Last year, 2014, became our paleo year of change.
Our New Year’s resolution was to change our lifestyle, live healthier, and make significant headway fighting my husband’s type two diabetes. Paleo was the result of months of research. Starting in October 2013, I read everything I could get my hands on. Very little made sense and this included the American Diabetes Association food guidelines. Been there, done that, bought more insulin.
Our lifestyle, life-saving resolution turned into the hardest and most rewarding journey my husband and I have ever taken. Just so you know, there is no miracle drug or solution. I found everything online from natural herbs, to diet plans, to essential oils for fighting diabetes. If there was a simple solution wouldn’t everyone be doing it?
I finally decided on the Paleo Lifestyle because it made sense. My husband remained skeptical but I asked him for three months. He finally agreed.
Paleo Year – Our Start
On December 31, 2013 we went through our entire kitchen and boxed up 90% of our food to donate to the local food bank. We drove to the grocery store and purchased fresh, unprocessed foods. No grains of any kind—no bread, rice, pasta, or oats. Also, no beans including soy. No margarine or vegetable oil. No sugar or ARTIFICIAL SWEETENER! We read labels.
If we couldn’t pronounce an ingredient, know what it was, or something was included in our no-buy list; we left it on the shelf. We insisted on organic canned food only; tomato sauce, paste, etc.
We did buy—organic coconut milk in cans, coconut oil, butter, lard (yes, you read correctly), almond meal, coconut flour, nuts, tons of fruits and vegetables, eggs, grass-fed beef and organically fed chicken.
My husband, the chip hog, talked me into a bag of Fritos corn chips because they had the best label, or, in our food experiment, the least amount of ingredients of any on the chip aisle. It’s the only thing we purchased containing vegetable oil.
Paleo Year – The Benefit We Wanted
The Paleo Lifestyle changed us. More importantly it changed my husband’s health. I can now laugh at those first two horrible months. I went from someone who hated to cook and rarely did, to spending hours in the kitchen each day. I prepared foods from scratch including mayonnaise, food seasonings (those processed packets are horrible for you), plantain tortillas, and non-wheat cooking and baking.
Here’s the truth! Nothing tasted as good as the processed food from the store. Or, at least this was true in the first two months of natural eating. We agreed to three months of Paleo and it wasn’t easy.
Two months in – The downside of our new lifestyle: Neither my husband or I lost weight. It really bothered us. I’d struggled with weight for most of my adult life. Weighing 210 pounds on Jan. 1, I was exactly the weight I was before I lost 40 pounds and went to the police academy. I disliked my body. I combed the Paleo blogs for answers. Most talked about the high calories in nuts which had now become a primary snack in our house. Also the natural fats such as lard and butter. If it wasn’t for the side benefits, we may have given up.
The one benefit we were banking on paid off. My husband suffered severe pain in his legs from insulin. He was able to cut his insulin in half (from four shots per day with one long-lasting at night, to two shots with one long-lasting at night). This kept us on target. His pain became more manageable and he slept better.
Paleo Year – Benefits We Didn’t Expect
- Complexion – I struggled with breakouts since my teen years. It got worse with menopause and attacked my neck and jaw line. I hated it. Within two months of Paleo, my skin cleared up completely.
- Allergies – Again, something I suffered with most of my life. Gone.
- Food Cravings – Gone. It was amazing that, no grains, no sugar, and no sugar substitute took away cravings for sweets and carbs in general. Until Paleo we didn’t know we were addicts.
- Gas and Belching – Gone. Good in good out. I never understood that these problems directly relate to processed foods and their additives.
- Taste – Everything began tasting better and by the end of the third month Paleo tasted damn good.
- Learning to love my kitchen – Ha! I did. I enjoy cooking now. I spend less time than at the beginning and cook in bulk to freeze. The kitchen and I are great friends.
By six months everything changed again. Without modifying Paleo, I lost fifteen pounds and my husband more than twenty. He also stopped his diabetes medication entirely. He increased his workout schedule while I stubbornly couldn’t find the time. We did take the occasional walk together. Between writing and cooking, I stuck to my no-gym excuse.
