Thursday, February 21, 2013

Paleo Update

Preface: I was always annoyed when I worked with people on certain diets like Atkins or South Beach and they obsessed about it and talked about it all the time. I don't want to be "that person" and I have no plans for this to be a preachy blog about nutrition or tell you what you should or shouldn't eat. This is solely a reflection on what is going on in my life at the present moment. 

Having said that, I mentioned in my book review that I was reading the Paleo Diet book to see if it could possibly help my RA symptoms. I have never been one to watch what I eat or ascribe to any diet so it's been interesting. I've been on it for 21 days now and it has had it's rough moments (no muffin or chocolate dessert at Mimi's for book club!) but overall it hasn't been that bad, we've tried some delicious new meals, I'm eating more veggies, but I still think it's too soon to judge if it's affecting my overall health (I have lost a bit of weight but that wasn't my goal).  After all it takes 2 weeks alone just for gluten to leave your body and I'm not 100% sure my beef broth and balsamic vinegar are gluten free so who knows! 
So what is Paleo? Basically it's only eating meat, veggies, fruits, nuts, and seeds. No processed foods, no grains (including corn), no dairy, no bad oils, no legumes (including peanuts), if it's not found in nature...don't eat it. If it comes in a box don't eat it. I've read a variety of Paleo cookbooks and it really is a varied diet. Some say only lean meats, some say bacon is fine. Some people shouldn't have nightshade veggies. Some do a little dairy, some do none at all, some eat sweet potatoes, some say sweet potatoes are taboo. And depending on what health problems you have, you should avoid certain things. And if you are trying to lose weight, then limit your fruit. Yada yada. I'm not here to give you all the details or write another book. If you are interested in nutritional info about why grains aren't good for you, then you can read the books yourself.

Questions that no one has asked me but that I foresee being asked:

Q: Are Ryan and Liv into this Paleo bizness?
A: Not as intensely as I am, but for the most part dinner is a Paleo meal and that is what there is to eat and if you don't like it then you can go hungry. I haven't completely rid the house of grains and dairy for them. And I've tried to only allow the ones that won't tempt me....although that Valentine's day stuff didn't go near fast enough! Ryan has croutons on his salad, I don't. I still let Liv have oatmeal and yogurt for breakfast, but she does like eggs and has tried a few new things. I've gotten rid of cereal, granola bars, and juice though. Liv's lunches are still PB sandwiches most days but they don't tempt me so I won't force it on her but I might later. (She refused to eat almond butter so I did buy her peanut butter but my craving has been satisfied with almond butter just fine.)

Q: Is it more expensive?
A: Not too sure yet. The first week we shopped at Whole Foods and it was a bit pricier. Last week we checked out Sprouts and our bill was the same as usual. It probably depends on my meal plan for the week and if we have the necessary basics in the pantry to help make it (coconut oil, curry paste, etc)

Q: What do you eat for breakfast?
A: Usually some sort of egg dish (I've made mini quiche's and a big fritata that lasted me many mornings), maybe some leftovers from dinner the night before, bacon, fruit, fruit smoothie, or I've even made some almond meal pancakes (not a fan) and banana pancakes (much better)

Q: What do you eat for lunch?
A: Hopefully leftovers from dinner (cuz that's easy peasy), with some sort of salad, and I save the fruit for dessert at the end. Lunch meat and veggies in a lettuce wrap are quick and easy too.

Q: What do you eat at dinner?
A: Some delicious meals! Pecan crusted chicken, Red Curry Beef Stew, Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce, Spice Rubbed Chicken, Pot Roast, Steak n Veggie Skewers, Lime Fajitas, etc. It's been fun to make meals together as a family and try new things. My brain has to work much harder and meal planning takes longer but it's good to exercise my brain and culinary skillz. Grocery shopping has been a new experience at new places and we've been doing that as a family on the weekends.

Q: What do you eat at restaurants?
A: Usually a grilled meat or salad of some sort. Most places have salads, I just have to specify dressing on the side or none at all, and omit the items that I don't want like blue cheese crumbles or croutons. My salad the other night did have candied pecans on it and I'm sure the "candied" part wasn't just cinnamon but I didn't make a stink about it. I don't ask if something is gluten free, but I'm sure tons of people do so it's not a weird thing to most waiters...many restaurants have their own gluten free menu but just because it's gluten free doesn't mean it's paleo so it doesn't help me any. The mango salsa tilapia at Chili's was delicious and instead of fries on the side I had steamed broccoli. The chicken wraps at Chick Fil-A can have the tortilla removed and just eat the inside part wrapped in lettuce (I did have to pick the cheese off though). Fajitas without the tortillas are easy at Mexican restaurants and the leftovers were good at home on lettuce wraps. Ok you get the idea.

