My Paleo Diet and Why I Do It

Me In Vegas for My 40th Birthday

It’s been a while since I blogged about a dessert.  Honestly, I don’t make them much anymore.  I’ve been on a low carb version of a paleo diet for the last year.  In a nut shell that means: meat, fish, chicken, all non-starchy veggies, some nuts and seeds, berries, some fruit, no dairy, no gluten, no grains, no industrial seed oils (corn, canola, cottonseed, soy, safflower etc), no sugar and nothing processed.  Only real food is allowed.  If you can’t grow it or kill it you probably shouldn’t eat it.  If it comes with a label professing its health benefits you should probably steer clear.  If it contains non-food ingredients, run the other way.  If you can’t pronounce it, it isn’t food.  The focus is on nutrient dense, fresh, high quality foods.  Where I get my food is important.  Organic is always preferred if economically possible.  I know it sounds like a lot.  It really isn’t.  It’s just like the steep learning curve we were on when we first went gluten free in January of 2007.  This way of eating has become second nature.  It’s no big deal.  Yes, it certainly requires more time than a drive through or opening packages and microwaving them at home but everything tastes better and the benefits of eating this way are life changing.  I started eating this way because just over a year ago I was 38 years old and I felt like crap.  I had a host of issues that were altering the quality of my life.  I had so many tests with my doctor and neurologist and even an MRI.  The tests showed that nothing was wrong.  But still I felt like crap.  The worst of the symptoms was fatigue.  It was an overwhelming fatigue that went far beyond just feeling tired.  Some days it was hard to remain upright.  On those days when the kids asked me for something I wanted to cry.  The effort it took to do something so small felt monumental.  There were a long list of other complaints but it was the fatigue – both mental and physical, that were the most disturbing to me.  I would rather have a migraine than have that fatigue.  It occurred to  me one day that if that is what my life was going to be like for the rest of my life then I didn’t really want to live it.  No if that thought isn’t a wake up call – nothing is.  I don’t know if this was chronic fatigue as I never got a diagnosis but I suspect that is what it was.  Since changing the only thing I had the power to change, my diet, life has become mine to live again.  I am 99% better now a year later.  All of the little issues have vanished.  The headaches that I have had since I was 13 are infrequent and mild.  The bouts of fatigue are thankfully rare.  How do I know it was my diet that helped me?  Two reasons.  1) I changed nothing else.  I still do not excercise and my stress levels are the same.  Yes, these are the next two areas I need to focus on. 2) Every time I get flexible with my diet every single symptom comes back in the matter of a few days.  When I started this diet – which really isn’t a diet but a lifestyle as it is something I will happily follow for the rest of my life – I didn’t start with the intent of losing weight.  I have a very small frame and I don’t think anyone would have looked at me and said I was obese.  Yes, I had extra weight on me and I deplored the way I looked but I didn’t think I was obese.  The last 8 months is when I fell into a groove with my diet and I had worked out the kinks and found out what works best for me.  In that time I have lost 30 lbs.  I did this without effort to lose weight.  I have never counted calories and I always eat when I am hungry.  I eat until I am full.   I DO NOT starve myself.  I am now at a weight that I haven’t seen since I was in junior high.  I weigh less than when I got married 17 years ago and less than I did when I graduated high school.  That’s been a pretty nice side effect.  Clothes shopping has become fun for the first time.  I feel happy, relaxed, calm, clear-headed and energetic most of the time.  I don’t fear Type II Diabetes anymore.  I know I am super sensitive to carbs probably more than most people and I am careful.  One of the best side effects of the way I eat is the freedom it has given me.  It may be hard for you to imagine that I feel freedom in a diet with so many restrictions.  I used to be a slave to food.  I was ALWAYS thinking about the next meal.  If I went more than a couple of hours without eating I turned into a volatile, anxious bitch.  I was probably hypoglycemic – yet another sign of my sensitivity to carbs.   When I was hungry I was ravenous.  It was not a sensation that could be ignored.  It consumed me.  Now that I limit my carb intake and have removed all grains and sugar in my diet, food does not have that power over me anymore.  When I feel hungry it is like a quiet reminder from my body that I need to eat.  But if it so happens that I am not in a place that I can eat, it isn’t a big deal to wait a few hours.  Nothing bad will happen.  I won’t implode from hunger.  I can still carry on.   I’ve discovered that there is NOTHING in the world that tastes as good as feeling this way feels.  The longer I eat this way the less and less I crave foods that make me feel badly.  I have found that I have a pretty powerful negative feedback system that will help to prevent me from getting too far off track.  I’ve learned to listen to my body which I think is something of enormous value that is not valued in our society.  I am not 100% of the way there and I am still learning.  I have learned so much in the last year.  I will not profess to be an expert and I will not try to teach the details of all that I have learned.  There are lots of great resources on the web that are more knowledgable than I and can say it and explain it better than I ever could.  I can however try to share with you what I am eating and enjoying.  This post started out to be a recipe for lemon bars.  Yes, Paleo Lemon Bars.  Not low carb but not a cheat either.  Treat – yes.  Cheat – no.   I will get to that post soon.  Until then here was my story that I did not plan to share.  My hope for anyone who has actually gotten to the bottom of this loooong post is that you take your own health into your own hands.  Change what you have the power to change.  Educate yourself and take control. Ugh!  Did that sound preachy?  If you have a similar story I would love to hear about it.  Leave a comment and tell me about your journey to health.

