5 Reasons I Feel Gratitude Towards the Paleo Movement

Nup – its not a mistake – I meant to say ‘Gratitude’.

I’ve been fairly quiet on the Paleo front of late; had some other personal stuff going on so not much time or motivation to wax lyrical about the way I’m eating.  That said, it did occur to me a couple of times that amongst the other chaos peppering my world, one area at least remained smooth and ordered and sensical.  Carried on and gave me no grief.  And that was the way I was treating my body; more specifically the fuel I was giving myself to exist.

Eating this way has become such a habit now that I think about it less and less and just feel content that I don’t have to worry about or watch what I’m eating, because I know that for a big majority of the time I am eating perfectly.  And I felt grateful – it was just one less thing to worry about, one less thing to ensure I was being conscious of.  That led me to thinking that there are other things I’m feeling grateful for these days, things I can lay at the feet of this Paleo change to our lives. And I wanted to share them with you.

I was going to do 10… but got to #5 and realised how long this post already was so thought I’d cut it down a little!  Mayhaps I’ll split it in two.

 

1.    Eating right without thinking about it

Eating this way means essentially I can’t get it wrong. I don’t need to analyse which biscuits are better – how much of that dish I can have – how often I should be including fruit.  There’s no counting calories, or points, or only eating/not eating white foods.  No measuring or weighing or weird cooking methods. Eating Paleo means I just don’t eat bad stuff and I definitely eat enough of the good stuff. I don’t need to think about it. It’s simple.

 

2.    Finding my ‘happy’ body

For the first time in years – and I do mean years – I have a body that I like.  I can look in the mirror and despite still feeling like I have a load of flaws, overall I am happy with how my body looks and feels.  I probably could never really express just what an incredible feeling it is to be able to honestly say “I like myself naked.”

Women [and increasingly men] are so harsh on themselves and constantly bombarded with images of perfect, thin, smooth women to compare themselves too.  I’ve never had super-severe body issues but I have had negative feelings about my physicality for a long time.  It was all just a bit wrong.  I don’t suppose it was really ever as bad as I thought, and I probably haven’t changed that much to anyone else.  But to me – wow.  My body isn’t ‘perfect’, but it is perfectly me and I’m proud of it – I love that I can say that now.  And I absolutely attribute this change [both in my physical body and in my attitude towards my body] to Paleo. I’m now occupying the body nature intended me to have, I know that I’m fueling it well and I feel totally comfortable in the skin I’m in.

 

3.    Being aware of sugar and losing my addiction to it

Prior to Paleo, I couldn’t fathom the idea of having coffee sans sugar – and, more importantly, nor would I have ever considered it.  It simply wouldn’t have occurred to me because sugar has been an integral part of my diet since I was a child.  Sugar on cereal, sugar in drinks, sugar in baked goods.  Not to mention the sugar we never see added to the plethora of processed foods we consume.  Sugar was necessary to me, as a sweetener.  Lord I’ve even put sugar on strawberries!

These days – I drink my coffee without sugar, and my tea [funnily enough I now quite enjoy green tea] without blinking an eye lid.   I do not add sugar to anything, at all, and since we don’t eat any processed foods, there’s no ‘hidden’ sugar in my diet either. Was it an adjustment? Yep, it was.  Was it difficult? I have to say not really!

The processed food cut out removed sugar that was unseen – you don’t miss what you don’t know you’re eating!  Cutting out grains eliminated cereals and baked goods – there goes another chunk of sugar laden foods.  For a while we avoided anything that was sweet, apart from fruit, because we figured sweet meant non-Paleo.  Then one night some friends came over for dinner and brought dessert: Paleo Chocolate Mousse with Coconut Whipped Cream.  It was delicious.  I couldn’t believe it had no sugar in it – in fact we all thought it was the perfect balance of chocolate and sweet, except for one guest who at the time was decidedly non-Paleo.  He found it quite bitter, which was a shock to me and led me to the conclusion that my tastebuds, deprived of the huge amounts of sugar I’d previously consumed, had become more sensitive to ‘sweet’.  I can honestly say I’ve not missed sugar at all since going Paleo and what I’ve learned about it in that time makes me so grateful it’s no longer considered a ‘staple’ in our household!

