Over the course of the past few decades, there have been handfuls of fad diets. Atkins. Low Fat. Jenny Craig. NutriSystem. Weight Watchers. And then there’s the diets based on certain preferences or allergies. Vegan. Vegeterian. Dairy Free. Gluten Free. Nut Free. Egg Free. Paleo. Keto. Whole 30. FODMAP diet. Clearly, there have been several and they all seem to blend together in my mind and in a lot of other people’s minds. Sometimes these diets crossed over from fad to preference or vice versa. But let’s differentiate. Those fad diets are something completely different than the preference diets. The preference diets offer something new. A complete shift on the way we view food.
When I initially got diagnosed with Celiac disease, I of course went gluten free in hopes of healing the intestinal lining to absorb vital nutrients. So it wasn’t a fad, it was now a lifelong, lifestyle shift. But what I never really believed was that I’d had to take it a step further.
So here it was. I was gonna decide that I needed a new way to eat and it would be magic and rainbows. Well let’s be honest… have you ever gone about some life altering change and it was super easy to start? Like sticking to daily workouts when you used to be a couch potato, or refraining from cursing when you used to have a mouth like a sailor, or meal prepping when you used to eat out two times a day. Or in my case, transitioning to new perspective on food and its ability to improve the quality of living with my autoimmune disease after normally choosing easier, more comfortable foods.
Absolutely not. It is hard. It’s completely breaking a habit. It’s changing a frame of reference or system you’ve had in place for months, years, or sometimes even a lifetime. There’s grumbling, grumpiness, and lots of thoughts about throwing in the towel. And you can multiply the difficulty by two or two thousand if you’re braving this new change alone. No support or accountability. But why do we put ourselves through these changes or resolutions? Because what we were doing before wasn’t working for us and it’s negatively impacting our health, our emotional wellness, our happiness, or even just our attitude on life.
For me, it was physically impacting my lab values and my overall health. My inflammation was still present. I still had painful joints, itchy skin, and fatigue. Those were my classic Celiac signs. Weren’t they supposed to disappear once I adhered to a gluten free diet? Then I researched it. Turns out nearly 60% of people with Celiac disease (CD) still have elevated lab markers after adherence to this GF diet. As in, their intestines are still largely inflamed, NOT healed and NOT absorbing nutrients. People who do not have normalized lab values are also 6 times more likely to die at any given age compared to the normal population. Read more here….. Celiac stats.
Then I realized, I wanted a good quality of life. I didn’t want to be another statistic. I wanted to take the necessary steps to ensure I’d stick around the planet and not undergo aging prematurely, so I could enjoy my husband and son. I was ready to make big sacrifices .
Here comes the Paleo diet.
I remember hearing about Whole 30 and Paleo together around the same time about 2 years ago. And I also remember shaking my head in disbelief like “how can people really stick to that?” and “but what about queso?” and “aren’t they grumpy all the time?” and “where do they find any real pleasure out of life?” “They are missing out on so much.” Because at the time that was my belief system.
And really when you hear of the Paleo diet, you don’t exactly think how sexy or exciting it is. After all, the freaking cave men ate like this, why would this be any fun to our technologically advanced society?! Plus, smores’ flavored popcorn and honey butter chicken biscuits still exist in the world. I have a brain in my head… that stuff tastes AH-MAZING! How can you compete with that? (In case you’re wondering, I still deeply enjoy my food… more to come in following posts)
But I think when you have an autoimmune disease everything changes. You haven’t felt well for years, you begin to ask yourself some serious questions like, to what purpose am I consuming food? For enjoyment? For convenience? Out of emotions? Or just for fun?
But what if our framework on food shifted? What if we DID think like a caveman. Or better yet, just thought like a more nutritionally sound individual. So much so that we realized what we consume makes up WHAT we are. I know this is not a groundbreaking thought. But one day, I woke up and realized all the honey butter chicken biscuits, queso with tortilla chips, and flour tortillas (sorry, I’m from South Texas), couldn’t hold a candle to my vitality. My spark. My inner light and spirit of wellness. It was time for giving real food a shot to heal me.
The Paleo diet is not some new fangled idea. It has literally been around since the beginning of time. Now of course, the cavemen may or may not have ever had coconut and almond flours, but I can sure as heck guarantee they ate nuts and found coconuts worthwhile once they discovered them. They didn’t have access to machines, chemicals, processing. They literally just ate what they found. While you won’t find me out in my yard hunting squirrel with a bow and arrow, you will find me making simple meals for my family that are nourishing and meet nutritional needs. Am I perfect? Absolutely not.
My point is this. If you had the power in your hands to change your health right now, would you take it?
This is what Paleo does.
It allows people to get back to just eating food. A variety of food, like colorful vegetables, full fat foods such as grass-fed beef, organic eggs, a variety of oils, including butter, BACON, fruits and nuts. And I’ve made every excuse and argument under the sun about making the switch, like “won’t I be hungry?” “where are the carbs?” “isn’t all that fat bad for you?”
I’m here to testify. It’s possible. Is there a huge adjustment? Absolutely. But it’s worth every fighting step and inch of the way. I feel so strongly about this, I wish I could take every reader grocery shopping. There are endless success stories here. Yes, this is a sacrifice. But what are you willing to sacrifice here: your health and longevity or your current state of what you are currently calling comfort? We aren’t meant to feel bad, I promise. No one needs to get used to feeling bad and just “accept” that it’s part of the whole autoimmune gig.
I’m here to offer this ray of hope in the form of my own experience with this diet paradigm shift.
It stands big and wide and tall in the form of a Paleo diet. That is why I’m here today writing. To spread the word to one person. To offer words of hope to anyone wandering the lonely road of chronic disease. It’s an isolating experience, but it’s quickly becoming a more shared experience. Because the truth is, even people without autoimmunity are starting to question their foods and wonder if there is a connection between their health and what they eat. What we eat is what we become.
Over the next few posts, I hope to share a few simple things with you that have made my family and I’s lives easier in a Paleo way. I’m right there with you. Cheering you on this path of wellness. It requires work, but I’m here telling you to keep going. Don’t give up.
Have any stories to share? I’d love to hear them.