***I decided to post a picture of myself which I normally would not do but I always wonder what the writers of the blogs I read look like.  So here I am.   I am soooo not photogenic.  This picture was taken on a friends phone when I met my high school girlfriends in Las Vegas this past October to celebrate our 40th birthdays.  The picture quality isn’t great but it’s one picture of myself that I don’t hate.

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24 thoughts on “My Paleo Diet and Why I Do It

  1. Good for you, Kim! I was under that same chronic fatigue cloud caused by chronic hypoglycemia. Got out of the worst of it following the Zone Diet for about 15 years, but the last three months I’ve been Paleo have lifted most of the rest of it. Nothing feels better than freedom from cravings and crazy, irritable low blood sugar mamma.
    Heidi

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    • It’s so great to hear of yet another person who has been helped by a change in diet. I find it so amazing how our bodies will heal themselves if given the proper tools and building blocks it needs. I think it is a sad sad thing that so few people grasp the deep importance of nutrition. I’m glad you are finding your way too. Thanks for reading.

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  2. Love this post, Kim!

    I can’t say I’m 100% committed to low-carb/paleo forever… actually, I’m NOT paleo because I’m still loving half & half in my coffee and cheese — hard cheeses. However, after only 12 days on a low-carb almost-paleo diet, I am experiencing this already: “When I feel hungry it is like a quiet reminder from my body that I need to eat. But if it so happens that I am not in a place that I can eat, it isn’t a big deal to wait a few hours. Nothing bad will happen. I won’t implode from hunger. I can still carry on.” Right now, I am sticking to less-than-30 carbs a day — it took me the first week to work down to that — and I told myself that every day I stick under 30g carbs, I’d “let” myself have a square of chocolate at the end of the day. I’ve done that ONCE. There have been several days where I “qualify” for a square of chocolate, but it’s the end of the day, and I think, “I don’t need it. I don’t even really want it. I think I’ll have a cup of tea.” I couldn’t have imagined that two weeks ago.

    I have thought, though, that I *may* make this long-term. I can see it happening. Seeing you a couple of weeks ago was really inspiring, I must say. You seemed so much more chipper (and thin! healthy-thin) than last I saw you. It made me happy for you and that much more ready to take the plunge.

    Like you, I set upon this for health — NO SUGAR/STARCH to try to heal up from candidiasis. But, I’m really loving the weight loss, too.

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    • I’m glad you enjoyed it. I had not intended to write this post. Then after I pressed publish I had some regrets. Then I had really high traffic numbers and I felt a little weird about exposing myself so much. So I really appreciate your feedback.
      That’s great to hear that you are doing so well on your dietary changes. You did that fast. My change was an evolution. I feel so much better than I did last fall when we had our epic cooking day. I personally think it is easier to make drastic changes than the recommended small changes one at a time. I find that way is so easy to fall off the wagon. And I think it is easier to stay on track if you are making the changes for health reasons and not for weight loss. Now that we are on the same page we can swap recipe and meal ideas!!
      How do you know how many carbs you are eating a day? Are you using an online tracking system? Which one? I have used FitDay in the past but only for about a week. It was too time consuming and I felt like it became obsessive for me which I need to be careful of anyway. I do wonder some days if I should try it again just to see for curiosity sake where I am at in regards to macro breakdown.

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      • I just keep track of it in a (paper) notebook. I use http://nutritiondata.self.com/ daily — several times daily; I keep a tab to that site open on my computer, which is in my kitchen — to keep track of carbs. I really like it because it has lots of different measurement options for each food/ingredient, and measures nutritional values down to 1/10g. That, and a small kitchen scale. When I make big dishes for the family, I keep track of the total of the whole dish, then figure out if I can have 1 cup, 2 cups, 1/2 cup, whatever. It takes a bit of time, but I don’t find it tedious, and it doesn’t suck as much of my time as it would if I was using an online tracker.

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      • I will check out nutrition data again. I did once and thought it was cumbersome. Maybe I didn’t spend enough time there to figure it out. When you make a dish do you enter that recipe in so that you can get your info from a recipe? I found it is easy to use these things if you eat at fast food places and chains or if you eat plain 1 ingredient foods but if you actually cook the logging of the meal takes soooo long.

