At the beginning of the month I was truly skeptical of whether I could truly “do” the paleo diet. I love dairy, I enjoy carbs from time to time, and what about legumes?! I consumed hummus on a weekly basis. I clearly had no business cutting out 3 out of the 4 major no-no food groups— but I did and here’s what I learned.
- You really can do anything; you just need to have a plan. Without a map, there is no way you’re going to get to your destination. That’s how I felt about paleo. I gave myself the ability to create a game plan on how I was going to change my lifestyle so that I could attempt to follow this diet through. I did my research, I knew what I could and couldn’t eat, I read up on recipes, and strategically crafted grocery lists. This is all needed in order to accomplish this.
- Paleo might very well make you anti-social. I am a self-labeled social butterfly. I love going out with my friends, checking out new restaurants, and socializing in “to-be-seen” bars— paleo definitely puts the kibosh on that. On paleo, you can’t drink or eat a majority of your favorite bad-for-you-foods. You’re going to have to learn how to get more creative with your social time, which may not be a bad thing. In the month that I’ve been paleo, I have taken up an interest in both spin classes and yoga— who knew!
- Your diet was terrible before this. The biggest realization that I have faced is that my “healthy” diet wasn’t so healthy after all. Now, I am a label queen, and I have a real issue (and maybe so should you) with products with five or more ingredients. I also now have a hard time processing the idea of processed food— let me get this straight, it can live on a shelf for how long?! Totally not natural.
- I am buying into the organic and locally-sourced bandwagon and I am proud of it. When you’re eating better and doing your food research, you feel a sort of accountability that I can’t quite explain. Essentially, now more than ever, I feel a responsibility to purchase sustainably sourced and raised foods. Not only does it matter, to me, what I am putting in my body but also how that product was raised.
- You will stop craving your old go-to foods. If you told me a month ago that I would be over my obsession with English Muffin breakfast sandwiches, I’d never believe you, but now I do. I no longer crave the foods that I have weaned out of my body. Even when I have cheat meals, and I consume pizza, the consumption doesn’t fuel a need to devour more— in fact, I typically feel pretty gross after eating it.
- You will get really creative in the kitchen. Paleo might limit your cooking initially, but you learn and you adapt. It’s amazing what creative concoctions have been birthed in my kitchen, and I’m totally pleased with it all!
- You will realize that you’re not ready or willing to ditch this new lifestyle. Now, that the month challenge is wrapping up, I had to talk to my boyfriend about our eating habits (as by default, we are both doing it). We both decided we were going to keep the paleo lifestyle about 90% of the time. Being that we both like to wine and dine, we feel it’s necessary to lighten up the reigns on the one-a-week cheat meal so that we can go out and be social when we feel like it. However, our fresh eating habits, our kale intake and prepared daily meals are not going to stop.
Paleo, like with any diet that promotes healthy eating, is difficult but doable. All it takes is motivation, dedication and a true desire to eat and live better. I learned a valuable lesson through this experience which is that you truly are what you eat. And, that there is in fact a direct correlation of what you put in your body and how you feel afterwards. Life is short, fresh food is so good, don’t squander it! Give yourself the one-month challenge, you might be surprised to see what you’ll learn because of it!