along with known "migraine trigger" foods. No more Easy Mac or ramen noodles. Nothing with MSG or sodium nitrates. Goodbye, $1 frozen pizzas. I started reading every single label before throwing it into the cart. And I felt a little better...sort of. But then migraines came back with a vengeance and I was super discouraged. I did allergy testing, which revealed I was allergic to a plethora of things, most severely to wheat and milk (the jury's out on whether "milk" actually means "all dairy"--I'll know more when I have my follow-up with the allergy doc.) It seemed like all signs were pointing to a serious diet overhaul....

So I started Paleo. It was an impulsive split-second decision. Last Tuesday evening I was suffering from a migraine that had lasted over 24 hours and I was so done with it. I was tired of refilling my migraine prescription every two weeks. So I went cold turkey. The basics of Paleo are this:

"Paleo is short for Paleolithic, and the premise of a Paleo diet centers around the idea that our bodies have not adapted sufficiently to eating foods that weren’t available to us 10,000 years ago. It is thought that more than 70% of food consumed today was never available in Paleolithic times.  We put so much processed food into our bodies; most which us unhealthy.  The advances in agriculture and mass food production have caused us to move away from eating real food; food meant to work with our bodies for optimal health.

 A Paleo diet involves eating meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, little starch, some fruit and no sugar.  It means no grains, legumes, dairy or alcohol.  It means staying away from all processed foods. It means eating as our hunter-gathers ancestors did." (taken from Paleo Practical Living)

So in one fell swoop, I cut all that stuff out. No rice, no quinoa, no beer or Reese cups. No more $5 Little Caesar's pizza. And I replaced it with lots of organic fruits and veggies, meats, almond milk, coconut flour, etc. I'm surprised at how well it's going and how much better I feel!

I've had no headaches for one week. This is huge, for me.

Here is a quick breakdown of what I eat most days:

BREAKFAST: scrambled eggs with meat mixed in like organic breakfast sausage, bacon or ham / some fruit on the side/ orange juice / I also love this espresso protein shake

MID-MORNING SNACK: a banana or something sweet like a Paleo brownie or bit of lemon cake

LUNCH: half of an avocado with tuna salad scooped into the hollow where the pit used to be (I make my tuna salad with canned tuna, egg, relish and mayonnaise) / chicken breast or other meat / salad with grilled chicken and Italian dressing (organic dressing is best--no MSG!) / fruit / veggies

AFTERNOON SNACK: corn chips + salsa (some super-strict Paleo guides say no corn, but I'm not going by that because I'm not allergic to corn and I really crave something crunchy to munch on) / nuts like pistachios or almonds

DINNER: chicken or some other kind of meat/fish like salmon or tilapia, salad, veggies

DESERT: Paleo brownies are my new favorite

I've also gone out to eat a couple restaurants without much trouble. I had barbeque ribs at one place, which were delicious, along with french fries. Again, some super strict Paleo sites will tell you no potatoes, but mostly that's for people who are using Paleo to lose weight because potatoes have a high glycemic index (I can't believe I know what this is now). With my high metabolism, I don't think potatoes pose much of a risk for me. I also went out to Buffalo Wild Wings and had boneless honey-bbq wings with french fries and again, felt fine.

I'm still getting into the Paleo swing and have a couple cookbooks on my wish list, like this one and this one, both recommended by friends.

There have definitely been some hard moments, like when my family was eating Domino's pizza (pizza is my FAVORITE) and I was gingerly nibbling a Paleo pizza with a crust that just was not quite right, or Easter morning when I used lots of expensive baking ingredients to make blueberry muffins I hoped would taste like normal but instead they were gritty and weird. It's all a learning process. I did eat a mini Reese cup two nights ago because I was craving it SO bad and it didn't even taste good, so that feels like a huge step.

If you eat Paleo, what are some of your favorite recipes? I am so encouraged by how good I'm feeling after only a week and can't wait to discover more delicious things to cook for myself!