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      • (replying up here because it wouldn’t let me reply to your last comment)

        I don’t enter the recipe. IDK…. I don’t find it tedious. I just add up every single ingredient and divide by the number of servings. It would be handy, though, to enter a whole recipe — 100g this, 80g that — and voila! have it figure out the whole thing at the end. But, to each his own! I’d rather have the satisfaction of knowing I have my counts right… and since I cook a lot with simple ingredients, I don’t find it difficult. But, I’m pretty low-tech and easily satisfied with a minimum of tricks/programs/apps, etc. Others differ. 🙂

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  3. I have been Gluten Free since 2006. I was mis-diagnoised till I was 50 years old. That one change gave me my life back. I was in bed barely able to funtion. Gluten attacked my neurological system and caused an inflammation of the brain. It took THREE years to get my brain back to normal. Many other symptoms like migrains, went away also.

    I have studied anti-inflamatory diets. I noticed milk caused hot flashes and sugar caused joints to swell to the point I could not get my ring on. I am interested in learning more about Paleo diet. It is a big leap.

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    • And another success story here! That’s so great. We too noticed a big improvement when we went gf. Over time though it became obvious that gluten was not the whole story. I really think that most people who have issues with gluten would benefit from eliminating all grains. I know it does sound drastic but so are the benefits. If you do give it a try I would love to hear about your progress. Good luck to you.

      Sent from my iPhone

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  4. What an inspirational, honest post! I went gluten free in January 2010, although strayed the month of December 2011. Back to it now, along with dairy free and (trying to go) grain free. Actually, I had a lot of tests that showed I am way more casein sensitive than gluten sensitive—but since I have autoimmune (hypo) thyroiditis I know I should avoid gluten.

    Will you be “re-visting” some of your older recipes to make Paleo modifications? I am really looking forward to your lemon bar recipe!

    Anyway, thanks for sharing your story—and I must say you look glowing in your photo!

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    • Good to hear from you again, Debbie. You are probably right about you needing to be GF and CF being that you have an autoimmune thing going on. There are Paleo type plans that apparently work wonders for those with autoimmune disorders. Ever looked into it? Robb Wolf has a whole autoimmune protocol. That is a great idea – the revisiting of some of my old recipes to make Paleo modifications. Many desperately need new pictures anyway and some just need to be deleted altogether. My original Lemon Bars recipe will deinintely be one to go. It was great but I would never make that again because of all the sugar in it. Really great idea. Thanks. I will try to get to that. I just need to find some more hours in the day….

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      • I’ve thought about revisiting my old recipes, too. I think I’ll leave all the old ones up there — it’s kind of a document in my road to increasing food-health, and everyone is on a different place on their g.f. road. Know what I mean? But, I was just thinking about this yesterday…

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      • I am torn on this too. On the same day as I tell another commenter that I need to remove some recipes (not because they aren’t good but because they are things I would never make again due to the amount of sugar) my first version of my Lemon Bars came to mind as one to delete. They have a whole lot of sugar in them. That same day someone leaves a comment on that recipe thanking me for it because it was exactly what she was looking for. Maybe I just need to make paleo changes and keep both. My blog too is certainly a representation of the evolution of our diet over the last few years. I guess I could index those as pre-paleo…

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  5. Hi Kim ,
    I want to say that you do glow in that photo.
    I too have been doing Paleo for about a year and have loved the results much more to jus low carb.
    I have no issues with hunger as I really trained myself to follow the intermittent fasting at the start, to the point hat I rarely do it anymore , more subconsciously.
    I quite enjoy having the odd starchy veggie occasionally but rarely.
    Last march I started training for power walking 1/2 marathons, and that has made a huge huge difference in my health.
    I have gained lots of muscle and weight, BUT I am wearing 2 to 3 sizes smaller garments that I wore 20 years ago before I had my son!
    I never realized how powerful exercise was until I read Robb Wolf’s site.
    It has made a huge difference with my cortisol/stress levels.
    I have made some awesome walking marathon friends, and running marathon friends also!…..my dog started with us training and she now is in awesome shape
    She can bound up the small mountain from the lake to my cabin in huge leaps!
    My challenge now is to figure (according to Robb wolfs site) out how to use sweet potatoes for my glucose fix at the start and during the marathons, as that is an integral part, to manage glucose, to prevent a crash before completing the marathon.
    I did the las Vegas marathon and I used the special eats for marathoners and it was great, but I would like to do it the Paleo way!
    So congrats to you and keep up the good work!
    I want to try your Brioche recipe with a sourdough starter that’s GF ……it looks So So good!…..will be a challenge, as Up here in Canada at high altitude where I live is a challenge baking!!!

