This is the third post of a four-part series documenting my transition towards a paleo/primal diet. For previous/related posts in the series see:
Yesterday marked my third week on the paleo diet. Although the transition gets easier with each day on this diet, there are still things that I need to be more mindful of, such as:
1. Sugar. Despite the fact that I have consumed minimal grains since starting this diet (two servings of rice on two separate occasions when eating out), sugar is still a notable part of my diet. In the past week alone I consumed an entire delicious package of Hail Merry Chocolate Macaroons as well as a small container of Ginger Chews. While the ingredients in these products are acceptable to me as primal treats, the first and main ingredient in each of these products is sugar. Maple syrup or cane sugar, it’s all simply sugar. And when I get right down to it, these products are costly and unnecessary to my diet. They’re great in a pinch when I need something sweet, but they provide me with no real lasting, substantial nutrition. In the following weeks I would like to be more mindful of my snacks and be sure that they are whole, natural foods, such as dried apricots or whole almonds.
2. Tocopherols, tocopheryl acetate and soy additives. Ever since I discovered that tocopherols are often derived from wheat, soy, and corn, I’ve been checking out all of my “natural” products for this slimy ingredient. Both my face wash and toner pads contain tocopherols, which are synthetically derived forms of vitamin E. While vitamin E itself doesn’t sound so bad, the reasoning and resources behind the vitamin E added to my “natural” products is unnerving. Tocopherols are generally added to maintain a longer shelf life in “natural” products. They’re added to everything from processed foods to beauty products. That tocopherols are usually derived from wheat, soy and corn is what really bothers me. I’m trying to avoid those three things and they seem to be everywhere. Furthermore, I recently purchased a lip balm at my work. I was going for something cheap and didn’t have time to really look around — I was on the clock — and ended up purchasing Desert Essence’s lip balm with jojoba oil. Little did I realize that it’s first ingredient is soybean oil. It’s not the company’s fault — it’s my fault for making a flippant purchase. But it would be nice if soy wasn’t virtually everywhere.
3. Hunger. I find that when I’m really hungry I tend to go for a splurge purchase, such as those chocolate macaroons. I need to make it more of a priority to incorporate more good sources of fat and protein my diet for satiety. While I don’t think I’m necessarily lacking in protein/fat, I would like to prepare more meat to eat throughout the week and also keep different sources of fat on hand. I currently have butter, coconut oil, olive oil, almond butter and egg yolks on hand, but I’ve yet to experiment with bacon grease or tallow. To be honest, I don’t even know where to buy tallow/lard, or how to purchase it. Looks like I have some work to do.
4. My spending. I calculated this week that I spent about %30 of my previous paycheck on food alone. This comes along naturally with being a food enthusiast/blogger, but it doesn’t have to. I have chicken soup sitting in my freezer from weeks ago — I could eat that instead of going out. I also need to prioritize what I need versus what I want. What I need tends to be aligned with paleo foods. What I want in the moment tends to be spur of the moment cheat foods. I’m looking at you, Ginger Chews. Needless to say, in an effort to maintain a high-quality diet full of pastured eggs, organic meets and organic produce, I need to really buckle down on my spending and evaluate my priorities.
Aside from those critical self-evaluations, I’ve been quite enjoying the paleo diet/lifestyle. Why?
1. I learn new things every day. I am constantly reading and researching about health, food and recipes. I enjoy it. I love learning about ways to improve my health. I also love trying out new things. For example, I roasted my first whole chicken today! Woo! It was actually a pretty remarkable experience. I roasted two chickens: 1 conventional that my family bought and 1 organic that I bought. Mine was much pinker, while theirs was slightly yellow. Actually touching the chickens and really dealing with them reminded me that they were once live animals; they were once living, breathing. And I was thankful for their existence, thankful that mine would feed me. I dressed it, cooked it and it nourished me.
In the past week I’ve also tried: kimchi, beets every which way, coconut flour muffins + pancakes, as well as a homemade fruit + cream dessert. I’m excited as to what this week will bring to the literal plate.
A whole food at it’s finest.
2. My skin seems to be pretty happy. It’s not perfect, far from it in fact, but my chin, cheeks and nose have been relatively smooth/pimple free since I’ve started the paleo diet. My forehead still has little bumps on it, but they’re not as bad as they were when I first got them last year (and was basically following the Standard American Diet). I really only get big pimples lately if I pick at my skin. It gives me hope that eating whole, unprocessed foods and refraining from my previous skin care regimen is helping my acne heal, or at least stay calm.
3. I have started eating locally. I went to the Media Farmer’s Market last week and purchased foods that were all grown within a 60 mile radius. Except for the black raspberries (too many seeds, very bitter), everything has been delicious. The values were also pretty good. Despite my 20% discount at Whole Foods, I’m excited to neglect it this week in favor of the Bryn Mawr Farmer’s Market, which takes place this Saturday. I’m hoping to stock up on fresh produce/eggs and support local vendors. In addition to attending farmers markets, I’ve been researching local farms and their providers. While I don’t think I’ll sign up for a CSA this season, I’m definitely interested in ordering pastured eggs and organic/grass fed meat from local farmers. I recently realized that a health food store near me sells fresh, pastured eggs from farms in Pennsylvania! So when I ran out of eggs yesterday, I picked up a dozen from Martindale’s (the health food store) and also checked out the raw dairy. So exciting.
Overall, I’ve been eating lots of whole foods and I’m learning every single day. I ook forward to the next week and final wrap up of my first month following a grain free, paleo-based diet.