Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Our Paleo Lifestyle Journey...

I have been studying nutrition for the better part of my life. My dad was a nutritionist kinda guy specializing in grains and breads. He was always concerned about the food we ate and I remember when I was in high school, and he phoned us from his lab to tell us not to ever put Nutrasweet® in our bodies. A controversial article had come across his desk and he could not wait until he got home from work to talk to us. He needed us to know right then. That was in the 1970’s and we, as a society, have discovered so much more about sugar and sugar substitutes since then. 
The year my husband and I were married, he discovered that he had diabetes. Not only did he have a genetic disposition to the condition, but his lifestyle also played a role. His body crashed and he went on insulin injections. We changed our eating habits to follow what dieticians then suggested, and within about half a year, Brent was off of insulin and controlling his blood sugar through diet and exercise. Over the years, his weight gain and loss was like a yo-yo and I began to suspect that some of the fabricated foods like margarine, Splenda® and low fat, light fare foods that we were eating, were not really food at all. It made sense to me that we should be eating food that was as natural as possible. If it came from a box or a can, I needed to know what each ingredient actually was.
We live on a farm with a garden and are able to access home grown meats, eggs and honey and for this I am grateful as it truly does make our life surrounding food, much easier. For sixteen years we have been eating mostly natural, 3rd party certified organic, free range, grass fed, sun kissed, food. And yet, my husband is back on insulin and this summer found that he was using more and more. The other puzzling thing about how diabetes works in Brent’s system, has been is high blood sugar levels in the mornings. By playing with his diet, we found that if he cut out simple carbohydrates from noon on, that it reduced his next morning’s blood sugar level but not drastically enough to make a difference throughout the day or as the days became weeks.
Enter some Paleo Creatures.
My cousin and her husband enveloped the Paleo lifestyle a couple of years ago and have not only dropped weight but also feel fabulous. Eight months ago, I began studying this phenomenon that seemed to be gaining popularity. It took me those eight months to decide whether I felt this was the right direction for everyone in our family or not. I needed us all to buy into this way of life. As I delved into the meat of living paleo, I struggled with finding answers to why there were some foods of the earth, that were not to be eaten. Using The Paleo Diet for the Athlete, by Loren Cordain, reading numerous articles for and against this way of eating, and by asking questions, I was settled with and understood more about high and low glycemic indexed foods and was ready to try it. I promised each family member that we would only try it for one month and then make a formal decision based on that month’s success or lack of, as to whether we would attempt to fully embrace this manner or not.
One month saw amazing results that we did not expect to see in such a short time.
Brent Age: 49 Steadily dropped weight each week, 8 lbs. during the first week, 5 during the next week and 10 over the next 2 weeks. He cut his insulin injections by half most meals and his morning blood sugar levels were normal.
Jillian Age: 15 Lost 7 pounds (even though she did not need to and this was most definitely not a goal nor a focus.) We’ve known since Jillian was 5 that she is lactose intolerant and, as a family gave up most dairy when she was 7. We have played around with raw milk, cheese etc. but on the Paleo Lifestyle, gave it up entirely for the month of September. Jillian remarked at how she has been living with a continual stomach ache most of her life but did not have one that month unless she chose to stray from the diet and ate something from a friend.
Max Age: 17 Lost 7 pounds and again was not necessary nor a focus. He has had the most challenging time sticking with it as he likes to go out for lunch with friends occasionally and the choice is usually a burger. At home, however, he has stuck to the regime and I, as mom, refuse to be a food bully.
The greatest results by far that will help us stick with this way of being, is that we are all so thrilled for Brent, and none of us are actually hungry. That doesn’t mean that we don’t miss some foods, we just don’t actually crave them.
It has only been one month, but that one-month, has demonstrated extraordinary results. Check back next month and I’ll report on how things are progressing for us as Paleos.
~ Ellyn