Paleo Challenge: Complete!

Thirty days ago, I read that by eating:

via Crossfit Pacific Coast

… I would not every want to go back to how I was eating before.  They were right.

The past few weeks, I have run into more than my fair share of people that are “going vegan,” or on the “Skinny Girl Cleanse,” or are only drinking juiced kale for a week.  Everyone always is convinced that their way is the best.  It’s made me a little embarrassed to share the “new thing” I’m doing.

But at the end of thirty days, I’ve come to some conclusions about food that are important to share.

1.  You.  Don’t.  Need.  Bread. 

You just don’t.  I thought I did, but really, I just thought it was easier to pop a bagel in the toaster than to fry two eggs in the morning.  That’s a lie.  Just because the restaurant brings the chips or the bread to you table doesn’t mean you have to eat it.  Remember?  They’re giving it to you for free!  That’s because its worthless. I won’t be eating bread anymore.  Isn’t that crazy?  After 30 days, I really have no desire for pasta, bread, or grains.


2. Plan Ahead.

Planning takes some getting used to, but it was crucial this month.  When you go to work without a packed lunch, you will be tempted to eat whatever is available–because you don’t have anything else.  This month, I was forced to create weekly grocery lists on Sunday.  In many ways, planning ahead took away so much of the “so what do you want for dinner?” stress that always came at 4:30 every day.  It’s made me a better wife.  Planning ahead includes having quick breakfasts ready for mornings I hit the snooze more than once.  I like making sausage hash, and delicious paleo muffins to have on hand during the week.  Also, my sister’s famous trail mix has been hidden in the top drawer of my desk since day one.  I good handful can get me through 2:00.

3.  Try New Things. 

Let’s be clear… I was in a cooking rut. This challenge has forced me out of my culinary comfort zone.  I am thankful. Resorting to pasta and cheese on a regular basis is simply not good for my body–and I will not go back to that slothfulness in the kitchen. Not knowing how to cook certain vegetables is no longer an excuse.  The best new items on our repertoire?  Cardamom spice, red chard, almond meal, and a mandoline slicer.  Plus, eating good food has long term impact.  Psychologically, I felt better almost immediately, because I knew that the fuel I was putting in my body was good.  Physically, after jumping the initial sugar-withdrawals, I really felt more alert and less bloated than usual.  Go figure.  

4.  Cultivate Self Control.

This is hard.  To be healthy mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and yes, physically–you need self control.  I had gotten into the crazy habit of making dessert almost every night.  I felt (like most people) that if I wanted something, I deserved to have it.  Not true.  “Everything is permissable but not everything is beneficial.”  For me, self-control in my diet meant making a strict decision about what I consumed for thirty days.  I was addicted to nightly cookies-and-ice cream.  I had to give that up.  Self control implies setting boundaries–not when you’re staring the chocolate cake in the face, but before, in a quiet space where you can decide what you really want to be about.

5. Treat Yourself.

When I craved a treat– I fix a cup of frozen fruit with honey, nuts and coconut.  Of course, the world knows I cheated on my thirty days with a cup of Jeni’s ice cream… but after many weeks away from the stuff, it was actually special again.  Also, since I had cultivated self-control… it was easier to reach for good food again the next day. 

6. Decide your non-negotiables

After 30 days, I don’t miss bread or pasta.  I don’t miss milk.  I don’t miss yogurt.  I’m thankful to have cultivated self-control to stop the sugar rushes and crashes.  I won’t be adding grains, gluten, processed foods or dairy back into my diet.  Those are my non-negotiables. The one question-mark that I have is about… cheese.  Some people have asked what the hardest thing has been– and without a doubt… it has been missing cheese!  I know Patrick can’t wait to have a little cheese in his pasta-less lasagna. 🙂

So what do you think?  Do you think you’ll ever try a big change of the way you’re eating?  Do you get excited by hearing about someone else’s journey, or are you ready for me to shut up about it?

And… what should my next challenge be?

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Author: Claire

Hi I'm Claire. I am a freelance writer, Vizlsa lover, and avid runner who lives in Nashville, TN. Nice to meet you.

14 thoughts

  1. Claire, I love your post!! I am so happy you have found success in eating this way. Thanks for your candid diary, and I will definitely send people your way for inspiration! Love you!

  2. Claire, sugar replacement is definitely a must if I'm ever to kick the habit completely. I do pretty good most nights. I'll just have a small piece of 75% dark chocolate or some fruit. But then sometimes I'll grab a half gallon of ice cream on my way home from work and eat on that for a few days.

  3. Hi Claire! This sounds cool. I have cut out bread and most grains gradually over the last year or so and feel better for sure. Are any grains considered paleo? I still eat quinoa quite frequently and brown rice every once in a while, but all gluten is gone. If you're looking for another challenge, try going raw (or mostly raw) for a few weeks. The amount of meat and protein in general that our society consumes is nothing short of outrageous (no one other than serious, professional athletes need to have 3 strips of bacon plus sausage and two eggs with breakfast, then a sandwich full of meat for lunch and 8 ounces of steak or chicken with dinner….major overkill). Consciously incorporating more raw foods into my diet has made me realize that no normal person needs as much protein as we often eat, and just generally helped me focus on the health benefits of veggies over nearly everything else.

  4. You can ABSOLUTELY do it, gabby. Oatmeal and yogurt aren't necessarily bad… they just aren't the best. Your body will operate better on a different fuel. Let me know if/when you do it!

  5. hmmm….what else went with the hamburger buns dad ate? possibly a hamburger with some fixins? Might it have been the stuff in between the buns that caused the need for the tums?-Lindsay

  6. love your post and all the comments. Dad had hamburger buns last night for the first time in months. He immediately fell asleep…and then had to pop a few tums….for the FIRST time in a month. He agrees about the bread…and that is BIG for him. BIG! He told me this morning that he really wanted to stay with lean meats, vegetables and fruit. I was amazed. He could immediately feel the sluggishness the bread buns caused in him.

  7. I'm really impressed that you were able to get out of your sugar habit. I have never been able to do that and, honestly, I'm not sure if I ever want to. I have been able to curb it back a lot, but I still feel like I have to have a little something every night after dinner. Anyway, way to go!

  8. Glad you enjoyed it, Claire! Everything you said is so true! Years ago, I never thought I could like without cereal and Activia! And if you want to eat cheese, I suggest eating raw cheese! Cheese is not inherently bad for you (nor is yogurt), just the way we process and pasteurize it. Even if you're lactose intolerant or have an allergy to dairy, goat's milk cheese won't bother you, and raw cheeses are actually really good for you! Full of good fats and protein without the bad stuff in most cheeses. Trader Joe's has really good priced raw cheeses. Whole Foods has a lot, but it's a little more pricey. Anyway, I know you didn't exactly ask for all that, but there ya go! 🙂

  9. Claire — you have inspired me!! I have tried/wanted to "go paleo" for SO long but I do not have the self control or the mental ability (ex. "Steel cut oatmeal is GOOD for me.." "Yogurt is essential for women's health" etc etc) I am going to try to mentally prepare and then I want to try what you did!! If /when I ever do it, I may be reaching to you for help/advice! Way to go!!PS I miss you! 🙂

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