Thursday, June 19, 2014

How I eat

A year and half ago I set out to experiment eating Paleo, you can read about that here. I was definitely skeptical going in to it but had read enough about it that I was intrigued to see if all the hype was really true.  This all came about after a few months of doing CrossFit. It’s hard to do CrossFit without coming across people who are laying claim that this is the best and only way to eat. I had some serious doubts about a diet that did not involve cheese and pasta as I stated at the outset.
Right off the bat I went all in and dragged Greg along with me. We eliminated everything that wasn’t Paleo- no dairy, no grains/wheat/bread/pasta, etc, no sugar, no processed foods.  Was it hard? Yeah, sometimes.  But it wasn’t nearly as tough as I thought it was going to be. Of course there were times we cheated but we were pretty strict in the beginning, even drinking ciders instead of beer.
In general I really don’t believe in diets. I think that if you eat real food most of the time you should be ok.  Just don’t eat crap. This was one of the big draws of Paleo for me.  I had believed for a long time that putting processed and junk food into your body was not the way to go so this really became the element that I latched on to. 

Probably the best diet advice I’ve ever read.  So simple, right?

6 months or so in Greg and I were having a tough time not having any sort of grain or starch to fill our bellies. There is only so much broccoli and spinach you can eat. At that point we started to reintroduce white rice and white potatoes.  From our own research it seemed these were the best options as they are very easily digestible and don’t disrupt your system the way whole grains can. I know what you’re thinking. This goes against everything you’ve been taught- that you should always eat brown rice over white rice. I totally get it because I thought the same way for a long time. I think it’s something you need to research on your own and observe how you feel after eating each one. Then you can decide what is right for you. That is the thing about diet. What is right for one person isn’t right for another.  I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers.  I really try not to inflict my own eating beliefs upon people but I do like to share what I have learned so that maybe they can make more informed decisions or be inspired to find out what works for them.  Greg tends to eat more rice because he CrossFits like crazy and he needs the extra calories. Lately I have been cutting back on rice and starches because I have found that I feel better without them. So it’s really what works for each person.

After all this time I think Greg and I have obtained a nice middle ground that definitely skews more Paleo.  Many items have been replaced that I don’t even give a second thought to now--Almond or Coconut Milk instead of cow’s Milk, Almond Butter instead of Peanut Butter, Coconut, Walnut, Avocado Oil instead of Olive Oil (for cooking). For me the key to maintaining healthy eating has been to keep it simple. A majority of the time I have to cook because it is really difficult to get healthy food from an outside source, especially something quick and cheap. The problem is that as much as I enjoy cooking I really don’t have a lot of time to devote to it. During the week I normally start cooking dinner around 8:30 by the time I get home from work and get my workout in. There are no gourmet meals being made at this time of night. Not when I have to get up at 6am the next day and do it all over again. Over the past year I have devised ways to be as efficient as possible and that has really enabled me to successfully maintain this lifestyle. I go food shopping once a week on Saturday or Sunday. I basically buy the same or similar items every week. This makes food shopping really easy and quick. My best advice for starting out would be to make a list and group like items together. I list all of my fruit and produce together, all of my meat and poultry, and then eggs, milk, etc. These items are all located on the perimeter of the store so all I have to do is make one big loop and I’m done. I start in produce and end in dairy. Easy peasy.  Sometimes I might have to venture to the middle aisles if I need almond butter, rice, sauce, oil, etc. but I normally stock up on these items and only buy them every so often. I also tend to buy non-perishables such as these at different locations other than the normal food store. For example- I order organic rice online in bulk from and special oils (walnut, coconut, etc) I get from Home Goods because for whatever reason they have them for about half the price that Whole Foods does.

I think in the end we have both stayed with this way of eating because we just feel better. I never have that sick full feeling after eating a meal. I find that my energy levels are more even keeled. I sleep better. I’m not hungry all the time. I eat when I want to eat.  It doesn’t even feel like a diet, it feels totally natural. And of course I indulge from time to time but I try to make them worthwhile indulgences- for example flourless chocolate cake at my favorite restaurant versus bakery cake at a party that I don’t even enjoy.  Most of my “cheats” are when we go out to dinner.  I consider going out to dinner an experience and I love to enjoy something delicious. It makes it that much more special. I don’t ever feel like I am depriving myself and I think that is crucial. 

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