I have little desire to write about Paleo/health/food stuff because I am not an expert and I feel like I'm being lumped in as being 'trendy'. I don't care about that stuff, which is why I'd rather shut up about it but obviously that's not working too well. I feel like the questions on instagram (mainly) are growing and while I haven't been living this lifestyle for super long, I have learned a thing or two in the past 5'ish weeks so I guess I have something to say.
Mainly, I feel like shouting, Stop!! yes. Just stop. Stop over-thinking it. (But the truth is, I probably over thought it at first, too) If you truly have a desire to eat this way (or even just cleaner, rather), you CAN. And you know what? It doesn't have to be that hard either. I promise. I am busy. We are so super busy all the time and I have little people who dictate my life. I'm heavily involved in my church, a kid in preschool, a kid in dance, big families who want to see us, lots of social outings, we're part of bible studies, and small groups, and I work from home, it can be done. So I'll break a lot down for you.
My husband, who works at an office, away from home and has zero problem eating this way, either. It just takes a tad bit of extra effort. Just a tad. Don't write me off yet.
Let's start at the first question I keep hearing.
I'd love to eat paleo, but WHAT WILL I EAT?
Do you think I don't eat? 'Cuz guys (girls). I love food. I LOVE FOOD. I would never, ever be on board with something that made me feel like I couldn't eat. Because I want to eat. I like it. I enjoy it. I want to be healthy. In fact, I've never eaten better.
Here's what you can eat: Meats, Fish, Eggs, Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts (like almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, cashews). Cook with: EVOO & Coconut oil. Natural sweeteners like maple syrup and raw honey are good in moderation. Coconut milk or almond milk as milk substitutes are a-ok. Use all the yummy seasonings for your food! Cumin! Cinnamon! Red pepper! Sea Salt! Pepper! (to name a few out of a billion endless options!)
It may not look like it, but trust me, that is a lot of food :) A lot of good, unprocessed, delicious food if you ask me. The problem is, most of us just picture gnawing on a carrot and being bored to tears. You gotta get creative. I'll get back to that.
What foods do we avoid: Dairy, wheat, grains (so no breads, starches, etc), no white potatoes, no corn products or corn itself, no legumes (no beans, no peanuts), no soy products, no refined sugars (!!!!!), none of the processed crap from a box. (if you have questions about "why no corn!?", google it! Tons of good answers about everything you have questions to with good old google, trust me, I did this in the beginning all.the.time when I had a question), artificial sweeteners are a no-no.
The gist: Get back to basics-eating.
YES, ideally everything in your Paleo lifestyle would be "grass-fed", "organic", "cage-free", etc. BUT. You have to do what works for your family budget. And start small. Some change is better than none. So at first I was way overwhelmed by this and immediately wrote it off because I knew it would skyrocket our budget out of control. But in talking with a few friends who have lived and fed their family in this way, they both confirmed that you do what you can. You can still see health benefits even if not every piece of meat and produce is organic, grass-fed, etc, etc. Basically, my thoughts are, don't use this aspect of it as an excuse or a worry if you truly are interested in giving Paleo a whirl.
HOW DO YOU AFFORD TO EAT LIKE THIS?
I hear this all the time. It sucks that the truth is, eating healthy is generally more expensive. I wish it didn't have to be this way, in fact, it freaking bugs me that our country makes it this way. However, our food budget has not changed that much from what it was before, here's why.
We eat out less. We are buying less dairy, very little cheeses (I still buy some for the girls), less snacky-type stuff lives in our home, no boxes of pastas or rices, or jars of spaghetti sauce, etc.
The money we save from the stuff we are not eating goes to the stuff we DO consume lots. Produce, mainly.
So the truth is, other than our first, initial grocery trip---we have stayed mostly on budget with our weekly dollar amount for groceries. The reason the initial trip can be so expensive is because you're getting some of those new essentials that you may or may not have had before. Coconut oil to cook with, almond butter in lieu of peanut butter, pure maple syrup instead of the fake junk, or coconut or almond flour, etc. You see? But after that, it truly levels off to a very reasonable and affordable way to eat.
