How 30 Days of Paleo Changed Our Family

I haven’t posted in a while–things have been busy busy.  We finished our 30 days of Paleo and are pretty much continuing it.  We are not as strict with it now but we really enjoyed it and are going to stick with it as best we can in our busy world.  The biggest outcome of Paleo for our family (other than the fact that we had more energy and felt better) was in our children.  We discovered two things: 1) Our son is gluten intolerant and 2) when you feed your kids nothing but good foods, they start only wanting the good food and are more willing to try new and unusual things.

We have been on a long road with my son’s behavior and development.  He’s on the autism spectrum but is just boarder line enough to not receive much help (one of the reason’s we homeschool).  He’s also had terrible eating habits since toddlerhood.  He’d only eat white, starchy, processed, factory-made carbohydrates.  We tried feeding therapy, we tried changing our diet, we tried forbidding the poorer foods but nothing worked.  When we started Paleo, we went cold turkey–even with the kids.  We got rid of everything that was processed, carbohydrates and grains.  It terrified my son but it only took a few dinner battles to really get past it.  Once he started eating the better whole foods, he started feeling better, was more cognitive and actually started trying new things.  He went from eating a diet of french fries, chicken nuggets and rice to eating celery, strawberries, meat, salad, artichokes, almost anything I gave him.  And he was happier.  I really couldn’t believe my eyes.

When the 30 days were over, we let him eat some glutenous foods and the change was drastic and obviously connected.  As my husband said, “Our children are gluten intolerant .. when they eat gluten, they become intolerable!”  The day after eating gluten, my son couldn’t listen to a full sentence without tuning me out, he couldn’t remember any of his lessons, he grew dark and irritable and he was incoherent and non-verbal.  I had read many times about putting spectrum kids on a gluten free diet but I just stubbornly never wanted to walk that path.  However, having my son be with me mentally is worth every effort.  It really has made a difference.  He will still need some therapies and special help but I’m fully advocating a gluten free diet for spectrum kids.  And going Paleo actually made that incredibly easy!  We don’t have to substitute breads or desserts etc. we just eliminate all grains.  Truly amazing.

Paleo–Week 1 Observations

Here’s what I expected from my first week of the Paleo diet:

-I expected hunger

-I expected difficulty sticking with the diet

-I expected difficulty meal planning

-I expected to feel more energy

-I expected serious carb and sugar cravings

-I expected it to be worth it but hard

Here’s what happened in the first week:

-My hunger is more satisfied than it has been in months

-I actually WANT to stick to the diet

-Meal planning has been a dream (have meat, have veggies, use any combo of both and you have a meal)

-I absolutely DO have more energy

-I experienced no cravings. (Even walking by doughnuts, I had no desire to get one)

-It has been much easier than expected.

-Both my husband and I have lost weight. (I was surprised by the immediacy of this)

This first week has been so interesting.  I have to admit, as much as I wanted to try the diet, I still felt some skepticism about it.  But it has been amazing.

The first thing I noticed this week, was a renewed energy.  Something I’ve been missing for years.  I love the foods we are eating.  As a grazer, I was worried I’d really miss having salty carb filled snacks to eat all day–not so.  I look forward to munching on some nuts or snap peas and just a few bites satisfy all my snack craving.  There is nothing I have missed.

This weekend, we went to a party and lost  a little ground.  We were hungry and ate what was available.  And I have to admit the Orthodox came out in both of us–never refuse food when offered.  (Even if it’s a huge piece of chocolate cake with butter cream icing.)  But you know what? I didn’t really enjoy any of it and I felt worse afterwards–as did my husband.  It was almost good for us to take that break because we realized how much we wanted to continue the diet.

Something that has surprised both of us, is the weight loss.  Even after one week, I not only feel trimmer but I feel stronger.  Unlike other diets where I’ve simply lost weight by not eating enough and felt weak, the Paleo diet has allowed me to eat as much as I want and feel full while still losing the weight.  I don’t have a whole lot of weight to lose but I almost feel like my body is just getting healthier–like my little unpleasant places left over from pregnancy or lack of exercise are turning into body.  It feels great.

The most difficult thing has been convenience.  It’s hard to go out to eat and you have to plan to have snacks on hand.  Also, kids activities are awful–I never realized that every single kids event served nasty little carb ridden snacks.  I am going to have to do some more brainwashing to get the kids interested in bringing their own Paleo snacks everywhere they go.  Also, getting the kids to eat Paleo has been really easy.  They have felt better too, I think, and are more willing to try new things.

I am ecstatic to get back on board this week and continue this journey.

Paleo Day 2

It’s the second full day of becoming Paleo.  Not a whole lot of observations yet other than 1) Paleo lunch ideas have been difficult to think up and 2) I am surprisingly satisfied!  I’m not hungry at all–in fact I am MORE satisfied then when I was eating breads and carb fillers.  I’m a nursing mom with a high metabolism so this is really exciting–it feels great!

Today I think I finally realized what a Paleo lunch might look like.  I think salad is a great carrier for left overs.  I made a salad consisting of lettuce, tomatoes, sliced grilled chicken (I cheated and bought this pre-made–but I made sure it was pure natural chicken with only spices no extra ingredients), left over sweet potatoes fried in coconut oil, cashews and red peppers.  It was delightful.

