Tomorrow marks the two-week milestone since I started this whole experiment in eating Paleo. Even though I gave up that stupid points system, I’ve still been trying to eat Paleo. Yes, I did eat Reese’s peanut butter cups and ice cream during my meltdown last Saturday. And yes, I did eat sugar-free gum and a square of milk chocolate this week. Since those things represent like 0.3% of my entire diet, I still feel like my adherence is satisfactory – and I’m getting what I set-out to achieve from this entire endeavor. Aka, I’ve been pooping every day and it is ah-mazing.
Seriously though, I mentioned this week that my weight seems to be doing what I want it to do and beyond the scale I feel like I’m growing up and fixing my relationship with food. At least, I sure felt like I was having an a-ha! moment this afternoon, as I stood in the kitchen, cutting up an entire chicken.
Let me start from the beginning, though: I received a copy of Practical Paleo as a birthday gift from my parents. I’d made the request and was happy to receive the book, which had piqued my curiosity. I’d stalked Diane Sanfilippo’s blog and she seemed like a reasonable and compassionate human being – not a crazy Paleo zealot, like some of the gurus. And she talked about poop. I can work with that.
So I read her “cookbook” which is a bit of a misnomer. The first section provides a plain-language overview of the Paleolithic diet and its principles. I still have some gripes with the philosophy, but as a whole I think her overview is pretty fair and won’t waste my time nit-picking. I’m not looking to convert people but with the chronic constipation I was suffering, I did want to give it a try myself. The second section provides a bunch of month-long meal plans and while I’m sure there are people who thrive with that kind of structure, I do not. I did skim the meal plans for some inspiration on meal ideas and food pairings but otherwise skipped to the recipes at the back.
Now, if you follow my blog you might be surprised that I skipped to the recipes. I don’t know what I was expecting, considering I adamantly maintain that I do not cook. Part of me wanted to see the food porn, since I’d read gushing reviews of the photography in several places. But I think I was mostly just curious about how “practical” these recipes actually were. I own about a dozen cookbooks for “500 Quick and Easy Weeknight Meals” that just sit and collect dust because all of the recipes require more ingredients and effort than I’m willing to put in. But… I’ve made 6 or 7 recipes from Sanfilippo’s book. I’ve looked up other Paleo recipes on blogs and actually made them. They were easy. They were quick and simple and cheap. Most importantly they’ve all been delicious. As in, good enough to make again and again, which is precisely what I’ve been doing. That mustard glazed chicken that I posted last week? One of the best things I’ve eaten in recent memory and I’m a bit incredulous that I made it myself.
I’m feeling a bit confused, honestly. Is this an identity crisis? I’m the person who’s been going to Supperworks for the past 6 months so that I could make all my meals in advance and never have to worry about actually cooking. And yet, when I went to Costco this week, I ended up buying three whole chickens. I couldn’t decide if I wanted drums or wings or thighs or breasts because I wanted to make recipes with all of them. Which is how I came to be standing in my kitchen this afternoon, shears in hand and watching instructional videos on Youtube on how to cut up a chicken. I haven’t just taken up cooking apparently, because that’s some pioneer woman business.
In learning about all the different Paleo philosophies, I read something by Robb Wolf where he said that people often complain that simple foods are boring, but that’s their own fault. I kind of disagreed when I read this proclamation, because any bodybuilder will tell you that chicken and steamed veggies are so boring! And turning unhealthy foods into Paleo-fied “healthy” versions is not my idea of a healthy diet. But I totally get it now and I feel like I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Practical Paleo for showing me that throwing four ingredients into the oven for 20 minutes can be simple, satisfying and savory.
One area where I’ve found the recipes particularly helpful is when it comes to breakfast. I remain convinced that I am lactose intolerant, but giving up yogurt was a challenge. What do you eat for breakfast in North America if not yogurt? Other forms of dairy and lots of grains, of course. So I needed some creative inspiration to get me going and Practical Paleo got me there. I’ve made both of the grain-free porridge recipes from the book a couple of times and I’ve gotten more inventive with my scrambled eggs. I think I’m at a point where I can think about giving up yogurt in the long run without panicking and two-weeks ago I was most definitely not in this state of mind.
So, after 2 weeks I have had some successes with Paleo. Removing dairy from my diet seems to have fixed me, as I suspected it would. More importantly, I feel like I’m in the middle of a bildungsroman. Even though I haven’t had 100% perfect adherence, I’m not worried about the few things that have slipped passed my radar. Maybe that’s because I’m reading food labels and have to pause long enough to ask, “Do I want to put this in my body?” instead of just looking at the calorie count. Maybe it’s because 7 years after moving out on my own, I’m finally learning how to cook and it isn’t breaking the bank for me. Considering I’ve spent the past 2 years trying to lose weight, I want to ensure that I don’t yo-yo back up to 252lbs the minute I stop counting calories and I feel like the past 2 weeks have shown me that there is hope for me to maintain some healthy habits longterm. I still have a long ways to go, but I feel like I’m off to a good start and I know that I owe at least part of that success to Practical Paleo.
And I know I haven’t lost the old me entirely because I still hate washing dishes.