Skyler and I have been eating the Paleo way for almost two years now. In that time we’ve had people question (sometimes annoyed at what we decide we won’t be eating) and wonder why we eat like we do. Most people have asked because they are interested and want to know more. We always eagerly sit down to share with you (or heck, even invite you over to share a Paleo meal with us as we tell you all about it!) because we are passionate about it. Though, I will admit Skyler is far more passionate than I am. But I’ll get to that in a minute. In the last couple weeks, I’ve had probably 10 friends email me or message me, wanting to know more. I’ve said a long while ago that I would post more about it, so… here goes! BUT, before I totally delve into it, let me give you a background to what life was like before Paleo…
We always felt like we ate pretty healthy. I ate more carbs than I knew I should, being a pasta lover, but I felt like I always balanced it with other “good” stuff and that it was pretty moderate. However, fall term at Western Oregon University two years ago, Skyler took a nutrition class that has forever changed his (and our families) life. The first week started out with a bang, his instructor gave them the assignment of cutting out ALL sugar, except natural sugars found in fruits. This meant no breads, no pastas, no desserts, no juices, no coffee creamer… many many things were cut out. I was mildly annoyed at this assignment because it made me change what I served for dinner for the week, and was thankful it was only for a week. At the end of the assignment, Skyler came home telling me that his instructor extended the assignment and not only that, broadened it. He gave me a whole page of food listed out that he could no longer eat.
Being 7 months pregnant at the time, I was NOT amused. This “diet” he was on required him to eat LOTS of meat, and I just wasn’t really a meat eater. I grew tired of this very quickly and no idea what to feed my husband (who felt like an entirely new husband, since he used to always eat anything I put in front of him with gratitude). I got so irritated at this, that after a short time, I’d plop down a steak and a handful of broccoli on his plate every night for dinner with an annoyed statement of, “I don’t know what else to feed you. Here.”
He spent many many hours talking to me about why he was doing this “diet” and what he was learning. But I wasn’t totally convinced (plus, come on. Don’t try to change a 7 month pregnant lady’s diet!). I saw him drop weight. VERY rapidly. If you know Skyler, you know he’s already pretty thin. He got REALLY thin. I didn’t like it. He went from a size 32 pants to a size 30 in less than 30 days. (I did have photos, but I think I deleted them.)
It wasn’t until right after Zeek was born (a few months later) that I started to be more accepting of this “diet” and jumped on board. I actually started enjoying searching for recipes and figuring out new “favorite family meals” for us. I enjoyed opening my fridge and seeing it stocked with eggs, vegetables and fruits and GOOD clean food, more than would fit in the little produce drawer. I felt better. I stopped craving or even desiring pasta’s – in fact, they now really gross me out and do not satisfy at all. I stopped wanting juice. I stopped wanting cereal for breakfast. And now…
- Dairy (Eggs are not dairy)
- Processed Foods (including corn; even if you grow it yourself, it has been so processed over time that it’s just not as easily digestible as it used to be)
Things OK to eat:
- Lean meats
- Nuts and Seeds (Newsflash: peanuts are not nuts. Weird huh? They are actually legumes.)
- Healthy Fats
- Mac & Cheese
- Hamburger Helper
- Pasta Roni
- Breads, Crackers, Bagels etc.
- Anything with added sugar
- Eggs for breakfast every day. 2-3 eggs each. Even Zeek! He usually eats 2 eggs every morning. 2-3 times a week, we’ll add breakfast sausage or bacon.
- Changing condiments for “no sugar added” ones, even if more expensive. Yes, we are a poor college kid/stay at home mom. We don’t flow in money. But little changes like this, especially in condiments where they last quite a while, are worth it to us.
- Drinking much more water than before – and almost NO juice. Occasionally, I get a hankering for orange juice… but usually it’s either water, milk or tea (sometimes sweetened with local honey or agave syrup).
- Always having plenty and a variety of fruits and veggies on hand. And not just on hand, but washed, cut up and readily available to snack on in the fridge. This makes it a lot easier to grab a good/healthy snack verses grabbing chips or crackers to snack on.
- Experimenting with different squashes to use as sides to replace the feeling of needing rice/potatoes as a side dish (we also use yams and quinoa as sides occasionally). Especially using spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti pasta. Did you know there was such a thing?! I didn’t until we started eating this way and started researching other foods to eat. It is SO good and I can hardly tell the difference. You just slice the squash in half and put it in the microwave for 8-10 minutes, pull it out (with hot pads!) and the “spaghetti” just forks right out! It’s amazing. 🙂
- We make our spaghetti with the spaghetti squash, a lb of ground beef, onions and mushrooms and some no sugar added tomato sauce. Usually with a helping of green beans on the side!
- Having your pantry (and fridge) stocked with things you can make good meals from! (Read this post from Everyday Paleo for a great list of things to keep on hand!)
- Trading out milk for coconut milk/almond milk, especially for Ezekiel now that he’s no longer nursing. One thing we have learned recently though was that a known carcinogen (cancer causer) called Carrageenan that was included in almost all almond milks, even organic ones! We were really bummed to find this out, but I have finally found one at the local health food store, LifeSource here in Salem.
About the grains… well, Skyler also learned in his nutrition class that grains (even organic/whole) essentially just turns into sugar as soon as it enters the human body. If you’re cutting out sugar, you need to cut out wheat. An argument I hear sometimes from friends is, but it’s a staple in the Bible? Here’s a little snippet from The No Grain Diet that explains simply,
- Cooked yams (either boiled and mashed or cooked in skin in the microwave for about 8 minutes) with sprinkled cinnamon, dried cranberries (look for a no sugar added kind) and cashews on top. Steak slab cooked in a fry pan with seasoning (the easiest way I like to cook them). Broccoli salad or a spinach salad.
- After the above meal, with leftovers I usually do the following for lunches: layer of mashed yams, layer of spinach, layer of Skyler’s home-canned tuna fish, dried cranberries and cashews sprinkled on top. SO amazing. I promise.
- Stuffed peppers or stuffed jalapeno poppers wrapped in bacon. Or stuffed mushrooms. Pretty much anything you can stuff with meat, I will try. 😉
- Panko Chicken, served with mashed sweet potatoes (less starchy than white) broccoli salad or a spinach/pear/avocado salad (which I will post a recipe for soon!).
- Asian Beef & Spinach Dish. This is a meal in itself for us. We love having a bed of spinach with any sort of meat piled on top 🙂
- For lunches, I like to grab a variety of foods, like the meal below. I try to make it a colorful meal with fruits, veggies and usually a meat.
- We have traded out potato chips for Kale chips (SO delicious!).
Great Paleo Resources we’ve enjoyed:
- Everyday Paleo – Blog and Book! I have pre-ordered the book and am excited to get it! I am loving expanding our Paleo recipe collection. 🙂
- myKitchen iPhone or Android App – I have this Paleo recipe resource downloaded on my iPhone and love it! You can search recipes, make meal plans, and even make shopping lists AND it’s FREE!
- Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD
- Suicide By Sugar by Nancy Appleton, PhD
- Here’s a really great extensive resource list for everything Paleo (by the same people who made the myKitchen app): http://beta.primal-palate.com/about/resources/
- Healthy Eating on the Run – The No Grain Diet
- The Paleo Diet (Info)
- Nom Nom Paleo (Recipes)