Don't let the sticker shock of perhaps, that first week, deter you overall. We have found it definitely levels out. And heck, you can always start with small changes first rather than full-blown, if need-be.
How do you prepare? I could never do this, I'm not home enough. I don't want to feel hungry. Can you grocery shop for me? blah blah.
You guys are talking to the QUEEN of hating to meal-plan. For those of you who like to meal plan, then this will come easier for you. It didn't come easy to me. But the truth is, my husband just makes sure it happens before one of us grocery shops for the week. It's as easy as a $1 board from Target on our fridge.
|yes my fridge is a mess. it's cool.|
Sometimes I don't even fill it fully in, as you can see, but I try. Also I get lazy about sides, but I do make them.
We have a few random dinners that we've been liking on 'rotation', and then I try something new here and there. We are OK with being boring. Not everyone is. I just hate recipes (I have issues), so I prefer to just do simple, easy things (I'll get back to this).
As far as preparing, yes, there is some preparation. BUT it's not bad and makes the entire week wayyyyyy, wayyyyy easier. For example, Declan is the one who works at an office and has to pack his lunch everyday. He makes a bunch of mini-burger type things on Sunday (it takes him about 20 min-half hour), and also some almond flour crusted chicken strips. He packs them up into serving sizes that make it simple and easy to just grab and go. Add in his sides of almonds/cashews or apple slices, etc and he's set to go. So yes, it does take planning and some pre-planning especially for easy lunches throughout the week. But an hour on a weekend will go a long way in this department. I often will have Declan (or I will) grill chicken for the week for me to add to salads, or eat alone at lunches, for myself. Just re-heat quickly and we're good!
We also prep some easy-breakfasts, too, for the days I don't feel like making legit eggs or don't have the time, etc. More on this later.
Grocery shopping? Well, guys. I hate to say it (no I don't)--but it's way easier to grocery shop now than it was before. Basically, you stay in the produce aisle, meats, and occasionally the frozen food section for some veggies (yepppp, sometimes I use frozen stuff, not always), and frozen fruits for smoothies. It's actually a quick, quick trip for me weekly and I'm kind of proud of how awesome the cart looks at the end :) You cut out all those middle, in-between aisles (mostly) and so I don't find myself just perusing and throwing random stuff in the cart. It's all intentional.
What do YOU eat? Like, specifically.
Breakfast: I could eat Eggs & bacon every day, to be honest. But I don't always have the time to make eggs. IF I do have time, I like them in a million ways. Fried. Over easy. Scrambled (no cheese, obviously). Declan likes them scrambled with meat (turkey, bacon, chicken, even), but that's more of a weekend thing when we have time. I also could do smoothies (my go to is: almond milk, handful of spinach, banana, frozen strawberries, blueberries--blend. Sorry, no recipe. You guys know I suck at that). Another thing Declan preps ahead of time every weekend are these delicious egg 'muffins'. He takes enough to work for one for him every morning, and then he leaves the rest with us. Lucy loves them, and so do I when I'm in a rush. 30 seconds in the microwave with a side of cantaloupe, or any other fruit, and you're golden. There are lots of different variations of things like this, so get your google search on (or pinterest!).
Breakfast does not have to be hard, guys.
Lunch: Honestly. I am easy, easy, easy when it comes to lunch. I don't require fancy. If we have grilled chicken in the fridge I will simply reheat a piece or two of that, eat it alone, with salad, with some cooked up veggies real quick, etc. Also, I'm not a sweet potato snob. I will microwave-cook one, easy. I find it filling and delicious (I may be weird). When it's tomato season and friends and family have plenty and give them to us, I seriously LOVE, love eating a fresh tomato & avocado with chicken or something like that. I've also made tuna fish (mixed with avocado) on lettuce wraps. I eat leftovers of this soup when I make it for dinner previous days. Trust me, I eat. I am just not super picky when it comes to lunch foods I've found.
