As a follow up to the story about how we’ve gradually started going paleo in how we eat, I thought I’d add some thoughts on differences we’ve noticed in our lives. Some people have quite dramatic health changes when they remove grains and sugars from their diet and I’m thrilled for them. We don’t have that story. We didn’t have auto-immune issues or terrible IBS or food allergies or even sensitivities beyond the gut bomb feeling everyone gets when we stuff our faces with a burgers and loads of fries. We weren’t eating a horrible diet before and we didn’t do a drastic switchover, so I don’t think we had as much of a “shock to the system” as others do.
We’ve done this change so gradually that for awhile we didn’t think it had made a difference at all. Then we spent three days at my Birkman course in March, eating lots of carbs the whole time.
That’s when I realized that when I’m eating more protein/fats/veggies I stay satisfied for a lot longer. Eating lots of carbs for three days showed me really clearly that carbs keep you eating more because you get hungry so quickly after eating them. I used to think that was just how I was – hungry every 2 hours and in need of another snack. I used to think I couldn’t possible feel “full enough” without having a good helping of carbs like pasta or bread at a meal. Turns out the opposite is true. More protein/fats/veggies allow me to go 3-4 hours before needing my next meal!
Clear skin is another obvious benefit I’ve noticed. When I eat sugar I break out more.
The other thing I keep wondering about is our immune systems. John and I haven’t had a single cold or flu since before Christmas. I’m not sure I can entirely attribute that to this diet but I know it contributes to boosting our immune systems. Usually during this season we have lots of nose-blowing and what I’ll just call “gunk” in our nasal passages. I often feel like I have to use the neti-pot every day January through March to keep sinus infections at bay and get all that “gunk” cleared out. Haven’t done that once this year. Then we eat a high carbs meal and we wake up with scratchy throats and clogged noses. It might not sound like a big deal, but it is so nice to wake up without the sore throat and sinus gunk now.
We both think we’ve lost a few pounds (again probably because we’ve done this so gradually and aren’t all the way there with getting rid of the sugar – some people lose a lot of weight really fast when they eliminate grains & sugar completely).
In some ways it’s made life harder. John and I have had a lot of arguments about how we eat. We prepare food three times a day (we could be better at pre-prepping stuff but our schedules don’t force us to be more organized). This is definitely not a diet of convenience. It’s a preventive way of eating, hopefully saving us from pain down the road. I’m particularly hoping I never have to say hello to Type 2 diabetes. Good Calories, Bad Calories also links sugar to cancers & dementia so I’d be happy to avoid those as well.
Overall, I feel pretty happy about how we eat now, because I know we’re eating nutrient-dense and delicious foods that are helping us function well. Lots of people report higher energy, better sleep and better moods. Unfortunately, I can’t comment on those aspects due to have a child who still regularly wakes up at least once a night.
If I’ve piqued your interest, I recommend starting to do your own research and experimenting at your own pace. I liked the advice I got somewhere that it’s better to think about what you’re adding into your diet, rather than to focus only on what you’re removing. I’ve eaten so many more vegetables – some that I didn’t even know existed before – and I’ve liked them (see garlic beef stew in acorn squash above)! That’s pretty exciting.