We briefly touched on the Paleo topic in a few earlier blog posts but we are excited to share this Guest Post from someone local with real world Paleo experience. We met Beth when she and her family visited the farm earlier this year to buy some of our pasture grazed beef.
By Beth Kohl
I had read about the paleo diet. I thought if you give up dairy, legumes, grains, sugar, and alcohol, what is left? Starvation? I quickly dismissed it as anything more than a gimmick. I kept looking for the “Easy Button” for my health. I’d always been told any diet that eliminates entire food groups would lack nutrients and could not last, the “goal”, is always balance. I had tried several diets, but I could not get away from strong cravings for sugar. I felt like a drug addict. When it came to candy and sweets, I would have a little and end up binging like crazy.
I needed to lose weight. I had high cholesterol, high triglycerides, low energy, acne, depression, anxiety, restless legs, border line pre-diabetes, GERD, and an autoimmune disorder. My doctor was ready to put me on medications for several of these issues. I woke up 20 plus times a night and I had the sleep study to prove it. Every morning I woke feeling like a truck hit me and I had a headache 80% of the time. A good day was no migraine. My normally good to low blood pressure had been creeping up to questionable level. I power napped every single day. On the plus side, I exercised. I worked out for over 2 years with the guidance of a trainer; I had added a lot of muscle but had not lost weight.
A few years after first hearing about Paleo, in desperation, I gave in and tried a popular diet “Whole 30”. This is an elimination diet that you stop eating dairy, legumes, grains, sugar, and alcohol. Giving up those items is the bulk of paleo rules. The first few weeks were not great, I felt tired as my body adjusted to all the changes. When I reintroduced dairy and wheat, I found (to my shock) that my body had a bad reaction. I was sick to my stomach, could not think clearly, I felt awful. I decided to follow paleo but I had no guidance and Thanksgiving and Christmas completely derailed me.
Earlier this year, I talked with my doctor and decided to restart paleo, then return to the doctor in 12 weeks and get blood work again. Curious to see what, if anything, changed. I floundered the first 4 weeks with no diet change. With 8 weeks left, I added a dietician who specializes in paleo, to give me guidance. Amy, really helped me to figure out what works and does not work for me. She has given me accountability, encouragement, and resources.
There are misconceptions and a few controversies regarding what paleo is, is not, and should be. I only know how I eat and that it is considered paleo. My breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks consist of a variety of vegetables and fruits, quality protein, and quality fat.
I say “quality” before each food group because I’ve found that what happens to my food before I eat it is very important. “You are what you eat” resonates with every paleo I’ve met, talked to, and every book I’ve read. Whenever possible, I look for vegetables that are organically grown and non-GMO. I buy grass-fed beef, pasture raised chicken, lambs, and pigs, because they produce better quality meats, fats, and eggs. Fats include animal fats from pasture raised animals, ghee (clarified, grass-fed, butter), extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil, tree nuts, and avocados. I get to have a variety of meats, fats, fruits and veggies, but always REAL, minimally processed food.
It is not as hard as it sounds. Now, a few months in, I can prepare a meal ultra-fast or something if I am having guests over. The best part is, no one knows that they are eating paleo, because it is just real food. I can also go out and enjoy a meal in a restaurant. I have planned times where I eat items outside of the plan, but always avoid wheat and store-bought dairy, because they bother me, although I know many who use raw dairy with no problems. I do not prepare separate meals for my family, and I have an extremely picky son. This is a way that I believe I can live for the rest of my life.
I tried many versions of low-fat and low carb diets all have been miserable failures. Now, I am eating a diet much like my grandmother did when she was young: real, nutritious food. I am eating a nutrient rich variety and not paying attention to calories. I am not feeling deprived either.
So, after 8 weeks of eating saturated fats, beef, eggs almost daily, bacon, and other “taboo” foods, watching portions, but without counting calories, what was the outcome? These results are documented by my doctor: 16 lbs. lost, Blood pressure is low/normal, cholesterol is 30 points lower , and triglycerides cut in half, glucose and A1C (blood sugar) completely normal. I have found relief for depression and anxiety. I no longer have cystic acne, restless legs are nominal, and I sleep soundly and rarely wake up during sleeping hours. I wake up each morning before my alarm goes off and I feel prepared to start the day. Headaches are rare for me now. The daily cravings for sweets are gone. I have energy for the whole day without my daily naps.
I know if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. This is not without price. The tradeoff of not eating certain foods may seem huge to some, but it is worth it to me. I’m convinced that the “gimmick” has been the best thing that ever happened to my health. I am not alone. My doctor had diabetic patients try this way of eating. Less than 2 months, the diabetics following the plan had normal glucose levels, that is HUGE. Guess who else started to eat this way? My doctor and his wife.
My scale is still moving in the right direction, but I’m not nearly as concerned by my weight as I one was, because I feel good. I might be paying a bit more for food these days, but I am paying WAY less in medical and pharmacy bills. I feel better than I have in years. I do not know if it is for everyone, but I would urge anyone who has questions to investigate it for themselves.
I’d be happy to answer questions where I can, but I’m still a novice. If you want expert advice, I’d recommend you follow the links below. Here is a link to my dietitian’s blog. [http://robbwolf.com/author/amy-kubal/].
Wow, that is a powerful testimony! Our thanks to Beth for sharing her experience. If you would like to connect with Beth please drop us an email. In addition to the links listed above, we would note that the Weston A Price Foundation recently aired a podcast with Chris Kresser, author of “The Paleo Cure”. In the podcast Chris points out that there are people groups that have adapted to raw dairy very well through the years. I (Doug) credits raw milk as one of the foods that helped cure my chronic Acid Reflux condition. Probably the most important things we can do to achieve health is eliminate processed foods, start shopping the “edges” of grocery stores and then begin your journey to source local food from your neighborhood farmers. Thanks again Beth for sharing!
Photo Credits: http://morguefile.com/creative/CTrillo/1/all & http://morguefile.com/creative/maxkopi