Eat The Stress Away. Maybe.

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Writing about my sleeping patterns yesterday was a bit of an eye opener, a total lightbulb moment. I was like, no wonder I’m so freaking exhausted all the time! It’s no surprise I fall asleep mid-way through watching films! My poor tired body!

I’ve been going through everyone’s suggestions and am going to try working as hard as I can with Elfie to get the kid to just sleep through the effing night, but in the meantime there are lots of things I can do to help myself.

The last four weeks have been pretty full-on, stress-wise. On top of my usual workload there’s been the house move, the divorce formalities and a few ex-landlord related woes to be dealt with. The non-stop running around, lack of sleep and stress of dealing with difficult people near enough made me crack at the beginning of the week but when you’re on your own, you can’t. You gotta keep plugging away at work, at kids, at getting through the days, knowing it will get better.

(I like to think I don’t play the ‘poor me, I’m a single parent’ card very often because, well, that’s not really how I feel. But last week I found the fact I didn’t have a partner to lean on very hard. Nobody to help bear the brunt of being completely skint, nobody to help with those early mornings, nobody to take the weight of the difficult people. Urgh).

Anyway, I got to the point of cracking a bit so I allowed myself to be a bit self-indulgent and wallow for a while (always important, I think) before telling myself I had to man up and get on with it. I thought a lot about what positive steps I could do to make my life a bit simpler, a bit happier. I was stressed because I was being pulled in so many directions so to remove that stress I just needed to step back and remove a couple of these demands for my attention.

Number one was work. I love my job and every day feel very lucky that I get to earn money from something I enjoy so much. But I am not good at saying ‘no’ when I’m offered projects, and though I enjoy them I find myself working evenings and weekends to keep up. So I turned some down, and worked hard on completing the ones that had been dragging on since before the move.

The new man in my life, he lives about 70 miles away so I don’t see him as much as I’d like. I had the realisation the other day that I had not had an evening in my house on my own for three months, since before I’d met him. So I told him that he’d have to spend our usual Wednesday night date night eating a meal for one and spent last night catching up on those projects, and more importantly remembering how it feels to be alone. I missed date night but at the same time it felt good to invest a bit of time in myself. I went to sleep just after 11pm and woke up at 9am. As I wasn’t waking early to get to the gym or rush home for work I got ten hours sleep. I felt a bit like I’d be on holiday.

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I also realised I needed to look at my diet. But not just mine, the kids, because they eat what I eat. There were far too many trips to McDonald’s during the house move, too many takeaways and easy dinners of pasta. I knew that wouldn’t be contributing in a positive way to how I was feeling, physically and emotionally, and I wasn’t putting enough effort into what they were eating.

Now, I’ve been one for faddy diets in the past. In 2009 I lost three stone on a variation of the 5:2 diet and after Elfie was born I cut out sugar, most fats and wheat to lose my baby weight. But the improvements I want to make in my body are in the way I feel, not how much I weigh. I’m quite happy with my weight and though some of my jeans fit a bit snugger than they used to it really doesn’t worry me. I just want to feel less bloated, less tired and more energetic.

The Paleo diet is one I’ve been considering for a few months. I know my food enemies are wheat and other grains – I’ve always bloated after pasta and bread which is a shame as they’re so delicious – and dairy is something I could probably do without eating so much of. With a Paleolithic lifestyle you cut these foods out and eat as early cavemen would have: hunted foods such as meats and seafood and gathered foods like fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts and eggs. Foods excluded from the diet are ones that would not have been available before the agricultural revolution such as grains, dairy, legumes, refined sugar and processed foods.

It’s a very simple diet. There’s an importance on as many organic, grass-fed foods as possible and it’s not about starving or depriving yourself. Meals are balanced and deliver the nutrients we are genetically programmed to receive. Apparently this diet brings health benefits, combats disease and eliminates excess body fat.

From what I know about my food preferences and the way my body reacts to various foods this diet is going to be more suited than any other I’ve tried. I’m not going strict Paleo: I’ll allow myself a bit of cheese from time to time, and one cup of tea a day with milk (though I’ll always try to drink herbal tea instead). And wine, obviously. But I’m going to give this Paleo clean eating thing a real go, for a month at least, and see how it improves my energy levels, stress levels and sharpness of mind.

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I’m also going back to green juices in the morning (I LOVE YOU VITAMIX) and my first today – apple, banana, cavolo nero, blueberries, raspberries – was delicious.

Fellow stressed mum Charlotte pointed me in the direction of this book and I’ve already nodded along to so much of it, I think it’ll be a definite help. Already just acknowledging that I’m stressed, I’m busy, I need to change has made me feel loads better. As has the knowledge that I’ve got a fridge full of awesome food and a massage booked next week.

If you fancy having a go at the Paleo diet take a look; I’m collating recipes on the Paleo Pinterest Board Of Dreams so I will never be stuck for something to cook. And if you eat Paleo I’d love to hear your experiences. Like to get the full Paleo/Caveman experience should I really eat all my meals wearing an animal hide?

 

 

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