Sunday, January 30, 2011

"I could never do that"

"I could never do that."

This is a comment I often hear when what I eat comes up in conversation.  Especially when I tell people I don't eat any grains, even the so-called "healthy" whole grains.  People really respond strongly to that.   I can't say I blame them, especially since the USDA's food pyramid includes grains as the base of a healthy diet and recommends 6-11 servings/day. 

The truth is, if I really thought grains were healthy for me, I would eat them.  But I don't.  I will detail why in the next post.  For now, this post is going to focus on why a primal diet works for me and how I transitioned away from grains.

If you already read my first blog post, you know that I sort of stumbled upon the notion of a primal diet by trial and error.  Years of following the Standard American Diet finally caught up with me.  I finally figured out that my bloating, gas, acne, thinning hair, dry skin, mood swings, PMS, and difficulty maintaining my weight with the same methods was linked to what I was eating. 

I fooled around with my diet for a couple years, going vegetarian, eating less calories, eating less fat, eating more raw foods, following the blood type diet, and probably other tweaks I can't recall.  In the end, it turned out that I function best on a paleo/primal diet.  Why?  My body does not like most dairy (even raw) or grains (even whole grains, gluten-free grains, and rice).  I dislike even putting a label on my "diet" because it makes it sound like it is something temporary.  It's not.  It just so happens that the food my body craves and thrives on happen to all be on the paleo/primal diet list.  I have been eating primal for the past year now (with the exception of the first few months of my pregnancy where my primal go-to foods literally made me want to hurl, and of course I indulge here and there with cupcakes, birthday cake, and ice cream).

So what changes have I seen in my body since going "primal"?  Here are a few:

  • stronger nails
  • clearer, more hydrated skin
  • thicker hair
  • less bloating and gas
  • less abdominal fat
  • easier to maintain and build muscle
  • less exercise needed to maintain/lose weight
  • more energy
  • less cravings for sugary foods
  • less mood swings (although my husband may disagree LOL)
Of course when you grow up eating bread, pasta, cereal, and other grainy foods, it is difficult to transition them out of your diet.  I am a very disciplined person, especially when it comes to my health, so once I read that something is not good for me, it's fairly easy to eliminate that food.  But, I do crave some of the things I grew up on.  So what do I do when that happens?  I find primal substitutes.  Or, if it is a very strong craving, I indulge, and then I feel like crap afterwards and remember why I don't eat that food anymore!  But finding primal substitutes has really been the key to making the transition to a primal diet.

Here are some of the things I find myself craving now and again, and what primal food I use to fulfill that craving:

  • Pasta:  I LOVE spaghetti squash and use it to replace dishes that call for pasta
  • Breads/Crusts:  I use almond flour and coconut flour and find yummy paleo recipes online or in cookbooks
  • Sweets/Desserts:  I find paleo recipes that use mostly fruit as a sweetener and sometimes I use a little bit of raw honey or stevia
  • Crackers:  I make crackers out of nuts, seeds, or nut flours.  Sometimes veggies alone as a dipper do the trick
  • Crunchy snacks:  Nuts always do the trick for me
Like I said, if I have a REALLY strong craving for something, I will indulge, but it is usually a "planned indulgence."  And I usually feel so yucky afterward, that I am glad I indulged, because it reminds me why I don't eat those foods and I am less likely to indulge (for a long while, at least!)


  1. I came across your blog and thought it was very interesting. I think it's great that you are eating so healthy and are really concerned about what your kids eat also. I was wondering what your feelings are about alcohol, soda and coffee.

  2. Hey Laura! How has it been with breastfeeding? Any more cravings than usual? I was not eating many grains before pregnancy, but am having a heck of a time kicking them while breastfeeding. Thanks for the substitution tips!

  3. Hey Anon,

    Thanks for stopping by.

    I think coffee and alcohol are OK in moderation. Some experts even say moderate amounts of coffee and red wine have health benefits. I would go organic on both, especially the coffee.

    I don't think any kind of soda is good for you, though. I personally never touch the stuff, but I'm sure indulging every once in a small while won't kill you.

    Just my opinion :)

  4. Hi Carrie! Miss you! Thanks for stopping by :)

    I've found that when I'm craving more grainy, carby stuff, especially breastfeeding, it actually means I need more good fats. Usually when I remember to eat some kind of healthy fat with each meal, my cravings subside. Or a piece of fruit. Usually adding half an avocado and/or half an apple to a meal takes the edge off.

    Know what I can't get enough of while breastfeeding this time around? Peanut butter! I wish I craved almond butter because that would be better for me (peanut butter kind of upsets my stomach; I think because it's a legume and I'm sensitive to legumes). But no, it's gotta be peanut butter!