 

4. Finding my taste buds

Since cutting out ‘food-like products’ – ie, processed foods – and filling my diet with real, actual fruit, vegetables, meats etc., my appreciation for the way these items taste has increased ten-fold. Or more!  I used to name my favourite foods as pasta, potatoes and rice – in that order.  But these days when I think of rice – bland; potatoes – better but not really that appealing; pasta – the few times I’ve used my “20” on a pasta dish I’ve been disappointed.  That’s a huge shift for me.

I’d rather eat broccoli – now one of my favourite foods; a good steak is impossible to beat and just a few herbs or spices rubbed on before cooking is all that’s needed; fruit has never tasted better and the new combinations I’m trying mean we don’t often eat ‘boring’ meals at home.  Then again, maybe it’s our definition of boring that’s changed? Now that we can truly taste what we’re eating and appreciate it for its full worth!

 

5. Finding my conscience.

This has been a far-reaching one.  I’ve become, through shifting to Paleo, so much more conscious of so many things in my day-to-day life that have bigger consequences. Woah, getting a bit deep on this one! I’ll try to keep it as light as I can.

Basically – if you’ve ever got time, watch a documentary called “Food, Inc”.  Its an American documentary and therefore not directly applicable to Australia but it’s the direction we’re headed in.  It opened my eyes to the cruel ways humankind produces certain foods: eggs, beef, poultry, pork, etc.   It made realise that I am responsible for that cruelty if I make daily decisions to support those industries.  This then extended to other areas – makeup, nail polish, shampoos … how can I buy these items, which are ‘wants’, not ‘needs’, from companies that condone animal testing?  Do I agree with injecting a rabbit’s eye with mascara and then forcing it to deal with the pain and irritation for 21 days without treatment to see if it harms the animal?  No, I most certainly do not.  Therefore I can’t, in good conscience, buy from that company because that is implying I do.

I’m not going to turn into a leaf-wearing hippy.  I know that we have to balance realisim and idealism.  But when there are viable, cruelty free alternatives, I will always select them.  Think free range eggs or pork. Grassfed beef. Cruelty free shampoo, conditioner and makeup.  These things exist and I now am aware of them.  What’s more, I now consciously investigate products to see if there a cruelty free version that I can buy rather than ‘turning a blind eye.’  It’s only a small difference, but if every second woman stopped buying from L’Oreal can you imagine the impact?

Anyway, I’m not trying to convert the world, just acknowledging another change to me Paleo has wrought that I am super grateful for.  I’m sure that as time goes along, I’ll only get more conscious of consumer decisions and I look forward to becoming more aware, more self-sustaining and aiming towards having a positive, rather than negative, impact on this wonderful planet and the living creatures within it.

Wow now I do sound a little floaty don’t I?  I don’t mean to; I’m definitely not unaware of practicalities, nor do I ever want to be preachy.  I guess I just feel good about some of the differences in myself that I can attribute to Paleo.  It’s not just about eating better or being physically healthier, I think Paleo has made me a better person and improved my mental and emotional health in line with my physical health.  I am so grateful that my husband brought this suggestion home and that we were both open minded enough to give it a real go.

I only hope that everyone else out there who gives this lifestyle a go ends up feeling as amazing for it as I do.

Thanks for reading  🙂

x S

An experience shared is an experience doubled..

So here are some learnings after completing four [or is it five?] weeks on Paleo.  I decided to cap it at five because otherwise you’ll still be reading this tomorrow:

1. Its costs more to eat well.

My grocery bill is almost double – fresh produce and lots of meat, particularly where I live, is expensive.  Two adults are eating their way through around $300 food a week.  But, like I said, this is due in part to the fact that prices up here in Northern WA are super high because we’re a remote community. Lucky me.

2. Grocery shopping takes about 1/10th the time it used to and is super easy.  

It really is true, you just go straight to the fresh produce end, grab fruits & veg, skim along the back grabbing your meat and then pop into the freezer section at the other end to grab any frozens [eg fish, snap frozen veg, shellfish, etc.]  Then, unless you need to duck briefly into the darkside (read: the aisles) to visit the health food section [almond meal, organic raw honey, Linseed meal, etc] or the asian section [coconut cream, coconut milk, tapioca flour], you are DONE. Bang! Snap! Straight to the pool room! [For those outside Australia, this is a quote from a very Australian 1997 movie called “The Castle”. Its hilarious but please don’t think all Aussies are like the Kerrigan’s… except for the giant hearts part].  So – it really does take 10-20mins max to get everything you need because you only need to run the perimeter of your local supermarket. Score!

