Paleo Q&A

Oh hi.  Remember me?  It’s been a while.  I’ve had a bit of writer’s block.  You see, I knew I needed to blog about something paleo, especially since I have a fancy (and by fancy I mean not) new subtitle thing going on up there that includes “Paleo Lola.”  So I’ve been feeling all of this pressure to write about why we are still paleo after 2 years.

Only I keep beginning posts about paleo and then realizing that they are just junk.  There are SO MANY OTHER PALEO WEBSITES that do a much better job of explaining everything than I do.

So I decided to just do a simple Q&A.  I like those.  And I like them even more when I am writing the questions.

And answering them.  My own questions.

I’m not as self-centered as I seem, I swear.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh here we go!

Lola’s Paleo Q&A (if you center something it means it’s important)

(1) Um, what is paleo?

Paleo is a way of eating that really mimics the way our ancestors ate.  Our ancestors ate lots of vegetables, meat, eggs, fruits, and seeds.  They didn’t eat anything processed.  They didn’t eat sugar.  They didn’t harvest grains such as wheat, corn, etc.  Truth be told, they probably ate a TON of plant matter, and if they were fortunate enough to have a successful hunt then they enjoyed lots of fresh meat.

So to sum it up, people who eat paleo are typically going to be eating very natural, fresh foods that are coming from either the meat, seafood, or produce section of the grocery store.  (How convenient to be able to just buy all of these natural foods in a grocery store, right?)

To sum it up…. if you can shoot it, fish for it, pick it, or grow it, chances are it’s paleo.

I should also mention that some people use the term “primal” rather than “paleo” but I tend to use the terms interchangeably.  Paleo tends to be more strict in regards to avoiding dairy, whereas primal seems a bit more forgiving based on self-experimentation.

Fish.  Kale.  Zucchini.  Simple paleo meal.

Salmon. Sauteed kale. Zucchini. Simple paleo meal.

(2) Can you be more clear?  What do you NOT eat if you are paleo?

Grains (and gluten) are not allowed.  This includes wheat, barley, rye, oats, quinoa, corn, and rice.  No pasta.  No cereal.  No crackers.

Most dairy is not considered paleo, though this can be a gray area for some.  (It is for me.)

I like to say that if a food can be put in your pantry and left on the shelf at room temperature for more than a week or so without decomposing, it’s probably not paleo.

(3) Why do you and Oatmeal eat this way? 

It all started with a friend of mine named Johanna.  (Read about Johanna here.  No really, you really should.  It will inspire you…. especially if you have small kids!)  She recommended that I read a book called the Primal Blueprint, so I bought a copy and read it out loud to Oatmeal on a long car trip one weekend.  We had just come off of a really exciting time in our lives… we’d just gotten married, gone on our honeymoon, and then gone on a big family vacation with his family.  Let’s just say that these occasions all involved a fair amount of carbs and beer.  Along the way we had both just started to feel really gross, chubby and just generally unhealthy.  We decided to give these “primal concepts” a try for the entire month of March.  I cleaned out our pantry of everything that wasn’t paleo and put all of those forbidden foods (such as cereal, cake mix, pretzels and the like) in a big plastic bin in the corner of our kitchen.  I stocked our fridge with meat, fish, eggs, veggies, and fruits.  I bought a few containers of nuts and put them in our (nearly empty) pantry.  And we went from there.

It only took a week or so to sell me.  I lost a TON of bloat around my midsection, but what caught my attention was the way my legs suddenly had a little bit of definition.  I wasn’t really exercising back then, so that was a big deal.  Additionally, I had recently stopped taking the Pill and consequently broken out a bit, but after a few weeks of eating paleo I found that my skin normalized and I stopped getting cystic acne along my jawline and on my back.  I’d been making trips to the gyno almost once a month to deal with chronic UTIs and yeast infections (eww) and those disappeared completely as well.  I can’t tell you how nice it was to be free of cranberry juice, azo tablets and diflucan.  To this day I only encounter those gross issues when I abandon my paleo diet (usually between Thanksgiving and Christmas… go figure) and so I really do not see myself ever going back to the old way of eating.

