By Amber Close
May was our first Paleo-versary, the one year mark of my family’s switch to eating Paleo – no grains, no dairy, no legumes, no sugar, just real foods and clean meats. In anticipation of this anniversary, I spent some time reflecting on how going Paleo changed our lives since we first took the fateful plunge a year ago—fingers crossed and hopes high.
Our Before Paleo life is almost hard to remember now. Weekly pizza nights, letting our daughter graze on Cheerios guilt-free (a healthy source of whole grains!), even limiting our “indulgences” to once a week…all of it has started to fade, except for one last memory, the one that drove me to give Paleo a try. It’s a memory of constantly feeling disappointed, a reminder about the body I would never have and the health goals we would never achieve, and never really knowing why because we were doing everything “right.” Little did I know then, Paleo would change all of that.
After we first made the switch, we started to notice changes immediately. Our energy levels soared through the roof! We stopped getting post-meal bloat — having been a life-long grain eater, I thought “carb-comas” were just a side-effect of your body “digesting”. Instead, we felt replenished and jazzed after meals. Pounds started to melt off and stay off. I returned to my high school athletic weight—after having a baby—and sustained it effortlessly. My husband dropped and kept off 30lbs and 7% body fat.
The longer we ate Paleo, the more other “side effects” started to surface. Our cholesterol improved. Our complexions cleared. My PMS and sidelining cramps mysteriously…disappeared. Could it all have something to do with, *gasp*, what we were eating? The physical changes were amazing and exactly what we initially hoped for. But, inadvertently, other changes started happening too. Our weekly, dreaded grocery store runs became replaced by family “hunting” adventures, as we sought out organic veggies, grass-fed meats, and pasture raised eggs. Our desire to experiment with new recipes got us spending more time in the kitchen. Together. As a family. And our new energy levels found us getting outdoors more often, making up WODs at the park while our daughter “played” along. Paleo was starting to extend beyond our diet. We were settling into a new lifestyle. I dare say, we were even becoming happier!
In hindsight, it was the little things that we started to incorporate into our new Paleo lifestyle that were making all the difference, little things like:
Giving Everyone A Kitchen Job
My 3-year-old was put in charge of measuring, pouring and mixing. She takes her job so seriously that a kitchen call-out of “daddy is baking paleo cookies” can tear her away from any toy, “Wait! I have to help!” I love it because I get to sneak in math lessons. Just one warning: don’t get caught doing their tasks (“MOM! I pour the [coconut] oil! You didn’t do it right.)
Going on the “Hunt” For A Special Meal
Find a recipe for something you haven’t yet sunk your teeth into and “hunt” down the ingredients. The chase might have you running from grocery store to grocery store or even online! “Hunting” regularly will get you intimately familiar with your local shops, where your food is imported from, local goodies and when certain foods are most plentiful (more affordable). Relish in your modern ’burb hunting success when you dig into that new dish.
Getting Reconnected at the Farmer’s Market
When we first took our daughter to farmer’s markets, she asked, “but I thought food came from a store?” As we’ve become more disconnected to our food supply, a trip to a local farmer’s market can instantly reconnect you to the source of your energy. I once spent 20 minutes talking to a Florida farmer about carrots—did you know they didn’t start out orange?
While all these little things truly make a difference, there is one big thing about this past year that absolutely stands out from the rest: we are just as excited about eating Paleo after one year as we were after the first few months. No other way of eating has brought this many positive changes into our lives, and I like to think we’ve tried them all. We’re not looking back, and the future, well, I can’t wait to find out what else it has in store.
Are you ready to give Paleo a try? Do you love eating Paleo? Visit Amber online at whatthepaleo.blogspot.com.