It’s been two weeks since I embarked on this journey of the paleolithic diet, so time to tell you how brilliant it is, right? Well, yes, a little bit actually.
Paleo fish pie with a bechemel made from puréed cauliflower
I changed my diet not because I wanted to lose weight. I’m one of those annoying people who are pretty happy with the way their body looks – I lost all my Hux baby weight really quickly and sit comfortably at a size 10 – but I wasn’t happy about the way my body felt. Elfie’s early rising tendancies means I’m perpetually tired, I lack energy and was really keen to get a bit of a spark back. As I’ve got older I’ve also noticed how different foods affect me: wheat leaves me really quite bloated in my tummy – my one problem area that could do with being a bit flatter (I’ve had two babies, it’s never going to be washboard). I wanted to try and cut down on emotional eating too – making myself feel heavy with food that I needn’t have eaten. In short, I wanted to give my body the best chance to be as healthy as it can possibly be.
Chicken thighs with artichoke, capers and lemon
Paleo seemed like a great way to go. You essentially cut out wheat, sugar, dairy, legumes, peas and potatoes from your diet, emulating the diets of our early ancestors who ate what they could hunt or pick from the ground (all organic, grass fed, sulphate free of course). Knowing how foods like pasta and bread made me feel heavy, bloated and unhealthy, I thought a diet of meat and vegetables was worth a shot.
Paleo ‘fajitas’, spicy mince beef, guacamole, tomatoes and a sprinkle of cheese
I did lots of research before I began. There are an enormous amount of resources out there for people following this diet – though be warned, as lots of staunch paleo followers see it as more of a ‘way of life’ and it can seem pretty intimidating. Right from the start I made the decision that I wasn’t going to be so strict with my own food: milk would be allowed, so would a bit of cheese and using butter over ghee was definitely not the end of the world. I’d eat organic as much as I could but wouldn’t stress over it and if I wanted fish and chips or a pizza every so often then I would bloody have them.
Like I said, this diet is supposed to be all organic but I’m already finding that buying this amount of fresh food is causing a bit of a strain on the old finances: I no longer bulk out meals with pasta and potatoes so eat more vegetables and these cost £££. I buy organic chicken, tomatoes and a couple of other bits and pieces but apart from that I am shopping as I usually would: it would be way too expensive to do it any other way.
To give myself a bit of a kick I’ve also been juicing at breakfast time again; the old Vitamix is brilliant for this as it retains all the fibre in the fruit unlike traditional juicers. I have a green juice – typically apple, blueberries, banana, raspberries, spinach, kale and broccoli – and it fills me up til midday. On the days I need to munch on real solid food I make paleo pancakes – egg and banana – or a fruit salad.
Scrambled eggs with a guacamole salsa
Lunch is a salad or some veggies with scrambled eggs and dinner is something a bit more substantial: cooked meats with vegetables (artichokes, squash, winter greens…) or if I’m feeling REALLY hungry I have a sweet potato baked with a salad and cheese.
Salad of chicken, bacon, avocado and broccoli salad with a splash of balsamic.
Something about this diet means I am craving a lot more water which is never a bad thing, though I’m still drinking wine because I’m not a total masochist.
So what’s the verdict?
I really like this way of eating. I never feel horribly full after my meals, I generally feel a bit more lighter and energetic (though Elfie is doing her best to quash this, of course) and my tummy bloat has ALL gone. Because I’m cooking so many veggies for myself I find the children are eating more fresh vegetables too. It is a pain in the arse to cook everything from scratch – no more 10 minute pasta and pesto dinners – but well worth it, I think. My tummy bloat has disappeared and even though weight loss was not my goal I think I’ve dropped a couple of pounds. I got the flu a week into the diet and I’m sure my body fought it off quicker than usual because of it. I’m normally left feeling wiped out for at least a week after such a bug, but instead I was back to normal within 4 days.
Did I mention the bloat has all gone? I’m pretty darn pleased with that.
I never feel that hungry so it’s been a big step away from the 5:2 diet (where I got so hungry that I was just angry all the time); you essentially are only depriving your body of the ‘bad’ stuff but you can eat as many vegetables and fruit as you like. I’m going to keep at it and see where this takes me.