As for Oatmeal, he experienced many similar benefits.  He lost a lot of bloat and body fat immediately.   He also realized that if he ate paleo, he could maintain a muscular build by only working out a few times a week.  Before he had been of the illusion that he could eat whatever he wanted as long as he worked out almost every day.  When he realized he could look better than he ever had before with only a few 20 minute workouts every week, he was amazed.

We also believe in the science behind the paleo diet because it all supports the idea that eating these natural foods helps to prevent and control disease.  Oatmeal has psoriasis, and while we have not been able to cure him of this pesky autoimmune issue, we feel very strongly that it helps to avoid the processed grains and sugar-laden “foods” that are really just full of chemicals and preservatives.

Pork shoulder roast, brussells sprouts, and sweet potato.

Pork shoulder roast, brussells sprouts, and sweet potato.

(4) How would I learn more about paleo?

I’m glad you asked, because I am definitely not a qualified educator, however I have read a lot about it and recommend these books.  I will list them in the order in which I read them myself.  These books offer a lot of clear and scientific explanations as to why some foods that are normally considered “healthy” such as grains, legumes and dairy are avoided on the paleo diet.

The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy (Primal Blueprint Series)

The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet

It Starts with Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways

Additionally, I also read and used these cookbooks.  I don’t use many cookbook nowadays because it’s so easy to just google a recipe and find something online, but sometimes a good old fashioned cookbook is nice to have!

Everyday Paleo

Paleo Comfort Foods: Homestyle Cooking for a Gluten-Free Kitchen

Additionally, there is a great explanation of this on the web here.  I love this website for their tough love approach to paleo eating.  I only wish I could be as hardcore as they seem to be!

(5) Can you give me an example of the types of things that you eat in a given day or week?

Sure!  Glad you asked.  Here is my meal plan for this week.  Only I’m going to pretend that we eat eggs, because most people who follow a paleo diet do.  We just can’t eat eggs due to both Oatmeal and Poppyseed having an egg intolerance, so that makes breakfast tricky for us.  We tend to eat more lunch and dinner type meals for breakfast nowadays, but that is just weird for most people.

Day 1:

  • Breakfast – Egg and spinach scramble, with bacon.  Use olive, ghee or coconut oil instead of butter.
  • Lunch – Mixed green salad topped with pecans, sliced apples, avocado and salmon.
  • Dinner – Beef pot roast with sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, and parsnips.  Side of broccoli.

Day 2:

  • Breakfast – Fresh smoothie made of banana, frozen berries, almond or coconut milk, and occasionally some hidden veggies or even avocado.  Some paleo eaters even add some high quality protein powder or eggs to their smoothies.
  • Lunch – grilled chicken, green salad, and a piece of fruit.
  • Dinner – Paleo beef tacos.  Ground meat such as beef or pork served with onion, tomato, cilantro, salsa, and avocado.  This can be served over greens as a Taco Salad, or wrapped in cabbage leaves or lettuce leaves if you want to mimic an actual taco.

Day 3:

  • Breakfast – Egg, sweet potato and spinach scramble.  Use olive, ghee or coconut oil instead of butter.
  • Lunch – Nitrate free sliced turkey, carrot sticks, piece of fruit, handful of nuts.
  • Dinner – Bell peppers stuffed with ground meat and veggies.

Snacks – I want to point out that if you are following a paleo diet correctly, you are eating 3 meals a day that are high in protein, fat and fiber.  Therefore, snacks aren’t as important because you will stay full for longer periods of time.  But, life happens, and sometimes we just need a snack.  I would always advise eating protein as a snack if possible, as this will keep you satisfied until your next meal.

  • Fruit
  • High quality beef (or other meat) jerky, preferably nitrate free
  • Nuts and trail mix
  • Boiled eggs
  • Very few “bars” are considered to be paleo, but Larabars will do the trick.

Gray area paleo:

  • Dairy – the less processed the dairy, the more paleo-ish it tends to be.  Some people omit all dairy, some omit everything other than small amounts of yogurt or heavy cream.  This is where some self experimentation comes in.  I don’t feel badly if I eat some dairy, whereas Oatmeal is convinced that it irritates his psoriasis, and I have friends who swear it causes them to break out.
  • Alcohol – red wine and tequila are considered paleo-ish because they are grain free and relatively low in sugar compared to white wine and grain-based liquors.
  • Coffee – best if you can drink it black.  If you’re adding cream and sugar to it, it’s not paleo.
  • Chocolate – the darker, the better.  M&Ms are NOT paleo, okay?
Paleo taco salad made with spinach and mixed greens, grassfed ground beef, bell pepper and avocado.