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For the kids, I made them plates of snap peas, celery, salad, the fried sweet potatoes and hot dogs (again, I cheated with these for the kids but made sure they were all natural with no fillers).  They ate every bite–it was truly amazing.

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For Paleo baby, I just kept throwing food on her high chair tray.

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Eat all the food!!!

When she was full, she threw the remainder of her lunch on the floor.  When I got her down from her high chair, she immediately went and ate what she had thrown off the floor–a true cave baby.

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 I’m so proud.

Paleo Kids–Food Recognition

As an introduction to our new Paleo diet, I taught the kids how to recognize the foods we will eat and the foods we will avoid.  Essentially I told them to look for foods with one ingredient.  I gave them a bunch of food sale ads and had them cut out foods that qualify as Paleo and those that don’t.  They then glued the pictures onto a plate of Paleo food and a plate of foods to avoid.  They both did surprisingly well at the project and it was great to see them getting on board with the diet.

Here’s what their final projects for Paleo food plates looked like:

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Paleo Weekly Menu–Week 1

This week will be a huge learning curve for me figuring out how to cook without grains, legumes and carbs.  We eat a lot of noodles, rice and bread so this will be interesting but I’m excited.  You can read why we are attempting the Paleo diet here

I scoured the internet for Paleo menu plans, recipes and shopping lists only to get completely overwhelmed.  So instead of using some of the more complex Paleo recipes out there, I’m going to use this matrix and will cook mostly simple meals this first week.

Monday–this is our last non-paleo day and I’ll be using ingredients we have on hand to make a tofu, bok choy, noodle stir fry.

Tuesday–Meatloaf and green beans

Wednesday–Taco salad

Thursday–Fish (probably salmon) and sweet potatoes

Friday–Baked Chicken and veggies

Saturday–Veggie soup

Sunday–Meatballs and spaghetti squash

Breakfasts: eggs, bacon, leftovers, fruits and yogurt, smoothies

Lunches:  Tuna salad, egg salad,  shrimp on salad, veggie platters,

Snacks: Nuts, dried fruit, veggies, fruit

Shopping list:

Ground beef

Fish

Whole fryer chicken

Bacon

Shrimp

Eggs

Canned Tuna

Canned Salmon

Dried Fruit

Nuts

Frozen veggies

Spaghetti squash

Green beans

Lettuce

Tomatoes

Peppers

Spaghetti sauce

Chicken broth

Sweet potatoes

Frozen fruit

Yogurt

Fresh fruites

Fresh veggies

Fresh herbs (basil, oregano, rosemary)

Coconut oil

Stevea

Coffee

Juice

Why Paleo?

Why are we trying out the Paleo Diet?  Mostly for my son and I.  I have recently been diagnosed with hashimoto’s thyroiditis which is an autoimmune thyroid disorder.  My doctors originally thought I had post-partum thyroiditis but the last specialist truly believes, based on my history, that it is hashimoto’s thyroiditis–a life long disorder.  I am regulating my thyroid using hormones but I still go through “episodes” that cause joint pain, extreme exhaustion, muscle weakness, mental fogginess, severe depression, etc.  Apparently, any time you mess with the thyroid (good or bad), it takes a while for symptoms to get better.  It has been years of going through cyclical “spells.”   I have been interested in the Paleo diet but wasn’t sure I really wanted to try it until I read several testimonial from other autoimmune sufferers–specifically those with hashimoto’s thyroiditis.  I was so excited to read that their symptoms were greatly relieved by  changing their eating habits, and I’m willing to give it a try.

The other reason I want to try to the Paleo challenge, is my son.  He’s on the autism spectrum and I have read over and over again that autism symptoms can be relieved by gluten free eating.  He has always been an incredibly picky eater and has craved white, salty, over-processed carbs.  This diet will be a challenge for him to comply to but I’m hoping once we make the change, he will feel much better and will be more cognitive as a result.

The premise of the diet makes sense to me–our society is full of over processed foods with way too many ingredients.  As I attempt to simplify our lives in other ways, it only makes sense for us to simplify our diet–eating whole foods in their pure forms.

I have never been a fan of “fad diets” and I’ve never really believed that a particular way of eating can change your life.  I have, however, been attempting to become more crunchy and have struggled with how to do that with our meals.  I’d love to be feeding my family truly healthy meals–I spend every evening cooking meals for my family so they might as well be good for you!  Anyway, the Paleo diet seems like a promising way to possibly help us feel better and eat healthier.  It’s worth the try! And coming from a skeptic, I will share my honest opinions as we go through the process.

Pre Paleo Party

We have decided to try out the Whole30–do 30 days of a Paleo diet and see how it goes from there.  We are including the kids in this. This week is going to consist of teaching about nutrition and learning how to eat on a Paleo diet (as well as reasons why).

The first step of going Paleo is cleaning out your pantry from all things that are not on the diet (carbs, grains, legumes, etc). I really don’t like wasting food so I didn’t want to just throw it all in the garbage. When the kids woke up I had a surprise for them–I told them they could eat any of the food items I had on the counter all day long.  They could eat all the cookies, all the chips, all the crackers they wanted to their hearts content.

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They went crazy!

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Party time!

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Enjoy, little children, enjoy,  ’cause starting tomorrow you’ll become a cave man and you’ll be eating only meats and veggies!