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UnGrained, Again (or, Paleo take 2)

636069190726213870-2082395881_paleodiet2For a month last year, I took a stab at eating Paleo/Whole30. It went pretty well, but not without its challenges. The worst thing for me was giving up dairy. I made the switch to almond milk, but it just was not the same. I got cranky. The first 30 days went well. Then I eased up. Then, I fell off the wagon. I went full all-grain-all-dairy-all-sugar-all-the-time. I told myself I’d try it again. But for the life of me I couldn’t get myself to do it. It just made me too sad.

About a month ago, I had to come to terms with the fact that I was just feeling like crap in every way possible. My blood sugars were veering higher and higher. Every part of me, except perhaps my right wrist, was hurting. I was exhausted. I was overweight. I was having debilitating gastrointestinal “attacks” a few times a week. It all sucked. I walked around muttering, “I feel like shit.”

I had a feeling that grains were probably doing this to me. In fact, this has been
a very helpful go-to visual every time I’m just a little bit tempted. witness5

I made a deal with myself on October 1st. I told myself if I tried to de-grain and de-sugar, to de-alcohol and de-soy and de-legume, I would allow myself to keep one thing on my plate. DAIRY.

When I was little, my mother used to call me “Nezumi” (mouse) because I was so addicted to cheese. Which I still am.

But as it turns out, it’s harder to eat tons of cheese when you’re not also consuming them with some sort of grain. Like crackers. Or bread. Or pizza. Or macaroni. But I can still have cream in my coffee, and cheese crumbles in a salad.

This, it turns out, has made all the difference. I feel like I could do this forever. My appetite is shockingly decreased. It’s not really my appetite, it’s my cravings. When I eat a non-grain item, I’m done. But once I eat anything with grains, whether it’s a spoonful of orzo or a stale tortilla chip, I just want MORE MORE MORE. That’s been interesting.

Since October 1, my blood sugars have taken a dive. I was hovering in the 130-160+ range for my fasting sugars, which is NOT GOOD. (they’re good if they’re near or below 100). It just took a few days and I saw my first sub-100 number in probably a year.

I’ve lost 9 pounds. It’s October 15th. That’s pretty good math. I wanted to lose weight, but my primary motivations were my diabetes and my various joint pains. I started out with a very painful shoulder, hip and scapula. The scapular pain is GONE. The hip pain is much decreased. It’s almost gone. (on a scale of one to ten, it’s maybe a two) The shoulder pain is another story, but I think it’s a more serious issue that inflammation. I went and got a cortisone shot for that yesterday, and I hope that it will kick in later this week, and that it will last a good while.

Meanwhile, though, my second foray into grain-free life has been smoother and easier than I expected. It just takes a little #wycwyc. (What You Can, When You Can). I realized I couldn’t do this without allowing myself the dairy. But as it turns out, there are still big benefits.

I’ve decided to ease up and allow one off-day per week. Today, I had a few bites of orzo salad, one or two crackers at a birthday party, and half of my mother’s leftover chicken pot pie. It was interesting. With each of those bites, I instantly felt like they revved up my appetite. I didn’t want to stop until the plate or bowl was ALL GONE. That just doesn’t happen with other food.

How much do you wanna bet my blood sugars AND my weight will be nudged up tomorrow morning?

 

This Dairyholic/Grainaholic’s Month of Paleo

Today marks my 30th day of eating Paleo. Woo!!! I’ve had a lot of surprises this month. Here’s my recap.

First, I learned to love a lot of things I either never liked before, or had never given much of a try. But given that I was someone who used to go through more than a quart of half-and-half a week (NO KIDDING), I had to figure some things out.

First off, was dealing with what to put in my coffee and tea. I tried coconut milk and almond milk. They were unacceptable. (in my drinks) Finally, I realized that all the joy had been sucked out of my caffeinated beverages, so I might as well just stop drinking them. The result? Not so much of a problem. I just stopped. Now, when I wake up in the morning, I just eat FOOD. And have some water. It’s fine. I’ve adjusted. Weirdly, I notice that I am, overall, MUCH MORE ALERT than when I was drinking caffeine. So there’s that. I realized that my coffee-and-tea drinking was a habit. A nice one. But it didn’t kill me to just switch to water. If you had told me this any time in the past few decades, I would not have believed it. I miss the ritual of coffee, the smell of it, the nice way that a warm mug feels in my hands. But I’ve survived that.
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Then, the issue of actual “drinking” milk. I was also a big fan of drinking a glass of milk, like, for pleasure. Lo and behold, I discovered that I also liked goat milk, which apparently some people on Paleo (or is it primal?) enjoy. I did feel a little cheatish though, in addition to feeling like Heidi, enjoying her grandfather’s goats’ milk up in the Alps. I tried a few almond milks. BLECH. Then, something in the super-fancy packaging of this Pop & Bottle brand caught my eye one day when I was at the little market near my office. Yeah, this tiny little 10 oz bottle cost $6.00. But I decided to try it, and YUM. I mean, YUM. I just hope I can figure out a way to replicate it. I’ll just save it as a special treat though, since I’m not eating desserts or drinking alcohol.

Oh, yeah?! What about dessert?? Well, I did indulge in birthday cake (twice!) during the month. The first time, I was pretty sure I would die if I didn’t get to have a piece. So after much agonizing, I did. It was delicious. The second time, at the end of week 3, I figured I would enjoy another piece for dear Mr McBody’s birthday. Totally different experience. I could TELL that it was “good,” ie. high-quality, but it just didn’t have that same delicious sensation. I had a couple of forkfuls and then left it. I developed a real fondness for eating fresh raspberries with coconut cream when I wanted dessert. But the need for daily desserts really reduced drastically.

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One of the best results, ever.

One of the very best things, though, has been the impressive reduction in my blood sugars. This number on the left is really the lowest I have ever seen it, since I began testing it in 2009. This was pretty dramatic.

I went to see my new doctor yesterday and had all my labs drawn. EVERYthing was in normal range, and especially my cholesterol and lipids were stellar. So there’s that.

But… how WAS it?! It wasn’t all easy. The first week was tough. After around 2-3 weeks, most of my craving for particular foods went away. But it was replaced by a strange sadness, like a mourning of the relationship I used to have with food. Which was, in many ways, like a love affair. I LOVED cheese. I LOVED certain kinds of desserts, and bread, and butter and so many delicious things.

The 30 Days are over. So now what? Well, yesterday I gave myself some sourdough bread with some real butter on it. It was… meh. I mean, I could’ve taken or left it. Today, I had a slice of homemade veggie pizza. Now that? That was pretty darn good.

Since starting on February 1st, I’m down more than ten pounds. This feels good. I’ve been trying to shed these pounds for the good part of a year, and this is the first time I’ve seen a steady decrease on a consistent basis in a long time. So I’m going to keep going. I might have a few non-Paleo treats once or twice a week, but I’m not going back to my pre-Paleo days.

This major re-setting of my food intake has been pretty dramatic. I’ve never eliminated so many different food groups ALL AT ONCE before. I learned that it didn’t kill me. Maybe quite the opposite. I’m feeling pretty alive.

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