30 days of paleo: lessons

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I have to say, I’m really pleased with how this month turned out. I’ve learned a lot about myself and about food, in general.

Food can be good without butter, cream and cheese! I cooked frequently with dairy, so having to go without for a whole month took some getting used to. There were times in the beginning when all I wanted to do was put a splash of cream in my soups or sprinkle a little cheese over, but I resisted and substituted with spices or coconut milk instead. And now? I don’t even miss dairy all that much.

It’s the same with sugar. I went into this hoping that I could kick my sugar habit. While I can’t say that I don’t crave sugar or sweets ever, I do crave it less often. And when I do, it’s not a ravenous, “Must have cookie now!” It’s more of a, “I could for a little bit of chocolate”. Right now, I’m really into these healthier homemade chocolate bars, as well as fried honey bananas.

Going back to that first point I made, I’ve experimented with food in a way that I normally wouldn’t have. Paleo meals were a lot more versatile than I initially thought, but it took some research and a lot of planning. I planned the breakfasts, lunches, dinners and even snacks. Planning ahead was a huge contributor to my success.

mushrooms

 The Good:

  • So much energy! Even at times when I normally would feel low, i.e. the mid-afternoon slump.
  • Heavy research into Paleo helped me to be more informed about the food I was putting in my body.
  • I felt accomplished knowing I was eating clean and disciplined.
  • Less cravings for sweets! And when I did want something sweet, I went for something healthy and was surprisingly satisfied.
  • Lots of delicious meals, much more than I had originally thought.

The Bad:

  • We went over our food budget every single week, largely due to the prices of organic meat and fish.
  • Frequent trips to the store.
  • Eating out was tough. Paleo options were minimal. When you see someone at the next table enjoying the creamy mushroom risotto, it’s like, ooooooh, I want that!
  • There was almost no room for error. If I forgot to bring a snack with me to work then I’d be left scouring the area for something to eat. There are no fruit stands or grocery stores nearby, so options were extremely limited. After passing Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and various cafes that seem to only sell bread (seriously, SO much bread), I went into a small convenience store to pay $4 for a Paleo-friendly but disappointing Larabar.

soup

What now?

My 30 days are almost up and once I’m done I want to maintain the good habits I’ve acquired. While neither Bob nor I will be giving up grains and dairy for good, I want to at least keep most of our meals Paleo and heart-healthy (especially now that we know Bob has high cholesterol). We tend to be a little more lenient with ourselves on the weekends and while that probably won’t change, we’ll have to reign it back just a bit and save the really indulgent stuff for special occasions. I think that sounds fair enough.

In spite of the bad rep that Paleo has been getting in the media lately, I have to say that once I got over my initial fatigue, I felt fantastic, physically and mentally. I didn’t feel like I was depriving myself of anything (maybe except doughnuts and cupcakes). Or rather I didn’t feel like I was depriving myself of anything I needed. And isn’t that what it’s all about anyway? Getting what you need and feeling good? I say a hearty YES to that.

11 responses to “30 days of paleo: lessons”

  1. rooth says:

    I’ve heard many people say that they experience a surge of energy after going paleo. Balance is key to a long term “diet” but isn’t it amazing how awesome you feel after eating clean?

    • Jillian says:

      Absolutely! But yes, balance is key and eating strictly Paleo long-term just isn’t realistic, at least for me. I love that I feel less tired, which is mostly the reason why I want to keep most of my meals from here on out grain and dairy-free.

  2. Cecilia says:

    Have you lost any weight in this month of paleo?
    Cecilia

  3. sherri lynn says:

    I love hearing your take on the Paleo diet. I honestly don’t think I have the discipline to do it, but I do think it’s great to really watch what we put into our bodies. I definitely concur that I would feel deprived of cupcakes and donuts… but you’re right that we don’t need them… maybe only emotionally :)

    • Jillian says:

      I honestly didn’t think I’d have the discipline for it either. But I did have a great desire to do this, so I guess where there’s a will, there’s a way. The resisting sweets part was very difficult at first, but you’re right about them. It’s more about the emotional satisfaction than needing them. I always had a cookie (or something else) after dinner, but now I find I’m not hungry for anything else after dinner, at least most of the time.

  4. colleen says:

    i’m happy it went well (and that the 30 days are up!) i find where we really run into problems is snacking – learning to reach for the nuts, or green juice, or a piece of fruit – is an essential habit. i find it hard to cut carbs (i love my pasta) but fairly easy to say no to sugar, even though i have a big sweet tooth. and i agree – let yourself go on the weekends a bit. it can make going through the week, making healthy choices, a lot easier to stomach (get it?!)

    • Jillian says:

      Ha! I get it! Oh, I love pasta too. It was hard not indulge in it, especially since I make it pretty much every week.

  5. Elisa says:

    cool, well done! Did you do Whole30?

    • Jillian says:

      I did! I found out it was called The Whole 30 about half way through the process, hence the name “30 days of paleo”.

  6. I’ve also been interested in Paleo but have been deterred by the cost and well in the middle of a cold UK winter, the last thing I wanted to give up was comfort food like cheese and hot chocolate. My diet has changed so much since I moved to Australia and I think it might actually be doable here. Thanks for the info… now just to convince the husband!

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