Paleo taco salad made with spinach and mixed greens, grassfed ground beef, bell pepper and avocado.

Lunch on the go - mixed green and cabbage salad with sliced ahi tuna and lemon/oil dressing.

Lunch on the go – mixed green and cabbage salad with sliced ahi tuna and lemon/oil dressing.

 

(6) What are the challenges of eating paleo?  It seems like a lot of work and a lot of cooking.

Bingo.  It is a lot of cooking.  Say goodbye to the convenience foods such as cereal, bread, and pre-packaged meals.  We cook every single meal that we eat.

But you know what?  Cooking has never been easier.  If you can operate that iPhone, you can cook, thanks to YouTube and the zillions of food blogs out there.  It’s simple and it doesn’t even require a lot of supplies.  90% of our meals are made in a cast iron pan that lives on our stove.  Rarely do we use a blender or food processor, but it is handy to have those appliances for the occasional smoothie or more elaborate recipe.

Paleo surf and turf - this is what we eat on a "date night at home" now that we are paleo.  Ribeye, salmon, and a big salad!  Imagine the cost of this meal in a restaurant!

Paleo surf and turf – this is what we eat on a “date night at home” now that we are paleo. Ribeye, salmon, and a big salad! Imagine the cost of this meal in a restaurant!

(7) Wow, it sounds like you don’t eat any of the foods that I like!  How do you even go out to eat?

It’s actually pretty easy to find paleo food on the go.  Most restaurants will serve grilled meat and veggies, and there are more and more restaurants serving good salads these days, too.  Fast food restaurants are even very slowly coming around by serving more grilled options and fruit/salads.  For example, I can go to Chik fil a and order grilled nuggets and a fairly decent side salad if I am working and didn’t have time to pack something.  I’m sure it’s not as high quality as the food I’d make at home, but it works if I’m in a pinch.

Pork tenderloin, sauteed zucchini, and fresh salad.

Pork tenderloin, sauteed zucchini, and fresh salad.

(8) What about the rest of your family?  Is it possible to eat paleo as a family?  What about kids?

Well, Oatmeal and I have eaten paleo as a married couple for two years now.

And I stuck to paleo to the best of my abilities when I was pregnant, which I was quite open about in this post.

Now that I am nursing and raising our baby, I am even more excited about our paleo lifestyle.  I know that I’m giving Poppyseed the best foods possible, both through my breast milk and her newly introduced solids.  I know that there will be challenges, and yes, she will one day discover things such as cupcakes, but I intend to follow a paleo diet as best as I can.

Luckily I had Oatmeal to make healthy paleo meals for me after Poppyseed was born.  Here I eat a kale and steak salad as Poppyseed nurses.

Luckily I had Oatmeal to make healthy paleo meals for me after Poppyseed was born. Here I eat a kale, avocado, tomato and steak salad as Poppyseed nurses.

Speaking of nursing, I have found that I need to snack more now that I am breasfeeding.  My favorite snack is sliced apples with almond butter.

Speaking of nursing, I have found that I need to snack more now that I am breastfeeding. My favorite snack is sliced apples with almond butter.  On that particular day I had some raw milk from a local farm and I indulged!

(9) What is your advice to me if I am considering this paleo lifestyle?

Glad you asked… I have a few pointers.

1.  Understand it before you try it.  Paleo is hard and confusing until you get used to it.  You need to understand WHY wheat and beans are not paleo.  You need to understand the crappy things that gluten and dairy can do to your body, even if you don’t realize it now.  If you don’t really believe that it’s the best way of eating, you will cut corners and buy paleo-ish things that aren’t really healthy, and these will keep you from seeing results.  I know that some people think they need to ease into things, and so they go out and buy gluten free snacks and such in order to slowly move toward eating grain free foods.  But the truth is that the gluten free snacks are usually full of sugar, other grains, vegetable oils and other random crap.  Eating this stuff will keep your thighs from thinning out, and you’re a lot more likely to think that it’s not working for you.  So please, before you clean out your pantry and go on your first paleo shopping trip, read one of the books that I listed above in their entirety.