3. Organisation is paramount.

If you’re a meal planner – fantastic! You’re one step ahead of the rest of us.  If you’re not a meal planner [read: me] then …. now is a GREAT time to try something [else] new!  Failing to plan your meals and do the prep one day a week will not make it impossible to follow the Paleo way – I know this because it describes my journey thus far.  It just means that you will spend several periods a week staring into your fridge/pantry/freezer blankly for +/- five minutes, wondering what to eat or cook for dinner. You’ll google several paleo recipes at 1/2hr before dinner time, discarding each as you realise that you don’t have this or that crucial ingredient. You will visit your local grocery store several times a week [albeit briefly, refer point: 2] because you simply don’t have what you need to make an edible menu for the next few days.  The lesson here?  Sit down on a Saturday or Sunday, grab Robb Wolf’s food matrix [find this amazing tool here: http://robbwolf.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/thePaleoSolution_FoodMatrix.pdf] and plan out your week’s meals, as best you can.  I am TOTALLY going to recommend that you start leaning towards the whole cook a bunch and eat for lunch method, whereby at least 3-4 times a week your lunch is made up of last nights dinner left overs. It just saves time and energy.  And – spend some time ‘prepping’.  Not for doomsday, for the following week. Eg: grate carrot/chop onion/slice mushrooms for salads, hardboil several eggs, make mayonnaise, make marinades/dressings, do any baking [muffins, frittata’s, crackers, biscuits]. Yes, it may take an hour or two on a weekend, but I guarantee it will save you hourS during the week. Trust me on this! Plus, you can involve the family and make it an activity, make it fun and encourage and develop their healthy eating/cooking habits. Note to readers: No, I am not currently following my own advice, but its a case of do as I say, not as I do.. 🙂

4. You will consume an enormous amount of eggs.

If you can – buy chickens!  I wish I could but our living arrangements [and our Siberian Husky, to be honest] kind of puts a kabosh on that. So if you’re in my boat, at least study up on what eggs are available to you, go for something reasonably priced if you can but do NOT ever, EVER purchase cage eggs – its abhorrent and I think it should be totally banned; strive to purchase free range, naturally fed hen eggs [eg grass fed, not grain fed] and always look for Omega3 enriched eggs.  If you can’t tick all the boxes – try finding Omega3 enriched eggs in my town 😦 – tick as many as you can, and at minimum, buy free range.  Or go without. Seriously.

 5. Snacking is hard if you a) don’t like nuts or b) don’t like fruit and/or are trying to lose weight.

For those of you who do like nuts and or fruit and or are not trying to lose weight – you can skip straight to the end.  Do not pass GO, do not expect $100 or a make up learning. You only get four.  For the rest, read on.

Sometimes, you just want to nibble on something.  Just a little bit of food. Maybe something sweet, maybe savoury.  Not a meal. So you go to the fridge and here are some typical choices:

  • Left over roast chicken from last night.
  • Mayonnaise
  • Fruit
  • Eggs

Sigh. You close the fridge and open the pantry.  Its even more *gulp* bleak:

  • Herbs & spices
  • Coconut milk
  • Various types of flours
  • Nut butter
  • Nuts
  • Oils

Well.  That’s some seriously limited choices. The ‘easy’ snacks are nuts and fruit. What if you don’t like either??  I am not a nut fan and don’t really like fruit overly much. Plus, for those who are trying to slim down, consumption of fruit should be limited until you reach your goal leanness. So what do you do?  I think this is where your dedication [or lack thereof] to Paleo will really show and imagination is super useful.  Prep time on the weekend can also help here – bake some Paleo muffins, or egg/bacon frittata’s and keep them for snack attacks. Find one fruit or nut that you like.  Try celery with a nut butter on it.  Google ‘Paleo Snacks’ and then don’t be shocked when they are all healthy. First step though: Have a glass of water.  Years of comfortable existence have meant that what humans often translate as ‘feeling hungry’ is actually thirst. So if you feel a little pang of hunger, snack size, there’s a good chance that you’re actually just thirsty.  So try a glass of water or cup of tea. Wait ten minutes. If you still feel it, search for a snack.

So there you have it. Five of many things I’ve learned since 1AP [After Paleo].   Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go away and think of a title for this post, as the original title I had ‘How do you do what you do?’ no longer applies… as so often happens, once I clicked in the ‘body’ box and started typing, this post became something completely different to my original vision. Oops!

Eck so, eck so,

Paleo Girl.