Declan eats the chicken fingers I mentioned above & mini burgers (made from beef) that are pretty self explanatory. He sorta alternates, but he is a creature of habit and so he likes and doesn't mind repetitive food. He's more of the "eat for need, not for fun" type. (pfffftttttt)
Dinner: Dinner is the easiest, probably. I keep hearing, "I would have no idea what to make for dinner" and I'm all, HUH? Because dinners have not been that much different for us, honestly. We eat a combination of these things: Grilled Chicken, Chicken Drumsticks, Salmon, Shrimp, Pork loin, Pork chops, Steaks, Crock pot soup recipes, Taco Salad, Cobb Salad, Cauliflower Mashed, Sweet potato fries, Sweet potato mash, Broccoli, Green beans, side salads, zuchinni, Bunless Burgers, etc.
Instead of thinking "Protein, Starch, Veggie", we just think "protein, veggie, veggie". Things like casseroles, etc, have never really been a way we eat, so it wasn't a big adjustment. Do I miss spaghetti night? Yea, a little bit. But there are still lots of ways I can explore doing this paleo-friendly using spaghetti squash or even making meatballs and spaghetti sauce.
Paleo-Baking: Many people don't do paleo baking because the truth is, you don't want to take all the normal stuff you used to eat (pancakes, cookies, etc) and just go and make all paleo-friendly versions of everything and basically eat like you used to. You get what I'm saying? Fresh, fresh, fresh, whole foods are the ideal. HOWEVER. We have found that in moderation, it's been okay to bake here and there. For instance, my favorite muffins when I have some browner bananas sitting around are these (I add walnuts). She also has another pumpkin-carrot one on her blog that I've liked, too. They make an easy addition to a quick-breakfast. Again, not everyday--but sometimes we've had no issues with. We have also done cookies, and we pretty much just google around for a new recipe every time and while they're not the ooey gooey cookie you're used to, they actually can and do fulfill that craving IF NEED BE.
Drinks: I have cut diet-soda cold turkey 5'ish weeks ago. I think I do sometimes miss it, but I don't dream about it, nor do I have a strong urge to get one at the drive-thru. I've been completely happy with water and coffee. Coffee is not technically Paleo. Neither is the coconut milk creamer I use. BUT-coffee was not something Declan, nor I were willing to part with. Therefore, it's an exception. In fact, Declan still drinks his with the same creamer he loves because it was something he didn't want to change, and I think that's totally ok.
So let's talk about exceptions.
In the beginning of this, in talking with some Paleo-friends, they told me to set my standards now and stick to them. So, if you feel like you need to have a beer on the weekends? FINE. If you feel like you still need your one cup of coffee with your favorite creamer? FINE. If you feel like you cannot deny yourself your one special Starbucks Latte a week when cruising Target? FINE.
(Obviously you cannot make exceptions for everryyyything or that would defeat the purpose, but you get it!)
Snacks: At night, we tend to snack on fruit. Honestly, you have no idea--sometimes I truly look forward to an apple dipped in almond butter, or a whole bunch of watermelon. My favorite snack to keep on hand is a nut mix (my friend Jess told me about). 1 lb sliced almonds, 1 lb halved cashews, 1/4 lb sunflower seeds, 1/4 lb pumpkin seeds (I prefer mine without), mixed with 2T coconut oil, and 1T vanilla, mix and then spread on a baking sheet at 300 for 20'ish minutes. Keep sealed and it's good for a handful of snacks here and there OR I love to sprinkle on top of cut up strawberries & bananas with cinnamon. Like, this is my favorite naptime snack. (Thanks again for that, Jess ;)) You can also spread almond butter on celery sticks. You can make sweet potato chips. Plantain chips. I have also made "pineapple ice cream". AKA: 1 Cup+frozen pineapples and 1 cup unsweeteened vanilla almond milk in the food processor, plus a dab of honey=yum.
At work, Declan snacks on cashews, apples, carrot sticks, etc.
It might sound boring, but honestly, once you start fueling your body at all your other meals with such good food, you may find you aren't that hungry when it comes to snacking, anyway.
What are the benefits?
Okay. So we originally went down this track because we are health-conscious people. Well, we've become more health conscious I would say. My husband has a strong desire to maintain/stay ahead of health as much as he can. I feel the same way, and I take pride now in my body and living in a healthy way. It feels good. It feels good to FEEL good, actually. So we were all, "okay we'll try this"--plus I knew it would help make my workouts a little more visible (ie: lower my % body fat, lean me out a little), and I was cool with that.
