Rather than doing another “What I Ate” post on this Wednesday (let’s be honest- there isn’t a whole lot of variety), I thought I would write a little bit about what I have learned from eating Paleo over the last few months. I haven’t followed a “strict” Paleo diet, and while some days I think I ate 100% in line with Paleo others were very far off. Generally I was eating mostly Paleo foods Monday through Friday with a little more flexibility on the weekends and when I was traveling.
When I first started learning about Paleo, my initial reaction was “no way”. I read “It Starts with Food” and “The Paleo Diet for Athletes”. While I was intrigued by the idea of the Whole30, I couldn’t pinpoint a time that was reasonable to do it. It was right before summer and I knew I would be traveling and a lot and it would be really difficult. I knew at the end of the summer I would be starting marathon training and I didn’t want to be trying something so new while I was training. There were some things about the diet that I thought would be really difficult. I really didn’t think I could stop eating grains and dairy, and I didn’t really want to give up alcohol. From what I have read I think that Paleo is okay with an occasional glass of wine, but not as a regular thing, but if anyone knows better you can certainly let me know.
So back in June I decided to start focusing on eating more of the foods that Paleo allows: fruits, veggies, meats, and nuts. This sounded easy enough because those foods I have always known I should eat more of. (Well the meat part was a little trickier because I had it engrained in my head that very lean meat was much better than fatty meat, and Paleo encourages eating more fat). As I started planning my meals, I tried to focus on including those things in my meals and the only thing that was really different from before was more veggies and instead of a grain I was eating more starchy veggies.
It was actually easier than I thought. At times I felt like I was running out of ideas but I managed anyway. Since I wasn’t doing super long runs I didn’t worry about getting extra carbs on Friday night and stopped eating bagels on Saturday mornings. I limited my alcohol when at home (but didn’t worry about it when I went out or was traveling).
Before trying this type of eating I wasn’t having any specific problems, but I really wanted to clean up my diet and focus on getting as many nutrients as possible. There were also times that I didn’t feel great after eating…not really sick just kind of uncomfortable. I noticed that as I switched to more Paleo I was not having that discomfort anymore.
There were some times when I would get hungry between meals and didn’t know what to eat—I honestly didn’t want a processed snack or anything like that but I felt like I needed something more substantial than fruits or veggies between meals. I started eating bigger meals with more fat and I think that helped. The only “processed” food I eat regularly is a cashew cookie lara bar- I don’t know if its considered processed but it is the least processed bar because it only contains cashews and dates.
Another difficult area was dessert. I was used to eating a “snack” after dinner every night and I thought it would be really hard to stop. I decided not to stop but instead to switch to Paleo-friendly foods. I stopped eating ice cream at home and saved that for special occasions when I could get the good stuff at a fro-yo or ice cream shop. I started baking using almond flour, coconut oil, eggs, honey, etc and stopped baking with sugar. One of my favorite recipes has black beans so its not really Paleo but since I wasn’t being strict I really couldn’t justify not eating these-The Little Honey Bee’s Black Bean Brownies:
So black beans were an exception that I used regularly (but actually only in this one recipe, I wasn’t eating beans otherwise). I also have been using about 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt in my morning smoothies- not Paleo friendly but I’m ok with that. And wine a few days a week. OK and now I need to admit my biggest non-Paleo vice: ketchup. I am happy to say that I have greatly reduced my ketchup consumption but I still have it with certain foods like burgers and fries. I know I can invest in a healthier,organic, Paleo-friendly brand but I haven’t done that yet.
Like I mentioned, traveling made things more difficult and I had to stray from Paleo much more than usual during those times, but I still made an effort to avoid sugar and processed foods. I actually have a lot more to say about my experience with Paleo so far but since this is getting long I am going to split it into two posts. So I will be back next week with part 2! But since it is WIAW I will leave you with a picture of these awesome Paleo pancakes that I have been eating for breakfast this week:
I also want to mention that my favorite “resource” for all things Paleo is The Paleo Running Momma. And as you can see I also pull a lot of recipes from The Little Honey Bee. Thanks ladies for all the great info and recipes you share on your blogs!