- Food and Cooking
To Eat or Not to Eat: Starting a Paleo Diet
My whole life, I've never been one to be too into eating super healthy. I've always believed that anything in moderation is fine. Potato chips, bread, meat, candy, coffee with cream and sugar (okay, a lot of cream and sugar), so on and so forth. Sure, I've attempted to do cleanses, diets that cut out all sugar, or diets that don't allow one food or another. All those attempts have failed in a moment of weakness and I end up going back to the bread, candy, and potato chips.
Unfortunately, as I've gotten older and have settled into a steady job, I've become aware of the fact that I am not as energetic and upbeat as I'd like to be. I, as I'm sure a lot of people do, struggle with stress and it doesn't help that on top of the stress I don't feel up to dealing with normal day to day duties. I've found that I feel tired and sluggish a majority of the time, and I consistently have a hard time with insomnia. I'm starting to wonder if this lack of energy is because of my diet.
Recently, my significant other, has joined a crossfit gym. Part of the system he participates in deals with food as well. The coaches recommend a Paleolithic diet cleanse in addition to their workout routines. For 30 days, one is supposed to only eat along the lines of the Paleo Diet. We've decided that the easiest way to stick to a diet is to try it together so, here goes! I've also decided that if this diet does seem to make me feel better day to day after the 30 days, then I will stay with it as long as I can.
I'm sure many of you have already heard of the "Paleo" diet, but just in case I'll briefly explain. "Paleolithic" refers to a time period which is during the first years of the existence of homo sapiens, humans. The diet consists of the kinds of foods those humans would have been able to find. Meat, fish, fruit, vegetables. It does not include dairy, legumes, potatoes, and wheat or grains as well as any processed foods we have today such as soda/juice or salty snacks.
Here are a couple websites I've found that list foods you should and shouldn't eat:
The theory behind the Paleolithic diet is that humans have evolved to eat certain kinds of foods. The processed foods we have today, as well as certain types of foods that humans didn't always have readily available, are not foods that humans can properly digest because they haven't evolved to do so. So eating along the lines of the Paleo Diet, one should be able to feel better daily and be healthier in general. [Disclaimer: I am not a health professional. Always consult your qualified personal health care provider before making any dietary or exercise changes.
One of the perks of being on the paleo diet is bacon. I don't think I could stick to any diet that doesn't include bacon, though I will miss potatoes. Another perk is that it gets me out of my shell as far as cooking experience. I generally stick to a few good recipes for dinner and sticking to this new diet will force me to be more creative when coming up with ideas of what to cook.
I know it will be hard to cut out some of my food like the salty snacks I eat during lunch, bread (sandwiches or toast with breakfast) or juice (thankfully I already don't drink soda very often). But the Paleo Diet does allow fruit, which will make up for sugar, and it does allow some salt in your foods. The important thing I need to keep in mind is that I need to be creative with flavors so I don't miss the over-flavoring of processed foods and drinks. My plan is to slowly wean myself and my SO off of the foods I'm used to eating. I believe this is the best way to be able to stick to the diet and that it is the healthiest way to change a diet.
Cutting off certain foods from your diet can actually cause a kind of withdrawal. That is why so many people who decide to do a low-carb diet or an absolutely-no-junk-food diet end up bingeing on the food they've cut. Abruptly cutting carbs out of your, can actually be detrimental to your health rather than beneficial. The article referenced below shows that the thyroid is actually negatively affected by cutting off carbohydrates.
I will be honest. I believe (and of course I may very well be incorrect) that if early homo sapiens were able to discover that eggs are edible then they were probably able to discover that milk is edible and grains are edible.
Everyone is different, so some diets may work for some people while they won't work for others. Researching the Paleo diet has helped me learn how important it is to have fresh foods rather than processed foods. I've started buying more fresh vegetables, and less frozen foods. I've started avoiding over processed snacks and drinks. I'm not sure if I can tell much of a difference yet but I do know that I've had a bit more energy at work these days. What I'm trying to say, is that while the Paleo diet may be a good idea for a lot of people, personally, I'm going to simply use it as inspiration to eat more fresh foods and less junk.