I am primarily on a liquid diet because lyme disease partially paralyzed my small intestine. However, I eat real food once per day at dinner, and it’s always Paleo.
My doctor recommended the Paleo diet because Lyme disease is inflammatory, and the Paleo Diet is anti-inflammatory. Also, the Paleo Diet will not feed the bad bacteria, yeast and mold that are prone to take up residence in my digestive tract. These organisms thrive off carbohydrates and sugar, so by eating a diet low in those items, I am starving my unwanted guests.
There are numerous other benefits of the Paleo diet, and you can read about them here, but I mentioned the ones most relevant to me.
Many people define the Paleo diet by what’s not in it:
- Added sugar
- Anything processed or artificial
This list seems daunting, depressing and restrictive to most people.
I see it a little differently, and I tend to define the Paleo diet by what IS in it:
- Some fruits
- Well sourced animal protein (i.e. free range, organic, wild, etc.)
- Nuts and seeds
- Healthy fats
Here is what a typical dinner looks like at our house:
This is what I call a “Sloppy Joe Bowl”.
The first thing you will note is that creativity is essential to enjoying the Paleo diet. Since there are no buns in the Paleo world (unless you make them yourself, which is the topic of a different post), you need to think of new ways to serve up familiar foods.
In this case, I made “rice” out of cauliflower (Delicious. Don’t knock it until you try it). Then I layered it with zucchini noodles, roasted portobello mushrooms, sloppy joe meat, and homemade coleslaw.
If I served this to you without announcing it was a Paleo meal you would not know it. You would just think it was good and interesting and creative. My guess is you would not be thinking about what you were not eating (i.e, the bun).
To be fair, this meal was a lot of work. I like to cook, so that’s not a problem for me. But a paleo meal can be simple and still be delicious and satisfying. Here’s an example of a meal that took no more that 15 minutes to prep. Still looks pretty good, huh?
I wouldn’t be honest if I said being on the Paleo diet is easy all the time. It can be hard both physically and emotionally. But for me, the rewards far outweigh the downsides. I can digest this diet better than anything else I’ve tried. Because it’s low in sugar, my energy is relatively even throughout the day, and I don’t have sugar crashes. As a side benefit, my migraine headaches have significantly decreased since starting this diet.
And, this is key. The longer I am on the diet, the less I want or care about the things I am not eating – carbs, grains, etc. My body has adjusted and no longer craves those foods.
This did not happen overnight, and I did have many anguished moments of longing for things I could not have. I am through that now, but it was a process that required a great degree of discipline and emotional fortitude. I eventually learned that “cold turkey” was the best approach. Having just a bite or two of a forbidden food only kept my craving for that food alive. Once I went all in, the cravings ended and I made peace with what wasn’t on plate and, importantly, what was.
The other thing that helps me stay true to my diet is the knowledge it’s a critical component of the treatment plan that will ultimately restore my health. If that’s not motivation to put the right food on my fork time after time, I don’t know what is.
If you are new to Paleo, you will need to find your own motivation. As you do so, please be kind to yourself. Adopting this diet is a process. There will be struggles and frustrations. You will want to quit. You will want to trade your eye teeth for a bagel. But if you stick with it, all that will pass, and you will find your balance.