Nearly 10 Months Paleo… How Easy or Hard Is It?

I just read back through my posts. I realized that on a day to day basis, I sound kind of crazy. Some days I’m up. Some days I’m down. To be honest, that’s life with RA, and Paleo hasn’t changed that. The hards just aren’t as hard, and the easies are WAY better easies. The in-betweens are significantly better too. I got thinking that I may need to take a “10 month inventory.” Tomorrow will be the 10 month anniversary of my first post, “Twas the Night Before Paleo.” I hope this might be helpful to those who are considering this “diet.”

For starters, we’re trying not to refer to this as a diet anymore. It is a lifestyle change, and one that my husband and I plan on following indefinitely. My son, about to turn 7, is warming up to some of the Paleo foods, but it’s a more challenging sell to him. Therefore, there’s still Halloween candy, cereal, bread, and milk in our house. Do I miss them? Surprisingly no, not really at all.

What do I miss? Pizza! There are several Paleo pizza recipes out there, but I haven’t made a single one, as I know it would be a disappointment. A good deep dish Chicago-style pizza sounds DIVINE. And, although I don’t really crave them, when I smell fast food french fries, it makes me REALLY want some. Other than that, my cravings are pretty minimal, but I think you have to REALLY stick to the true diet for a few months before those cravings go away.

Another thing I miss is EASY. No, really, EASY, meaning I miss popping Stove Top and chicken in the oven and poof, there’s dinner. I miss sandwiches and a simple bowl of cereal. I miss take-out. Mind you, I don’t crave these things, but rather I miss the simplicity of them.

Last thing I miss is cooking with my son. He’s not very interested in Paleo cooking, and we used to make Sneaky Chef muffins all the time (puree fruits and veggies and sneak them in a bread recipe). About a month ago, we got a Paleo cookbook with some desserts in it. We’ve started cooking together a little bit since then. I think holidays will be the toughest. I’m known for my Christmas cookies and homemade stuffing. I’m working on some things that will hopefully work out before Thanksgiving. We’ll see!

Do I cheat? Well, it depends on your definition of cheat. It seems to me the true Paleo followers believe you should NEVER have a grain, legume or dairy. It seems to me they also believe that an occasional organic-ish sugar treat is relatively ok. This is about my motto, although the sugar certainly creeps in a bit more than it ought to. To the best of my knowledge, I have not had ANY dairy or grain. Could I have gotten a little when eating out? Quite likely, but not intentionally. I did have legumes once. We took our son to Disneyland, and I had to choose from the lesser of some evils, and a Mexican dish with some beans was consumed. This occurred about 2-3 months into the diet, and did not appear to have an effect on me. I do consume alcohol on occasion (non-grain clear alcohols like rum or vodka…. or both!) Alcohol certainly sets off my RA. This is something I’ve known for a long time, and so when I do this, I need to plan for a few days of not feeling my best.

What are my sugar sins? Non-dairy chocolates of various flavors (orange, peppermint, raspberry), organic spearmint green tea (with some organic sugar cane junk in it), cinnamon sugar coated almonds. A friend also gave me a cookbook: Paleo Indulgences. From this I’ve made gingerbread pancakes (not sweetened until you add pure maple syrup!) We’ve also found a very respectable brownie recipe in there which we’ve made twice, and a hazelnut chocolate chip cookie recipe, made once. I think if I completely got rid of any “sugar” or “high glycemic” ingredients, I’d probably have a little more steady RA. I did completely eliminate them the first month or so, but… well, I’m human, for now! I do realize I probably treat myself too often. It’s something to work on.

Am I happy with Paleo? Although it has its challenges, YES. I am thrilled. With a huge weight loss (44 pounds, 32 of which I attribute to Paleo and the other 12 lost when I started exercise rehab previous to Paleo) and significant improvement in my RA, it’s almost hard to cheat. It helps that my husband does this with me. I am thankful for that every day. He has to cheat a bit more than I do (drinks Boost, a supplement drink, because his body doesn’t tolerate the volume of fiber and he likes wine now and then).

Any yummy things? Yes, once you get into Paleo, your tastebuds seem to change. I can taste corn syrup now, and immediately spit things out if I think I taste it. Some of my favorite store bought easy foods are:
Dehydrated fruit strips (no sugar or artificial things added or I make my own).
Kit’s Organics Fruit and Nut Bars (chocolate almond coconut flavor) – These things are SO good and have no sugar in them.
Jerky (I have yet to find a store bought version that is acceptable, so I make my own… a lot… and freeze it)
Dehydrated bananas dipped in lemon juice (make my own)
Dehydrated kiwi (tastes like gumdrops, I make my own)

Other yummy, more complex foods:
Salmon cakes (from Everyday Paleo cookbook)
Sweet potato fries (Everyday Paleo)
Warm Arugula salad (think BACON! Everyday Paleo)
Meat candy (a date, pit removed, with a glob of sausage in it and wrapped in BACON… Everyday Paleo)
Roasted cauliflower (cut in large flat chunks, shaken in olive oil and roasted in the oven, a friend’s recipe)
Juice (I’m not sure this is 100% Paleo, but nearly daily, I make fresh juice in the juicer. Sweet enough my son will drink it, we usually do 1 pear, 2 apples, 5 large carrots, and 4-5 large collard green leaves and 1 add-in like leftover broccoli or cauliflower, or cranberries)

How do we make it work? There tends to be a lot of cooking in our house to make this work. We make big meals 2-3 days a week, such that we have leftovers for breakfasts and lunches for a few days. We might make a turkey breast or a roast, then eat it for 3 days. We might make double or triple batches of things like meatballs and honey mustard pecan chicken. We might make a big pot of soup. When in a pinch, we might make sausage. The protein is the most challenging part. Carbs seem to fall into place much easier.

I hope this is of interest to some folks who are interested in trying Paleo. I’m sure I’ll have more to write in the coming days, dealing with my son’s birthday party and 4 guests following Paleo (yes, people around me seem to be converting!) Might be time for some more Paleo brownies!

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