So… about our Paleo diet.

I was a nutrition major in school.  I chose that major because psych was too obvious, bio was too focused on plants and volcanoes (boring), and because I thought I wanted to go to med school (hilarious).  So I needed a science degree, thus the nutrition degree.  I have not used the degree in the workplace to this day, but I use the degree all the time in my personal life.  And, I am so thankful I did it, because it began a hobby that I love to this day and that is really just food, cooking food, eating food and appreciating food.

I grew up eating everything except for fresh vegetables.  Sure we had canned veggies, and my mom made us eat peas all the time.  But again, canned peas.  And we ate seafood galore.  Swordfish, jumbo lump crab and oysters were staples.  My parents filled in the seafood gaps with pork and steak.  Chicken was pretty much nonexistent unless it was a nugget from a fast food joint on the nights where my parent’s didn’t have time to cook.  When I got to college, I learned how good veggies were for me and “told myself I liked them.”  Over the next 5 years I tried fresh veggies – asparagus, green beans, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, etc.  When I started dating Oatmeal, he got a bunch of raw chicken and put it on the grill, naked.  I made the comment that I had never had grilled chicken before, other than maybe a few grilled chicken breasts.  (Meaning I had never had grilled drumsticks, wings, etc.)  I could not figure out why he was so stunned by that.  He could not figure out how I had lived 25 years without having eaten grilled chicken.  He asked if I’d ever been to a BBQ before, and I told him that I ate hamburgers or ribs at those functions.  And yet I was appalled when on our first Christmas as a couple, my dad served him crab-stuffed-avocados and Oatmeal said, “Well I’d never had crab before but that was really good.”

I’ve tried many a “diet” or “eating lifestyle” in my day.  I once went vegetarian for a month.  Then a few months later, I went vegan for a month.  (That was awful).  I pretended I was a diabetic who needed to eat 200-300 calories every 3 hours.  I tried the Slimfast diet, the Zone Diet, Weight Watchers, Atkins etc.  I have never been overweight, but I have been “skinny fat” and have always struggled to stay at my goal weight.  All of these diets and lifestyles were experiments.  I hoped to find one that was both realistic and healthy, but I continued to yo-yo and feel thankful for my “skinny genes.”

So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I decided to try the Paleo/Primal diet.  These are very similar diets, with a few differences.  What is surprising, however, is how much I love eating this way.  We tried it on March 1st, and I’ve pretty much been convinced that this is the way to go.  The gist of the diet is that you should eat the way your ancestors ate, focusing the majority of your diet on fresh veggies and lean meats, and filling in with fish, nuts, oils, seeds, small amounts of fruit and even smaller amounts of dairy.  The things you don’t eat include wheat of any kind, oats, rye, processed foods, pasta, corn, beans, peanuts (technically a bean) and rice.

What?  Why no beans, peanuts, or wheat?  I get it, I was skeptical too.  I can’t explain it very well, but I can direct you to a source that can.  Check out the book The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sissons.  To summarize in Lola words:  When you eat these things that contain high amounts of glucose (sugar/starch), your body responds to these by releasing high amounts of insulin that transport that glucose/glycogen to various parts of your body.  High amounts of insulin being released often and at each meal are detrimental to your body, which functions at it’s optimal level when insulin levels are low or steady throughout the day.

We bought the Primal Blueprint after my friend bugged me about it for several weeks.  She and her husband, along with her 2 year old and 10 month old, had “gone primal” and loved it.  I agreed to read the book on an upcoming road trip with Oatmeal, but had not counted on Oatmeal believing everything in the book and insisting we begin asap.  (I MEAN FOR GOD’S SAKE HIS NICKNAME IS OATMEAL!  AND NOW HE WOULDN’T TOUCH THE STUFF!)  We did as the book instructed us to do and threw out all “processed food.”  This included all of our pasta, crackers, bread, chips, fruit snacks, frozen “healthy” dinner, granola bars (because they include wheat or gluten), cheddar cheese, juice (because there is no such thing as juice without sugar), and milk products.  You know what we were left with?  A freaking empty refrigerator.  A barren pantry.  There was NOTHING left.  It freaked me out.  I was not happy.  Plus I kept thinking about how hard I had tried to stick to our grocery budget, and now here I was throwing away hundreds of dollars worth of perfectly good food.  But, Oatmeal and I had read that by ridding ourselves of these types of foods and allowing our bodies to function at their highest ability, we could potentially prevent disease.

Now I admit, I mainly did this for Oatmeal.  He has been dealing with an autoimmune disease (psoriasis) that popped up as soon as he turned 30.  His family history is also a little worrisome, as he got the factor V clotting disorder from his mom’s side (meaning he is much more likely to get a blot clot than someone without the disorder), and his dad’s side has some various cancers and digestive issues.  So, I figured if he wanted to try this out, I would be a supportive wife and do it with him.   (Not to mention that my own family tree has some pretty scary medical history, but like I said, he was the one who wanted to start the Primal Lifestyle in the first place!)

Only, I became addicted.  First of all, within 1 week of the lifestyle change, I “Un-Bloated.”  I know that’s not a real word but you understand.  My tummy became flat and my arms and legs seemed more tone.  I was not working out…at all.  I felt like I had more energy, and I also felt like I was eating more.

On top of how I felt, my Oatmeal and I had a new hobby!  We grocery shopped together (think produce and meat/seafood section only), cooked together and read each other our new Primal Blueprint book out loud before bed.  We finally SHARED a hobby that we were both brand new at.  We learned it together.

Oatmeal’s muscles suddenly looked even more developed.  He started staying up later instead of falling asleep at 8:30 because he had more energy.  He too seemed to “unbloat.”  His psoriasis hasn’t quite improved the way we had hoped, but we have been cheating in the form of beer on the weekends and some occasional gluten that slips its way into our diet in the form of a marinade or eating at friend’s houses where we can’t control as much.  So, for the next month, I am keeping him completely away from all gluten.  He even has to drink gluten-free beer at the river this weekend.  Hey, if it helps with his health and makes him more comfortable, he’ll do it!

Oh, another thing.  My entire life I have battled cystic acne.  The scar on my cheek is from taking antibiotics that I was given by my dermatologist in high school.  It started giving me hard cysts in my cheek, leg and back, so I had to get off the meds.  My face, neck, chest and back exploded in acne again, and I ended up on birth control to control it.  The birth control works of course, but I started to resent the fact that I had to pay for something each month and take something each day.  Plus I worried that being on birth control for so many years in a row would somehow make me infertile.  So I’d get off of it for a few months, break out horribly and get right back on it.  Until now.  I got off of birth control 2 months ago when we began the paleo lifestyle and my skin is clear.  It may be that I cut 98% of gluten out of my diet, or that I cut 90% of dairy out, but my skin is awesome.

So, I encourage you to look it up.  Buy The Primal Blueprint.  Or check out the Paleo Solution.  I feel great, Oatmeal feels great, and we eat like kings and queens each night.  You just can’t beat eating a big hunk of meat each night (beef, pork, bison, fish… and yes even chicken now and then) with a side of fresh grilled veggies or a yummy salad.  Oh and did I mention portion control?  No I did not.  Because we don’t even pay attention to how much we are eating.  Easiest.Best.Diet.Ever.

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