Anybody who knows me, knows that I am one of the least likely people ever to go the Paleo route. ME? I probably love cheese and dairy products more than anyone, ever. I LIVE for cheese. I put half and half in everything (coffee, tea, MILK). But this past year and a half has not been easy. I’ve had recurring aches and pains, a plantar fasciitis or other foot pain (possibly posterior tibialis tendonitis) that would not quit, and weight gain and the like. It has not been fun. (reason for not blogging in forever: I hate doing nothing but whine for months on end)
In December, I got together with a dear friend whom I hadn’t seen in a long time. She looked FANTASTIC. I’d remembered her at my 25th anniversary party, hobbling around and unable to walk the one block to the beach. She was in terrible pain, also in her feet. But now she looked slim and vigorous, and had done a 6 mile hike in Italy! She had lost 40 lbs, she said, and felt terrific. What happened?! I asked. And she said: Paleo. She had visited podiatrists and surgeons and therapists and chiropractors and acupuncture, and finally her own primary care physician suggested she might try an “anti-inflammatory,” i.e. Paleo diet. She was one step away from surgery which had a small chance of actually improving her situation. So she tried. She said that within two weeks, her debilitating pain was GONE. And she hasn’t looked back since.
Well humph, I said. She said, “Don’t do it for weight loss. Do it for pain relief.” These words kept echoing in my head. I mulled it around. I just didn’t feel… READY in January, that universal month of Good Intentions and Resolve. But when February came up and I was still hobbling down the stairs from my bedroom every morning, I thought, okay. I WILL TRY.
I had to not think about it too much. I had to just do it. I bought the NomNom Paleo book, and read a bunch of stuff online (which is unending). I woke up on February first and set about learning how to make the most perfect hard boiled egg ever. (it involves pin-pricking the shell, and baking soda, believe it or not) And then I just started.
NO grains. NO dairy (except a little bit goat milk). NO legumes, sugar or alcohol. That’s a huge list of NO’s.
The first week was pretty rough, I’ll admit. It was really an epic psychological battle. I whined a little bit on Twitter and Beki pointed me to this Whole30 Timeline, which pretty well summed it up. I definitely went through the “KILL ALL THE THINGS” phase and the “Hardest Days” phase. Somewhere in the past few days, though, I have felt myself calming down, sinking into it, and looking around in utter disbelief that I, the Dairy Queen of the Universe, have survived thus far.
Things I have noticed:
- I’ve dropped some significant poundage. Even though this was not the primary goal, it has been a relief. YAY.
- For the first time in about 10 months, I have been able to descend my stairs without leaning heavily on the bannister. Like – bounding down the stairs as in days of yore. Very thrilling.
- Foot/heel pain: pretty much almost gone. Maybe a little teeny tiny ache. But: so much better.
- For someone who has had 2-3 cups of cream-topped coffee or tea per day for decades, I’m now just drinking water. And weirdly enough, the lack of caffeine has resulted in feeling MORE AWAKE THAN EVER. Especially at night. My brain feels like a giant, light-filled cavern. For someone who is used to collapsing into oblivion the second I lie down, this isn’t exactly what I had bargained for. But I am finding it interesting. And once I do fall asleep, I sleep long and deep.
- I’m actually not a social pariah or anything. I even brought this big bowl of roasted veggies to a birthday potluck and people acted like I’d brought a huge pile of freshly-minted cash. They fell upon it, and the bowl was empty within 20 minutes.
- I don’t hate or feel repelled by the taste of sugar. I did have a moment, on day 7, when (at the aforementioned party) I thought I would die if I could not have a taste of the birthday cake. I whimpered to my husband who said I wouldn’t die if I DID have some. So I did. I was expecting it to be this moment of “BLECH! TOO SWEET! UGH! HOW COULD I EVER EAT THAT STUFF?!” but no. It was absolutely delicious.
- I have developed a taste for green smoothies. This is nothing short of a miracle! I gagged at any liquid green anything previously, but my daughter came home with her NutriBullet and made a delicious concoction of kale, cucumbers, carrots, apples, oranges, lemon, ginger and the magic AVOCADO. Yes, it was yummy. She knew better than to put anything abhorrent like bananas in there.
- Did I mention? My blood sugars have been stellar. :-)
- I love olives.
- Cauliflower is the miracle food! It can be made into “rice,” “mashed potatoes,” “pizza crust.” It can be roasted and pureed. It can substitute for so many things. We tried a cauliflower-crust pizza, on my 3rd day of Paleo. I was hosting a writing group in which one of my friends is GF and DF. But I knew it would also help me stay on the Paleo track. Well, it was a unanimous HIT. Even the people who COULD eat the regular pizza, were totally enamored with the cauliflower crust one. BOOM.
- So, today is officially my halfway mark. According to the timeline, I should be feeling pretty awesome. In fact, I do feel pretty good. It’s subtle, but I’ll take better-fitting-clothes, fantastic blood sugars and pain free feet any day. It’s what I had hoped for. Even more, really. Because it hasn’t totally KILLED ME.
(edited to add) Well, it didn’t kill me. But I would be dishonest if I didn’t add – one of the strangest little sad things about it, is that it has somehow killed my joy of food. I mean, I LIKE the food I am eating now. It’s fine. It’s even delicious. But it feels very consciously like “food = fuel” and food is not about pleasure in the same way that it used to be. I no longer swoon over food. I no longer spend hours and days thinking about it. This is a LOSS. I just have to balance it out with what I’ve gained. I admit it’s been a little bit (more than a little bit?) sad.
What will I do when the thirty days are over? I don’t know. I think I’m going to take it one day at a time. To choose mostly Paleo, whole30 type foods most of the time. If I can keep it up 80/20, I’ll be happy.
In the meantime… it’s nice to be back here. I’d love to hear from readers who are Paleo eaters, who have tried it, who do it all the time or a little bit of the time. Now I’m curious!
Do you eat Paleo? What benefits have you noticed? What are the challenges? What are your solutions?