After doing an entire 30 days of paleo, I naturally have a bunch of thoughts about this! Also – I did not go into this paleo challenge wanting to lose weight. That wasn’t my goal from the beginning. My goal from the beginning was to get a real understanding of food and what we put into our bodies on a daily basis and how I can refine and adjust my eating habits along with exercise. Naturally, when you go through something like this, eliminating sugar, dairy, and grains, you’ll likely lose weight, so the weight loss was an added bonus for me as I gained 10 pounds while writing the cookbook ;) I also want to add that if you think going into this challenge without changing a thing with activity levels will cause you to lose weight, you’re wrong. Sure, you could shed a few pounds but you’ll end up plateauing. It’s all about diet and exercise, not diet or exercise.
Alright…here we go with my giant recap!
- Auto-immune disease. Not sure if you guys know this, I might have mentioned it on the blog in passing, but I have rheumatoid arthritis. I’ve had it since I was 23 months old. It comes and goes and the worst of it happened five years ago when I actually didn’t want to wake up in the mornings because I knew what I would have to endure. The pain was unbearable and Jason had to heat up a heating pad for me every morning so that I could even bend my knee to get out of bed. I went on steroids then went on an immune-modifying drug. It helped me for three years and I went off it, hoping my change in lifestyle would keep this at bay (essential oils, lots of low-impact exercise). I know that it could come back at any given moment but I’ve read that eating paleo/whole30 can help with it because rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammation of my joints and the ‘bad’ foods cause inflammation in your body. Anyway, I’m hoping to continue this lifestyle merely for the fact that I’ve loved what its done for me thus far and I just love the idea of eating whole and clean.
- I’ve never felt healthier. I thought I used to be healthy by limiting what I eat day to day and I honestly thought that eating smaller meals was making me lose weight. NO. I just ended up snacking more. After this challenge and after reading It Starts with Food, I have a brand new perspective on what’s healthy. Just ’cause you eat smaller meals a day doesn’t mean you’re healthy. If you aren’t eating the right foods, you’re still circling around unhealthy. Good, REAL food is nutrient-packed food that keeps you satiated. There’s a reason why eating sugar-loaded bars or shakes doesn’t keep you full longer. You gotta have protein, nutrient-packed food for a meal that will keep you fuller longer and HEALTHIER.
- Sugar is evil. I seriously cannot believe how much sugar is in EVERYTHING. Throughout this diet, I was constantly reading labels at grocery stores. Being on a strict paleo diet forced me to read the labels because I didn’t want to fail this challenge and because I didn’t want to accidentally buy something that had a non-paleo-friendly ingredient in it. More than half the things I grabbed at Whole Foods that I thought was paleo-friendly, was in fact not. Why? SUGAR (and soy). It’s in freaking everything. The way to really avoid sugar is to make your own meals and get it from natural sources (fruits, honey, maple syrup). I’m not saying you or I have to cut out sugar and never eat desserts again but I’m DEFINITELY leaning more towards the ‘desserts in moderation’ motto. I’m kind of grossed out.
- Carbs suck (90% of the time). They make me bloat and they’re just empty calories. I mean, I knew this but I didn’t really know it until this challenge. Like WHY they were empty and WHY they are they way they are. Again, pick up It Starts with Food. I feel like eating carbs is like eating air. It does nothing to you but sits in your stomach making you fat and miserable.
- Dairy. I think I could live without this, honestly. I’m already moderately lactose intolerant so cutting dairy out of my diet was fine. I enjoy coconut milk and almond milk (and my new-found love for cashew milk) as it is so I don’t really need half and half or creamer. I do love my cheeses but I don’t like the way it makes my stomach bloat so we’ll see how much of it I really eat or add onto foods.
- Eating out is hard. Restaurants definitely aren’t paleo-friendly whatsoever. There’s ALWAYS cheese on something and/or grain in something. If you’re planning on doing paleo, I highly recommend doing it during a month that you aren’t traveling and plan to eat in all three meals. I mean, Chipotle has pretty good paleo options but that’s like the only place I found that was paleo-friendly. All other places, even if they have salads, their dressings have sugar in it.
- This change in diet really made me appreciate whole foods so much more. From morning ’til night, my stomach was the same size. I wasn’t four months pregnant by the end of the night.
- I thought this diet would be really restrictive and I would hate all the foods I ate (just like any other diet, right?). WRONG. One of the biggest takeaways from this “diet” – I honestly HATE calling this a diet because of the negative conotation the word “diet” has to it. I wanna say my new eating lifestyle, haha – anyway, so one of my biggest takeaways from this new eating lifestyle is that there are TONS AND TONS of options for paleo. You just gotta do the work and look for it and GET CREATIVE. I mean, sure, you might not be a recipe developer like I am so it might not come to you super naturally, but there are SO many paleo blogs out there, I have some decent paleo recipes, and there are just different ways to take in the good food. You just gotta make the effort. Yes, it’s super easy to just grab a box of pasta shells and dump it in boiling water, slather cheese all over it and throw some chicken and spinach in..but do you really need those pasta shells and cheese? I think what really irks me after all this is that cheese is just used as a topping because it “finishes off the dish.” Or it makes something look more appetizing because of the ooey-gooeyeness. I mean, SURE, I LOVE cheese slathered on top of enchiladas but good gosh, do I need it?? No. I know I’m a total walking hypocrite right now since I have cheese-ladened goodness all over this blog but that was pre-paleo, haha
- Sleep. It’s kind of crazy when they say you sleep a lot better when you’re on paleo. I’m like dead to the world at night. I sleep HARD. I usually hear when Jason comes into bed at night but I sleep through the entire night and wake up as if I’ve been drugged, haha – I fall asleep super fast too. It’s kinda life-changing. I’ve always had sleep issues and being on paleo/eating right has really changed my sleep patterns.
- Activity levels. I definitely feel like I have more energy to do things and I’m not super exhausted throughout the day.
- Digestion. I’ll just leave it at…I’m regular. Like every day regular. Oh, and TMI but I don’t fart as much as I used to :)
- Coffee. I can finally appreciate REAL GOOD coffee. Like, I’m going to be a coffee snob now. I’m SO happy that I can finally drink black coffee with a splash of almond milk/coconut milk/cashew milk. There was this one thing on the Whole30 website that really resounded with me. They said, “do you drink coffee because you like the sugar hit you get in the morning or do you drink it because you actually like it?” Apparently I was drinking coffee before for the sugar hit. Now I drink coffee because on top of needing it, I actually APPRECIATE it. I can give you a whole list of what coffee places suck but I’ll leave you with this: invest in good coffee beans. They’re expensive for a reason. I buy from a local coffee roaster for my cold-brew but Whole Foods has some really delicious ones, too!
My Eating Plan Going Forward
I definitely want to continue this clean eating healthier lifestyle. I want to do a low-carb, low-sugar diet with a focus on clean eating. The blog will likely move in that direction too. Obviously when people think ‘healthy’ they’ll think ‘not good.’ Totally false and I kind of proved that on this diet with all the meals I made on my own. You can eat healthy and it can be delicious too. I want to try experimenting and baking with different flours and try to make gluten-free pastries. I’ll likely fail A LOT but I can’t wait to experiment. Cheers to this new lifestyle!
Now it’s your turn. Are you going to commit to this challenge?? I dare you to get outside of your comfort zone. Triple dog dare you. Do it. You have nothing to lose…except maybe the unhealthy eating habits and some of your waistline. Everything to gain: new perspective on food and how you eat.
Questions? Ask below and I’ll try my best to answer. I’m no expert in this field and a lot was trial and error on this challenge, but I can try my best to answer general questions!