I’ve never made it a secret that certain portions of the paleo diet seem really silly to me. In particular, the prohibitions against beans, corn, and quality grains like quinoa have always bothered me. Despite that, when the hubby suggested that we use the paleo diet as a safe way to detox and to get used to eating unprocessed, whole foods, I agreed without much hesitation. Initially I wanted to adapt diet to include beans and corn, but we eventually agreed that if we were going to try the diet, we should give it a real chance and follow their rules.
Ironically, the hubby made this request on Halloween, of all days, but we figured that waiting would just make it harder to start so we went for it. For me, the hardest part was figuring out what to cook! I don’t use a ton of dairy when I cook, but I realized I don’t cook very many meals that don’t have any at all. Pinterest and Google were very helpful with this, but most meals have become roasted veggies with meat, fish, or eggs on the side. I don’t mind the simplicity, but the hubby has gotten pretty bored with food lately.
One of the problems is that our grocery bills have easily doubled. There are a lot of misconceptions about the paleo diet (all they eat is steak!), but there’s a huge focus on vegetables being the primary component of every meal, with meat being more of a side dish. I try to shop sales, but fresh fruits and veggies in the quantities required for the paleo diet get really expensive. Frozen veggies help with that a bit, but it’s hard to make them very flavorful and the texture is usually a little off. There is also a push for grass-fed, organic meats, which are also very expensive. It’s common knowledge that in most places a burger costs less than a salad, but it’s very frustrating to experience the disparity firsthand.
So how do we like it? I have to admit, we haven’t been perfect, but until this week I’d say we were hitting at least 85% per day, probably more. This week I got a terrible cold and I’ve had a super gross productive cough that is set off pretty much anytime I move. My stomach is soooo sore, it feels like I’ve been working my abs constantly for a month! Of course being sick has limited me a little bit. I haven’t felt good enough to prep veggies or stand in front of the stove cooking, so there has been a bit more cheating this week. We’ve had pizza a few times, and I’ve been living off different soups, most of which are not paleo. The good thing about veering off the diet is that I’ve really been able to tell the difference between how I feel off it and how I feel on it, and there’s really no comparison. Aside from being sick, I feel gross and sluggish this week, and my stomach is MAD at me. I’ve always been a little sensitive to an overabundance of dairy at one time, but I was surprised to see how much better I felt eliminating it. I’ve also known for a while that eating processed grains make me feel terrible, I’ve just never had the desire to give them up. I’m an Italian girl, so the idea of giving up pasta makes me want to cry a little! Sadly, after a few weeks without processed carbs I felt really good, which means that pasta isn’t going to have a place in my diet in the future (at least not often). So overall, with the exception of the expense, I would say my experience was quite positive.
My husband’s experience has been good, but not nearly as positive as mine. One of the main problems with someone with a very active job and active lifestyle is that it can be hard to get enough carbohydrates, especially if you don’t like to eat your weight in veggies every day. He felt a weird combination of better, but with no energy.
So after a few weeks we’ve made a few decisions. In large part, we’re going to stick to the diet, but with a few exceptions. We are going to start adding back in quinoa, because it’s a healthy way to boost the hubby’s carb intake. The hubby will also be less strict about dairy, although he’ll still keep his intake very low. Personally, I’m just going to add back in Greek yogurt, and only in limited amounts. I’m also not going to be as strict with beans and corn, mostly because I believe they are healthy alternatives, but also because they’re a cheap way to stretch meals. If anyone has any tips on making paleo cheaper, I’m all ears! Overall, this has been a really positive experience, and I’m looking forward to making these changes permanent!