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    • Thanks – about the pic.
      I appreciate your words about the effects exercise has had on your health. That is no doubt my point of failure. I do not exercise at all. I never really have. I have never been athletic and dislike all sports so my challenge is to find something that I enjoy doing. Then I have to find the time and childcare to do it. It is hard to find a way to do something you don’t want to do. I know it would benefit me in many ways but I just haven’t gotten there yet. How did you get into power walking? That is not something that I even knew existed. I have just started to read Robb Wolf and listen to his podcasts. I really like him. I’ve been aware of him and his book etc but he just wasn’t one of the ones I have paid a lot of attention to. Can you recommend any of his blog posts that might help give me the kick in the butt I need? Or anything else you think might help get me started?

      My Brioche recipe…oh I loved that one. I wouldn’t make that one again though because of the sugar and simple carbs. It would make me feel like crap. How were you thinking of tweaking that to make it Paleo?
      Thanks for taking the time to tell me about your experience. Where in Canada are you again? Joanne, right?

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  6. Hi Kim,
    I am working on some GF sourdough starter, so I will try that bread of yours as soon as I get my buckwheat sourdough bread to work.
    The challenge is high altitude, but I will get there like I got with my spelt.
    Grains are not allowed on Paleo, but buckwheat is not a grain ! Looks like a grain tastes like a grain , but is a relative of Rhubarb.
    I ferment my sourdough for 14+ hours ( for DH) which reduces the gluten content in spelt which is already low, so this affords me the occasional treat.

    Well onto my power walking…..I have joined in Canada a fitness place called the Running room.I found out that they had a power walking section, so that’s how I started the formal training….
    Is very important to follow a formal training routine. The training is set up such that you are times each time. Thats the key to keeping your heart rate up when you are timed at different distances each week.
    Then you get notices about marathons ans 1/2 marathons, which you enter.
    You eventually get hooked and you end up walking like me in -4 to -10 degree weather in the snow and enjoying it. The more you see your body looking great and a feeling of energy you are hooked!!!

    They also run clinics on nutrition, injury prevention and proper ways of walking…etc.
    So check out all the gyms/fitness places offering running , and enquire if they have a power walking section, as many many runners who get hurt are hooked and they form power walking groups!..honestly!
    I entered the Vegas marathon through them!

    Let me know if you start, or if you find one!
    Jo

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    • Thanks so much for this information. I really had no idea there was such a thing. I live in Arizona so getting outside to walk or hike is hardly a burden. I just need to do it.

      Good luck on the bread. Sounds like it would be amazing if you can get it to work. Do you have a blog?

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  7. I am 31 and was also never diagnosed, but fall in the realm of crazy chronic fatigue & thyroid/hormonal imbalances. In the past year, I have shifted to a mostly whole foods diet that is gluten-free/corn-free/dairy-free and most recently grain-free & ‘industrial seed oil’-free and working on balancing proteins+carbs for blood sugar. (Wow, if only my old self would have heard that statement. I NEVER would have believed future me!) I feel 100 times better than I did a year ago, but I am still playing with diet – and still trying to find that magic next step that will make me feel even healthier. I always love hearing others journey to health too, so thanks for sharing!

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    • Isn’t it nothing short of a miracle ~ what food can do for you? Better than any medication ever. So nice to hear your story. Thanks for taking the time to share it. And I couldn’t agree more. If someone told me a few years ago what my diet today would look like I would have thought that sounded not only crazy but down right miserable. I couldn’t conceive of a life without grains.

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  8. YOU are beautiful. Paleo looks great on you. 40! Some of my 20 yr old friends don’t even look so healthy and refreshed. Thanks so much for sharing! Looking forward to future posts 🙂

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  9. Thanks for sharing your story! I am in the beginning processes of changing my diet and starting to feel better. I am dairy-free, gluten-free, and trying to get all GMO’s out of my diet as well. It started because I was having multiple health issues as well–I had gestational diabetes (which helped me learn to control my carbs and sugars as well as scared me into eating better so as not to trigger type II diabetes in the future), abdominal discomfort, brain fog, and constant fatigue. Now that I am eating healthier and listening to my body, I am reaping the benefits. I’m excited to learn more and meet others who are doing the same thing. 🙂

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    • I just wrote up a big reply and it simply vanished from my screen. Ugh. Anyway, good luck on your journey. Your story sounds so similar to mine. This learning process of the mind and body connection is invaluable! Keep in touch and let me know who things are going for you.

      kim

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  10. Pingback: Paleo Ice Cream Almond Milk

  11. I’ve heard so much about this diet from a lot of different people. So many people talk about the difficulties that they have but those same people also talk about all the great results that they experience too. It’s great how this diet can do so much for a lot of different people and it’s very motivating to hear what it has done for you. Good luck reaching your goal.

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