Today’s Monday, and I have another writer’s story to share! Janet’s going to talk to you about the lessons she’s learned after doing Paleo for a year.
“No, I do not sit in a cave chewing on raw meat.” And: “No, I don’t want to debate the scientific validity of my diet, especially while you are slurping a diet Coke and shoving Cheetos in your face.” Or: “Don’t fret about what to cook when I come over. Meat. Veggies. I’m good.”
If I were clever, I could do a “Parent’s Just Don’t Understand” rap about the misconceptions and negativity surrounding the Paleo Diet. But mostly I simply sigh and smile. I do believe the oddity of it is lessening. I live in the South, where fads and trends show up five years behind the times and are sometimes as welcome as ants at a picnic. If I’m feeling grumpy, I’ll say it’s because people know the typical American diet is horrible, but they don’t want to do anything about it. Because change. And fat and salt taste so good.
But I try not to be grumpy. Instead I smile and nod. I say it isn’t for everyone. I say I like the way I feel now. I don’t miss those fifteen pounds that melted away despite my pistachio binges. I like that my doctor is no longer threatening to add the diagnosis of diabetes to my chart. But most of all, I like that the arthritis in my wrists, hands and knees went away. Poof. Gone. (Well, I noticed it after five months, so maybe not poof, but you know what I mean.)
Most of all I like not feeling bad all the time. I like the energy and focus I’ve gained. I work night shift and the assaults on my sleep cycle made it difficult for me to be creative. Writing new words needed to wait. Editing? Forget it. I had to schedule a string of days off to get maybe one good day of writing. Now I can flip between work/write modes with just one good sleep. Paleo? Exercise? Both? Don’t know. Don’t care. I’m writing not only more, but cleaner.
I’ve been following Paleo for just over a year now and have learned a few things:
1. Americans are addicted to cheese.
Really. Everything pre-made that is not a breakfast cereal has cheese. Almost every menu item has cheese on it. This was the tough one for me. I loved nothing more than a fine slice of extra sharp cheddar. Gruyere? Yes, please! It was also my first real lesson in how dairy was impacting my system. After several months on the diet, I cheated with a small bit of blue cheese on a salad. It took two days for my digestive track to calm down. So now it’s not so much a question of how much I miss cheese, but that the fleeting pleasure of the taste isn’t worth the aftermath.
2. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
I got the book. Skimmed through it. Read through some blogs. I like things simple. If it gets too complicated, I’ll give up. I pared the diet down to the basics: the finest meats you can afford to buy (it’s a shame the no hormone/no antibiotic cuts are so expensive), fruits, veggies, seeds and nuts. Or on the “no” side: no grains, no dairy, no refined sugar, and no beans or legumes. I simply eliminated those from my diet. (Except my spoon full of raw sugar and dollop of soy creamer in my coffee, I may be Paleo but I’m still civilized.)
3. Dining out isn’t a problem.
One of my favorite restaurants is known for its amazing, organic, ground in the restaurant hamburgers. I was embarrassed at first and ordered without cheese and set the buns aside. Then I felt bad about wasting the food. So now I order no cheese, no bun. Just put it on the plate. I’ve done this for a year and in three different states. More and more restaurants are offering gluten free options. It’s not odd anymore to have food restrictions and every restaurant I’ve been in has been very accommodating. I went to lunch with two ladies last summer. I’m Paleo, one was gluten free and the other was diary free. The server was awesome and knowledgeable about what was in each dish and how we could modify to fit our preferences. Just ask.
4. Read labels very carefully!
Just this morning, I grabbed a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce to make chipotle mayo. Peppers, right? Ha. I saw another brand and compared ingredients. One had wheat flour. The other peppers, tomato, water, vinegar and spices. Gluten, like high fructose corn syrup is hard to avoid in anything premade.
It’s been said that I buy spices like other women buy shoes. This is probably true. Changing the way I eat, i.e. less salt, less fat, less processed food, gave me the opportunity to experiment with spice flavors and combinations. And I liked it. Grab a few new spices and try them out.
The Paleo diet isn’t as restrictive as some people believe. There is a great big world of veggies and spices out there. But if anyone has mastered the art of Paleo baked goods, I’d love some hints. I do miss baking muffins.
About Janet Lee Nye
Janet Lee Nye is a neonatal nurse by night and the writer of contemporary romance by day. She lives in Charleston, SC with her very talented writer Fella and two spoiled felines. She also lives too far away from her first grandbaby. Follow her on Twitter @janlnye or the felines at #TheSadLivesOfThorAndLoki.
Thank you so much, Janet! It’s always great to hear another writer’s story and how much it has helped them not only become healthy but increase their ability to write!