I have been on a Paleo diet for approximately 6 months now, and during that time I have been asked a lot of questions about my diet, my reasons for choosing it, whether it is working and whether my children and husband eat a Paleo-style diet too. I thought the easiest way to address all of these would be to create a little FAQ post for you.
Are you Paleo?
Yes. I am probably 90/10 Paleo, which means that 90% of my diet is completely Paleo. The only non-Paleo food that I do eat on a regular basis is white rice, and I have the occasional cheat meal when we eat take out or have a celebration (I always eat gluten-free though, even when I cheat).
Why white rice?
With the amount of track and field training that I do, and considering I have very low body fat, I find that I need a little extra carbohydrate in my diet. I try to get this from potato and sweet potato whenever possible, but rice is a great source of carbohydrate which seems to work well for my body. I don't eat brown rice because I find the outer shell (the brown part) of the rice to be very irrational. My stomach doesn't like it and after reading this article, I understand why.
How do you feel now, 6 months in?
Amazing. My health and vitality has improved considerably, my dermatitis and fatigue are gone, I am not experiencing the big drops in blood sugar that I used to, and my skin has improved. I feel so much better that I am not in the slightest bit interested in grains, treats or those foods that I used to eat.
How much weight did you lose?
I didn't become Paleo to lose weight, although my body composition has definitely changed. I was quite lean to begin with but probably still lost 2-4 kilos in the first month of becoming Paleo which I'd say has left me with very little body fat. I know most people do lean out quite a bit, my father lost 14 kilos in his first three months of becoming Paleo.
Do you miss 'normal' food?
Not in the slightest. Actually, that's a lie, I do miss soft cheeses. But apart from cheese, I don't have any interest in eating grains, or foods full of sugar, because I never want to feel like I used to. I love having energy and feeling healthy.
Isn't it really expensive?
Not at all. The first one or two shops I did were, as I had to stock up on things like coconut flour, coconut oil etc, but our grocery bill is pretty much exactly the same now as it was pre-Paleo days. I find I can spend more on healthier meats, and sometimes organic vegetables, because we aren't buying snack foods/biscuits and other things that used to quickly add up.
Do you have to cook two meals?
No. I cook one meal for the whole family and everyone has the choice to eat it, or miss out. But it isn't a problem because both kids and my husband seem to love the meals that I cook. To be honest, they aren't that different than the meals I used to cook, the only real difference is the lack of pasta. I still make the pasta meals, but instead of pasta I use mash potato (for the kids) or mashed sweet potato (for us).
Are your kids Paleo too?
No. Not completely. They do eat a lot of Paleo food, and I have reduced their grains by probably 70-80%, but I do allow them a sandwich regularly, and normal kid treats at parties or celebrations. I don't want them to feel like they are being deprived of these things. When they do have them, I talk to them about how we only have these foods in moderation because they aren't good for our bodies. My aim is to be honest in educating them exactly how foods can affect their bodies so that when they are old enough to make their own choices about food, they will be able to make wise decisions about their health and the food that they consume.
What about Olly?
Olly has always been a typical Aussie, burger, meat and potatoes kind of guy. He pokes fun at me all the time and calls us something similar (but less politically correct) to 'The Gluten Police'. In saying that, he loves our Paleo dinners, has started eating a Paleo-friendly breakfast, finds new Paleo recipes for me to try and he even made me some Paleo ice-cream! He is on-board, he just doesn't know it yet ;)
How did you introduce Paleo food to your children?
We already ate quite a lot of the healthy alternatives, so I just had to reduce their Weet-Bix Cereal, bread intake and snacks over time and replace them with healthier options. It is a work in progress but we have come a very long way in 6 months so I am really happy with how it is going.
Do you eat dairy?
The only dairy I eat is butter. That is because I felt like it might be contributing to my skin problems so I reduced it out for a while, then when I tried to eat it again, I found it didn't agree with me. I'm open to eating it occasionally, but I generally keep it out of my diet. The kids eat a little bit of dairy on a daily basis, but it is limited to a little bit of milk, a yogurt. They'll eat a few pieces of cheese every now and then.
I like the idea of being Paleo, but it's just too big a commitment. I'd miss *insert variety of foods here* too much.
I get it. It took me a year of making similar excuses until eventually my health got so bad that something had to give. I am just thankful that my dear friend Kelly kept encouraging me to change my diet. I wish I could convince you to give it a try right now, instead of waiting until health problems arise, but I understand that people have to be ready before making the plunge, because it is a big commitment initially, but within a few months, you'll won't look back.
If there is anything else that I have missed that you'd like me to answer, feel free to ask below..