"So why Paleo?"
I've gotten this question a lot since embarking on this journey. A LOT. Along with the questions, I have also gotten a lot of cavemen and bacon jokes. (Just to clear things up, I do not live in a cave and roast things over a fire, and I do I eat bacon for every meal. ;) )
I went on this lifestyle change because, quite simply, I needed a change. For years I thought my fatigue and low energy levels were from of a combination of a rigorous school schedule, stress, and just generally overexerting myself. In May of 2013, I decided to take my health and energy levels into some serious questioning; there was no reason a 25 year old should be sleeping 9 hours a night yet waking up exhausted and having heavy brain fog throughout the day. On top of all that, I actually had trouble sleeping through the night, had some persistent acne that hadn't resolved since middle school (!), caught strep throat every 6 months, and regularly suffered from nausea 1-4 times per week. In spring of 2013 I had an unexplained anaphylactic allergic reaction that sent me to the ER and reason to carry not one, but TWO EpiPens on me at all times. (The doctors still don't know what I am allergic to, nor why I went into anaphylaxis.)
Although I had been successful in my life up until this point, this was only from sheer motivation, willpower, and espresso, and I knew that I was quickly running out of steam. I was tired of being tired. I was tired of feeling sick all the time.
After a summer of heavy research (books, research articles, blogs, podcasts, etc.), I decided to try out the Paleo, or Paleolithic, diet. During the last week of August, 2013, I decided to try out Paleo for 6 weeks. I told myself that I could do anything for 6 weeks, and if I didn't like it, I could simply quit….but honestly, I've never looked back. Paleo has changed the whole way I look at a diet and food; It has truly been such a positive lifestyle change.
My energy levels improved drastically, and I no longer felt like I was dragging every day. My cognition improved: I felt more alert, focused, and sharper. I haven't gotten strep throat (or even so much as a cold), I sleep through the night, and I have cut down my caffeine consumption from 4-5 cups of coffee a day to 1. I stopped counting calories, my skin cleared up for the first time in a over a decade, and I can remember exactly 3 days over the past 6 months where I have taken any type of aspirin or ibuprofen.
My whole goal of starting this way of eating was to regain control over my energy levels, but Paleo changed things that I didn't even know I could change. My intense cravings for sweets went away. (Don't get me wrong, I still have a sweet tooth, but those havetohaveitrightnow cravings are gone.) My mood stabilized. (No more mood swings, less moments where I was crying and didn't know why I was crying.) My stamina for workouts increased. (I am currently scheduled to run my first half-marathon in April.)
The first 4 weeks of starting Paleo were hellacious for me. I had done enough research so I knew that this was headed my way, but it was absolutely miserable. I had the "paleo flu" for two weeks straight, and my fatigue actually got worse than it was before. Long ago, I eliminated fast food, conventionally raised and farmed food, and some processed foods from my diet. I have long been a believer in organic, sustainable farming methods, so I thought I wouldn't have as tough as a time switching over to Paleo as other people have. I was wrong. I had terrible headaches, malaise, and I ate more avocados in those first two weeks than I ever thought possible. Seriously, I was the girl at the grocery store buying three bags of avocados at once time.
Although I am a strong believer in Paleo, I do not follow the diet 100% of the time. I occasionally will still have a plate of pasta, a slice of pizza, some cubes of cheese, and I am definitely a fan of a glass of wine. I love chips and salsa, and I love ice cream. There are some things in life that I don't want to give up permanently, so I've realized that having these foods every once in awhile is ok. There are many people in the Paleo Community who differ from me on this issue.
This whole way of thinking and eating has changed my life, and I'm starting a blog to document this journey as well as collect the recipes I have tried out or have created. It has been incredibly empowering, and I hope that someone else can benefit from my journey as well! I also plan to document some of the other things I do in my life- like DIY projects and traveling!