In October, I ate Paleo for 31 days. In November, I transitioned back to my “normal” way of eating. In December, I have eaten whatever I want. (Translation … not so healthy some days.) It has all been an experiment, and I have learned many things. Here are some of the lessons:
2. It is hard. Just because something can be done doesn’t mean it is easy.
3. I lost weight eating this way, but I don’t recommend it strictly for weight loss. If/when I go back to my old eating habits, my weight will likely go right back to where it was. This is part of my overall attempt at a healthier lifestyle. It is not a quick-fix. And it is hard. (See #2.)
4. Planning is key. A meal plan and a grocery list are essential.
5. Even with planning, you will probably make a trip to the store for that one item you forgot. Or, in my case, several trips to the store. 😉
6. Eating consumed my life for the first few weeks. Everything seemed complicated because more planning and preparations were needed.
7. As time goes on, new habits do start to stick. It doesn’t seem as crazy to cook an egg in the morning now. It is more “normal.”
8. It takes time to adjust to a “new normal.” We like quick fixes, don’t we? Give yourself time to adjust. Give yourself grace when you mess up.
9. It feels weird to eat differently than others. Even when no one notices (which they usually do), you might feel awkward.
10. Feelings are not good reasons for quitting. If I quit every time I felt “weird” eating differently, I would not have made it past day one.
11. I spend a lot of time eating mindlessly (when not restricting something.) I’m packing a lunch for a kid and eat a handful of chips. I’m sitting at my computer so I feel like snacking. I simply glance at the kitchen and feel compelled to go in and find some food. All the while, I’m not even hungry. Just eating. This is really obvious when you a very strict eating plan.
12. The basics of Paleo aren’t that expensive … meats, fruits and veggies can be pretty frugal, especially if you eat in season and don’t let foods go to waste.
13. Trying to mimic your favorite non-Paleo meal and “Paleo-fying” it can get more expensive. Almond flour is drastically more expensive than wheat flour. Olive oil costs more than vegetable oil. You get the idea.
14. “Paleo-fied” meals will probably taste differently than your taste buds are used to. Don’t expect your Paleo chicken salad to taste exactly like your traditional chicken salad.
15. Sometimes Paleo foods don’t taste like your traditional meals … they taste better!
16. And sometimes they taste horrible and you throw a pity party. As was the case with my attempt at Paleo spaghetti.
17. Sweet potatoes are my new friend. How did I not know this before?
18. Transitioning back to my “normal” way of eating was hard, too. I tried to be careful about adding only one food group at a time, but so many processed foods include multiple food groups. I feel like I need to go through the whole process again and take better notes.
19. I did notice some ill-effects after adding foods back in, mainly that I felt very bloated. I even texted Jessica one night that my stomach measurement was two inches larger than it had been at the end of my month of Paleo.
20. Those ill-effects didn’t bother me for long, apparently. They are probably still there, but they just start feeling “normal” again.
21. The digestive issues I was having with Paleo have gone away, so I’m suspicious that something I was eating more of on Paleo is not compatible with me. I also have been learning more about eating with no gallbladder, and I need to do some more investigating in that area, too.
22. I’m not good with moderation. I did very well for my first two weeks off Paleo, but then the old, bad habits returned with a vengeance. Apparently structure and rules are good for me. I have always been a rule-follower.
23. Just a little bit of sugar or grains (which our bodies often use like sugar) triggers massive cravings for more. If I eat yogurt (which usually has added sugar) or grains for breakfast and spend the day craving sugar and grains.
24. I truly do crave what I eat. If I eat lots of fruits and veggies, I tend to crave eating them more. If I eat sugar, I crave it more.
25. Interestingly, fruits and veggies seem to satisfy cravings, while sugar just makes them worse.
26. My hormone issues have continued to improve, even though my healthy eating has declined over the last month. Interesting. I’m not sure what to think about that, other than I’m very intrigued with hormone issues now and I want to learn more.
27. My Mom has continued to eat Paleo, and she is doing amazing! She has even been able to drop and reduce some of her medications.
28. Other people I know have attempted eating Paleo and have noticed great improvements in their health also. I am so impressed with hearing the stories of people who are improving their health!
29. I really need to say goodbye to sugar once and for all. I think it’s my biggest problem. It’s my bad addiction. You can tell me how bad it is, as Jessica just did yesterday, but I suspect it’s like a smoker who knows that smoking is bad. It’s just hard to quit. I know I have done it in the past, so I can do it again. I am definitely eating tons and tons (ok grams and grams) less than I was several years ago. Those small changes are making a difference.
30. Ultimately, Paleo is not a small change. I truly recommend picking a small change and focusing on that. Get used to making one small (translation = still huge sometimes) change in your life and work from there. It’s our motto here at The Journey. And I will keep preaching it because I need to hear it myself!
31. It seems I had another thing, but, Poof! it’s gone! So, thanks for reading and have a nice day!
Cori is a wife, mom of three and random writer who is learning how to take small steps towards big goals. She tends to be an all-or-nothing kind of person, but a journey to learn how to run (something she always hated) has taught her a lot about gradual, slow change. She has a degree in journalism and enjoys doing research and writing.