When I first decided to go Paleo, I had the usual thought that most people have when you tell them what the rules are.
“What the hell am I going to eat?”
I knew that I wanted to change my diet for a healthier alternative to what I was already doing, and truthfully I had thought for the most part that my diet wasn’t too bad. I’d cut out most of the fat, cut back on the sugars, yet for some reason I was always hungry no matter what or how much I ate, and this situation became much worse when I started to get serious about regular exercise. So after reading up all I could find about living a Paleo lifestyle (including Loren Cordain’s Book), I discussed with my wife the changes I wanted to make to my diet, and on the very next day we both simply started eating according to the Paleo rules.
“To begin, begin” – William Wordsworth
Now as newly reformed “cave people”, figuring out what to do about food has suddenly become an exercise in reading all of the food labels, not for the amount of protein or carbs but instead to ensure the ingredients won’t break our dietary rules. Better still is buying fresh food which isn’t labelled at all. We really have become “hunter gatherers” as we find ourselves wandering through the supermarket “jungle” looking for the “edible” foodstuffs with which to sustain ourselves. The issue of course is that fresh foods, lean meats, nut meal, macadamia oil, and most of the non-cereal based foodstuff can sometimes end up being a little on the expensive side, particularly when there are unseasonal shortages. So what does any good hunter gatherer do when caveman food seems to be scarce yet all the other “animals” are eating?
No, don’t worry, we haven’t quite needed to resort to cannibalism… yet…!! We’ve learned to shop around, and we are learning to eat seasonal foods which can keep the prices down. We now know which shops sell high quality food of the types that we want at the prices we want, and this now involves spreading our shopping over 5 or 6 different stores, even if we need to buy only 1 single item there. Yes, we continue to hunt for bargains, and we gather from the best yet cheapest priced. There is however another side to the costs issue which has greatly surprised us.
I did a rough projection based on the amount of money we have spent on food over the past week, and on the amount of food we have bought. It turns out that with a little discerning shopping, eating caveman-style looks like it will cost us no more than when we allowed ourselves to eat the more processed cereal/dairy/sugary foods we were eating previously. Actually, taking into account all of the additional sweets, drinks, cereals, breads, biscuits, dairy, and other odds and ends we don’t actually need, it looks like we might even end up with an overall reduction in our grocery bill!!
The really nice thing is that we’re eating well, and with some clever substitutions we can still enjoy many of the foods we really like. As an example, this is what we’ve eaten today, and is fairly typical of the way in which we eat at mealtimes:
- For the first meal of the day, check out this lovely smoothie I made. 500ml of this made for a very easy and surprisingly satisfying breakfast.
- For the second meal (which I forgot to photograph), I cooked up a batch of very delicious pancakes made to a recipe I found at Elana’s Pantry
- Our Third meal (which I also forgot to photograph), was a nice thin beef blade with some spiced mixed vegetables. Unfortunately, the serving size was a little on the small side, so I’ve snacked on an additional banana and some almonds since then.
The other thing that I’ve noticed is that we are starting to eat some foods at times when we would previously not have considered eating them, and to support this alternative mode of thought, you may have noticed that I’ve stopped calling our meals “Breakfast”, “Lunch”, or “Dinner”. We now simply have a meal which we prepare and eat when we feel the urge to eat. The amount of food that we are eating is less in overall volume given we are now eating more protein than we are used to, and without the snacking between meals, I’ve noticed that my weight is starting to decrease. Yes, I know I’ve already blogged that I won’t obsess over my weight, but I couldn’t resist a sneak peek to assess if the changes I’ve made are having a noticeable effect. For me, they certainly are in a number of ways, and I have great confidence that this new lifestyle will produce great results.
“Man is what he eats” – Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach
There are great truths hidden in most proverbs, and as I’ve been learning this one seems to be particularly true. Just as you wouldn’t want to use diesel fuel in an engine built for unleaded petroleum, the metabolic engine that powers the human body needs the fuel that it is genetically adapted to. In the nearly 10,000 years since mankind first began what we now call agriculture, and in particular over the last few centuries, our bodies have not adapted genetically to work at their best on the predominantly cereal based foods that are consumed in such great quantities today. It’s no wonder we have such an issue with carbs when we diet given that so many of our foods are filled with carbohydrate sources that are not nutritionally beneficial to us, and no surprise that there are so many metabolic and gastrointestinal diseases present in the population.
I’ve only been on this changed diet for 9 days, and I’ve already noticed so many improvements in my general feeling of health and well-being, not to mention how easy it has been to lose 3 kilograms when I have found it so hard to do the same in the past at the same level of exercise as I have been getting these past few weeks. Two months ago, I was busting my ass in a Boot Camp program and at that higher and more intense level of activity, it was still hard to lose the weight.
So needless to say, I am already a total convert to my new primal way of thinking about food. Losing weight really is easier than most people think, but it requires a shift in how you think about food, what you eat, where it comes from, and whether it contains any of the food stuffs that would be better fed to the birds and other wildlife better suited to it. And as a result of this shift in my own perceptions, I have set my feet upon a path which I have gladly chosen and on which I need never again look behind me.
- Day 3 of the “Caveman” diet (diaryofapersonaltrainer.wordpress.com)