OA Contributor Beth Buczynski is going paleo for 30 days! This is the third installment in a short blog series following the challenges and benefits of clean eating according to the paleo diet. Previous paleo posts linked at the bottom.
Two weeks of eating paleo in the bag! Hitting the halfway mark of this month felt pretty darn good. Every day is getting easier, and our entire household is becoming more familiar with the shopping and cooking habits of a paleo lifestyle.
It hasn't all been easy, however, and as my body changes, I'm discovering some side effects that are less than desirable (though temporary, I'm told). That's why I'm making "a love/hate relationship" this week's theme. Depending on how bad your diet was before, going paleo will make you feel some not-so-pleasant sensations as your body's systems dig their way out of a lifetime of bad habits.
Stuff I Hate About Paleo
Headaches: This week, I've had a couple of strange but intense headaches. I say strange because it didn't hurt in the same part of my brain as normal headaches brought on by not eating or tired eyes. There I would be, sometimes in the early morning, sometimes in the late afternoon, and a dull, throbbing headache would appear out of no where. I asked (and Googled) around, and found out that these headaches are one of several completely normal (often temporary) side-effects for new Paleo eaters. Your body resists change, and going paleo is forcing it to go from carb burner to fat burner. It's also easy for such a high protein diet to result in slight dehydration, even though you don't really feel thirsty. My Paleo friends advised more water, and it's definitely been helping.
No Energy For Exercise: So I typically go to a cardio kickboxing class three times a week. They're 45 minutes long, and while I always work up a big sweat, I usually make it through OK. Since I've started eating paleo, I am really struggling to keep up. About 20 minutes into the class, I feel completely gassed, and often just have to stop moving for a minute. Tried to go for a tiny run--same thing. This is a new and very frustrating feeling, but it too is a sign that my body is making the paleo transition. According to paleo experts, there are several reasons for this: lack of sleep, not enough paleo-approved carbs, and not enough good fats. That's right, paleo is NOT a carb-free diet, it's all about eating the right carbs, especially if you plan on exercising. I checked out Balanced Bite's list of healthy, dense sources of carbohydrates, and I'm trying to eat them before and right after a workout.
Black Coffee: Coffee is permissible in the paleo diet, albeit in moderation because too much caffiene can be very counterproductive. But without the ability to load it up with cream and sugar, I'm finding coffee to be a miserable beverage. Black coffee tastes like charred wood or burnt rubber, and I just can't get used to it. I did, however, discover this recipe for a coconut milk latte from Stupid Easy Paleo, and am definitely putting it into the rotation next week. It just might save my sanity.
Ok, enough negativity...
Stuff I Love About Paleo
Cooking The Rainbow: Skittles ain't got nothin' on the stuff that's been coming out of my kitchen lately. I'm quickly learning that full-time paleo is a commitment to cooking real food. There is no delivery service to call, or paleo section in the frozen foods aisle. If you want to eat, it means getting out the pots and pans, and handling some whole foods. Although it takes extra time and planning, it has been really fun to discover new ingredients and see them combined into new--extremely delicious--dishes. Like so delicious it's hard to believe they're healthy and completely crap-free. Just look at that plate of Chinese 5-Spice Lettuce Cups! It demands to be eaten.
[If you'd like to see what I'm eating on a daily basis, feel free to follow me on Instagram!]
Being In Control Of Hunger: Before going paleo, hunger used to sneak up on me like a theif in the night. One minute I'd be working away, and the next, I'd be ravenous, reaching for anything in sight. I hated being held hostage by hunger like that. I also hated eating mindlessly, just sitting in front of the TV, shoveling something into my mouth because my brain--not my stomach--told me to. Read Robb Wolf's "What Kind of Hungry Are You?" for some more facts about types of hunger. Over the course of the past 14 days, however, my hunger has become a more manageable beast. I eat, and I feel full, and then I'm not hungry. I don't get a food baby, and I don't eat out of boredom anymore. If I do feel ravenous, I give myself good fat and protein until it passes, and then I stop.
Kicking The Sugar Habit: Standing in line at the grocery store the other day, I saw the latest National Geographic. You know what the leading headline was? "Sugar: Why We Can't Resist It."We are quickly learning that sugar is a powerful drug. When consumed in excess (and nearly everything in our world is infused with sugar) every system in our body becomes addicted. We crave it. We go crazy when we can't have it. We shell out money for it even though it's ruining our lives. Removing sugar from one's life is a revolutionary act. It's the easiest way to sever ties with a broken food system. And it's awesome. Ok, enough philosophizing...
I'm happy to report, NO NON-PALEO CHEATING THIS WEEK! Nary a drop of alcohol or a piece of bread. That’s the good news. I did however have a few moments of weakness in the presence of some paleo-acceptable treats. There may or may not have been an incident involving a jar of raw maple almond butter and a spoon. There may also have been a bag of Hail Merry! paleo-friendly cocoa macaroons that only made it about 48 hours. In comparison to gorging on pasta and ice cream every night these are minor infractions, but I’d still like to be a little more in control than that. Plus, I can only imagine how it would speed up my progress to be completely, like not even a gram, sugar-free for a week.
So, How About Those Goals?
Weight: Lost 2 more pounds! Six pounds in two weeks! Although the weight loss slowed, I still feel like I'm losing inches around my waist. Have also noticed less fat on my face and legs.
Gut: Still no ground-breaking improvements here, and a major goal for next week is to find out why. (Warning: next week's post may focus on poop.)
Skin: Face, neck, chest, and back are virtually blemish free. Still pretty oily in general, but that might be a genetic thing.
Images by Beth Buczynski