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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Paleo… is it worth the weight?

So, one thing I hear a lot at the moment is that Paleo is a “diet” [as in, a method to lose weight].  That its “like the Atkins diet”, which, for those who don’t know it, is a high protein, high fat diet that embraces processed foods. There are loads of pictures of people ‘before and after’ Paleo and I’ve yet to see one where the subject wasn’t skinnier in the ‘after’ [although I can imagine that such a person would not likely display their failure].

That said, I’ve never thought of Paleo as a way to lose weight. It’s been about eating healthier and feeling better, physically.  Losing weight has been a side effect.  For both myself and my husband, weight started to drop off within two weeks of going Paleo.  It involved no conscious decision or effort by either of us.

I know for certain its due to the change to Paleo because the day I start to eat ‘bad’ foods, the weight starts to return. I kid you not.  Here is the chart of my weight since Feb, when we started Paleo:

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I have had 3 ‘non-Paleo’ [NP] periods since Feb; for just over a week at the end of March/beginning April, again from 12-19 April and then recently when I went to Lombok mid-May.

Now here’s the same chart, with those three periods highlighted:

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The results are fairly conclusive in my personal case!

I notice it physically the day I go NP.  It does depend on what I eat as to how quickly I feel it – for example within 1/2hr of eating a chicken & avocado focaccia a few weeks ago I was in a fair bit of discomfort – stomach cramps, bloating and generally feeling sick.  Whereas something like a one-off pasta I can tolerate a lot better.  But if I fall right off the wagon, by the next day I can feel it.  I feel sluggish, heavier and whatever the opposite of lean is.  And the weight starts to creep on immediately.

Thankfully, if I get back on the wagon, the opposite is also true. Within about 24 hours I feel cleaner and lighter.  And I am lighter – within a week I will be back to the weight I was before the deviation.

This draws me to the conclusion that the extra weight that I was carrying is created and sustained by processed foods, sugar, dairy and grains.  When I stop consuming those types of foods and replace them with nutritious vegetables, meat, fruit, fats and eggs, my body is able to flush the ‘crap’ out and so, I lose weight.  Start eating them again and they stockpile faster than I can get rid of them. I’d almost bet on sugar being one of the main culprits, and also over consumption of carbs via grain eating.  We just can’t process sugar in the ginormous amounts we consume via processed food and drink, so it sticks and causes fluffiness, bloating, nausea.  And unless you are an elite athlete, the amount of carbs most people consume is never going to get utilised as fuel so it ends up as stores.  Energy in = energy out right?  So if you consume it but don’t use it, you store it as gained weight. And let’s be frank, while we aren’t talking about a lot in my case, maybe 5-6 kg, this figure represents approx. 10% of my body weight so it is worth mentioning.

That all said, I do know people on Paleo who haven’t seen any change from their pre-Paleo weight – unsure why and of course everyone is different. Individual circumstances need to be taken into account too, I guess.

So is Paleo good for weight loss? I have to say no.  Because, I firmly believe if weight loss if your motivation for going Paleo, you are going to fail.  It’s just too easy to get discouraged and stop.  Anyone I know who’s tackled this way of eating specifically to lower the numbers on their scales has not lasted a week.  Paleo needs to be a lifestyle change for the right reason – overall health and well-being – for it to stick… if you don’t lose 5 kilos you won’t feel discouraged because that’s not your goal. So you’re more likely to stick to it, get healthier and probably lose five kilos along the way.

I do encourage anyone who’s curious or doesn’t feel good physically right now to give it a go, for sure. But give it a proper go – 30 days at least.  Take all your measurements ‘Pre-Paleo’, take photo’s, whatever.  Then put away the scales, tapes and cameras and dedicate yourself to researching foods and recipes, reading blogs and books. Learn something new, try different fruits and vegies, get creative with spices.  Take note of your clothing – is it getting looser? Record how you feel.

After thirty days later – reassess. Re-take your measurements and photos.  Ask yourself, was it worth it? Is how you look and feel now worth giving up some of your favourite foods? Choose your path. And then… go forward 🙂

x S