January is a time when at least 80% of the conversations between adults revolve around diet. Still clinging to New Year’s resolutions, most folks excitedly share details of the foods they have eaten and the list of items they have sworn off since they now realize that their food has been trying to kill them. This trend is also well known by the media, which leads to numerous articles being written about what to eat and what to avoid if you don’t want to die any time soon. Naturally, there are so many contradictions that we all end up confused and generally afraid to eat anything at all.
No diet has taken it on the chin more than Paleo – also known as the “Caveman diet” – which recommends that we abandon all foods that weren’t eaten by cavemen. That means we eliminate ALL grains, dairy, sugar, legumes and of course, processed food. The naysayers and dissenters insist that cavemen really weren’t all that healthy and didn’t live much past the age of 40. I personally believe that is more likely because saber tooth tigers could run a lot faster than cavemen and that early death had less to do with their nutrition than relative foot speed.
Some of the articles I have recently read question whether cavemen really did consume all that much meat. Based on the reality of caveman hunting and gathering, meat was hard to come by, and more often than not, they survived primarily on plants, nuts, and seeds that grew all around them. There is a lot of speculation about what cavemen actually did or did not eat, and I don’t have much interest in debating this with anyone. Mostly because I was never that great in history, and my foray into caveman eating came strictly from a desire to be healthier. I am open minded enough to recognize that probably no one in 2015 knows exactly what cavemen actually ate on a daily basis.
Regardless, having read the “Paleo Solution”, I felt this approach to eating made a lot of sense, and I have been following it for about 15 months. Since then I have enjoyed many health benefits from modifying my food in this way, and in general I still believe in this diet.
In review of my adherence to Paleo since last year, I must confess a few things:
I was deficient in vegetables
I’ve never been great about eating veggies in the morning, and the green smoothies are still way too visually unattractive for me to guzzle for breakfast or any other time of day. I love veggies, but never seemed to eat enough of them on any given day. There’s no excuse for this at all.
I got lazy about sugar
“Just a bite” got the best of me more than I care to admit, especially during the holidays. Hey, I’m only human. Weaning myself off sugar began January 1, and is still in progress. I’m just about back to having NO added sugar.
I’m not a fan of red meat or game
My family knows this about me and were appropriately shocked when I announced last year that I’d be eating like a caveman from now on. God knows I put my mother through hell at dinner time as a finicky child, and most of the drama revolved around eating meat. Unlike most kids, I gobbled down all my veggies without argument, and had zero issues with chicken, fish or pork. But when it came to beef, sausage, meatballs, meat loaf – forget it. Not surprisingly, I still find all of those things unappealing, so in that sense Paleo has been difficult for me to follow to the letter.
So in an effort to shake things up and give my body a New Year’s re-boot, I will be making some modifications to my diet and try to get back on track.
- More veggies – Yes, even in the morning. I think it will be worth trying to toss in some zucchini, peppers, mushrooms and maybe even spinach into my eggs, and limit eggs to 1-2x/week. I will also be experimenting (again) with some green smoothies. Maybe served in a darker glass.
- Different protein – I am still trying to determine the actual amount of protein my body needs for my age and lifestyle. I’m guessing it is somewhat less than what I have been eating for the past year. And I’m going to go with the flow and skip the red meat except for once in a while. I’m going to add in a couple of non-Paleo protein options like quinoa and maybe some other supplements. Technically quinoa is not allowed on Paleo (although this has been the subject of much debate in Paleo forums), but I think it has a lot of health benefits, and I am willing to go off the wagon and have some once in a while.
- Watch the sugar – With the holidays and social times in my rear view mirror, I have been working hard to eliminate sugar from my diet. After my first 30 days on Paleo, I truly did not miss it, and I doubt that I will miss it this time.
I’m sharing my plan so that I will hold myself accountable. So if you are with me and see me reaching for a cookie, you are allowed to slap my hand. In fact, I insist that you do so.
One final word – I want to be clear that I am not a nutritionist. Nutrition is a very personal matter, and you need to know what works best for your body. Working with a professional can help you do that. If you are ready to give your diet an overhaul, contact me – I can recommend a great nutritionist!