Many months ago, I became part of an online fitness community which has been a great place for me to learn and build my knowledge as a fitness enthusiast. It’s where I learned the great feeling of picking up heavy things and then putting them back down. It’s where I got advice and encouragement as I ran my first 5K last year. But another thing they are always willing to give advice on is nutrition.
Many members of the community there are proponents of “The Paleo Diet”. I won’t go into all the details, but the premise is that we should be eating like cavemen did for so many years. Like hunter-gatherers, not like agriculturalists. In general, this means no grains, no refined sugars, no dairy. the historical origin behind it seems a bit dodgy to me, but I like the way Whole9 put it:
We eat real food – meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, healthy oils, nuts and seeds. We choose foods that were raised, fed and grown naturally, and foods that are nutrient-dense, with lots of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.
This is not a “diet” – we eat as much as we need to maintain strength, energy, activity levels and a healthy body weight. We aim for well-balanced nutrition, so we eat animals and a significant amount of plants.
Eating like this has helped us to look, feel, live and perform our best, and reduces our risk for a variety of lifestyle-related diseases and conditions.
I’ve never been a big fan of any sort of diet that completely disallows any food. And, seeing as one of my other hobbies is baking, having no grains and no sugars is like… blasphemy. But there is a lot that makes sense to me about a Paleo-style diet. Meat and veggies really are dense in nutrition, so it makes more sense to base most meals around this than basing it around rice or pasta or cereals.
But when it comes to nutrition, there’s so much information and misinformation on both sides of the fence that it’s almost impossible to figure out what’s really the truth and what’s hype. However, enough people I respect live by these rules that I decided to give it a try, through the Whole30 program. Thirty days of ‘paleo’ – meat, veggies, fruit. No dairy, no legumes, no grain, no sugars. It’s just 30 days, and then I can form my own opinion.
And so I did it.
And you know what? It wasn’t that hard.
I replaced my weekday breakfast cereal and weekend pancakes with hard-boiled eggs and omelettes with fresh veggies. My lunch was usually leftovers, a meat dish and two servings of vegetables. At dinner time, I replaced our usual “starch” side (pasta, rice, bread, etc.) with a second veggie dish. I ate lots of tasty avocados. I gave my Friday office treat to someone else.
And while I didn’t notice any sort of amazing energy boost or health improvements that I had been promised – I did learn a lot:
This experiment gave me a lot to think about, and really did change my perspective on food. Although it was not really my intention, I did lose weight during this experiment, but I think what I gained in insight was much more important!
Now that it’s over, I plan to continue eating mostly this way. I’m going to have treats, I’m going to have sugar and grains and dairy, but not all the time – I will eat them because they are tasty treat, not because I think I need to.
And I’m totally having pizza for dinner tonight.