Why we chose to start eating Paleo

With each of my 3 pregnancies I have craved a tremendous amount of protein.  They come in varying forms, but ultimately my body is sending the same message each time – what it wants, what it needs is more protein.

Postpartum I’ve found that I’m lactose and milk protein (whey) intolerant; each of my babies has had severe gas and colic if I don’t manage this intake.  I’m also unable to manage carbohydrate cravings.  I find myself giving up dairy and white flour for the first year.  This is a huge boost to my system because I’m filled with energy, I sleep wonderfully and after my first two children I lost approximately 75 lbs within 18 months.  But without the removal of processed foods and reducing starchy carbohydrate intake I wasn’t able to lose the other 75 pounds and ultimately gained most of the weight back each time.

Since I must give up dairy when I am nursing, I feel like I have one last opportunity to get it right on this third and last child.  I also know that my body has difficulties processing carbs (my grandmother is diabetic, my mother has gluten intolerance and I crave highly refined and processed carbs when I eat them) so it stands to reason that it be something I remove.  With a strong, strong belief in biology and evolution, the Paleolithic Diet has surfaced as the most logical way for our family to eat, now and forever forward.  What’s more basic than executing a diet from and of the earth?  Here are the basics, and how they’ll work for us:

  • All the lean meats, fish, and seafood you can eat – sure!  We’ll be focusing on eating more seafood and grass-fed animals, as a move to improve our meat intake in general.  I think it’s important to note that in some blogs I’ve been reading the nuances to this most basic principal aren’t being met.  Specifically we will eat high fat meats (eggs, pork and beef) from grass-fed and free-range animals, whose nutritional value is closer to those of our ancestor’s catch.  Lean meats (seafood and chicken) we purchase from local grocery stores, since their fat stores of toxins will affect our bodies the least. We will avoid simply adding canned meats to our diet, canning is a process which modifies the acid-base balance in your body and our aim is to eat fresh, healthy, lean meats.
  • All the fruits and non-starchy vegetables you can eat – sure!  Potatoes and beans are staples in our house, but since we love fruits and veggies it will hopefully be simply a learning curve in meal planning.  We will treat these as exceptions, as we will likely have cause to eat them occasionally in order to make this work for our family setting.
  • No cereals – alright, we knew this was coming.  I imagine this one will be hardest for us to conquer.  We’re starting with two upfront exceptions to this rule: 1) whole grain tortillas 2) rice.  These foods will be in limited quantity but hopefully help in adapting this lifestyle for the long-term to our family.  Ultimately we will remove both of these items as we adjust to the cooking and eating style.
  • No legumes – see veggie exceptions above.
  • No dairy – this elimination is the one I anticipate being the easiest to execute.  However,  the mistake I’ve made previously is that I’ve simply replaced soy with dairy products and then re-incorporated dairy when I weaned my children.  Our new diet will aim to eliminate dairy by refocusing our diet on healthy sources of calcium through fruits and vegetables.  Butter and cheese will be a learning curve for my husband who loves to cook, but olive and coconut oils and spices will be a welcome replacement.
  • No processed foods – looking forward to getting this out of our lives!  We already do a pretty good job of avoiding HFCS and other processed foods by eating meals from scratch, but children’s snack foods are notoriously horrifying.  Freeze dried fruit, jerky, veggies with guacamole dip and nut mixes will now become our new go-to’s.

The next two weeks will be an “introduction” period to this new way.  We’ll begin integrating principals and not purchase any non-Paleo foods. We’ll use up the breads, cereals and other foods in our pantry while adding extra protein and veggies.  Most of all, we’ll introduce our children to the idea that ice cream isn’t something we buy at the store anymore – it’s something we make at home with coconut milk and honey.

This project is mine.  I want to be healthy, I want my body to function the best it can and believe this diet is the answer for me. I’ve had the fortune of good health through three pregnancies despite my obesity; but, I know this fortune will run out and my body will become taxed and break-down.  This plan, this lifestyle change, is so that I am around and mobile when my children need babysitters for their own children.  With that goal in mind, I will not be forcing my children to eliminate the same way I plan to; however, I will know our home-cooked meals will be delivering to their bodies the most healthful food I know how to offer.

I’m really looking forward to seeing my husband’s physical results next year, too.  He LOVES butter and cream, which are problematic to your diet.  Paleo eating, in theory, should magically improve his cholesterol and blood pressure, both noted as a concern by his doctor (despite his high volume of physical exercise).

Let the changes begin!

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