07 July 2013

30 Day Paleo Challenge - Day 15

Warning: Today's post turned into a rather long personal manifesto. Apparently 12-hour road trips home from northern Alabama to southern Florida make me very wordy. 

Today marks the halfway point of my 30 Days of Paleo.

Over this past weekend at our family reunion, I realized - for the seven people who are actually reading this blog - that I haven't really explained "Paleo" all that well. I was asked a lot of questions about "What exactly is it?" And "Are you sure you can have butter?" "Why no beans or peanuts?" 

So let me take this moment to explain myself.

Yes. I eat butter. Cavegirl Eats (http://cavegirleats.com/2012/06/10/troubleshooting-is-it-paleo/) puts it this way: 

So what about this question:

“I thought Dairy wasn’t ‘Paleo.’ Why are you eating butter?” 

So here’s my answer.

I eat butter because it’s FREAKING DELICIOUS. And raw, grass-fed, full-fat, 100% pastured dairy is nutrient-dense. And it’s delicious.

Another explanation I agree with is from Diane Sanfilippo over at Balanced Bites (http://balancedbites.com/2013/03/faqs-what-is-paleo.html)

FAQs: What is Paleo?

“Paleo” is short for Paleolithic, but the name is actually less important than the power of the overall approach.

The Paleo way of eating is simple: Mimic our ancestors, who suffered from fewer chronic diseases than modern populations. This doesn’t mean that you’ll recreate a caveman’s food landscape, of course. Our food supply and our environment are different from our ancestors, so we must adapt as new information comes to light.

The approach to explaining a Paleo type of diet is less about demonizing the foods we look to avoid (grains, legumes, pasteurized dairy, and refined foods) and more about helping you to understand how food should work in your body. 

The Paleo lifestyle is most importantly about:

1 – eating whole foods that provide optimal, nutrient-dense fuel for your body

2 – avoiding processed, refined, nutrient-poor factory foods.

This means avoiding grains, legumes (beans, peanuts), refined sugar, and pasteurized dairy products.

People believe eating whole foods is hard and limiting, but it isn’t. It may be an adjustment at first, but it’s simply a matter of eliminating foods that don’t promote health in your body. Though making these changes can be confusing and a bit difficult at first. 

Once you’ve tackled basic food choices, it is critical to make sure you maintain proper digestive function and blood sugar regulation, then to understand what to do to reach your own personal health goals.

Paleo is not a one-size-fits-all approach, but it’s a way of eating that is appropriate for all human animals. In other words, you are a human animal, so there is a Paleo “plan” that is right for you.

Before you can land on the best nutritional plan for you, it’s important to understand the basic principles behind this ancestral, real-food way of eating.

1. Eat whole foods.

If a food is not in its whole, natural form, chances are that it has been refined and is a less than optimal choice. When you eat food as provided by nature, it actually promotes health, healing, and immunity against future ailments.

2. Avoid modern, processed, and refined foods.

These include grains, pasteurized dairy products, industrial seed oils (like corn, cottonseed, soybean, canola, or rapeseed), and artificial or refined sugar and sweeteners—especially high fructose corn syrup. If it has to pass through a factory before it is edible for you, reconsider whether or not it is actually food. More likely, it is an “edible product” or “food-like-substance.”

3. Eat to maintain proper digestive function.

You must determine which foods your body cannot tolerate and stop eating them. For example, some people can tolerate dairy, or the occasional grain-based foods. When you experience symptoms of food intolerances, it is your body’s way of telling you that you are disrupting your digestion.

Why is it so critical not to disrupt digestion? The ability to fight chronic, and even acute, disease states begins in the digestive system (the gut) - 60% to 80% of the immune system is within the gut.

If your body constantly suffers from digestive irritation, you set the stage for suppressed immune function in all other areas. This can result in a condition as innocuous as seasonal allergies or a problem that is much more aggressive like diverticulitis, eczema, psoriasis, or a number of inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.

4. Eat to maintain proper blood sugar regulation.

The amount of time it takes before your hunger kicks in again after a meal and how you feel (besides hungry) entering into your next meal are critical signs of how well your blood sugar levels are managed.

If you’re hungry and eating every two to three hours and feeling shaky, weak, or starving entering into each meal or snack, you are probably not eating the right balance of food for you.

Figuring out how much protein, fat, and “good carbs” you should eat will help you to maintain well-balanced blood sugar throughout the day while comfortably eating roughly every four to six hours.

So pretty much, Paleo is about is eating healthy food and avoiding unhealthy food — i.e., eating whole foods as opposed to refined foods. 

It's not all about "good" foods and "bad" foods - which is how lot of people, including myself, tend to label food. 

This honestly turns into a huge problem for me. I'll just admit it right now. I have food issues. Big ones. I associate guilt and happiness with my food choices, and "bad" foods are grounds for severe guilt and self-punishment. 

So Paleo works for me. No counting, no measuring...just delicious whole foods that make me feel healthy and clean. 
I've got to stop associating food with feelings. Food is food. It's fuel, it's nutrition. Nothing more, nothing less. 

So that's it. That's what these 30 days are about. 

Hopefully by the end of this, I'll have a greater instinct to choose clean and natural eating and not associate food with guilt. I might never be a size zero, but I can lift heavy things and swim and bike and run and do push-ups. 

Strong, not skinny.  

Healthy, not weak and shaky. 

I'll take it. 


12 FREAKING HOURS ON THE ROAD HOME!! Why did we move so far south into the bowels of Florida??

Breakfast: Sausage & egg bake, bacon and my mom-in-law's most excellent coffee. She's even letting me borrow her favorite Mickey Mouse travel mug. 

Lunch: Hopefully Subway. For road food, I'm really loving their salads - I get double meat on top of veggies with olive oil and vinegar. Plus their unsweet tea rocks. 

Dinner: Not 100% sure yet. Hopefully we'll be home by then and I can warm up one of several paleo options in the freezer. I miss my roast. Man, that stuff is awesome. 

Girl cannot live on roast alone...but I can sure try. 

We've only been in the car for roughly three hours already, and I'm going bananas. Time to break out The Office DVDs...

Today I love: My mom-in-law's coffee and the ability of my iPhone to search for Paleo ranch dressing recipes. I'm getting desperate. 

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