Monday, February 28, 2011

Day Nine - Paleo Basics from a Novice

Well, since "advertising" my Paleo status yesterday on Facebook, I have had quite a few inquiries as to what the heck Paleo is and what the heck I am doing.  So, I thought I would explain the diet plan as I understand it.  Please note though that I am just a baby at learning how to live this lifestyle!  Heck, I am only on Day 9!  I am sure there are MANY things I am still doing wrong compared to the few things I am doing correctly.  So far, I have read Robb Wolf's book, The Paleo Solution, cover to cover, read some information on various different websites, and just recently downloaded The Primal Blueprint, by Mark Sisson to my Kindle (although I have not started reading it yet).  All I can testify to at this point is that after 9 days of eating Paleo and following other guidelines by Mr. Wolf, I feel great and have lost weight.  I do not feel bloated.  My problems from inflammation (allergies/sinuses, plantar fasciitis, muscle aches and pains) have all but disappeared.  My blood sugar readings are absolute perfect.  And most of all, as a sufferer of chronic anemia for the past 3 years, I finally have energy!

So the idea of all this is to eat the way our ancestors in paleolithic times ate.  Think "pre-agriculture"...think "Hunters and Gatherers".

What to eat?  Mostly plants and animals.  This boils down to a lot of meat, poultry, and fish and a lot of non-starchy vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds.  For fats, think olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil, and avocados.  If weight loss is your goal, Mr. Wolf recommends no more than one serving of fruit a day.

What not to eat?  OK - Don't freak out...seriously, once you try it and take the plunge, it's not near as bad as you think it is going to be...for those of you who know me well, seriously, did you think I would EVER be a person advocating this lifestyle?  But, here I am doing it.  So, it must be do-able if I can do it, right?  So, here we go.  No grains (this includes wheat, barley, corn, oats, and rice...yes, pasta is made from wheat), no dairy, no legumes (including most beans and peanuts), and no processed foods.  Think clean and natural.

What to drink?  Coffee, tea, and water.  No creamer, no sugar, no artificial sweeteneres.  I am struggling the most with no Diet Coke and black cofffee.  As I've said before on the blog, giving up the Diet Coke was the hardest.  But believe it or not, I have sort of lost my craving for them already.  As for the coffee, I used to drink it black all the time, but somewhere along the road of life, I discovered Half & Half and then about a year ago, a dear, sweet friend exposed me to the joy of Heavy Cream in my coffee.  I didn't make that a habit, but boy, was it delicious.  Going back to black coffee has been harder than I thought.  I did buy some almond milk yesterday at the store, but haven't tried it yet.  I may do that in the morning and see what that does.

What else?  Mr. Wolf recommends 8-9 hours of sleep each evening in total darkness.  Mr. Wolf has a exercise program based upon the lifestyle that our paleolithic ancestors lived so many years ago.  It doesn't involve long distance endurance training, but shorter more concentrated efforts mixed in with other natural movements (like walking).  To be honest, this is the last step of the program that I am tackling and I am just now starting to do some of the exercises each morning and evening.

I am sure there are many more details that I am leaving out, but if you are interested in the "down and dirty" beginner's primer for what to do, this at least gives you the basic idea.

Now, I do have one thing that some of you may not have.  If I did not have this one thing, I do agree that this might be MUCH, MUCH harder.  That one thing that I have is a very supportive spouse that is doing this program with me.  The day we started, we completely gutted our pantry of anything non-paleo.  We emptied out cereal boxes, pasta, flour, sugar, canned meals and soups, boxed dinners (Hamburger Helper), salad dressings, crackers, cookies, and many other things.  We left these things on the dining room table for a few days to see how it would go and then ended up donating anything that hadn't already been opened to the food pantry at our church last weekend.  From the freezer, we got rid of frozen prepared dinners, bread, frozen pasta, pizzas, and ice cream.  Without these things in our home, it has made this SO much easier.  If I was tackling this on my own and the rest of my family were eating the way we used to eat, I admit that this might be much harder.  I can only say that I have much gratitude to the big guy up above that He blessed me with such a loving and supportive spouse.

And hubby will tell you already that he is totally on board.  At first he was doing this with me to support me, but now it has changed in that he is doing it for himself, simply because he feels so much better than he did a week ago.

Well, hope I have answered some of your questions.  As to the things I am still not doing correctly, I guess I will discover those as I go!  ;-)

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