For months, I had been hearing of the benefits of the Paleo diet. My husband and I started it and at first it was fabulous. The time was spring and we brought out the grill. We grilled fish or meat, along with vegetables such as eggplant and zucchini and enhanced the meal with a bit of olive oil. I had no real change in my energy, and although my husband lost weight, I did not notice any real noticeable change in my body.
By the time fall was approaching, we had several expensive car repairs and we really had to tighten our belts. While we enjoyed eating fish and vegetables, we found we needed to stretch our dollar with pasta, potatoes and protein rich, but budget friendly foods such as legumes, dairy, grains and peanut butter. Besides, I missed eating Greek yogurt every morning and I just didn’t feel as good as I did back when I ate that for breakfast.
Perhaps the worst part about eating Paleo was that I was always cheating on the diet. Most of the time, it was not intentional, but just a survivalist mentality. I could be at a company event and dinner would wind up being a pasta dinner or pizza. If there was not a salad, or if I had missed lunch, I would indulge, promising this would happen just once. This was not the case. My mother-in-law would make a special Swedish dessert and I would have a small slice. I went to a fall outdoor party and on the menu was venison, a meat I do not eat. Instead, I chose to fill my plate with au gratin potatoes and smothered them with a creamy chanterelle mushroom sauce. I began to question why I was even following a plan that I really did not have the willpower to follow. I always felt I was beating myself up over not strictly following this diet. My self esteem was suffering from this experience.
The fall party made me reconsider my own relationship with meat. While I do love a good steak or burger, I have spent most of my life eating a Greek diet which was usually vegetarian fare at lunch and meatless dinners two days a week. My father would joke about me turning into a noodle because I loved pasta so much. I have always been so concerned about feeding the planet and I have read how eating meat does increase greenhouse gases. Most of all, I was not interested in eating meat beyond pork, chicken or beef, while my husband frequently eats moose and venison and beyond. Everything about the Paleo diet made me feel uncomfortable. I felt that this was not the best use of our money and I had grown weary of looking at a slab of meat and some vegetables on a plate. One day I made a revelation that I would rather exercise 3 hours and still have a potato, than to keep going like on this silly diet and that was when I decided to quit.
Now, I eat a variety of foods and try to just eat a little less. I find that I feel great all of the time. I eat a variety of foods and do not feel put down over eating a piece of birthday cake or indulging in some peanut butter. Yes, I still need to lose weight, but I am no longer obsessing over what I put in my mouth and instead focus on what my body is telling me. Ironically, I find that I am now making healthier food choices and my energy is more even. Isn’t this why you follow a diet in the first place?