I’ve conquered my first week (and a bit) of the transition to the Paleo way of life. I've cooked and eaten some delicious food, and am really enjoying exploring this new way of eating.
|Lamb Chops and Baked Veggies - Just one of the delicious and simple Paleo dinners from this week.|
I’ve heard that the first few weeks are the hardest. Getting used to eating differently, and letting your body adjust to such a significant dietary change. It’s been a tough, but incredibly positive experience, and I thought I would share some of the details of my brief experience so far, and the main things I’ve noticed.
I had a patch, a couple of days ago, when it was like my head and stomach were screaming at me for carbs and/or sugar. All I wanted was anything in the cupboard that I can’t eat (which there is still lots of because the Fiance isn’t going Paleo and I can’t bear to throw away good food). One morning, I woke up and the Fiance had left some chocolate on the kitchen counter that he bought his dad for Father’s Day and, I am not kidding, it nearly broke me. Other than this short patch of intense cravings, they haven’t been to bad. Occasionally I think something along the lines of “Oooh, I could really go for –insert non-paleo friendly food here-“ and then realise that no, I can’t eat that. I’ve been keeping cravings at bay by allowing myself to snack on more fruit than would probably be acceptable.
The energy that I’ve had for the last week and a half has been insane. I feel like I’ve constantly got the energy to get up and do anything. I had 5 and a half hours sleep last night, worked with kids all day, didn’t have more than a chicken leg for lunch, am still going strong and on my walk this evening I felt the urge to run up a hill. What is that?!? I have never had that urge before in my life. I expected my energy levels to be bad and/or all over the shop while my body adjusts to the changes, but it’s been the opposite. I feel amazing, and I really hope it’s the diet that’s doing it, because I don’t want it to stop!
Sleep has been the one downside to all this energy. I’ve had a lot of trouble getting to sleep lately. I’ve found myself awake some mornings until 1am and still not tired. Then, the next morning, waking up is impossible. Once I’m up, I’m good, but waking up has been a big struggle.
I was expecting some weird mood swings coming off of carbs and sugar. I didn't think I was eating a lot of sugar, but I am amazed at just how much they manage to sneak into everything! Luckily, my mood has been mostly stable. I had a couple of cranky patches, where I was incredibly grumpy for no particular reason, but they were very short and nothing compared to good ol’ PMS.
There have also been a few lessons learned this week. Things that have been important for being successful so far, and that I need to keep in mind.
Prepare and Plan Ahead
Not just my usual casual planning, but knowing and having on hand everything for every meal and snack is almost essential. If I run out of something, haven’t got something or don’t have something planned, it’s much too easy to revert back to eating poorly. Being prepared is also important mentally. Knowing that I always have food and meals on hand makes it so much easier to ride out cravings.
Cravings Will Pass
Despite the strong cravings I had, a day or two on and they are gone. I’m going good now. I know that they will come back, but they will also calm down if I DON’T feed them. On the flip side, if I do feed them, then I’m only going to have to fight them harder for longer.
It helps keep you full and fuelled. This has been really hard to get my head around, because every part of my previous food experience tells me that fat is bad and should be avoided at all costs. It’s already becoming clear, however, how important fats are in keeping me satiated. Eating a lean Paleo meal means I’m hungry and snacking on sugary fruit about an hour after a meal, whereas a meal with some fat to it seems to keep me going for quite a while.
Start Slow and Go Easy On Yourself
I feel like I’ve gone for a fair bit at once, cutting out grains, legumes, non-natural sugars and basically anything not 100% natural. It’s definitely been manageable, and encompasses some of the most major aspects of the diet, but switching to Paleo completely all at once would just not work for me (especially living with someone who’s not making the switch). From what I’ve heard and read, going cold turkey has worked wonders for some, but it’s ok if it doesn’t. Finding what works, and what is sustainable long term is more important than the pace.
So far, going Paleo has been a predominantly positive experience. I'm seeing changes that I would never have expected to see so soon, and overall I feel amazing. I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed that I continue to feel this good, because although this way of eating makes sense to me, I won't be able to say whether it is the right choice until I've given it time. For now, I'm excited to keep pushing onward.