My (Paleo) Story

My introduction to the Paleo lifestyle actually came from my husband, T. He had a co-worker who talked to him about how his wife has had life-long heart issues, had been frequently in and out of hospitals, and on medication almost her whole life. Since switching to the Paleo diet, she had improved her health to the point that she has significantly decreased her need for medication that she has previously relied on and drastically reduced hospital visits. At first, I thought my husband was crazy, and that there was no way I could follow the diet because it was too strict. However, as we discussed it more, I became intrigued. As someone who has always been plagued by stomach and digestive issues, I began to wonder if it might help me.

I had already lost the weight I had wanted to lose, but I was definitely looking for a way to stay healthy/maintain my weight since I had moved from being incredibly active (working out at least 5x per week) and working at a job on my feet to a sedentary office job and a long commute that left little time for extra-curricular activities. After starting the new job and traveling more, including a trip to Portugal for T’s 30th birthday that consisted of eating gorging ourselves to our heart’s content, I decided that it was time to get back on track. I started to read The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain. After some research and getting more of an understanding of Paleo, I was ready to take the plunge, especially after reading the portion of the book dedicated to stomach/digestive issues and the effect wheat could have on a person’s stomach. I told T that I was ready to go for it and he agreed that he would be as well.

We embarked on this journey together and threw ourselves into a whole new world in the kitchen. We started to cook and eat foods we never would have thought to try before. We started shopping at farmer’s markets and the local farm near our house, and we started to try all kinds of new recipes. We not only started to eat healthier, but we started to eat better tasting meals than we ever had before. Our food tasted amazing! I actually didn’t miss anything that I had “given up,” and found it easy to not eat those things I thought would be so hard to avoid. I started to feel great. I had so much natural energy. The way I felt after a few weeks sealed the deal for me, and I haven’t really looked back since then. I continued my commitment to the new lifestyle, I bought cookbooks, started to follow blogs, and dove into the world of nutrition to learn as much as I could. Boy, was there a lot to learn, but I have found myself always wanting to know more.

Over the last year and a half there have been some ups and downs, some relapses into a few sugar overloads, and many lessons learned about what is actually healthy vs. mainstream information that is conveyed as healthy, but is not actually healthy. However, I always find myself sticking to the principles of primal eating the majority of the time, even when I do get a little off track with my consumption of desserts. I now find myself craving healthy, real food and have little or no desire to open the majority of things that come in packages, except if they are Paleo packages :). When I walk into a convenience store now, I really have no desire to buy anything or eat anything in there (minus some of the chocolate – that will never go away).  Sometimes, I actually feel unhealthy even walking in there…

Anyway, Primal eating has completely revolutionized how I think about and how I consume food. It has challenged many of my conventionally held assumptions about what is healthy.  It has expanded my knowledge to understand what is actually healthy for me to eat, despite what commercials, the government, or anyone else with an agenda may tell me.

With the amount of information available, especially on the internet, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out what information to trust or even where to start in terms of finding new recipes. I definitely made some mistakes in the beginning (i.e. taking some principles too far, relying too heavily on nuts for snacks, and using nut flours too often in the beginning). It took some time to find a balance and figure out what worked for me and what didn’t. It became about listening to my body to know what felt good and what didn’t.

I have done quite a bit of research in order to experiment with what works for me and what doesn’t in an informed way. When I first adopted this lifestyle, I was a bit extremist, and would feel guilty for eating anything not Paleo.  As I have learned more, I have re-defined my goals to consist of  just eating real, minimally (or preferably not) processed food as often as possible, while following the general Primal Principles (true Paleo is too strict for me as I don’t have an intolerance to dairy).

Sometimes my diet may include things that are not Paleo, but even the Paleo approach is evolving (i.e. potatoes are moving on to the approved list in many circles!). Enjoying other “non-Paleo” foods once in a while is completely okay in my book, as long as it will not have any consequences on my overall health. I have also realized that treats are a part of a healthy diet and lifestyle (especially a sustainable one), and if I fully indulge and enjoy those treats, I find that I don’t go off the “deep end” when I am around a lot of sweets.  Most of the time, I try to keep these treats to Paleo treats (i.e. no refined sugars) because I truly enjoy making and eating them, but life happens…people get married, birthdays come up, or someone achieves something that I would like to celebrate and enjoy with them. Unless this were to be causing me harm, I see no reason to give up those important events that bring me joy.

The way I eat and exercise now is about feeling good and liking how I feel on the inside and out.  I like how I feel when I eat well.  Moreover, this way of eating has changed my relationship with food and how it fits into my life. I used to always feel guilty when I ate badly or ate too much ice cream. Now I know I am treating my body the way it should be treated, along with showing myself love by feeding it healthy, nourishing food. I know that treats make me happy, and that they have a place in my life (a moderate place).

The best part about the Primal lifestyle is that stomach aches are mostly a thing of the past. I have healed my stomach in a way that I never thought was possible.  I also didn’t realize how much damage I had done to it, and how I was continuing the damage until I drastically changed what I put into my body.

I didn’t think that I could love food more. But, Primal eating has exacerbated my love of food (especially good, unprocessed food), has improved my skills in the kitchen, and has fostered my love of creating tasty, healthy meals for myself, family, and friends to enjoy.

Are you curious about the Paleo/Primal lifestyle?  Interested in learning more? If you want to check out some of my favorite resources that helped me change the way I eat and exercise, take a look at my resources page.



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