Several of you have emailed or commented to ask questions about my transition to eating paleo* over the past couple of weeks. I definitely am still very new at eating this way — so I have experiences to share but little wisdom to impart.
FIRST, I have to say that I have complicated feelings about the whole paleo/primal ‘movement’. I could write an entire post on this (and perhaps I will), but I do find that there is a lot of scary pseudoscience out there, and a good number of companies who are clearly looking to capitalize on what seems like the newest food trend to catch on. That said, I do think that the CW (“conventional wisdom”) is flawed, and that the fear of fat (and hearty embrace of alllllll the carbohydrates) has led to a lot of problems in a lot of people.
I decided to try paleo for 3 reasons:
a) I was feeling frustrated about feeling hungry nearly ALL the time. Seriously, I would eat every 2-3 hours and still feel shaky between meals/snacks.
b) I was not losing the last few pounds of baby weight, and it was annoying me.
c) I was intrigued by others’ tales of more energy/feeling better/etc, and honestly the food looked very unprocessed and just . . . good to me.
16 days in, and here is a summary of my experiences so far:
a) I DO feel better. I do not get that crashy/shaky/must-eat-now feeling all the time anymore. I actually find my energy levels are more steady and reliable. This puts me in a better mood, and is great.
b) I definitely lost some weight. Today I wore shorts that haven’t fit since before I was pregnant — yay! I don’t want to lose much more, but I’m guessing things will stabilize soon. This has also improved my mood. Vain perhaps, but it’s the truth. I’ll own it 🙂
c) I genuinely like the food, and really haven’t had any cravings for non-paleo foods*.
a) $$$$. My GOD it is pricey to eat this way. Our last grocery bill was astounding. Not in a good way.
b) Sustainability. While we buy meat that is of high quality/grass-fed/organic, I know that environmentally eating this way is not as kind to the earth as, say, a vegan diet.
c) It definitely requires more prep work/planning.
d) I am running significantly slower. I’m guessing this is because my body needs some time to get used to a lower-carbohydrate fuel source, but I’ve been surprised about just how much I was impacted, and how quickly. Today’s not-that-long run was at least a minute-per-mile slower than I was running before.
So, the verdict? Am I going to continue this?
YES. Honestly, I actually really really love it. I feel better, I enjoy the food, and I am happy. I am hoping that my running will improve, or else I’ll work on figuring out some dietary work-arounds (sweet potatoes for carb loading?).
There is no way that I am gong to commit to never eating pizza (or key lime pie, or scones, ice cream, or brie) again. However, I do think that I will save these things for special occasions — and probably enjoy them more as a result.
* By paleo, just to clarify, I am eating meat / fish / vegetables / fruits / nuts / seeds / oils. I also still drink wine and eat dark chocolate (1-2 squares/day), because — well, because there’s no way those were going anywhere. I have not eaten grains, dairy, or legumes since starting, but I have compromised on things like canola oil or salad dressings/questionable sauces (? Thai curry) in restaurants at times.
To come in a future post:
Meal ideas, a “what I ate” day, etc.
For those of you who do eat this way (or have tried it), any new ideas/advice/comments are welcome! I am definitely very new at this but plan on sticking with the lifestyle.
I would love to know what meal you have pictured there. It looks fantastic!
I dabbled in Paleo once, but I think the whole cost/prep thing was a huge barrier, not to mention the lack of carbs ;). One of my biggest issues with it though was the lack of beans/legumes. That just didn’t seem fair.
I think some runners go mostly Paleo, but then eat carbohydrates before/during a run. You get most of the benefits but get that extra push to power through.
So interesting! Thank you for sharing. I think I get hung up on food labels (and why I won’t commit to any) because of the all-or-nothingness of it. I like paleo for the most part, but no Friday night pizza?! No wine?! It stresses me out. With that, I feel like I do feel better when I eat generally in a paleo way (unprocessed foods, enough protein, etc), but for my mental health, it’s much better for me not to feel like anything is off limits.I love how you’re approaching it and excited you are getting the results you are after!
I kind of LIKE having the limits oddly enough but knowing that sometimes I am going to consciously choose to have treats/eat my favorites anyway 🙂 Also, the no wine thing is controversial – it’s definitely outlawed in Whole30 but various definitions of paleo may include red wine, and Mark Sisson (of Mark’s Daily Apple) owns up to drinking it nightly, or at least used to.
Given the science vs pseudoscience, why not experiment with legumes, dairy and healthy carbs? Pollan and I think Willett say that the benefits from paleo are really just benefits from not eating crap carbs.
Sarah of Another Mother Runner fame has an article about low/no-carb and running. She did it once herself and wrote about it. No cream in coffee?
Just curious– how much are you nursing/pumping these days? And have you noticed any impact on your supply with the paleo switch?
Just realized you’ve slowed yourself down to just about my pace (on a good day…). That really is a difference. Odd. I’ve read a lot of bloggers discuss Paleo and never heard a peep about slower running times (but I guess maybe they weren’t runners…can’t remember)
Quinoa is technically a seed not a grain and some of the big names in the paleo community advocate it along with gluten free steel cut oats and of course sweet potatoes as carbs for athletes. I found I needed something but tried to eat the least processed option. Plan to go back to a modified paleo plan soon. I always felt much better.
Good to know. I could definitely see oats making a comeback if I train for a long distance again … I really don’t like quinoa though 🙂
I’m so glad to hear you’re feeling good! I’m on my third whole30 and remembering how much I love the even energy levels. If you haven’t already, I recommend checking out their ‘timeline’ online as it’s scarily accurate, for me anyway, in terms of how I feel. Every time my running gets a bit slower but by the end of the 30 days I’ve always got faster than before, without extra training. I love both the Well Fed books for recipes – I highly recommend! I use a bunch of slow cooker recipes too, as it means I can budget on the meat. I found the whole30 resources useful and I think there’s one sheet that highlights high carb veg, which I found useful as a runner. I’ve completed 3 marathons while on a pretty paleo basis, and dont feel like my energy levels have suffered at all. In fact, switching to it meant I’ve eaten more real food after long runs rather than filling in with cake, so I’ve recovered better. I still love cake though!
Hmm, personally I think paleo is just quackery and flies in the face of what cancer researchers have correlated with diet. Eating that much meat can’t be good for anyone’s colon. I wonder if you were actually dehydrated when you were feeling hungry all the time, but now that you are breast feeding less, you are better hydrated, and therefore less "hungry"?
I am very interested in this topic. I try to stick to a paleoish diet too. I definitely feel a lot better eliminating grains from my diet. When you begin to share a few of your "what I ate" days, will you include what you feed your daughter too? That is where I am struggling. I have a almost four year old and a 2 year old and feeding them can be tough.
A very easy way to save money is to eat less meals and morefat at each meal so that you don’t have to eat the same quanitity 🙂
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