Sunday, 2 September 2012

Why We Chose Paleo

I think that the reason my husband and I chose paleo is not necessarily the same reason a lot of people choose to eat paleo.  So here are the reasons why, personally, I think everyone would benefit from this way of eating.

1       The first reason I was attracted to paleo wasn't because the paleo advocates allege our ancestors didn't eat grains.  From what I can gather, it is a hard task to deduce exactly what Paleolithic man did and didn't eat.   This, to me is irrelevant.  My attraction to paleo is because I like the avoidance of all things processed.  It appeals to me that the food we eat has had as little done to it as possible.  That's it.

If you stick to meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds, there is nothing in that list that is going to mess with you or make you fat.  It's all undeniably good stuff!  And it stops me having to think about it.

I'm not a big fan of cooking.  Actually, I'm not a big fan of thinking about cooking.  I'm the sort of person who looks in the fridge and knows there's a meal there but cannot for the life of me come up with one.  By limiting my choices so much, it's actually made meal times a lot easier to plan!

2       The second reason for my attraction to paleo is the removal of sugar from the list of acceptable foods.  I have always thought sugar should be avoided, ever since my children were babies. Mainly from my eldest son's clear hyper reaction to sugar and subsequent lows. I have always tended to choose foods for them that were low in sugar.  It is clear to me that sugar is the biggest reason people are overweight and feel lethargic.  It is hidden in so many processed foods that you wouldn't expect - cooked chicken breasts, cereals you would add sugar to, pasta sauces, pizza toppings, low fat yoghurts and so many of the foods you imagine to be health foods!  By limiting our food to meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, seeds and nuts we avoid all added sugar!  We still have some fruit and we sweeten some things with honey but these sugars don't give you the same sudden blood glucose spikes that processed sugars do and they aren't mixed with the dreaded trans fats that processed sugars tend to be.

3       The third reason I like paleo is the lack of starchy carbohydrates.  It's nothing to do with our ancestors not eating grains and our bodies not being able to digest it properly; this may or may not be true but my reason for being happy to give up grains and other starchy carbs like potatoes and rice is that I find it really helps control my blood glucose levels.  I know this to be true because I feel, think and behave differently without starchy carbs.

I no longer crave sugary foods.  I no longer crave bread, pastry, cakes or pasta and I don't get the roller coaster of sugar highs and lows that I used to.  Since cutting starchy carbs, I no longer have the sorts of meltdowns at my kids that make me worry social services were listening!  I can also cope with feeling slightly hungry much better than I did before.  Being hungry now, between meals for example doesn't give me that panicky feelings it used to and I don't get half as grouchy as I used to.  Don't get me wrong, II'm far from a perfect mother; I still yell at my kids - just not as much and not to the same extent as I used to.  I so wish I had discovered this way of eating when they were younger - it would have saved a lot of guilt and a lot of tears - theirs and mine!

I don't get sleepy around 2 o'clock like I used to.  getting out of bed in the mornings is less of a chore and I don't feel so tired in the evenings as I used to.

And it isn't just me!  My kids are better on it.  They are less grouchy in the mornings than they used to be and they have adjusted to the paleo way really well.  My daughter recently went to a birthday party and ate loads of junk.  She came home from the party feeling sick.  My friend's reaction to this was to wonder what I was doing to my kids that they couldn't eat 'normal' food any more without feeling sick.  My reaction to her was: what is in these 'normal' foods that makes my kids feel sick!

Byron Skinny Burger with avocado
After a recent meal out at Byron Burgers in Covent Garden (highly recommended as you can eat paleo there!) my kids had a milkshake and burger buns - the agreement is they choose what to eat out of the home and I choose what they eat in the home - and after the meal, they were rolling around on the benches, half asleep after a sugar rush from the milkshake and carbs and the following insulin-induced crash!

I am eternally thankful to my own mother for bringing me up without any food hang-ups and I am conscious of doing the same for my own kids.  So we talk about what we are eating and why a lot and we let them decide what they eat when we are out so that they still have some control.  I don't want them to leave home and go mental with McDonalds and sweets so they aren't banned, we just don't have them in the house or for their packed lunches.  My youngest two do very well at self-regulating - my eldest needs a little more guidance and discussion over how he makes his choices but we do discuss this and he is free to make his own choices.

Coconut cream instead of yoghurt
4       I am also happy to have given up dairy.  I think I'm quite in tune with my body.  I'm one of those people who makes adjustments based on what I ate at my last meal or snack without really thinking.  I tend to eat the foods I crave as the foods I crave are rarely junk, especially after giving up the junk!  And I have never liked cheese.  I have never liked milk.  I ate a lot of cottage cheese after we began getting fit and healthy because it is a good source of protein but I never liked it.  I at a lot of Greek yoghurt as well for the protein and healthy fat.  The only thing that made it nice was the fruit I had with it.  So I am glad to be finally listening to my body and giving that up and I think it may be what has made the biggest difference to how good I feel!

5       The final reason for loving the paleo way is that it isn't just about what you eat; it's about how you approach life; it's about getting out more, exercising and having fun.  It's about doing the best you can with what you're given in order to enjoy what's available - after all, we only have one life!  It's so extraordinary that any of us are here at all, I want to make the very best of it I can!

So I have no idea what our ancestors ate, I just know how well I feel, how much energy I have and how clearly I can think in comparison to 18 months ago and I know that by cutting all the crap from my family's nutrition, I cannot possibly be doing anything but good for them!  This is why I love paleo!

Krish x

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