We love food and appreciate it so much more now. I discovered Paleo hacking and mix things up now and then. On occasion we eat corn (a grain), also liquid Stevia in its natural form as a sweetener (Paleo allows raw honey and pure maple syrup which we can’t do because of the diabetes). I found a recipe for primal dough made from fresh root vegetables, tapioca flour, eggs, and cheese. I grate my own cheese so it doesn’t have the additives to keep it from molding. With my new dough, we eat pizza every few weeks. It’s incredible!
Paleo Year – Anniversary
January 1, 2015 we reached our one-year Paleo anniversary. What an incredible year! We achieved our goal and so much more.
- Weight loss – I’ve lost 33 pounds. I don’t count calories or worry about how much I eat. I’m wearing a size 12 and not the too-tight size 18 I started with. My husband lost over 40 pounds. He doesn’t count carbs at all. His blood sugar is usually around 100.
- Activity – We both feel fantastic! He retired and is learning to cook Paleo. He’s really good at it though I still enjoy dabbling. On January 1, I began exercising regularly because I feel so good and I want to.
- Grocery bills – Our grocery bill is one half of what it was before paleo. We don’t bother walking through the grocery store. We hit the produce, dairy, and meat sections and we’re out in one-fourth of the time it took us before.
- Fat – Fat is our friend. Whole fats; nothing (so-called) light. Plantain French fries cooked in lard are incredible.
- Medications – We haven’t been sick in a year, not even a cold. We have aspirin and Ibuprofen for occasional muscle aches. No antacids, cold medicines, prescriptions of any kind, or vitamins.
Paleo Year – Lifestyle
Is Paleo for everyone? Hell no. My husband tells me that I saved his life. I saved mine too. This is not a fad for us. It is now our life!
Can you do it? I think it depends on how badly you want it and whether Paleo living is right for you. Here are some links that might help you decide.
Primal Girl Blog – Also has the primal dough recipe for $3.95
The Paleo Mom – I love this site and use so many of her recipes. A lot of nut-free baking recipes too.
Nerdfitness – I really liked their take on Paleo.
Mind Body Green – This is a great post about why Paleo didn’t work. Paleo is not for everyone. She found an answer without Paleo. It’s called natural, whole food eating and included grains for her.
Paleo Hacks – I love Paleo hacking.
Paleo Grub – Another site with great recipes.
Have you tried Paleo? Would like to?
We are in a slower process of changing our eating/cooking habits. Our goal is to become as much unprocessed as possible to remove preservatives and maximize nutritional benefits from what we eat. I wouldn’t call it Paleo, per se. We eat a lot of fruit and veggies (all kinds including sweet potatoes and the like, but a lot variety especially greens), good fats, lean meats and almost no sugar, pasta, bread, rice… The thing for me with sugar and carbs is that I am always tired and stress/hungry. Our experience echos yours — increased energy, mental alertness, muscle tone, and some weight loss. An incredible difference from eating low fat for several decades!
I do think the sugar, carbs, and particularly processed foods evidence will continue to grow as real contributors to a lot of health issues.
Congrats Linda that first change is the hardest. I truly believe the grain free and artificial oil free has been the biggest help for me. They cause so many negative reactions when I eat them which is almost never now.
I bought the Paleo book a few years ago and have dabbled in it. Glad it was so successful for you and your husband. The point about your weight loss makes me again consider doing it. Glad your husband is doing so well too.
I asked my husband if he would have gone this route without it being a life and death situation. He said no. So with that in mind, I continue to believe everything happens for a reason. I myself probably wouldn’t have made it past the NO BREAD. Let me know if you dabble a little more.
Will let you know Suzie. My husband seems willing to do a modified program and that is a start.. I do have another question, did you drink wine?
Yes I did but maybe one or two glasses of red wine a week. I make margarita from scratch once a week now and have a margarita or two every Saturday night. Tequila also reduces blood sugar!
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