Paleo: Don’t Miss the Point

We are into our second month on the Paleo diet. I feel like I’ve learned a lot and I’m enjoying it more every day. I know it’s not for everyone, but I think everyone could benefit from it. Going dairy-free and gluten-free at the same time is tough. But you will feel so much better the longer you stick with it.

On that note, if you go Paleo and then stock your shelves with gluten-free bread or pasta, gluten-free beer, and dairy-free ice cream, you’re missing the point. Those are just fillers, filling your stomach for now but leaving you hungry later and not giving you any nutrition. The point is to eat whole, unprocessed foods that will fill your stomach and keep you full, keep your blood sugar stable, and help your systems get back in order.

And you don’t have to just have a salad every day. This is my basic math for making a meal:

protein (2 palms-ful)

+ colorful veggie (1 palm)

+ healthy carb (1 palm plus a little)

I’m full and happy for 4+ hours!

I think portion sizes are very important and you should basically do the opposite of what our government has taught. Take a look at this chart I’ve seen floating around Pinterest from a how-to-lose-weight website:

If you want to lose weight or get your blood sugar under control (i.e. get your grumpies under control), you need to eat more protein and drop the rice, pasta, chips, popcorn, and pretzels. It’s that simple. We weren’t trying to lose weight, but we definitely have. (B-skinny more than me…)

All that to say, think about what you’re eating and why you’re eating it. Are you just used to eating a sandwich and chips for lunch every day? Do you think bolognese could only be tasty on pasta? Do you feel like you need something white with every meal? Are you afraid your life won’t be complete without cheese? These were all questions I had to ask myself. And when I get that craving for something salty and crunchy, I ask myself why… usually it’s because I’m bored or I think it will make me feel better.

And then there’s fat… You probably need to be eating more fat. But I’ll save that lecture for another day. 😉

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Paleo Update

We’re in the home stretch of our 30 day Paleo diet and I have a few thoughts.

Fiber. It’s tough to get your daily fiber when there are no grains allowed (no oats, rice, corn, bran, etc). There is so much meat in this diet that you really have to make sure you’re getting lots of fiber and eating your sauerkraut. My digestion hasn’t been as good as usual this past week so we’re switching back to white meat and fish for a while.

Fruit. There isn’t any fruit in the meal plan that we’re following. We have oj every morning and I made some apple muffins (here’s the recipe) but that’s about it. I would usually have fruit and yogurt with breakfast or lunch, but since we’re not having dairy I don’t get those berries.

Weight. I don’t think I’ve lost a significant amount of weight but I do feel like my clothes are fitting better (i.e. not so snug around the middle). It was not my intention to lose any weight. Actually, it was never my intention to go on any sort of diet. But since I’m not a short-order cook, I won’t be cooking two separate meals for Bri and me. I’m not an expert, but I feel like cutting out the gluten is what really caused my body to change (maybe because I’ve been sneaking dairy 😉 but no cheese).

Sustainability. At first I didn’t feel like this was a sustainable way to live, especially traveling as much as we do. But it’s getting easier, it just took a little change in how I plan my meals. I used to automatically reach for oatmeal or yogurt for breakfast, sandwiches and chips for lunch, and meat + veggie + something white for dinner. Here’s what a typical meal looked like:

IMG_0046Not nearly enough protein, especially when I would make a sandwich… unless you’re making mega-sandwich with about 2 inches of turkey meat. Here is what each of our meals look like now:

IMG_0048Not perfect; I definitely need more fruit and, in my opinion, dairy. But if I’ve learned anything, it’s that I need more protein at each meal. Protein is so important for blood sugar regulation (which also means for avoiding the grumpies). It’s amazing. I can go for hours without eating. No snacks. And I don’t even get hungry for lunch until after 12 or 1. Unheard of. Surprisingly I don’t miss cheese as much as I thought I would. I do miss salty goodies like scones (I know they’re not terribly salty, but they’re fluffy and buttery and now my stomach is growling) and chips and biscuits. So maybe it’s more sustainable than I thought. And if you’re on the Paleo diet and have any pointers on getting more fiber, please share.

