Considering giving Paleo a shot? Here’s the lowdown on why I’m trying Paleo and my plan for sticking to it.
It’s no secret that I’m a foodie. I love being in the kitchen, creating new recipes and trying new foods. It’s also no secret that I’m plagued by food allergies (wheat, peanuts, soy and corn for those of you that are new around here – oh, and I’m also extremely lactose-intolerant). It took me a while to actually accept my allergies and stop eating things I loved like peanut butter and popcorn, and it took even longer to truly understand how much stuff has corn and soy in it (did you know generic baking soda has corn starch and some vegetable oils are really pure soybean oil?).
Over the past year, I’ve learned how to find the benefits of having food allergies and my tummy is much happier for it. However, no matter how carefully I eat, I still have some issues.
My digestive tract still seems off. I get bouts of constipation followed by a few days of diarrhea (you’re welcome), and I still get bloating and embarrassing stomach distention (although I will say it is much better than when I was still consuming all of my allergens). When my stomach is out of whack, I’m out of whack. I get moody. I get anti-social. I feel very self-conscious.
I figure I just have a sensitive stomach and this is just going to be what I have to deal with forever and eternity.
But what if it doesn’t have to be like this?
THE (POTENTIAL) SOLUTION
Well, I was reading a recent issue of Runner’s World when I came across an article about how Paleo can actually benefit endurance athletes. The article sparked my interest, so I decided to look into it more.
I did some Googling on “Paleo for runners” and decide to read two books, The Paleo Athlete from Steph Gaudreau (the nutritionist, coach and blogger behind Stupid Easy Paleo) and The Paleo Solution by well-known coach and Paleo-guru Robb Wolf. Both were extremely interesting reads, but what really convinced me to give it a shot was a section of Robb’s book where he asked a serious of questions:
- Do you sleep less than nine hours per night? – People get nine hours of sleep?! Who are they and what do they do for a living?
- Do you have problems falling asleep or staying asleep? – Always.
- Do you wake up more exhausted than when you went to bed? – Most definitely.
- Do you get a “second wind” in the evening, and really only feel awake about the time you should go to bed? – Sometimes.
- Are you tired and achy all the time? – Tired, yes. Achy – eh, not really.
- Do you suffer frequent upper-respiratory infections? – No, thank goodness.
- Do you work out to exhaustion, and do you crave the “boost” exercise provides. – Sometimes to the first part of that question – a definitely yes to the second.
- Do you live and die by stimulants such as coffee? – Don’t we all?
- Have you gained fat in the midsection, despite watching your food intake. – Bah – yea.
- Have you experience memory problems? – Yes and it’s scary!
- Do you have problems with depression or seasonal affective disorder. – Yes.
- Do you remember what sex is? – I plead the 5th.
Answering these questions made me surprised- surprised at how many of these questions I answered “yes” to and surprised at the hope that perhaps Paleo could solve more than just my tummy troubles.
MY PLAN OF ATTACK
I’m hoping transitioning to Paleo won’t be all that hard for me. I already can’t eat a lot of the things that Paleo restricts, such as peanuts, soy, and corn – so I won’t miss much there. My wheat allergy keeps me away from most whole grains – though I will have to give up my beloved oatmeal and rice. I think it will take some time for my body to adjust from using carbs as fuel and energy to using fats as fuel and energy. I fully anticipate going through the 6 Stages of Paleo Dieting that Will struggled through when he did this last year.
My plan is to be very strict with the Paleo guidelines for one month. That means no grains (even if they are gluten free), no added sugars, no alcohol and nothing processed (I’m going to miss my protein powders!). On the plus side, it means more delicious proteins and healthy fats! For those of you that have done the Whole30, my understanding is that this is very similar if not the same.
After one month, I’m going to access how I’m feeling from all fronts: digestive, mood and energy, stress-levels, sleep, etc and start making modifications from there.
If I like how I’m feeling at the end of the month, I will probably look into reading Paleo for Athletes (which I’ve heard will help explain how to modify Paleo for endurance sports) before I start training for my next big race (I’m doing the Syracuse Half in April). I’ll probably reintroduce a little wine, as well (I mean… a girl’s gotta have her wine!).
I’m very hopeful that Paleo will be good for me. I’ll be sure to keep you all posted with updates on what I’m eating and how I’m feeling, so stay tuned!
Have you ever tried Paleo or The Whole30? What’d you think?
Any good Paleo recipes I should try?
Resources mentioned in this post: