Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Getting started with Paleo

I love eating paleo and can't gush enough about how great I feel. I went from being a vegetarian of 9 years to eating paleo style. Eating meat wasn't easy to come to terms with, but I needed to get myself out of the rut I was in. I had to completely rethink the way I was eating and it meant being committed to changing the way I interacted with food.

After coming back from Vietnam/ Cambodia in September 2012, I knew I needed a big change. It was time for an intervention. I had gained a bunch of weight over the last year and was feeling tired all the time. I hated the way I looked in pictures. While leafing through our trip's album, I decided enough was enough. I was sick of not seeing results with Weight Watchers, Engine 2, and the other diets I tried. I had gotten stuck as a vegetarian and wasn't eating healthy at all. Each time I had tried to restrict carbs/sugar as a vegetarian, I just ended up hungry (read: ravenous). I was failing time and time again and that cycle needed to end.

My sister started eating paleo after having it recommended by her doctor. She immediately saw results and felt great. I decided to give it a shot and was amazed with how different I felt within the first week. With paleo, I never feel hungry and don't have as many sugar cravings. My sugar levels stay at such a consistent level that I don't get tired in the afternoon. I'm more focused during the day and have energy to burn in the evening. In the last 6 months, I've lost 30lbs, shaved countless inches, added muscle and just feel awesome. The crazy part is I've done this through diet alone and haven't even started doing much extra exercise. I'm now at the point where exercise is the priority on my journey.

(1 month before starting paleo and 6 months later) 

Eat as much of meat, vegetables, fruit, and nuts as you want. Don’t eat legumes (peanuts, chickpeas, beans), sugar, and limited-to-no dairy. Sweet potato is ok, but you want to avoid white potatoes. Try using coconut oil for all cooking. A full list of how Paleo works, here.

Quick and easy meals
  • Fried egg, ½ avocado, shredded sweet potato (pan fried in coconut oil). Kind of like this
  • Baked sweet potato (cinnamon, butter, nutmeg) and baked chicken
  • Hamburger (no bun) w/ lettuce, tomato and side of kale chips. You can go to in-n-out and get a burger “protein style”. 
  • Frozen veggies + chicken in coconut milk + curry powder 
  • Pacific Foods soups (tomato, butternut squash, sweet potato, carrot ginger) 
  • Big salad: start with a base of spinach and/or kale, add some random stuff -- sliced veggies, berries, etc., add a meat (shrimp, canned fish, grilled chicken), and then do a olive oil/ balsamic vinegar mix. This can be tricky to get right and tends to only be satisfying with sufficient fat and protein from oil, meat, avocados, etc. 
  • Paleo tacos - saute ground beef, add taco seasonings to taste (e.g. chili powder, garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper) and some fresh salsa and avocado. Serve in lettuce wraps instead of taco shells.
  • Quick paleo meals
  • More Paleo meals
  • Grocery guide
  • Shopping list
Quick and easy snacks/light meals
  • Banana + 2 tablespoons of almond butter 
  • Handful of almonds (or other nut) + some dark chocolate chips 
  • Carrots or any raw veggies 
Favorite Recipes
  • Mark’s Daily Apple: down to earth approach to Paleo. He is one of the guys who started the trend. 
  • Whole 9: super strict paleo. Some good info on kicking the sugar habit! 
  • Everyday Paleo: some homey recipes for paleo comfort food. 
  • OMG Paleo: good mix of recipes and advice. 
  • TGIPaleo: some great paleo desserts and other recipes! 
  • Nom Nom Paleo: has a recipe iPad app and tons of good info on the site.