Paleo Diet for Allergy Relief

As soon as we got home from our anniversary trip to Blowing Rock, B-money and I started the Paleo diet. If you haven’t heard of it, the Paleo diet is gluten, dairy, and processed foods-free. It’s based on the paleolithic diet — meats, eggs, and veggies that don’t require much work (i.e. no legumes that have to be soaked).

I don’t know what the heck I’m doing, so I got Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo ($9.99 on iBooks and Kindle, but I ended up buying the hard copy, too.) It is THE BEST book on this whole subject, in my opinion. The first half is incredibly informational and educational. The second half is filled with multiple 30-day meal plans and all of the coordinating recipes with notes on food exceptions for those avoiding FODMAPS, nightshades, nuts, etc. You can even find a grocery shopping list for each meal plan on their blog, Balanced Bites. (She has a chapter devoted to your digestion, including a pretty awesome Guide to Your Poop chart. Did you know you can test your “transit” time? Swallow 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds after a meal — watch your eliminations, you should see the bulk of them appear together. A healthy transit time is 18-24 hours. Sorry, is that gross?)

We had already been eating this way 2-3 meals per week, but I wanted to give it a try full time to see if it helps B-mucous and his allergies. (Sorry, is that gross?) Since moving back to NC, his seasonal and environmental allergies have been significantly worse, so much so that he had to get an inhaler.

The idea is that if gluten is attacking your small intestine and allowing food and other particles to leak into your blood stream and other innards (check out this article on Leaky Gut for a better explanation), it will trigger an autoimmune reaction, using 60-80% of your immune system. Essentially, most of your body’s autoimmune attackers are going to work in your gut because of your latest meal, leaving a small percentage of your immune system to fight the actual invaders like germs and allergens.

So. No gluten and no dairy for 30 days for us. No pasta, rice, quinoa, or oats of any sort. No milk chocolate, chocolate ice cream, Chickfila, tacos, granola bars, yogurt, oatmeal, or egg in a hole.

We’re on day 8. So far so good.

The hardest part for me has been figuring out what to eat for a snack. But to be honest, with this plan, I’m eating so much protein at every meal that I don’t usually need a snack. I could set my clock by my stomach rumbling every day at 3:55, signaling that if I didn’t get a snack soon, Grumpy Becca would be here in full force.

"Who's gonna be the grumpus?"

“Who’s gonna be the grumpus?”

I also didn’t realize two people could run the dishwasher so often. Since we’re cooking and eating every single meal at home, we’re using lots of pots, pans, dishes, and utensils. So if you hate cooking, this might not be the best plan for you. And yes, our grocery bill is higher, but we’re saving money by not eating out. Like, at all.

I know for some people, being gluten-free isn’t a choice like it has been for us. I’m sorry and I’ll pray for you. (I’m being sarcastic, it’s not that terrible, you just have to change how you think.) I think for others, it’s another diet to try to help you lose weight. I may have lost 2-3 pounds so far, but my weight fluctuates that much in a day. B-muscle thinks his cookie pooch is getting smaller. Of course he never had a cookie pooch (aka gut) to begin with, but he’s been working hard with Tony doing P90X again, so I’ll let him think that. (I said no thank you, I’ll stick to my slow jogs.)

But I don’t think this diet is sustainable for me. I think a bowl of oatmeal is healthy, especially when you make it yourself and add lots of goodies to it like berries and nut butters. I also think yogurt is incredibly good for me. My intestines need it.

Everything in moderation.

I must say, though, I never paid attention to how much gluten I was eating before. And really, it’s all just fillers. Bread, pasta, cereal, oats, crackers, chips, breading on your chicken. Imagine going just one week without any of that. You’d be forcing yourself to eat foods that are whole, straight from the earth or the animal, and not processed in a factory. (If it has to go through a factory to be made into food, it’s not food.)

I am looking forward to seeing my husband go for a hard run outside in the cold and not need an inhaler. I’m looking forward to not feeling those grumpies every afternoon. (As is my husband.) I’m also looking forward to trying new foods and adding new recipes to my list of go-to’s.

If you have any gluten-free and dairy free recipes that you love, please send them my way!