It turns out, it meshed pretty nicely with our lifestyle and so we really like it. Within a few days of starting to clean up our eating I noticed my face that was previously all broken out had cleared up. Bloat in my gut went down within days. Bloat that I didn't even REALIZE was there until you look at before and after's and are all, WHOA.
|(the thought of this being pinned on pinterest LITERALLY makes me sweat and shake. DO NOT PIN THIS OR I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN. please. I beg of you.)|
The health benefits are insane though...and this is one of my favorite articles that really explains them well. Mental health, gut health, more energy, just to name a few.
The first week you change your lifestyle in this way you can actually feel like crap. Don't let that deter you from keep on keepin' on, because your body is just doing what it's supposed to do. It's learning to start burning protein and good fats versus carbs and sugar which it was used to. Sometimes you can get a little headache'y and feel icky--but the feeling does pass, I swear.
Do you ever cheat?
Obviously in moderation, but we do here and there. Usually about once or so on the weekend. Declan still enjoys his beer when watching football. Last weekend, we went to the fair with our kids and after a week of eating great, we decided, we were going to enjoy our time at the fair. We had fresh cut french fries and a toasted cheeseburger. It was delicious and felt so worth it--we actually looked forward to it. We both were a tad worried we'd feel gross afterwards, but we were just, mainly a little blah in the morning. Nothing extreme really. Just reminded why I like eating well, because my body actually feels good. We also went to a 40th birthday party that had amazing handmade desserts and so Declan had a cookie or two and I had this mini-apple pie thing, and that was ok.
The weekend before we went to Chili's and I wanted fajitas. Like, I wanted to eat flour tortillas and have cheese and sour cream and all the stuff I haven't had in weeks. So I did. I left feeling way too full, but it was still yummy.
Having those 'cheats' are up to you. Some say it makes living this lifestyle the rest of the time more doable. Some NEED to have a pizza night once or twice a month with your family. Dude, do it. You may find you feel a little funky afterwards, but it'll make you get back to eating well again, I assure you.
Basically, what I've found in my research and talking to people over the last month plus about this is this: Everyone has a little different take on it. Some are of the belief to NEVER CHEAT EVER. Some say, hey, if you can do this 80% of the time, it's still good for your body (I would agree with that). Some have differing opinions about bacon, and honestly, don't mess with me and my bacon. :) Some emphasize one thing more than another, etc. Some say you will not lose weight, others say yes you do. My theory is this: do what works for you and your family. Start with small changes if you want to. For us, it was easiest to just fully dive right in, etc. If you are looking for a really hardcore way to jumpstart look into Whole30.
If you are like my husband, and don't want to lose weight--make sure you are eating enough of the good fats. Cashews, sweet potatoes, avocados, more snacky nuts-type thing throughout the day.
We've been more than pleased with how our bodies have responded to eating this way. I hope I answered some of the questions I've been getting. If any more come in, I'll try to field them in the comments section.
Here are some of my favorite resources (besides google):
PaleoOMG, EverydayPaleo, NomNomPaleo, SimplyPaleo, PaleoPlan (why to go Paleo).
Some things to note:
This is mostly my opinion, how we do things, etc. Seriously. Google stuff. If you are like, BUT DON'T YOU NEED CALCIUM??? (why does everyone ask that?) I encourage you, to google it. You will find great responses that are way better than anything I could put together. Also, there are people way hardcore about this, so I hope I don't offend the those people, because-sorry. I'm just a regular-joe-schmo trying to show how it works for our family. Oh, and one last thing. Clean Eating vs. Paleo. They are different. Look it up. It doesn't mean one is better than the other, and if you can clean up your eating in any way, I think that's great :) And also, I promise, I am not trying to convince anyone to eat this way. There is no point in doing that since I can't sit there and motivate everyone personally along the way. Obviously has to be something you want to do. I just felt like answering some of these simple questions may help those considering it. Ok. ///end rant