I often get asked when I mention my (mostly) Paleo diet to friends and colleagues – ‘what the hell do you eat then?’
I used to think this too!
When I first started Paleo I found it hard to adhere to the strict lifestyle choice of no gluten, wheat, sugar, dairy etc. I nearly caved multiple times in my first year of trying it; this also led to unnecessary binges.
Something had to be done. I was soo bored and tried to convince myself that I was actually enjoying my lone poached egg, my tasteless grilled chicken and plain veg, day in day out. Who was I kidding?
Looking at these pics, would you have kept to it?
Having a talented cook as my other half helps massively. Dave encouraged me to eat his home cooked food and not count calories. He introduced me to amazing chefs, and took me to awesome restaurants, and street food stalls.
I used to hate cooking – Until I started to appreciate food for what it is. The idea of it just being ‘fuel’ is demotivating and boring. Why can’t every bite of your everyday meal be satisfying and delicious? Why, indeed.
This was the point in my life (back in 2011ish) when I thought I both fail and give up, or I seek help and educate myself.
Those close to me will know I don’t do failure; there is no such thing as ‘cant’. So, I started to ask questions, I learnt how to prep food and how to cook properly. No more chopping at chicken to see if it’s cooked, resulting in a badly butchered heap, no, instead I learnt to insert a knife and test the temp on my wrist (little trick for you there). Steak- don’t put oil in the pan, rub it in- oh and olive oil smokes, use butter or coconut oil on a low heat. Little tips and tricks here and there that changed the way I cooked, and made it interesting.
Importantly I started to develop my tasting skills. What goes with what? – This being the most difficult task of all when preparing a meal. I started to make my own rubs and spice mixes such as a really simple take on Ras el hanout. ( 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp cumin-easy.)
I realised that you don’t have to go out and buy new stuff for each meal-saving money and time. Instead, look in the fridge, then grab a recipe book and put two and two together-and it’s not like baking, you can really throw in pretty much anything you like, chop and change recipes to what you have available.
I decided that to be Paleo, it was important to make cooking enjoyable, (I thought it could never be anything but a chore) and most of all different and changeable.
My goal was to switch up the usual green veg and meat, and by educating myself I discovered that small additions such as flavoured oils, butters and simple dressings could transform a meal.
Obviously it took time, over the year I went from being sick of the sight of grilled chicken, to planning multiple different meals and recipes throughout the week, which was saving me time and effort when I arrived home for tea.
Recipe books that saved my life were:
The LEON cook books, they explain everything about food for an amateur; cuts of meat, herbs and lists of what to put with what. They also specialise in Gluten, wheat and dairy free (probably due to market demand for GF/WF in London) which make everything easier for a Paleo girl!
My most recent find is my much talked about Paleo bible ‘fitter food for life’ by Fitter London. If you are considering, or are currently struggling with Paleo I urge you to grab a copy – it’s helped so much!
My most used links are :
http://eatdrinkpaleo.com.au/ – lots of categorised recipes.
http://ohsheglows.com/ – I love this because she has a similar eating problem as me, and is really informative and positive.
http://www.elanaspantry.com/paleo-diet-recipes/ – A well-known recipe site, with easily adaptable, simple and tasty dishes.
If all else fails, GOOGLE IT. Easiest trick in the book –for example search ‘ Paleo sweet potato and turkey salad recipes’ and hit go. Pick a dish with ingredients closest to what’s in your cupboard/fridge ( or switch them up) and you’re sorted. Not as hard as you think is it? You don’t even have to know what you’re doing, just follow the recipes!
Benefits I have seen from Paleo
( based on my own experience)
I went from 10 stone 7 to 9 stone (3lbs either side depending what day it is!) over 3 years- this was on a low carb Paleo lifestyle with HIIT training- I also look in the mirror without weighing myself and feel like ‘yeah I actually look alright.’ Before Paleo, I hated my body!Girls- I used to suffer with cellulite and told my self it was hormonal and hereditary, but its now gone completely.
I have suffered from acne for years ever since I was a teenager, up until about a year ago I was on a constant cycle of antibiotics. I had already cut dairy out ( a known trigger of acne) so I made the brave decision to stop the antibiotics as they were causing so many problems with my stomach, and I didn’t like being on medication all the time. What was the worst that could happen? – I already had a really good skin care regime and had flawless skin ( due to the antibiotics). By this time I had been eating a paleo’ish’ diet for about 2 years, and obviously the antibiotics were masking the whole acne problems. When I came off them I got a small breakout on my jaw ( common with stress and hormone change) and I pretty much expected it. But after that they cleared up and I only get a few which I can live with! I honestly believe my acne has cleared up due to my diet of low sugar/gluten and dairy- and that comes from a girl who has been on medication for years and years and had pretty much accepted that was how it would be for the rest of my life!
- Energy and clear thinking.
Ever since I reduced gluten( which was the first thing to go) I feel that I can just get up and go –apart from in the depths of winter, then I’m not so sprightly. In the summer though I’m up at 6 am running by the beach, I find it the best start to the day, it really is an amazing feeling ( not to sound cheesy but the beach at that time is just gorgeous!). I look forward to my smoothies for breakfast and have a reason to get up! I just feel more focused and content. I have a short attention span, and because I have more energy, my work is definately better!
Since ditching high carb products my stomach is the flattest it’s ever been. Bar my food related IBS flare ups, I can fit in my size 8’s easily and don’t have to hide my stomach with stomach skimming tops! ( i still love my high waisted jeans for my cake days though haha!)
The Cons of Paleo
I couldn’t cope with this, so I started to bake Paleo treats ( so many sites/apps out there), but because no one else is ever eating at mine, I tended to eat all the treats i’d made-which quickly adds up to lots of calories. Instead if I want cake, I’ll eat cake, then get back to low carbs for the rest of the week.
- You realise how bad alcohol is, but still do it.
I LOVE Prosecco and cocktails and Limoncello and red wine-which is well documented on instagram! When you’re Paleo you’re not meant to drink, but as above, life is not worth living as a twenty something without alcohol and when you love food as much as I do you need to drink something with it!
BUT beware your next few workouts will be terrible, I can’t lift a thing until Tuesday at least! OH and alcohol makes you eat. Pizza, chips anything in sight, even more so when you’re usually Paleo so bear that in mind!
A point to add is, try not to have ‘treat days’ these have been detrimental to my eating issues, i.e. made them worse! So just focus on feeling great, eating well the majority of the time and realise that one bit of cake won’t make any difference, ( yes you will gain a few ‘pounds’ over the next few days, but this is just water and food weight not real fat pounds!)
You need to be happy, and if that means you fancy cake and Prosecco, have it, you can adapt your eating over the next few days to make up for any indulgences.
These philosphies have been a long time coming, and I have only gained this knowledge and acceptance through talking to the right people and by having a supportive network of friends and trainers.
Because Paleo is a complete life change, it does take a long time to adjust , and when I finally got on track it was brilliant. I now love planning meals and all it took was investing some time and effort into learning how to cook and researching in my spare time. I’ve heard ALLLL the excuses and all I can say is if you want to change you will do it.
Oh and if you tell me I’m obsessed, then you need to step back and realise what you’re missing. I LOVE fitness and health because I know how it makes me feel. It’s all about self-educating and goal setting. If that makes me obsessed because I’m eating food that is home grown and non-processed then god help us all!
Check out my recent recipes and workouts in my other posts!