2.  Give it a month.  If you can’t give it a month, at least give it a REALLY hardcore 2 weeks.  Most of the food blogs and books out there challenge people to give it a month.  But a month is a really long time for some people.  If that sounds too overwhelming, just shoot for a super super super strict 2 weeks.  You can do anything for 14 days.  Yes, even give up diet coke.  You can.  I promise.

3.  Do it with someone.  Maybe it’s just me, but I needed Oatmeal to help me with this in the beginning.  If you are married, enlist the help of your spouse.  Grocery shop together, cook together, make meal plans together.  It doesn’t matter if this is completely foreign territory for both of you.  It certainly was for us!  We often joke that we probably did not eat a green vegetable for the entirety of our college years, and now we probably eat 10 vegetables every few days.  I cooked for him maybe twice in the two years that we were dating, and now I cook 3 times a day.  I promise you that if we can do this, you can do this.

4.  Don’t try to explain this to your friends.  Okay, I don’t really mean that.  But what I mean is… you will get a lot of blank stares.  You may even find that your loved ones will begin to argue with you.  We did.  I tried to explain why we ate paleo to our friends and families until we were blue in the face.  I finally just stopped, started this blog, and began loaning out my paleo books to people who actually seem receptive.  Most people are just not really interested once they realize they can’t simply buy a pre-made shake or take a pill.  It’s sad, but it’s the world we live in.  So when you get tired of explaining it, just loan them a book and put a positive spin on it.  People can’t really argue with you if you say, “You know, I really would love your support.  The fact is just that I feel SO MUCH BETTER when I eat paleo.  I am not saying I’m not going to have a slice of your wedding cake next month, but I am really doing well right now and I would like to continue for a little bit longer before I indulge in a non-paleo food.  I hope you understand.”  This is especially helpful for those of you facing people who preach that any food is okay in moderation.  (I don’t know about you, but that whole moderation thing has just never worked for me!)

5.  This is the most important advice that I have.  Do not have non-paleo food in your home.  I’m serious.  You cannot expect to pass up bread and cereal if you have bread and cereal in your home.  There will be days where you are so tired and just do not feel like cooking, but if your only options at home are paleo options, you will stick with it!  I can be very lax when it comes to some situations, but when it comes to my home I have a very strict policy.  If it’s not paleo (or at least a gray area paleo) it is just NOT coming into my home!

Well, that was a long one, but I hope it helped!

Here are a few more pictures.  I have literally hundreds of food pictures, it’s nice to finally get some use out of them.

Pork roast, sweet potato, and roasted red cabbage.

Pork roast, sweet potato, and roasted red cabbage.

Paleo chicken salad on a bed of spinach.

Paleo chicken salad on a bed of spinach.

Leftovers!  We often throw ripe veggies into our cast iron pot with some ground meat and eat them for lunch.

Leftovers! We often throw ripe veggies into our cast iron pot with some ground meat and eat them for lunch.  Sweet potato, kale, squash and pork here.

Dinner salad: fresh kale, orange slices, jicama, and pumpkin seeds.  We always use citrus juices or vinegar mixed with olive oil as a salad dressing.

Dinner salad: fresh kale, orange slices, broccoli, jicama, and pumpkin seeds. We always use citrus juices or vinegar mixed with olive oil as a salad dressing.

Bacon, Strawberry and Avocado Salad

Spinach salad with strawberries, nitrate-free bacon, red bell pepper, and avocado. This salad is great with homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

Remember to read about my friend Johanna to see how she incorporates paleo into her home with her family of 4.

Oh, and don’t forget to read about Jessica!  Like me, she just had a baby girl and is still eating paleo.

Related posts:

About Lola

Comments

  1. Hey! This comment has nothing to do with this post, but I stumbled across your blog through Chelsea’s when you were pregnant. I just had my first baby too (a girl) in August so it is fun to see what Addison will be doing right behind your precious daughter and to hear how other people juggle a new baby and everyday life. I also went to high school with and dated JB Garza (your husband’s roommate in college) for a bit at A&M. Anyway, small world and thought I would comment and say hey!

    • Hi Katie! That is hilarious – yes, very small world! Is addison crawling/pulling up yet? I swear that we went from barely scooting to full blown mobile in a week! If it hasn’t happened yet, get ready! 😀

Leave a Reply