Since my summer break started, I’ve been researching more and more about the primal/paleo lifestyle. While the terms “primal” and “paleo” essentially refer to a specific diet, I’ve found that this diet of sorts focuses on much more than solely what you consume. Rather, it comes from the perspective of evaluating your health as a whole and acts as more of a lifestyle guide or change, and this is why it appeals to me.
A few basics:
1. On the primal diet, you cut out processed foods, grains, added sugars, and most dairy. On the paleo diet, dairy is generally not accepted. Primal/paleo diets advocate whole foods found as close to the source as possible.
2. Exercise is an essential part of overall health and is very much promoted on the paleo/primal diet. Heavy, long sessions of cardio are replaced by more short, intense workouts and lighter, more frequent cardio.
3. Paleo/primal diets heavily question Conventional Wisdom in regards to the necessity of grains, the evils of saturated fat, and the status quo on cholesterol. There are many other facets of Conventional Wisdom called into place, but those are a few main issues that come to mind.
4. Both diets work towards promoting overall health, not just weight loss. For those who are underweight, it is very possible to gain weight on the paleo/primal diet if that’s what will help you get healthy.
5. Paleo/primal diets focus on curing and preventing ailments through dietary changes. Such ailments that can be potentially prevented or even “cured” include diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease.
And now, why am I choosing to try out the primal/paleo lifestyle?
1. Acne. I’ve heard that cutting out processed foods and dairy can greatly reduce acne. I’ve suffered from blackheads and pimples for years and I’d really like to try an all natural route in treating it. Previous to attempting the primal diet, I was using a dermatologist prescribed topical medication with benzoyl peroxide. It dried my face out immensely and while it seemed to work sometimes, it didn’t clear my face entirely. I’d like to see if changing my diet and focusing on whole foods/natural products will help my acne.
2. Digestion. I have a hard time with feeling full and bloated, largely due to my eating disorder. Although feeling full hasn’t affected me as much now that I’m actively recovering, I’d still like to avoid those physical feelings as much as possible. Cutting out grains for only a week has already had an effect on me; I rarely feel overly full and when I do get full, it’s not terror-inducing. I can feel that the fullness will pass, I don’t get the bloated, my stomach is an separate entity from my body feeling that eating carbs gives me.
3. Overall health. I had labs taken a few months ago and I was low in several essential nutrients such as magnesium and phosphorus. My electrolytes were also off. Since I’m no longer bingeing/purging, this didn’t make any sense at all to me and left me feeling really upset and frustrated. I was doing everything right — why wasn’t it showing? Granted, I’ve always needed to make a concerted effort to drink more water, but water alone shouldn’t have affected my labs so intensely. I was told by my doctor to drink electrolyte enhanced water and to get more protein. At that point, I was generally eating meat 1-2 times a week and never preparing it for myself. I’m hoping that incorporating more meat protein and eliminating anti-nutrients found in grains and legumes will help my body retain more nutrients from food and therefore increase the overall health of my body.
There are so many more small reasons that contribute to why I’ve chosen to try out the paleo/primal approach, but acne, digestion and overall health stand as my main objectives. I hope to update about my experience with this diet on a weekly basis while I’m first trying it out.