I decided to change the way I eat.
I don’t think I’m necessarily a bad eater. I like to cook, I try my best to bring my lunch and make dinner at home. I try to read labels but tend to skip over the ingredient portion and focus on the numbers instead (How much sodium? What’s the trans fat?). I’m a sucker for those “healthy” cereals and granola bars that promise loads of nutrients and lower calories. I’ve got that “if it’s big bold letters on the front of the box, it has to be legit” mentality.
I tend to eat worse when I am on the go; I’ll grab something processed because it’s quick and easy and I won’t think twice about it.
I will disclose that there is a Domino’s located a little too close to my apartment and every once in a while, I feel the need to eat one million Swedish fish… I’m not sure that Gwennie would approve of that.
I read beauty product labels with more intensity then my Susan Miller horoscope so I started to ask myself why wasn’t I doing the same thing with food? If I can’t pronounce an ingredient (I’ll spend hours on the internet reading about silica dimethyl silylate) listed on a tube of lipstick, I try not to use it (keyword being try). But I can tell you that there are plenty of ingredients listed in those “healthy” granola bars I was eating that I couldn’t pronounce. I’m not running out the door with just any tube of lipstick because it was the closest one to my bag, so I shouldn’t be grabbing that random granola bar just because it’s there. It was time to take a step back and think more about what I was eating.
I decided to try eating paleo for 30 days (I decided to do it for 30 days because that sounded best for a hashtag. I mean, what would you click on? #23daysofpaleo or #30daysofpaleo? That’s what I thought). Along with giving paleo a go, I decided to cut alcohol and make it a point to walk the two blocks to my gym more often. I didn’t go into this hoping to lose weight, I didn’t think of it as a diet at all, but more as a new way of eating and taking care of myself.
Quickly, paleo is loosely based on what people were eating during the paleolithic era (loosely because I don’t think there were too many cavemen eating almond butter). You can have meat (grass-fed, free-range), fish, eggs (cage free), vegetables, fruit and some nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews). No processed foods, no added sugar, no dairy, no legumes (that means no peanut butter), no soy and no wheat or grains. Yeah, even when I write that now I know that it sounds a little bit crazy. Paleo isn’t saying that things like legumes or grains are unhealthy, they just don’t happen to be a part of the plan.
[Side Note: With this, I also did 30 Days of No Dating. It wasn't that it was super hard to find something to eat at most restaurants, but I didn't really want to have to explain my no dressing, no cheese, can I have extra greens and is there dairy in that soup? questions on a first date for fear that my food neuroses would scare away my potential future husband.]
At first it was really hard. Like really, really hard. I wanted chocolate, I wanted cheese (mostly I wanted cheese). But after the first 5 days, I started to get used to it. I made my breakfast, lunch, dinner and any snacks everyday (okay, except that time I bought kale chips to fill my popcorn craving when I went to see Grand Budapest Hotel). I ended up cooking every single day and tried to prep my breakfasts and snacks for the week on Sunday nights. For me, the snacks were key (I made my own granola bars! It was so easy! Let me know if you want the recipe!) because I’m a grazer, so I eat a little bit throughout the day. In my 30 days, I went through a 32 oz. tub of raw almonds that I had sitting on my desk (okay, Garance helped a little bit).
The first thing I noticed after I started eating paleo was that I was sleeping better. I wasn’t tossing and turning, I just slept through the night (my Sleep Cycle app will prove it). The next thing? I had more energy. I didn’t hit a wall at 4pm and go out in search of something sweet to perk me back up. I felt totally energized. My body just felt better. I wasn’t feeling sluggish and I didn’t feel bloated. I didn’t eat something and feel overly stuffed afterwards, I wasn’t falling victim to any food comas. My skin improved drastically, it felt balanced, it felt brighter (going without alcohol was a big part of that, because I can feel the effects on my skin after just one drink).
It’s crazy how much what you eat impacts how you feel, and to be honest, I didn’t realize the full scope of “you are what you eat” until I did this. I kept thinking, “Wow, this is how I should feel everyday and it’s 100% connected to how I’m eating.”
My official 30 days ended about three weeks ago, but I’m still eating paleo 85% of the time (I’ve added brown rice, quinoa, and little bit of chocolate– the darker the better) and I still feel really good. I’ve paying more attention to the way I eat (still nothing processed, no gluten, no dairy) which yes, takes maybe a little bit more money and time, but I promise you, that good feeling is well worth it.