Low fat, low carb, avoid goitrogens, paleo, primal, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Slimfast, Whole 30, starvation, blood type. The list really goes on and on and on. What kind of diet have you tried?
What does the word diet even mean?
The dictionary defines diet as “food and drink that is regularly provided and consumed”. You don’t have to be on a “diet” to have a healthy diet. Diets, in the way that we all know and love to hate, do not work. Most diets tell you what you cannot eat before they tell you what you can eat. I have never been able to restrict my eating without completely obsessing over what I cannot have. That has always been a struggle for me and I would guess for many of you as well.
When you hear the words “Paleo Diet” you would tend to think the same thing you have about every other diet out there. It is restrictive and meant for you to lose weight. Isn’t that why people diet? Depending on how you look at things, any diet can be restrictive, even the Paleo Diet.
The difference between other “diets” and a Paleo diet is that the whole premise of eating Paleo is to feed your body nutrient dense foods. It emphasizes the highest quality of food one can afford. Nose to tail, local when possible. It is a healing diet to many and it can become the food and drink that is regularly provided and consumed.
It doesn’t mean you can’t eat anything else but what eating real food does is show you just how good you really can feel when you cut out all the processed sugary foods that we are so accustomed to having whenever we want.
There are some exclusions in eating a real food diet. The foods that are excluded are more inflammatory and are cut out for specific reasons. You may find that when you cut out grains, legumes, dairy and maybe even nightshades if you have an autoimmune disease that you will feel fantastic. If you choose to keep them out for at least a month, your body had time to heal a bit, calm some inflammation you didn’t even realize was making you feel like crap. Then, if you sneak in some pizza or a donut and you feel like you have been hit by a truck, you will know why. It’s the food.
Food is medicine and food is poison. It just depends on what kind of food you choose to consume. Your average diet doesn’t make you feel better because you may feel crappy all the way through it and you never get to have that “aha” moment of “this food really makes me feel like crud”. Get in touch with your body. Listen to it when it speaks to you.
Look. I have been there. It took me a lot of years to listen to my body. I waited until my body was screaming at me to listen to it. Actually, it screamed at me and I didn’t listen. My baby died at 34 weeks gestation because I didn’t listen to my body and my doctor didn’t have a clue. Cut to 4 or so years later and I finally listened when it was yelling at me again. Dry, crusty, peeling lips that were sore and felt swollen. Itching arms and chest, all the damn time. I had red scabs all over my upper chest (fancy name = decolletage) and my upper arms. I probably had this issue for a year before I got so sick and tired of it that I started to do some digging. A google search led me somewhere, I don’t remember but in my mind I was thinking, I should give up gluten and see if that helps. Well that would mean I couldn’t eat a box of organic wheat thins in one sitting at my desk at work. That meant giving up bread and the love affair I had with it. Something kept eating at me to give it up though. I couldn’t shake it no matter how hard I tried. So, I decided one day to give it up cold turkey and never looked back. Two weeks later, the rash was gone. Something else happened too. My thinking was clearer and my mood was better for a little while. The rash, however, never came back. The itching on my arms though, creeped its way back in to my life when I consumed too many other grains (corn tortilla chips became my vice). That was a whisper to which I ignored for awhile. You would think I would have learned my lesson.
Going gluten free led me to learning about Brittany Angell since I was trying to replace all my old favorites with gluten free versions and she had a great website for that. I went a couple of months being gluten free before my naturopathic doctor told me I needed to cut out dairy and a few other foods. This led to me finding the Paleo diet. I don’t even remember now how that happened but I do remember stumbling upon Practical Paleo at Costco and picking it up. It is a great book which is located on my Resources page (and is an affiliate link) if you wish to check it out. I started tinkering with recipes and feeling sorry for myself because I couldn’t eat this or that. My life revolved around food and baking and eating so this whole change was tough for me. It has been five years and I am finally making peace with what is now my way of eating because it is what my body needs to be well. I have cut out sugar and am slowly transitioning in to an autoimmune protocol which cuts out nuts, seeds, nightshades and eggs.
So here you have it. Eating Paleo is not a diet, it is a lifestyle. It was never meant to be a short term fix for anything and even long term this way of eating isn’t a panacea but it sure can make a world of difference in your life, especially if you are consuming the Standard American Diet of processed and fast foods.
I was at the store today getting some things for Thanksgiving and came across a whole section of the store for your Thanksgiving table. Stove Top stuffing was there. I used to love that stuff. We ate it regularly when my kids were little and everyone gobbled it up. I read the ingredients. It has MSG listed on the label two different times with two different names. They call MSG a flavor enhancer because it makes crappy lifeless food taste better. Stay away from the boxes of “food”. Real food doesn’t usually come in a package.
How can you make a lifestyle like this work for you?
If it works for you, you can create a food journal (at least for awhile). It is your best tool to help you figure out how something has made you feel and what it might do to your digestion. Write down each meal, snack and drink each day for a month. Write how each of those meals made you feel and what your digestion and eliminations look like. You will be able to make a correlation to which foods upset your system and which foods work for you. Another reason it is good to make a food journal is you will be able to tell immediately if you are eating enough and what you might be eating too little or too much of. This is not for everyone (me included) but I can attest to how useful it is for me when working with clients to help them figure out what changes need to be made and what they are doing right.
Drop the D word from your vocabulary. No more dieting. Just eat real food.
Now, if you have Hashimoto’s like I do the Autoimmune Protocol is probably something you should look at. It took me a long time to admit that this is where I needed to be. I didn’t want to give up potatoes, peppers and especially tomatoes. I love all of those things. Sometimes though, those things you love and crave are because when you eat them, your body releases dopamine as a protective mechanism against the harm those foods are causing you. That really sucks, doesn’t it?! I woke up with an aching hip one day in August of this year and I knew I had to seriously consider doing AIP. Still it was two more months before I bit the bullet and went for it. At the same time I went AIP, I went sugar free too. I have slipped up and consumed a pepper or a tomato here and there and honestly, have paid for it with my digestion being screwed up and the ache in my hip creeping back in. I also relied too heavily on nuts over the last year and now have a mouth reaction (swelling, burning sensation) and the feeling like influenza is about to hit when I consume any nuts. This happens when you have autoimmune disease and leaky gut. You can almost assuredly create new food sensitivities for yourself by consuming too much of one thing for too long. So, it was AIP or bust. I feel pretty good both physically and emotionally after cutting out even more and I can even look at my way of eating and really be thankful for what I can have.
Don’t diet for your thyroid. Don’t diet to lose weight (especially if you have thyroid problems). Don’t diet to get healthy.
Just eat real food. And love yourself no matter what.