Since I changed my eating habits going Paleo 10 weeks ago, I’ve lost between 3.5kg and 4.5kg (depends on which day I jump on the scales), my skin is glowing, I don’t always feel tired and sluggish, generally have more energy and, importantly, my moods have been less extreme.
Sounds almost too good to be true, but I promise you, it’s exactly how it is, and it’s even taken me by surprise.
What is Paleo
Paleo is essentially eating like our ancient ancestors did – like cavemen did. Cavemen didn’t eat preservatives, additives, huge amounts of sugar and grains, and they didn’t milk cows. They hunted and gathered, eating wild food in it’s natural state. Things like meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, seeds and nuts.
There are so many contradictory websites out there that define Paleo differently. I’m not an expert, but I interpret Paleo to mean eating organic (when possible, and it isn’t always possible – that’s another rant post in the making), choosing grass fed meat, chickens that are free to roam around and eat bugs and insects, and their eggs, wild caught fish, nuts, and seeds.
No grains (wheat, rice, rye, spelt, etc), no sugar, no potatoes, no legumes (peanuts are legumes), no dairy. There are reasons for it – if you are interested, check out Robb Wolf’s website to read more.
My Paleo – 90/10
For ten weeks, I have been fairly strict following the Paleo principals, all except for dairy. I’ve allowed myself good quality cheese and natural yoghurt (with no additives or sugar) a couple of times per week. I’ve had potatoes perhaps five times in the past 10 weeks, and legumes twice. And this is the way I want to continue – eating well, eating good real food and following Paleo for 80-90 per cent of the time.
I’ve not given up coffee (and never will, ever), but I have learned to enjoy drinking it without sugar. I will allow myself a plate of pasta at some point if I really feel like. And pizza. I’ve missed going to our favourite pizza place, but my digestive system, stomach, butt and thighs haven’t. I won’t deny myself great cheese. I just eat it with fruit instead of crackers, and not every day. I haven’t given up alcohol – I love wine and enjoy a beer. But I have cut down which can only be a good thing.
I needed a major detox. I was sick of feeling terrible, bloated, tired, grumpy, fat, and sluggish. It was not long after New Year’s Eve that I drew a line in the sand and said enough’s enough. I thought I would trial Paleo to see if it was something that agreed with me (and Zorba) and to see if it was something that I could sustain.
God knows I’ve tried so many other crazy plans: Dukan, Body Trim (ugh, so much meat so many times per day, just couldn’t sustain eating that way), Lemon Detox Diet, Cabbage Soup Diet, No Carbs, Michelle Bridges 12WBT (one of the better ones I’ve tried), Weight Watchers, and 5:2. The latter is the only one that I’ve enjoyed and can sustain.
The Fast Diet 5:2
In our house, we’ve been doing the Fast Diet 5:2 since October 2013 and Zorba and I both enjoy it. Essentially, for two days per week, we fast – women restricted to 500 calories and men to 600. The rest of the week, we eat what we like. They recommend eating good food (not one kit kat bar at 500 calories and nothing else). We like the way it makes us feel, especially the day after a fasting day. I feel amazing. Pre-paleo, I used to hang out for Monday, a fasting day, to give my body a break after the excesses of the weekend. In the past two weeks, I’ve not had that same feeling of ‘I can’t wait to fast’. Regular 5:2-ers will know what I mean. I don’t feel bloated, I feel satisfied and I rarely over-eat, so my need to fast has felt less. I plan to continue with it though for the health benefits – reduces cholesterol, enables cells to rebuild / repair themselves, and it helps brain function. I reckon it does make you smarter.
There are other credible eating plans / diets out there and I’m not saying they are good or bad, but what’s important is that they work for you. Everyone’s body is different and I’ve done a lot of trial and error to find what works for me. This post from Healthy Ambition has some sensible guidelines if you’re looking to make a healthy change and / or lose weight – many of which are aligned to Paleo.
The crazy stuff Paleo has made me do
I’ve cooked Zucchini Pasta with tomato sauce 3. It’s not pasta, but thin strips of raw zucchini and dressed it as pasta. And it was delicious. Amazing actually. I’ll be sending out a recipe with my next newsletter, so be sure to sign up (in right hand side bar).
I’ve opened up my wontons in a dumpling restaurant and only eaten the meaty inside, not the gluten-filled casing.
I’ve stared at a full, unopened jar of Nutella in my pantry for 10 weeks and not opened it.
I almost spat out a mouthful of French champagne because it tasted so sickly sweet – it was Moet.
I’m activating nuts.
I’ve made raw chocolate with no added sugar.
I made mayonnaise from scratch, and ketchup, BBQ and tomato and chilli sauce. I love my thermomix for those reasons.
I’m enjoying the challenge of finding alternative meals, dishes, and foods to enjoy.
I ordered Vietnamese beef pho without the noodles.
I’ve ordered a burger without the bun.
I’ve made a lunch wrap using lettuce as the wrap.
I’m making my own granola and have developed a love for chia puddings.
One thing I haven’t done is tried cauliflower rice. Stay tuned, that’ll come.
Why I’m sticking to Paleo
Did you read the first para? That says it all really. I love not calorie counting (fast days the exception, but we’ve doing that for so long now, we just know what to have on fast days). I just feel good. Paleo is sustainable for us. We have a brilliant butcher up the road that only stocks grass-fed beef. We try to go to the farmer’s markets each weekend and buy organic produce, and I’ve tried a few different home delivery services when the markets are not possible. I am enjoying coming up with new recipes and I challenge myself to cook and find delicious paleo-friendly foods.
This blog won’t become a preachy Paleo site. I love bread and pasta, it’s just that my digestive system doesn’t and they make me feel rubbish. But what this blog will do is focus on Paleo friendly dishes in restaurants, in cuisines, and I’ll be sharing my favourite Paleo friendly recipes with you.
What about Travel?
Oh yes, I’ll still be sharing my travel stories with you. You can relax. I will be looking for Paleo friendly dishes wherever I go though.
I never say never. So if some point I stray off the Paleo way, just remember that I’m human – and Italian (who loves pasta, bread and good pizza) – please don’t crucify me. Like I said above, 80 to 90 per cent of the time is realistic and if that keeps me feeling good, than so be it!