Posts Tagged ‘food’

Paleo In Review

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Late last month, I ended about three months of eating a strict Paleo diet. (Yes, Mike, I said diet.) I won’t rehash all the reasons I chose to do it, electing instead to provide a summary of my experience. Quite a few people I know are interested in doing it themselves or have done something similar on a shorter timeline, so I’ll do my best to answer the burning questions.

How did you make it three months?
A lot of planning and an amazing wife. Seriously, if you’ve got that then you’re golden. By that I mean you have to plan ahead on meals out, take snacks with you when you travel and always have meat and veg in the house. We had an organic veg CSA for 16 weeks, Melissa went to the grocery pretty much weekly and I was blessed enough to have Paleo dinners waiting for me when I got home from work/CrossFit. If you want fresh food, you are absolutely going to have to shop every single week. You can freeze meat, but it’s hard to freeze that much (unless you have a huge freezer) and you’ll always want fresh in season vegetables. Setting a menu on Sunday for the week will go a long way to taking the stress and scrambling out of meals.

It’s so expensive to eat fresh, organic meat and vegetables. How do you manage?
Buy in bulk. I don’t mean CostCo bulk, but bulk from the producers. Our CSA gave us an opportunity to source months of vegetables from the farm and we bought huge quantities when other things were on sale. There’s a no preservative (etc.) bacon that we really like, but it’s about $7 for 12 ounces. No way we can afford that, so we bought about a dozen packages when it went at sale for 50% off and froze it. Essentially, we overbuy when prices dictate and go without when they don’t cooperate. Just like eating with the seasons, eat with the prices. We’re looking to take things to the next level by getting a chest freezer and buying a half hog direct from the farmer. It may sound extreme, but it’s really not. We know our producer, we cut out the middle man (not to mention the gas he’d guzzle) and we’re acting responsibly in ensuring all aspects of the animal are used.

Did it cure all your allergies?
Of course not. I’m allergic to carrots and I likely always will be. What I’ve realized, through some experimentation, is I’m allergic to wheat. Not only did my gut reject it when I ate it (more than just the first time), I’ve had a noticeable flare up on my psoriasis. Yeah, I’m fairly certain it’s wheat. This is kinda a bummer, but it does make future choices easier for me.

What was the best part?
I’d say there are two – one mental and one physical. The mental benefit is it allowed me to develop a healthy relationship with food. For the first time in my life, I felt good about my choices and ended the guilt*. Being overweight for 25 years, there was a constant mental battle with every meal I ate… even when I was eating decently. During those three months, I was actually excited about what I was putting in my body and felt nearly all of it were steps to a better me.  The physical benefit came in the form of a general well-being  and never feeling bloated or “greasy.” You know, that feeling when you’ve eaten too much and you feel like a fat, greased pig? None of that.

What was the worst part?
Eating outside my house. Restaurants are becoming increasingly gluten-free friendly (especially in Seattle), but they haven’t caught on to Paleo friendly quite yet. Finding a meal usually meant ordering something, swapping out one or two things and not eating at least part of it. My options were severely limited and at times, restaurants were simply off limits (e.g. nearly all Asian food). During those three months, I probably had 50 hamburgers without a bun. On the bright side, it forced us to eat a huge majority of our meals at home. What’s not to like about saving money by cooking tasty food for yourself?

Are you going to stick with it?
With strict? No. I’m not that militant. What I will be doing is reverting back to what I was doing before, which was Paleo-ish. I will likely avoid grain (corn included), soy/legumes and diary, but occasionally mix in rice and beer.  We’ll continue to buy products with as few ingredients as possible and preferably all of them something we can pronounce. Okay… I admit it… I’m going to eat friend cheese curds a few times a year. If you’ve ever had them, you wouldn’t hold it against me. My goal is to have 80% of what I eat be strict. I’ll also probably go strict for one month at a time, when my gym does its Paleo Challenges.

Should I try it?
Heck yeah! It’s not a panacea but I’m willing to bet you will feel good after 30 days. I understand not everyone’s life is as conducive to it as mine, but you can make it work with planning. If you’ve ever had auto-immune disorders or health issues that seem to elude treatment (obviously it’s not going to cure cancer) then you owe it to yourself to give it a shot. Need tips? Hit me up!


*Italics added for emphasis as this is a massive, massive takeaway and likely one that will impact me for the rest of my life.