Q: Have you cheated?
A: My cheats have been a few tortilla chips on a few different dates to dip in salsa or guacamole, and I had some chocolate on Vday. I'm trying to be pretty strict on grains and dairy, but allow myself to know the days in advance I might want to indulge on some sweets. Like the women's retreat and the oscar party this weekend. I'm taking Kettlecorn which isn't Paleo either, but might help me avoid cookies, cake, queso, brownies, etc.

Q: Is it difficult?
A: Some days. I never realized how much our social lives revolve around food. I can't tell you how many events in the last 21 days have involved free food. I've been able to say "no thanks" or just avoid altogether, but it isn't always easy. I usually ask myself "am I actually hungry or is it just a craving?" It's almost always a craving so I can use my go to snacks instead.

Q: What are your "go to snacks" when you are craving something sweet?
A: Apples with almond butter, clementines, unsalted nuts with dried cherries, fruit smoothie, chewing gum.  One night Ryan even made me some strawberry sorbet concoction he googled. It was delicious! There are lots of "paleo desserts" but if I made one every day that really goes against the whole idea of the lifestyle and would only heighten my cravings I think so I'm doing my best to stick to the things above instead of paleo coconut chocolate chip cookies....but I do want to make them sometime!

Q: What cookbooks have you read?
A: This one has been the most informative, easy to use, and helpful so far. I followed this one to the tea for the first week's menu when I was starting out. And I skimmed this one. This was more for the science behind it all. All were at my library. I've also used recipes from the internet.

Q: Tips?
A: You have to have a meal plan and stick to it. Foresee times and social events that might be hard and have a plan. Keep something in your purse or car that's ok for snacking.

Q: How long are you doing this for?
A: In order to see if it's affecting my health it will have to be for quite a few weeks/months. I'm still on 3 medications so if I'm feeling good in a few weeks, and talk to my doctor about weaning me off some of the meds, then I'll definitely want to stay on the diet so I can see if I still feel well without meds. Then maybe I can add some things back in one at a time to see if it affects me any. There's also the chance that this won't help at all, then I'll just have to decide if I want to eat a bagel and cream cheese again or not!

Anyway it hasn't been a perfect 21 days, but I'm proud for not having any bread or cheese in 21 days. I thought those would be the hardest things to give up and it hasn't been too bad. We have a few trips lined up in the coming weeks and I'm sure I'll face some new challenges while traveling but I'm going to try to find a way to make it work while not making others cater just to me. We'll see how it goes! If anyone has recipes to share or helpful tips let me know!


Michelle said...

Bobby Flay did a gluten free brownie that looked pretty good. We are going to be going gluten free in April, but it is for us to loose weight, or for me to loose weight and I'm making Jeremy do it too....

kmom said...

I am super impressed with your willpower and determination! I think lunch meat is processed. You eat broccoli? You are so brave to try new recipes.

Ryan and Katie said...

Mom-Yea lunch meat is one that some books say no no and some books say as long as it is nitrate free.

okcowgirl421 said...

I found a recipe on Pinterest that I thought sounded's a "Paleo fudge". I haven't beed doing the paleo diet but do make an attemp to watch processed foods and sugar but the chocolate thing ALWAYS trips me up. Anyway, the recipe - 1/2 cup each of cocoa powder, smooth almond butter, and coconut oil (melted), 1/4 cup raw honey or maple syrup (I used honey), and 1/2 tsp. vanilla. Blend it all up in a blender/food processor/Magic Bullet/whatever and then pour into a silicone muffin pan or paper lined muffin tin. I used an ice cube tray that is silicone and little heart shapes and it made a perfect little two bite chocolate. I have found that I actually prefer this to pretty much any other chocolate! Of course I know it's not calorie free BUT it doesn't not have lots of processed stuff and sugar - just natural sugars. SO GOOD! Oh, once you pour it into the molds you are using, stick it in the fridge for half an hour or freezer for about 10 minutes. Then store them in the fridge/freezer because they do melt. Not my recipe - got it from practical paleo.

AM said...

It would be amazing to come off the medicines! And what will power and determination you are growing in yourself! Those are traits I always seem to struggle with. Way to go Katie!

Chellie said...

I'm with ya on lots of this... not following Paleo, but cutting out all processed foods. It is hard. Fortunately my family is adjusting well. I also still buy stuff for them that I won't eat. I was tested for celiac and it was negative, but I still feel cutting back on gluten is a good idea. We do more whole wheat/whole grain. I've really tried to cut out sugar, replacing most sugars with honey. That's hard!
I hope you notice a difference. I think weight loss is just part of cutting out the crap. I know it's not what you or I need, but it seems like just a natural side effect of changing your diet. It may level back out some soon.

Shawn and Becky said...

If changing your diet can get you off medications it's so worth it. A lot of people turn to medicine only. Props to you for looking into all your options. And thanks for sharing your progress.

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