Several years ago, I was introduced to the concept of “clean eating”. I ate the standard American diet full of pre-packaged foods, convenience items, dairy, pasta, bread, high fructose corn syrup, well, you get the picture. I had never been overweight so I didn’t really think much of it. However, after gaining 60 pounds on my 5′ 2″ frame with my first pregnancy, I decided maybe I needed to look into it.
With my next pregnancy, about a year later, I decided to make a change. I started eating “clean” and working out. What a difference it made! I was much fitter and only gained 30 pounds. Sounds awesome right?
Well….. things finally started catching up with me. Shortly after my second daughter was born, I was suffering from severe adrenal fatigue and what I now think was postpartum depression. I was a wreck emotionally, felt awful physically, and just couldn’t “deal” with simple disappointments in life.
It was about a year after my second daughter was born that I started to look into the paleo and primal world. I read Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint and started to change the way I thought about food. I began by cutting out most of the sugars and wheat products I had been eating.
My skin was better, my bloating went down and the brain fog started to clear. I was still hammering the dairy and I’m not exaggerating when I say half of my intake came from cottage cheese. I was still inflamed, but I thought that this was a “clean” and inexpensive form of protein. Plus, some primal advocates can handle dairy and I jumped on that idea, applying it to myself without consideration. I still had inflammation issues and felt I was somehow addicted to the dairy. It turns out, there is some truth to that!
Did you know that casein proteins can act like cocaine or heroin in our brains, potentially driving us to seek our next fix? That was a wake-up call and things finally started to click, but not before a pre-diabetes diagnosis had been dropped in my lap.
The lactose (when you see the “ose” suffix it has sugars in it) was driving up my blood sugar levels and adversely affecting my health.
That same week I saw an offer from a trainer I followed online for a free month of personalized food and workout plans.
I liked the FREE part, so I contacted him and had my plan in place. One of the first things he told me to do was quit the dairy.
His plan was pretty much paleo, although he let me have oatmeal as I do better with that than with potatoes. He also had my meals planned out for an entire month, but each week was the same.
In fact, each day was the same except that on days I weight trained I had slightly more carbs, and the days I did metabolic work (cardio, but short, high-intensity intervals) I had slightly more fat and fewer carbs.
He planned it around foods I LOVED and that I knew I could get at Aldis.
The program not only had me completely ripped in 7 weeks, it revolutionized my way of life and how I now live year round with these principles in mind.
IT WAS A GAME CHANGER FOR OUR GROCERY BUDGET AS WELL!
Having a list and plan, not making impulse purchases, or confusion on what to eat unexpectedly streamlined our finances.
HERE ARE SEVERAL CRUCIAL STEPS TO START MAKING WISE FOOD CHOICES FOR A LIFETIME:
1. Make three columns and list your favorite, one ingredient, whole foods in each of these categories:
- Lean proteins
- Slow Burning Carbs
- Healthy Fats
2. Now put these in order of cheapest and most easily accessible (eggs and chicken, sweet potatoes and olive oil) to most expensive and rare (grass-fed bison, yucca roots, and raw macadamia nuts).
3. Plan to eat every 2-3 hours, 5-6 times per day with your carbs focused at the beginning of the day and/or around your workouts which you will alternate (cardio one day, weights the next, and one day a week of rest). Some people do well with intermittent fasting, some people don’t. I’m in the latter category, so find out what works well for you and tweak this advice!
4. Stick to the primal/paleo prescription and don’t eat dairy, sugar, wheat, soy, or corn except on special occasions or when you can’t avoid it.
5. Don’t eat more than 60-100 calories from fat when you’re also eating a NON-VEGETABLE CARB. Carbs release insulin, which is great if you pair it with a protein when you’re lifting weights or need quick energy. Insulin will shuttle fat into your fat stores, so you want to be careful when eating oh, let’s say doughnuts. Don’t eat doughnuts. Unless they’re these kinds from The Paleo Mom.
I have SO many more tips and tricks that will not only revolutionize but simplify your choices when it comes to food and fitness, workout ideas and recipes. Please read Paleo Food and Fitness on a Budget Part 2 where I delve into this deeper and show you what to do with your first 5 steps!