After an awesome guest post by Kerri O who shared her Paleo story with us, today we’re fortunate enough to have Merideth from “Dare You To…” share her experience with the Paleo Diet and she even gives us some tips on how to be successful.
One of my main priorities (and the impetus behind my blog) is to optimize my health. For this reason, I do a lot of reading about nutrition and learned how what we feed our bodies can act as medicine to prevent, alleviate, and cure symptoms and disease. At some point a bit under a year ago, I stumbled across the “Paleo” lifestyle and began studying it in depth. It made a lot of sense to me. How could eating real, whole foods as found in nature be wrong?
After finally taking the plunge to first eliminate wheat for a week, I was astounded by the quick results. My digestion improved and my hand eczema vanished (read how I responded to eliminating gluten here). This instant feedback made me ready and willing to give Paleo a shot, as well.
For one month, I followed a strict Paleo regimen to see how I felt. My digestion remained greatly improved from having eliminated wheat. The bloating, cramping, and acid reflux that I’d accepted as unavoidable suddenly proved to be completely preventable! It wasn’t all perfect; a week or two in, I experienced the infamous “Carb Flu,” when my energy levels dropped and I became slightly cranky, but that soon vanished and I felt even more full of life than before. I hadn’t been attempting to relieve any specific conditions, but my body responded positively and I certainly felt my best. If you’re interested, read more details about that first month and the foods I ate here.
The benefits were undeniable, but I’ll be the first to admit that adjusting was not easy. Here is what I learned about the transition to a Paleo diet:
- Plan ahead. The beginning is a leap into the unknown, where your regular cooking, ordering, and preparing savvy go out the window. Have replacements for your usual staples and come up with creative ways to pack a meal to go. The internet is an unbounded resource for Paleo recipes, and Paleo cookbooks now line the shelves. Use them.
- While you’re at it, try new foods! Instead of dreading the prohibition of your old favorites, get excited about all nature’s foods that you CAN eat. Again, drooling over recipe books and blogs will help.
- Prepare food in advance. This applies to both the foods you eat at home (chop the veggies, cook the meat, get everything ready before you actually need to cook and eat it) andthe foods you eat out at a restaurant (study the menu beforehand, ask questions, and request accommodations).
- Don’t beat yourself up over transgressions. One slip-up won’t ruin everything. Just make the next choice a better one and learn from your mistakes.
- Remember the WHY. Why are you eating this way? Why do you want to be healthy and live a long life? For me, reminding myself how I’ll feel after eating a non-paleo food, specifically wheat, is enough to make me turn down the bread basket.
Since my first strict month, I have tried to stick to a mostly Paleo diet, especially in my own kitchen. Out at restaurants or in others’ homes, I do my best but am much more flexible. After all, even though good nutrition is essential to health, there is more to life than food.
Still, months later, it remains a constant struggle and I am a constant work in progress. Not every choice I make is the “paleo” choice, but as long as the healthful outweigh the detrimental, I am happy and becoming healthier. Most importantly, following a Paleo diet has taught me how to listen to my body, to discover what is normal for me, and to learn how various foods affect my digestion, my skin, my energy, and my overall health. Now, when I eat, I make my decisions—Paleo or not—being fully aware of how that food will make me feel. That conscious power is invaluable, and I encourage you to discover it for yourself.
Thank you, Scott, for inviting me to share my story! I hope it resonates with other Paleo dieters and encourages others to learn more.
Meredith is the blogger behind Dare You To… where she challenges herself and her readers to set goals and make changes for a healthier, fitter, happier life. Change! Take risks! Try something new! Whether it’s a performing a new workout, cooking with a new food, or exploring a new city, Meredith has ideas, tips, and recipes to help you achieve your goals.
Read at Dare You To…