September 29, 2011
If I had a dollar for every time I have been asked this question since Hubs and I started eating Paleo I would be able to go out and buy a few of those $40 a whack bacon packages that I want to try (but am too cheap)! There is such a common misconception that eating paleo is boring, or limited... when in fact, since switching to this lifestyle I have had some of the BEST foods. This is thanks to some fantastic websites we have found as well as the fact that Hubs actually likes to cook and he experiments with all the foods we like and has created some excellent meals!
I have shared some of the recipes that we have tried... some of my favorites being the Bacon Cole Slaw, Chicken Scallopini, Shepard's Pie, Flank Steak with Balsamic Bacon Sauce, Paleo Pancakes, and my new favorite dessert... the Paleo Brownies I posted two days ago! We have also made Paleo Chicken Poppers and mixed up the above recipes on our own to come up with some great things! Spaghetti squash has become a pretty common staple as is my go-to, "hubs isnt home to make me dinner" bacon and eggs.
I have tried my share of "diets" in the past... I've eaten plenty of wheat bread (and if you know me you know that this is a feat within itself because I despise wheat bread)... drank 2% milk (rather than my beloved whole milk) and tried to "lower my carbs" many of times. Its actually painful to think of all the yo-yo diets I have been on where I gained 10lbs, lost 10lbs, gained 7, lost 8... I have always convinced myself that these were a "lifestlye change" and not a "diet" each of those times, but when it was all said and done I would wind up binging and gaining it all back in the end.
Paleo IS a welcome "lifestyle change" for sure. I have never had an easier time sticking with a change in my eating habits. I think its a two part deal for me. One, I am really enjoying crossfit and the changes in my body that are happening from it, so sticking with the Paleo way of life is enhancing those changes. When I am faced with a challenge my mind snaps into "this isnt going to be good for your body" mode and I would rather just not eat it. I know I am going to feel like crap after and "cheating" wont be worth it. I am also seeing the results of Paleo in conjunction with CrossFit which is certainly making it easier to stick to.
Two, the possibilities are endless. Someone forwarded me this article from Robb Wolfe's website including a "Paleo Matrix" (check it out here http://robbwolf.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/thePaleoSolution_FoodMatrix.pdf). Basically, to sort of quote one of the paragraphs, there is a list of "27 proteins, 24 veggies, 5 fats and 25 herbs and spices in the matrix. If you take one item from each column you get 81,000 different meals. Divide that by 365 (1 meal per day) and you will not see the same meal for 221 years." So, when someone asks me "what CAN you eat?" I basically want to have this little matrix in my pocket. For crying out loud... its not like I am restricted to eating lettuce and chicken.
Besides being asked up-teenth times about what foods I am "allowed" to eat, every Paleo eater struggles with the "out to eat" dinners. There are hundreds of articles about how to eat Paleo when at a restaurant (Mark's Daily Apple has the best one I have read so far http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-to-eat-healthy-dining-out/)... but we all know its all a game of will power. Its just like making it to the gym every day. Its just like getting out of bed when you are exhausted and sick and still going to crossfit. If you WANT to figure out how to eat Paleo at a restaurant you can, and you will. You dont have to be a hermit. You just have to have the power to resist the bread that they put on the table, pick the croutons out of your salad or not order the cheesey risoto no matter how cheap it is on special for the night...
Last night I went out to eat. The bartender comes over and asks if we would like to hear the specials. She than proceeds to read off the most unhealthy options I could have ever imagined. Everything seemed to be accompanied by potatos, smothered in butter, deep fried and wrapped in cheese... and dont forget the biscuits. No wonder we all avoid going out to eat... or just assume that its going to be a "cheat" meal if we have do. BUT, the thing is... it wasnt hard for me at all to say "no thanks" and order a steak tip salad with oil and vinegar dressing. Apparently I didnt read the menu clearly since my tips were delivered with a thick layer or American cheese melted on top of them that I had to peel off before eating. I said to the bartender upon its delivery "whats this? I didnt want cheese" and she says "oh did you tell me you didnt want cheese on it" and I said "no, I didnt know there was going to be melted cheese on my salad... who puts melted cheese on a steak tip salad?" Of course I dealt with it, scraped it off onto a plate (it wasnt that hard it came off in a sheet) and stacked the little pieces of bread that came with the salad with it. Seriously though, who puts melted cheese on a salad? Blue cheese maybe... but melted american cheese?
Anyway, there will surely be nights (like last Friday) when I get to go out and have a hamburger and a few beers, but those nights are getting further and further apart. You have to allow yourself a cheat meal every now and again. However, Its important to not let the one cheat meal turn into an entire "cheat day" or "cheat weekend." Its a matter of controlling yourself, your portion sizes and really just getting the idea of a paleo lifestyle in your head. Dont look at it as what you can and cant eat. Just think of how good a slice of pizza will taste if you havent had it in months.
We have basically picked the foods and snacks we love and keep them on hand. We have found good natural substitutions for our usual "cheat foods." The paleo brownies are great and we allow ourselves dessert on the weekends which is usually a Coconut Ice Cream Bar... which are delish!!
We used to order out a lot on Friday and Saturdays... the local pizza guy pretty much knew us by our order. We havent seen him in a few months. We have saved money on take-out and been able to make a pretty consistent grocery list. My lunches at work are more often than not the leftovers from the night befores dinner...
It gets easier by the day avoiding foods that are not included in my lifestyle change, I dont even really miss them. I just hope that people open their minds a little more and see that eating healthy and natural is not "abnormal."
I CAN eat whatever I want, its what I choose to eat that matters.
8:30am: Green Tea
10:00am: Egg Muffins
12:00pm: Chicken and Spaghetti Squash with Organic Sauce and mushrooms