Journal: 28 Days of Paleo

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

carrotjournalYesterday marked day 28 of recording every single calorie that went into my body. Well, I didn’t really record calories, but I did record everything I consumed that had calories… which pretty much excludes just water and an occasional cup of hot tea. I agreed to participate in this exercise at the suggestion of my CrossFit gym’s owner/coach. I e-mailed him over a month ago to ask for help in achieving my health goals (without hurting myself) and this was one of things he recommended. I’m still on strict Paleo, so I pay very close attention to what I eat, but I thought it would be interesting to see the results. The process was a serious pain in the butt, in case you were wondering.

Included below is a summary and/or highlights (lowlights?) from the last four weeks.

  • 0 – grains (including corn based products), breads, legumes, cereals, rice, pastas, dairy, white potatoes
  • 1 – Smoothie, blackberry and banana
  • 2 – Bananas, not including those used above and in one meal of Paleo pancakes
  • 3 – Lara bars
  • 4 – Sweet potatoes
  • 5 – Kale servings, usually a half bunch
  • 7 – Cups of trail mix
  • 9 – Hamburgers, always without the bun
  • 10 – Avocados, not including guacamole
  • 11 – Cups of spaghetti squash
  • 12 – Salads, most homemade with olive oil and vinegar dressing
  • 13 – Sausages and bratwurst, with natural ingredients excluding dairy and grain/corn
  • 20 – Dried figs
  • 23 – Bowls of soups and stew, most of them beef
  • 24 – Slices of bacon, including those used as ingredients and toppings
  • 28 – Cups of coffee, 90% with almond/coconut milk and the rest black
  • 47 – Eggs for breakfast, plus a few more with other meals

84 Days of Strict Paleo

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

grubbinAs I mentioned here and on Facebook, I’ve steered my eating towards the Paleo side of things over the last nine months. It seems most people that join the cult of CrossFit move in this direction; I’m no exception. I’ve always believed I ate entirely too many carbohydrates to meet my weight loss goals, so adopting something like Paleo was a convenient (ha!) way to change my habits. It hasn’t been an easy road, and certainly not one without detours, but I firmly believe it was a contributing factor in losing my most recent 15 pounds.

Starting today, I am doing 84 days of strict Paleo. This means no grains, no legumes, no dairy, minimal fruit (exception: moderate amount of berries and a metric ton of avocado), no processed sugar and nothing with a high glycemic index (e.g. potatoes, quinoa). Oh, and certainly no alcohol made from any of these things. If anyone believes anything is okay in moderation, it’s me… so why the change? One word: detox.

I don’t mean some hippie detox fad, but rather a way to correct some troubling trends with food. Here are some things I’ve been dealing with lately; all new to me in the last two years.

  • Carrots make my throat swell to the point of making it hard to swallow. I went most of my life having no ill-effects from carrots and now it’s to the point where it scares me to eat more than a few bites. It’s serious enough that I have an EpiPen, although I’ve never had to use it. FWIW, turnips appear to have a similar effect to a lesser degree.
  • Tomatoes make me feel like I have the flu for about two hours and then I feel fine again. I’ve always had an allergy to them, but it manifested as a single hive appearing the same place on my body. Now, it’s full blown fatigue and malaise that magically disappears.
  • I drink beer – my sinuses swell to the point of making it difficult to breathe through my nose. I stop drinking beer – it goes away.
  • Persistent, localized eczema that only responds to topical treatment for a short time.

Now, I admit it’s entirely possible these things are in my head. I may have concocted a subconscious way of feeling like crap when I eat and drink the things I really like. (Okay, so I can’t really admit that without a certain level of sarcasm.) What’s more likely is my body has always had an allergy to these things and only now that I don’t feel like crap all the time do I notice it. Or rather, maybe I notice it because I actually care about my body and pay attention to the things I do to it now. Regardless the reason, I don’t like it and I want to fix it.

The good money is on a wheat allergy exacerbating other longstanding allergies. Given there is some evidence to suggest grains and nightshades are the cause of chronic, but non-serious illnesses, I figure it can’t hurt. Best case scenario, I find a new lifestyle and lose weight in the process. Worst case scenario, they are 84 days of beer I’ll never get back in my life.

As for the 84 days, it’s three months shortened for a wedding we’re attending in Las Vegas. 🙂