Friday, September 20, 2013

Gluten Free Friday ~ One Month of Paleo

It really started several years ago, this toying with the idea of restricting my diet even MORE than it already is, but this magazine that I bought to read on the plane to Texas last month included the compelling evidence I needed to make me stop toying and start practicing.  I'm sort of scared to even tell you about this, because I know there are a few of you out there who are already suspicious of dietary "restrictions"and "special diets" and might be thinking "Isn't she already 'high maintenance' enough?" I read a hilarious post about Whole Foods the other day, and it includes a funny line or two about "special diets" and not being wealthy enough to afford one, etc. ~ Ha! (Attention: There are some inappropriate parts/words in the article, though, so please beware.) Anyway, I know it may come off as trying to be "in vogue," but I can assure you that my (or "our," as you'll see) decision to try the paleo diet is simply about feeling better physically and emotionally, getting properly nourished, and avoiding problematic foods. 

Honestly, it's also about honoring God in our bodies, and being more able to worship and serve Him due to the wisdom He keeps revealing to us.  Isn't it "the fool" in Proverbs who knows the right thing to do, but stubbornly refuses to submit ~ scoffing at wisdom principles and exhortations? Please don't hear me say that the paleo diet is the godly diet, though. I'm just responding to His seeming wisdom and leading in my life! This is exactly how the Lord revealed to us that Cooper had Celiac disease ten years ago THIS MONTH, which led to the healing of our entire family, for which I remain so very grateful (The boy was so sick!)

And really, it's not just food.  The "diet" encourages an entire lifestyle ~ of the caveman variety, and it's based on the fact that, evolutionarily speaking, humans have not been eating grains, legumes, or processed foods for very long and can't efficiently process or use them.  We also haven't had artificial light for very long and our post-post-modern late-nights, early-mornings, crammed schedules, and excess screen time are really not doing us any health favors.

Before reading this magazine, it was the cookbook Nourishing Traditions that got me thinking.  Recipes for meat and veggies, others for legumes and grains only after they have been soaked and sprouted, and lots of very interesting research on the need the body has for fats started the mental toying ~ or should I say ruminating?  It touts butter as a superfood, and has a recipes for things like bear meat and liver. Cholesterol?  Dietary cholesterol should never really raise the body's cholesterol levels dangerously.  If you have high cholesterol, it's not necessarily what you're eating, but typically some other health issue, this cookbook/nutritional research book explains.

And then there were the friends doing CrossFit (Hi, Deanna and Joanna!) and posting yummy paleo meals on Facebook ~ or even publishing their own cookbooks! I listened to their experiences and wisdom, as well as friends who were doing the GAPS diet (gut and psychology) and it all made perfect sense to me.
Kale Coconut Pear Smoothie
I picked up the Paleo magazine, not because I was necessarily ready to take the plunge into the diet, but because it had an interesting article about Celiac disease listed on the front cover. Even after being diagnosed with Celiac disease and taking gluten totally out of my diet, it took me quite a while to heal and reverse the symptoms ~ about 3 years, really. And even then, I still reacted to highly "starchy" foods like white or brown rice and corn ~ feeling extremely full and looking like I was nine months pregnant after every meal due to immediate bloating. If I eat eggs, bacon, and potato I'm fine, but when I eat California rolls with white rice or GF muffins in the checkout line at Whole Foods due to a hunger attack, I'm suffering for the rest of the day ~ even if I drink a bottle of kombucha or kefir to boost the probiotics to help with the I-know-better-starchy-food-digestion.

For years we've had a "no cereal for breakfast" rule at our house, because inevitably, one hour later everyone's back in the kitchen due to dropping blood sugar levels and looking for some real food, because that's what starches do ~ they turn to sugar and only satisfy temporarily.  Eating toast?  Have a fried egg with that!  Bagel? Load it up with cream cheese!  Pumpkin Muffins? I'll cut up some grapefruit and heat up some sausage to go along with it!  Cereal is simply a snack around here ~ and not a very good one, in my opinion. You see, I've always had my suspicions about proper nutrition, if only from personal experience and "gut" reactions ~ of the physical and intuitive type.

Anyway, the signs and admonitions have been there all along, and after doing some reading and researching, I'm pretty convinced that the paleo diet and lifestyle which includes exercise, sunshine, proper sleep, and good stress management is optimal for health and nutrition.

So this means.... no grains, no legumes, no dairy, no soy, and NO SUGAR

What does that leave? Beef, Chicken, Pork, Fish, Wild Game, etc., vegetables, fruits, nuts, and oils.
Paleo Blueberry Muffins, Lemon Bars, Banana Bread, Berries & Nuts, and Sweet Potatoes with Egg Scrambles
I started sharing some of the magazine's information with Robert on the flight south, and he was as compelled as I was.  In fact, he said that if I did it, he would do it, too!  Now, this is the guy who really enjoys a brownie with coffee or a bear claw with breakfast, but he, too, was experiencing some negative effects from sugar intake = roller coaster blood sugar and fatigue (Do you know HOW HARD your body has to work to process white sugar?  VERY.), so he was ready to plunge into the caveman lifestyle with me.  It makes it so much easier and enjoyable to have him on this journey with me!

Did you know that high carb diets have been linked to Alzheimers Disease? (not to mention Diabetes, and several other auto-immunes.)  So many interesting connections to mental illnesses and the ADD/Autism spectrum with carbs and diet, too. Did you know that legumes and rice have very high phytic acid contents that attaches to protein making it inaccessible to the body? (which is why soaking and sprouting is encouraged)  You would be frightened to know how "vegetable" oil is made, or the effects of soy on hormones. I have learned so much about nutrition in the last ten years since being diagnosed with Celiac, and the information regarding the Standard American Diet (SAD), is just as the acronym describes.

So, what have we been eating?  Well, here's a sampling from the last month:

B- Egg & veggie scramble, sausage
L-Turkey in lettuce wraps, plantain chips
D-Chicken Soup & Salad

B-Coconut Berry Smoothie with almond butter
L-Chicken Salad, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes
D-Beef Stew, sliced carrots, red peppers & paleo blueberry muffins

B-Veggie omelet, bacon
L-Apple slices with almond butter
D-Ground beef patty, lettuce, avocado, red onion, sweet potato

B-Paleo banana bread, berry/spinach smoothie
L-Hard-boiled eggs, sliced carrots, guacamole
D-Chicken thighs, roasted broccoli, cantaloupe

B-Sausage & egg scramble, clementines
L-Shredded leftover roast beef over cauliflower "rice"
D-Curried Chicken tenders, green beans, salad

There's definitely a bit of a learning curve, and honestly, I don't like the idea of eating that much meat, but my tummy and I feel better, and I've got to re-program myself to understand what is truly nutritious ~ i.e. animal products nourish much better than beans and grains.

One thing that has been difficult is running.  On my first run after beginning the diet, I had to stop after 3-4 miles. We usually run 6-7 miles three mornings a week together, and I run 5 with a friend on Thursdays, but I could not keep going that day.  It takes a while for your body to learn to fuel itself with fat rather than carb, but the brain eventually catches on and tells the rest of the body what to do.  And there's so much fascinating science behind all of that, but this post is already getting toooooo long.

I haven't even given you a new paleo recipe.

Here are a few links for now:

Paleo Almond Muffins (pictured above with blueberries baked in)
Baked Egg in Avocado & MORE
Grilled Steak with Summer Veggies

We are not enforcing this diet on the kids, though.  They think we're a little bit crazy, just like you might by now!  Have a good weekend, and maybe next week I'll tell you about my adventures eating paleo in New York City!

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