First Timer’s Diary: The Paleo Diet
One unsuspecting foodie's experiment and experience with the new gastronomical fad... and whether or not she'd recommend it to the wary dieter.
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Besides juice cleanses, organic and local produce and elimination diets, another health trend resurged from the 70s with the promise of a healthier lifestyle and weight loss: the Paleo diet.
The Paleo diet—or the Caveman diet—is based on those foods available that were to cavemen 20,000 years ago. At that point, there were no grains, legumes, potatoes, dairy, processed oils and food, salt, or refined sugar. The only stuff available was fresh, unprocessed food like grass-fed meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, seeds, tubers, roots, and nuts. In other words—natural food.
In the past couple of months, the Paleo craze has been dominating social networks—not only with thoughts and feelings about it but also pictures of what people eat. Even though I’m a morning sugar-free soy latte and oatmeal kind of person, I decided to accept the challenge and dive in—toes first—in this five-day Paleo experience. My experience and whether or not I—with the help of some nutritionists—think the Paleo diet is worth trying:
Morning: Two scrambled eggs; lemon tea; one cup of mixed berries
Afternoon: Sashimi; carrots; green salad
Evening: Sashimi; sautéed veggies
I woke up this morning with enough time to do my work out. By the time I was done, I was a little skeptical if my decision of endeavoring on the PD was the right one. In fact, I was already regretting it when I looked at the clock and only had 20 minutes to eat breakfast, pack lunch and snacks, and head out the door to go to the office. Oh! How that soy latte and high-protein cereal bowl make all the difference for an on-the-go kind of morning. At 4 o’clock, I realized I wasn’t prepared nearly enough to keep on track with this diet, and I was already thinking about dinner. After my nightly workout and dinner, I realized that, if I wanted to be successful in this Paleo world, I would need to do more than just think about what to eat; I needed to prepare my meals and have a plan of action.
Morning: Two egg-whites; one whole-egg omelet with turkey bacon; lemon tea
Afternoon: Cobb salad (no dressing)
Evening: Chicken, asparagus wrapped in bacon; baked sweet-potato fries
My second day without coffee wasn’t as bad as I thought it'd be, but I was moving slower than usual. All I wanted all day was to take a nap; I didn’t even have enough energy to work out after the office. And by noon, all I could think of was a juicy porterhouse steak, which is (very) weird because I don’t eat much red meat. By the end of the day, I was snacking way too much on fruit and not enough on protein. I made it through day two, but barely.
Morning: Eggs (again!); decaffeinated green tea
Afternoon: Baby carrots, banana nut chocolate chip protein muffin; watermelon
Evening: Unsweetened coconut shrimp; baked sweet-potato fries; salad with lime juice
Enough is enough! Today’s goal was to step up my protein and veggies game, so I went around the web and to stores looking for Paleo options. It’s amazing how well-stocked and resourced they are, and how little information I had on it. Because my cravings and bad mood—I get very moody when I’m hungry (feed me!)—were driving me insane, I looked up Paleo recipes for the thing I crave the most: dark chocolate. I found some awesome Paleo-friendly recipes for banana-nut chocolate chip-protein muffins (made with coconut oil, almond flour, raw honey, protein powder, walnuts and bananas) and Paleo-friendly protein fudge (made with almond butter, coconut oil, raw honey and cacao powder). As long as the chocolate is milk-free and at least 70-percent cacao, you’re good to go. Raw honey is always a good sweetener if you don’t love the bitterness of the chowacao—which I do. I also got a natural-, vegan-, gluten-, sugar-, and dairy-free protein powder, which would be a great add to my smoothie the next morning.