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

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I’m becoming a full Paleo convert….

I was recently at a demo party and, knowing the host was Paleo, the demonstrator asked “So who else here is Paleo?”  I was shocked to note that of the 8 or so guests, five of us were paleo and two of the others call themselves ‘mostly Paleo’. 

I felt like I’d suddenly found long lost family – noooo actually it was more like I’d just found out these people were members of the same small, select and super awesome club that I belonged to.  It was so great!  The conversation was fantastic – sharing recipe ideas, how we overcame lack of snacks or breakfasts, our paleo experience.  I really can’t describe how comfortable and validated I felt.  Here were people who understood the ‘why’, who I didn’t have to try to explain or justify to, who knew exactly how I felt when we talked about eating out or grains or why sugar is the anti-christ.

I know I had already decided to embrace Paleo for good but I have to admit that the last 3 weeks have sort of been hard. Mainly because I was on shift, and the other half and I didn’t adequately prepare snacks etc. so pulling together lunch bags for 12hr shifts had been challenging. To say the least.  But after the experience of being around so many people who got me I realised that sticking to it is important.  That those who disagree with what I believe aren’t right and I’m wrong – they are just different to me and I shouldn’t start doubting how important staying Paleo has become to us.

It would be so easy to go back.  SO easy.  I mean, I could just go buy so much easy to prepare, ready made, pour from a tin foods and cut down my prep time, my imagination required.  Just go to the lunch bar and buy takeaway. 

But I don’t want to.  And now, I feel strongly again about that. I am not saying that being around other Paleo people has changed my mind or that I was going to give it up but now I’m not; I just feel like my conviction has been reinforced.  I’m not that easily swayed by others but I think everyone, now and then, likes to experience that kind of validation.  Reassurance that you’re not the crazy one.  That there are others who believe what you believe to be true.

Lord, I’m almost starting to sound like a religious convert… scary thought.  But in a lot of ways, the other half and I going Paleo has almost been like converting to a religion in terms of suddenly there’s a fundamental difference between us and a lot of people we know and love; we have a lot of conversations trying to explain our beliefs and answer questions; we refrain from doing certain things that we used to and that our friends still do do and thoroughly enjoy.  The more I think about it, the more similarities I can see between people who choose the Paleo way and people who follow a religion devoutly. 

Well, if Paleo is my religion then my body is my god and temple and I show my reverence for it by feeding it whole, real, clean food.  I might start taking every Sunday off, too!

So – slowly but surely being Paleo is becoming just part of who I am – who we are.  Every now and then we have little setbacks but they usually end up making us more convinced we’re on the right track and determined to persevere.  We get little motivators or experiences that show us why we’re doing what we do, why we say no to grains, legumes, sugar and processed foods and drink.  It just so happens that this time it was a cooking demonstration.  May not have sold me on the two thousand dollar super blender but I’m definitely renewing my order for a healthier, lighter, smarter Paleo lifestyle 🙂

 

The Saving Grace of the Dinner Party: 85:15

** Warning: this is a LONG one J

 

So, once the perils of dining out at a restaurant had been conquered, it was time to take the next step. A leap into an area much more fraught with danger: dining out at a friends place.

 

You see – dining out at a restaurant, the only worry you really have is finding something you can eat. But, given that these places have menus, with a variety of dishes available and usually at least a vegetarian option you can turn to (with a ‘steak on the side, please’) you are generally going to be ok. The worst part will be fighting temptation!  

 

At a friend’s place, not only is there a restricted menu – ie restricted to whatever’s being served – there is also an extra set of complications.  The guests don’t want their hosts to feel they ‘have’ to cook paleo (thank goodness for the 85:15 rule), the hosts feel like they should cook paleo (don’t know about the 85:15 rule) and when it comes time to sit down there’s the thoughts – ‘If there’s something non-paleo, can I refrain from eating it without offending my hosts?’ or ‘Have I accidentally cooked something non-paleo?’.  And god forbid additional, non-paleo or paleo guests are dining too!  Extra NPs will add to the pressure the Paleo’s are feeling whereas additional Paleo’s might make the hosts feel they have no choice but to try to cook a suitable meal, adhering to guidelines they don’t know.

 

Phew. What a drama!  Why would any person willingly submit themselves to so much stress?!

Well – because despite our different choices of diet, we all love our friends and family and sharing a meal is an ancient and wonderful bonding experience.  I can’t think of times that are in my ‘golden memories’ bank that don’t involve a meal shared between family and/or friends. From our wedding with sixty of our nearest and dearest right down to a simple but amazing meal at a friend’s place where the four of us got to know each other a little better.

 

So then – how to combine the two for the recently Paleo? (Read:me)  Dinner with my friends and not compromising my new diet?

I do not want or expect or need my friends to cook Paleo when I visit them.  Their house, their rules, I totally respect that and if they want to cook a pasta or a chicken schnitzel or whatever, I will happily dig in and chalk it up as the 15 of my 85:15.  That said – the majority of dishes I can happily eat anyway with just a simple minus – eg a roast dinner, mostly paleo, may just mean I don’t eat the potato and just have extra pumpkin or carrot.  Or a BBQ – usually all paleo too, just omit anything like the cheese from a salad.  See what I mean?  And I hope that the host isn’t offended by omissions and just gets excited that they get to eat the extras.

 

This theory came into play recently when we were invited for dinner. The first ‘eeek’ moment came up with the question of dessert – another couple was coming along and providing dessert (we did the salad) – I got the question of “what can you guys eat? Do I need to google a Paleo friendly dessert?”  I admit, I felt guilty. I didn’t want my friends to stress about what they were putting on the plate.  So I told her not to worry about us and to make whatever suited her, and if it wasn’t Paleo, we’d just not eat it. (That last bit on the advice of my husband – I should have explained the 85:15 rule instead!)

 

The hosts had already said they would do the meat – so that was fine.  But I was stressed that our friends were feeling extra pressure, or would not make the food they really wanted to, because of my diet choice.  And I think my friend was stressed because she wanted to ensure everyone could happily eat her dessert. Plus she probably looked at the finished result and thought ‘Man I could have made non-Paleo desserts that would kick this sorbet’s ass!’

 

Stressed. Not how I want to go into a dinner with friends!

 

The dinner was an absolute success – there was meat which we all ate; roasted veggies, which we all ate mostly (Husband and I avoided the potatoes); and salad which was Paleo, which we all ate. Even the NP’s.

Dessert – paleo sorbet because of course my amazing friend did not want us to ‘just not eat it’.  Ironically I was too full to really eat dessert but that’s not the point.

 

The point is – if you aren’t Paleo but have friends who are – get them to explain the 85:15 rule to you so you can feel good about having them over and cooking whatever you want without worrying you’re putting them out or that they’ll just sit at the table and politely sip at their drinks while you eat the non-paleo meal.

 

If you are Paleo – explain to your friends the 85:15 rule and that you would much rather utilise it so you can still enjoy these wonderful nights without them having to stress about what should just be a fun experience.

 

And then – when it’s your turn to host – blow them away with an amazingly yummy, totally Paleo entrée, dinner and dessert 🙂

 

Ek so, ek so – Paleo Girl.