Monday, January 9, 2012

Biscuit Abstains from Biscuits: A Vegetarian Paleo Diet Adventure, Part 1

In the grand tradition of our favorite past-time, I embarked on a new diet on Sunday.

I didn't start this for my usual reasons, and I didn't pick the diet myself. In fact, I often see references to this diet and willfully ignore learning more about it. It's called the Paleo diet, and it's totally trendy. So why am I doing this?

A good friend of mine invited me to join her and two other women in seeing a nutritionist as a group. We had toyed with the idea of doing Weight Watchers, which I've done several times, but instead they found this independent local nutritionist. I had checked out her blog, but not extensively. From what I gleaned, I knew that she was into whole, non-processed foods, and had successfully lost over 100 pounds, which she is maintaining through her own plan. I could get behind that.
In the past year or so my body has just felt "off." No matter how active or mindful of my food I am, I don't lose any weight. I'm convinced my hair is thinning, and my stomach is carrying weight for the first time in my life. Some people may call this "old" or "pregnant," but while the former may be coming true, I assure you the latter is not. I need to change something in my lifestyle, because I don't feel strong these days.

Cut to Saturday morning. We show up for our intro meeting with our new nutritionist friend, and she hands us our info packets. I flip through it and immediately become skeptical: there's info about lectins and phytates and dairy, and how they're all giving us leaky guts and killing us (my summary). We're doing the Paleo diet. I'm a vegetarian (well, I should say I'm a sometimes-Pescatarian). This is going to be difficult.

So, what is the Paleo diet? The general concept is that we, as humans, have adopted a diet far too removed from what our bodies evolved to eat. We are basically cave-men, so we should be eating what cave men ate (this is where I have a hard time taking this seriously). Also, fat is not the enemy: eat more (good) fat! Parts of it I agree with - we should not be eating processed foods. We should not be eating toxins and food-like products. And I certainly agree with the anti-low-fat stance.

But parts of it are really hard for me to swallow. First and foremost: animal protein is the center of the meal. That poses obvious problems for me. Second, since cave men didn't grow wheat or eat grains, those are all out. With that, one must keep gluten-free. Also: beans. Beans are the reproductive part of the plant, so no beans, because they mess with your inner lady workings (or some such other reason). No beans means no soy or tofu. One by one grass fed lady eliminated the primary staples in my diet. I eat beans every day. The perfect paleo meal: a grass fed steak, some raw green veggies, and maybe a sweet potato if you worked out.

Here's my issue with the concept: I generally stray away from any diet strictly prohibits certain foods. So long as that food group that you can't eat is naturally occurring, I think that the whole concept is probably bullshit. I'm looking at you, Atkins. As you probably know if you've ever talked to me for more than 30 minutes, I'm in the Michael Pollan school of thought. Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. To me, food includes a simple, high quality loaf of bread. And these days, a gluten allergy seems kind of like ADD to me. Not everyone can suddenly be afflicted with this.

Despite my skepticism, I agreed to try this crazy diet out for 30 days. What's one month? For at least 30 days, I will have little to no sugar, no bread, grains, or processed foods. Ideally, I'm not supposed to have wine either, but currently two cities of Real Housewives are in season, and I'm no wizard. I'm keeping the wine... in moderation. And, according to the internet, vodka is gluten free, so at least we're covered there (shut up about alcohol sugars).
My paleo diet supplies
Since our meeting, I've read a lot about this, and I'm hopeful, but skeptical. I'm doing strange things like adding coconut oil to my tea in the morning. I ate 6 eggs yesterday. I'm learning to love fish, at least for the time being. And I'm eating saurkraut with every meal.
Actual Home Decor of Mine
Will it work? I have no idea. Reading about gluten intolerance is a bit alarming, and I wonder if I am indeed slowly poisoning my belly with sourdough. Two days in, I'm feeling pretty solid. I'm actually quite full from my meals, and the best part of the diet, by far, is the fact that grass-fed butter is on the "definitely do" list. We all know I love butter. 3 free range eggs fried in butter? Perfect paleo meal. Just don't dip any toast in your yolk.
I cook like caveman
So, I'll let you know how it goes. Maybe gluten is that hidden factor that's making me bigger than I'd like to be. Or maybe it's just my Michigan gene pool expressing itself. Fingers crossed!

No comments:

Post a Comment