Going Paleo

Making good choices when it comes to food hasn’t been a “me thing” for the past thirty-something years. It’s not that I always made the worste choices, just they were tough to call good. The results are not supprising, I’m on the husky side and suffer heartburn (read – overweight and erosive esophagitis).

Last year my wife and I did a stint on the “Whole 30” program and saw positive results. In fact they were so good I stopped taking my over-the-counter antacids. A few months go by, food habits regress and I end up in the E.R. with a wicked case of GERD. Needless to say, this was less than fun. Since then I’ve been prescribed pills and submitted to a number of tests to make sure they are working.

While I’m a fan of modern medicine it bugs me that I need pills to take care of self-induced suffering. So Mary and I decided to hit Whole 30 again in March – and I hit it hard. Sure enough, all my symptoms went away and I started loosing some weight as well.

At this point it’s probably worth describing “Whole 30”. In short it’s an “eat your meats, fruits, and veggies” plan, stated a bit negatively its no grains, no legumes, no dairy, no sweeteners (including stuff like honey). It might sound draconian but when you look at a plate of “Whole 30” food it’s hard not to see how it’s good for you – like I said it’s meat, fruit, and veggies. Since most convience food doesn’t follow these rules it requires more cooking; so our family is now in the habit of meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking every day.

The goal is to eat following these “strict” rules for 30 days, then slowly try other things to see what makes your body unhappy (e.g. add back soy and don’t feel good then keep it off your diet; add back whole grains and feel fine then keep them). For me though this qualitative change in diet wasn’t so much about finding those one or two modern foods that throw my body off; it was a change in attitude. My diet should revolve around these obiviously health choices because the results speak for themselves – no heartburn symptoms and several pounds lost. So after our thirty days I made the choice to switch over to eating “Paleo” which is a recent diet trend in the same vein as “Whole 30”.

The most obvious differences between the two is that “Paleo” permits natural sweeteners (maple syrup and honey) but says no to things like white potatoes. At their core though they are both about making quality choices rather than quanity choices. I find that to be one of the chief things that make this stick for me. Being able to to say there is a yes and no bucket and then playing by the rules means less brain power for me than any counting strategy. 

So a few cookbooks and three months later and still no heartburn and I’m down about twenty pounds. I don’t want to speak too soon, but so far every temptation (donuts at work, free pizza or beer) looses out when I look back at my success. So heres to three more months, then six more, then twelve… And hopefully a few more pounds lost.

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