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.

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Making Paleo Easy

We are coming to a close on our Whole30 challenge.  We’ve made it the whole month with only a few minor cheat days.  The biggest take away I have thus far is that I don’t want to quit!  I imagine we will be less strict with it but I feel better, enjoy eating more and find it much easier to shop and cook with a Paleo lifestyle.  The kids have also been eating better and trying new things–can’t really beat that.

The hardest thing has been breakfast.  While I love eggs and bacon, I don’t want to cook it every morning.  I miss drinking my coffee while the kids got their cereal instead of trying to get a cup of coffee down while they fuss at me to cook for them. The easiest way to get around this is to have some easy things in the fridge for them to eat like yogurt,  cheese, ham slices, mix up a fast smoothie with frozen fruit, nuts are a good starter, dates are amazing… Ah, now I can enjoy that cup of coffee in peace!

Here’s some things I’ve discovered cooking Paleo over the last few weeks:

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Your blender is your friend.  Use it.  Daily.

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You can put almost anything into a smoothie.  And even the kids won’t know about all the delicious nutrition in there. (We’re talking spinach, apples, frozen fruit, almond butter, beets, squash… ) We lovingly call many of our smoothies “mud.”  My children love to drink mud.

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Smoothies are probably the fastest Paleo lunch or breakfast to throw together when you are out of ideas.  Throw an entire salad and some nut butter in there and you have all the nutrition you possibly could need.

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Almost any vegetable can be mixed with almost any meat and it will look and taste delicious–experiment with any combination. I dare you.

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Miss things like tacos?

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Make it into a salad.

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You can sauté just about anything.  Start with coconut oil, spices, garlic, peppers, etc..

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Fry (this is canned tuna)

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Serve with some sort of vegetable side and you have a super quick and scrumptious meal.

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Basically anything that sounds delicious, is delicious.  (This is sweet potatoes, apples and walnuts sautéed in coconut oil. Mmmm.)

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Broil those veggies–it’s fast and delicious.

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Kids actually do like vegetables!  Who would have thought!

Have fun!

Dance Stretch 3

A more advanced version of the last stretch.  Start with hands over your head (first position), then reach toward your left leg.  Be sure to keep your arms overhead and your body facing forward.  Keep both legs and hips on the floor.  Come back up to the center and stretch over toward the right leg.  Now, bend forward with your nose toward the floor, arms overhead.  

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This will stretch your legs, hips, and work your abs as you support the balance of your body in the stretch. Hold each stretch 20-30 seconds.  

Dance Stretches 1

Stretching is so so good for you.  Before I dance, I always stretch–it warms up the muscles and gets you focused on the next part of class.

A very beginner ballet stretch is to stretch the feet to prepare for pointing the toes.  Here’s how to do it: (How do you like my little bunheads?)

BS toe stretchFirst sit up tall on your sits bones, legs outstretched. Point your toes up to the sky, flexing toward your torso until you feel a good stretch.  Then point your toes forward trying to touch the floor with your toes. Make sure your knees remain on the floor and you back stays straight.  Do 10 reps holding each stretch for 10-20 seconds.

30 Day Improvements: Dance

After starting the Paleo Whole30, I realized how easy it is to set a goal to change things up for 30 days.  And heaven knows I need some changes now and then!  Something I’ve been coming to terms with lately, is when I’m stressed, I’ve lost my outlets.  I don’t have a hobby or activity that I flee to when I need a break.  I’m going to change that.  And I’m going to use the 30 day model to stay motivated in doing so.

The first challenge I’ll be giving myself is to dance again.  I can teach my children and I can get back into shape doing it.  I used to teach ballet and lyrical dance and I miss it like crazy. I taught classes up until I was 8 months pregnant with my son and after that, I was part of a team and took several college dance credits.  But it’s been a good 5 years since I did anything serious. So for 30 days, I’ll be blogging and instructing how to do a simple ballet class.

Here’s my outline and goals:

1)  To teach my children, myself, and my readers how to do simple ballet exercises

2)  To become more flexible again (achieve the forward splits, a right angle arabesque, and a reasonable backbend)

3)  To choreograph.  By the end of the 30 days, I want to have an entire dance choreographed and I’ll post the sketch here.

If the love of dance returns after 30 days, maybe I’ll take it up as a permanent hobby, if not then I’ll continue the search for another activity. Here I go…!

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.