Friday, June 22, 2012

My Paleo Life

Recently I walked you through what happens when I cheat on my allergy diet.  At the end of that not-so-fun post I promised to tell you about a recent discovery that had made my allergy diet both fun and sustainable for the long haul. 

Yay!  Today's the day! 

I'm not going to lie.  Even knowing the health benefits of sticking with and the consequences of going against my allergy diet as well as I did, I was struggling.  In fact, I'm rather embarrassed to admit that I had a complete breakdown this spring over how much I hated the blasted diet.  I felt I was condemned to a lifetime of boring food, and I was miserable.  It didn't help that I was having serious trouble complying, and so was therefor not really seeing any progress towards my health goals. 

Then - as often happens to me - right when I was at my worst the universe opened a window.  I was browsing through my facebook news feed when I discovered a some links that my allergist had added to a couple of popular Paleo blogs.  Hmmm, I thought.  I had heard her reference the Paleo Diet/Lifestyle before.....but I really had no idea what it was all about. 

So I clicked on the links and started reading.

30 minutes later realized I had fallen into the rabbit hole. 

The very next day I went to my Barnes & Noble with a gift card and bought a copy of Sarah Fergaso's Everyday Paleo....and I fell in love and found my answers.

As it would happen, the Paleo Lifestyle is really just a short sidestep away from my allergy diet.  To get there, I've given up white potatoes and all legumes and have significantly reduced the amount of fruit I was eating.  In return, I've gained back some nuts and seeds, coconut products galore, spices, coffee and a whole lot of fantastic recipes.  (Seriously, our family has loved everything we've tried so far!)  The fact that Paleo also emphasizes getting good, quality sleep, managing stress, making exercise more efficient, spending quality time with family, being outdoors as much as possible and having fun is a bonus.  Those are all things I can get on board with...and have! 

Amazingly enough, in no time at all I was seeing a lot of positive results.  I was getting all of the good stuff from my allergy diet....but I was also satiated (turns out I wasn't getting enough fat), enjoying flavors and food again, able to enjoy eating out because I had more options, and rid of a few lingering cravings and an odd bellyache or two (either the potatoes or beans....or both). 

I can't even begin to describe how happy this has made me!

I think the thing that really drew me in, though, is that fact that the online paleo world is so much more positive than the food allergy world.  Every time I had gone looking for food allergy websites and blogs I had come out depressed, unhappy, and feeling oddly judged because my type of reactions weren't someone else's type of reactions.  By contrast, the Paleo world is full of positive energy.  The focus is one of 'I can' instead of 'I can't.'  There are amazing stories of lives changed and health improved, many examples of how to tweak the diet to suit your needs, and a recognition that we are all human and so it's ok to just do the best you can do.

I should take a moment to say that while I feel Paleo is best for me - and for my family - I do not necessarily believe it's right for everyone.  (Also, there are some crazy zealots out there, and I don't always agree with the theories behind paleo choices.)  What I DO believe is that most everyone would benefit from a diet free of processed foods and sugar, that eating as close to the natural source as possible is a great thing,  and that most people would do well to learn to judge how they respond to different foods. We truly are what we eat, and I wish more people understood how connected how we feel is to what we put into our bodies.

If you are curious and would like to learn more, I heartily recommend the following sites:
Everyday Paleo
Mark's Daily Apple
Robb Wolf
Paleo Parents

And tomorrow....extending the Paleo Lifestyle into a whole family experiment!

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