Hunter—Gathering

I first heard about the ‘Paleo’ way of eating a couple of years ago from @gablaxian. In fact he raved so much about it then I have no idea why I didn’t follow it up by trying it myself. I think it must have been my love for Jerk Chicken sandwiches and a nice cold Fruit Beer from our mutual favourite Manchester bar at the time. It only took me two years and another dear friend @lorita83 for me to give it serious thought.
Health Bent Umbrella
At its absolute simplest, ‘Paleo’ is a grain-less, sugar-less, legume-less diet. Eating whole foods, nothing processed, and cooked healthily with a view of dramatically aiding your digestion to work as ‘it should’. Quickly illustrated here by Health Bent:

Laura had told me all about her first couple of months trying the new way of eating. She raved about it’s ability to give her extra energy, reduce her digestive issues and help with her exercise regime. She’d lost weight on the new eating plan (as a side effect) and that her sleeping patterns had been evened out pretty early on.

That’s all I needed to hear—I’ve had really significant issues with my body and the way it digests, or in-fact more accurately how it wasn’t up to digesting in the last couple of years. These ‘un-digestibles’ I just couldn’t pin down. I exclaimed that it must be dairy, eggs, meat! Its definitely meat! Alas lots of self diet moderation was leaving me with meals that after eating would completely wipe me out. Not through portion size, but something, something I must be intolerant of that floored me every time. I’d overheat, be rendered paralysed and have an ache in the stomach that wouldn’t allow me to carry on with normal life. I’d have to rush home after social meals in emergency taxis and lie very still on my bed until I fell asleep or it eased. I felt at those times that I could hibernate for at least six months quite easily.

A friend of mine Suzi, after reading about a link to coeliac disease, converted to a gluten free lifestyle to help with her M.E. and low and behold she saw a significant difference in her recovery very quickly. (Read more about her journey here: Once Upon a Tiger Bread and get involved with her baked gluten free goods here A Runcible Spoon). At the time she told me try for myself, keeping the grain but removing the gluten, but I still for some reason didn’t take the full plunge. What I realised is that without a complete lifestyle change there was just no way I could get the motivation to keep anything like this up. With the stories from these three very well trusted people I just decided i’d give grainless a go, keep it simple.

On 1st January 2013 I committed to giving the Lacto-Paleo (because i simply couldn’t give up cheese and its a good compromise) way of eating 100% commitment and here I am, almost two months later still going for it. Its the only thing I’ve stuck to (not completely 100% – as you’ll see). But with the resolve to live this way for a long time to come.

It’s not a fad for me now. I can see it works, I can see why people rave about it, why people stick to it, and i’ll briefly explain why.

  • So the first major thing is that my digestion has completely cleared up. Thats what I started this for, and it did what it said on the cave walls, i’m 100% no longer getting those issues anymore.
  • I’ve lost weight. 13lbs to be exact, all accidentally, without trying, completely as a side effect to the new way of eating.

Some unexpected things have also happened:

  • I’ve saved money.
  • I’m much more organised.
  • I eat home cooked food every single day.

So yeah, in short bullet points those are the positives. The negatives are that you basically need to be prepared, all, the, time. I’ve found the organisation to be a pleasant side effect to the lifestyle change.

I now meal-plan once a week, this allows me to stick to a regime. To cook more complicated dishes on the days when I have more time and quicker ones on the days I don’t. I make sure I cook for four instead of two which means I always have leftovers for lunch at work the next day. Killing the possibility of going off diet to grab some lunch.

This has had the knock on effect of saving so much money. I buy the groceries for the entire week using Ocado. I’m not walking round a supermarket (STRESSFUL) and picking up things I don’t need, aren’t good for me, cost more. Also, because i’m meal planning and making sure I cook more food than required I am no longer buying lunch every day at work, an approximate saving of £40 per week—forty pounds!!!

The weekly shop is coming in at about £60-£75. That seems to last us not only a week of lunch and evening meals, (for two people), but also I usually cook so much we can often make it last for two by using frozen leftovers and mixing them up with other veggie sides.

That means those two (hot and delicious home cooked) meals, every day for two weeks is costing around £1.34 per person, per meal. That’s staggering! I’ve gone from buying food every day at lunch and grabbing evening meal ingredients last minute to spending £1.34 on each meal. I can’t tell you how good this makes my bank account feel!

The organisation is easily helped by a myriad of resources. I use Pinterest daily to pin new meal ideas. Punchfork, for the same. Nom Nom Paleo helps by making me drool over delicious meals and Marks Daily Apple reminds me of why i’m doing this in the first place. I’ve found getting ‘some’ ingredients difficult, and by difficult I mean they’re not on Ocado so I have to get them online somewhere else. Which is obviously not hard at all.

The baking isn’t quite the same, and I don’t go in for faux versions of foods that you aren’t allowed. My cravings for ‘bad things’ have gone completely now and moreso I have patience to stand and make food no matter how tired I am. What helps is removing all the naughty things from your cupboards so you dont even get tempted! I know i’ve only really mentioned the things you’re not allowed, but my diet is full and delicious. The range of foods I eat weekly has actually increased. I’m obsessed with delicious coconut oil and curried cauliflower. I can’t go back to grabbing a chunk of buttered bread to stop my hunger anymore.

I’ve now gone as organic as I can and as local as possible with my food purchasing. Explained by Mark Sisson very well here: Is organic all its cracked up to be?

Falling off the wagon sometimes happens. Especially if you’ve just had your 30th birthday, your friends invite you to an amazing dinner party, and you just get invited out to go drinking. But that’s ok, i’m not going to restrict myself completely. I have to let my hair down sometimes and as long as I’m commited to making all the other days ‘paleo’, then i’m not going to lose sleep over it. Here Mark explains the 80/20 principle.

I know its only been a couple of months, but I can tell you now I know i’ll stick to this completely. It may be that I can’t control my food intake every day, but thats ok. The benefits far outweigh the negatives and at the moment, I can’t see that changing. I hope that this has inspired you to give it a go.

Homework:

Whole 9 Life – Brilliant explanations about why we should look after our digestion.
Marks Daily Apple – The whole reason I got into this in the first place. He explains everything, very succinctly.
Nom Nom Paleo – recipe ideas.
My Pinterest board – recipe ideas.
Punchfork – recipe ideas.
Going the Whole 30 Hog – A Blog by my friend @sophiebradshaw on jumping in at the deep end of Paleo/Whole 30

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