Friday, May 04, 2012

Hunting and Gathering

Today, I hunted and gathered.  Which, in modern-day terms, means I went to Costco and Trader Joe's and loaded up on a month's worth of food.  

You see, this month my husband and I are trying a Paleo diet, thanks to the influence of a couple of dear friends and the interwebs.  In simple terms, a Paleo diet means that you try to eat the way a hunter/gatherer would have supposedly eaten during the Paleolithic period.  I am pretty sure that an actual hunter/gatherer would be horrified by Costco and hate the parking situation there as much as I do.  I like to think of this way of eating as how Adam and Eve would have eaten in Genesis.  This also makes sense to me because I see how the advent of Costco could be a consequence of man's separation from God.

Sorry, I love Costco.  But I hate the one near me.  #firstworldproblems

I am not going to spend much time defining or explaining the whole Paleo thing.  Mostly because I don't really care that much and there are some scientific details in it that I don't agree with.   If you want specifics, there is a plethora of wonderful information on the World Wide Web.  Paleo is considered pretty trendy right now, right up there with going gluten-free.  I get super irritated when I hear these lifestyle changes referred to like fad diets or fashion trends because I don't think anyone should ever be criticized for trying to eat in a way that is genuinely more healthy than the way they already eat.  We are not doing this to be trendy.  We are doing this to see if it improves our lives.  So I will, however, be going to go into specifics on what we've decided to eat this month and why.

First, let me back up.  I have Celiac Disease, which is an auto-immune disease in which your immune system attacks a protein found in wheat, rye and barley called gluten.  Eating a gluten-free diet helps to majorly alleviate the symptoms of Celiac Disease, but since it is an auto-immune disease you can't ever be fully healed or fully symptom-free.  I get colds and flu's more easily than the average person and I have chronic inflammation, joint pain, headaches, fibromyalgia and fatigue.  None of these are incredibly severe or debilitating, but they affect me way more than I would like.  I've been to many doctors but there just isn't a simple solution to any of it.

My husband has a wheat intolerance, so he eats gluten-free too.  Sweet Pea is gluten-free because she can't be tested for Celiac Disease until she is two, and since there is a pretty high probability of her having it we decided it would be best for her to be gluten-free for now.  So our home is already gluten-free.  We also eat as much organic food as we can afford.

Anyway, back to Paleo!  The deal with a Paleo diet is to eliminate grains, sugar, and dairy (none of which a hunter/gatherer would have eaten) from your diet and try to eat as natural, as whole, as raw and as organic as possible.  In other words, eat what a hunter/gatherer could have hunted or gathered!  They would have caught and eaten fresh, organic meat.  They would have collected nuts and seeds.  They would have found fruits and veggies and yoinked eggs from birds' nests.

So why is this crazy self-denial attractive me?  Because all of those no-no foods I listed first are known to cause inflammation in the human body.  When you have inflammation, you have pain.  When you have inflammation, you are tired.  When you have inflammation, you have headaches.  When you have inflammation, you just plain don't feel good.

And so, we are giving it a go.  I have been slowly working to make our home more and more chemical-free, and now we are going to try to purge some of the non-essentials from our diet.  Do I think it's going to work?  Eh, I'm not convinced.  Mostly I'm not convinced because I love cheese.  And I love ice cream.  And I love Snickers.  But is it worth it to give it a go?  Yes.

If all that stands between me being the woman God created me to be, a woman who can turn her dreams into plans without fear of failure due to her health, is a Snickers bar and a hunk of cheddar, then I'm all for ditching them.  I'm all for trying something new.  I refuse to take medication and I really, truly believe that there is something to be said for being as natural and clean as we possibly can be.

I am tired of being tired.  I am tired of hurting.  My life changed drastically when I went gluten-free, but I'm still not "normal."  I know I can't expect to ever be fully normal when I have an auto-immune disease, but if I in my power with Christ's strength can be a little better than I am and thus have more energy and zeal to tackle this wild and precious life then I'm going to give it a go.

So what are we going to eat?  What are we going to eliminate?

To make it simple, we are going to stick to meat, veggies, fruits, tree nuts, and seeds.  We are going to use Agave and honey for natural sweetening.  We are eliminating caffeine, although we rarely drink it anyway; I don't keep coffee or soda in our home.  We are avoiding pork products and any other meats with preservatives like nitrates or sulfites, something we already do anyway.  We are cutting out soy and oil derived from soy.  Even though it's not technically Paleo, we are still going to eat quinoa because I said so.  And sometimes a little 72% or higher dark chocolate because I'm the mama.

I know this sounds crazy.  I know it sounds impossible.  For us, though, it's not a huge leap so much as a step because I already try to reduce all of the inflammatory foods from our diets.  The problem is I've gotten lazy lately, and more and more junk as crept into our lives that I fear may be making me sick.

Sweet Pea will still drink organic whole milk, of course, and will eat my homemade yogurt.  She probably won't get cheese because I doubt I can keep it in the house without pigging out on it!

So there you have it.  Fields of Green, baby.  Greener and greener and greener!  We started this yesterday and I've already dropped the ball a couple of times, but I just pick it back up again and go.  Today I took the girls (I was babysitting my niece) to Costco and we loaded up on the essentials.

The essentials being chocolate frozen yogurt to keep them quiet while I shopped for healthy food.  Irony!  Zing!  

Then I spent a whopping $246 (including milk for the baby).  Plus another $16 at Trader Joe's.  Plus another $15 at another store.  Yikes!  Granted, we cleared out the pantry and freezer (purposefully) last month so I needed a lot of staples.  I have enough meat to last the whole month.  With some planning, I should be able to only run to the regular store three more times this month for about $25 worth of produce each visit and still keep us within budget for groceries.  (Our grocery budget is on the high end for a family of three...$400 a month.  Sounds really high, but we live in an area with a high cost of living, and I do a lot of organic and special foods because of being gluten-free.)

Want to see what $280 worth of groceries looks like?  Of course you do!

Fruits and veggies:
Organic salad greens
Organic mixed veggies (has corn in it, which isn't Paleo, but I'm letting it slide since it's organic)
Portobello mushrooms
(We still had onions, carrots, lemons and several bags of assorted frozen things on hand.)

Organic ground beef
Organic chicken thighs
Turkey breast (preservative-free)
Rotisserie chicken (preservative-free)
Chicken sausage
(We still had some frozen stew meat and cod on hand.)
Pantry staples:
Chicken broth
Raisins (not a great Paleo food due to sugar, but ok in moderation)
Almond meal
Sunflower seeds
Cashew clusters
Coconut milk
Almond butter
Spagetti sauce (for spagetti squash later in the month)
Agave syrup
Avocado oil
Coconut oil
(We already had olive oil, quinoa, chia seeds, flax seeds, canned tomatoes and a few other things on hand.)

Vegetable root chips (cooked in canola oil, so not the best)
A bar of 72% dark chocolate
More natural toothpaste

It's not perfectly Paleo, but it's pretty close and it's what is going to work for us this month.  And yes, I know it's a lot of food, but I'm a shop-big-time-once-a-monther and I have systems in place to keep foods from spoiling.  In other words, I am very thankful for my freezer.  I still need to get some shredded coconut to make a couple of snacks and granolas!

I will try to update the foods we're eating and how it's going.  We ended up going out to eat for a goodbye dinner for our roommate, but we both ended up getting perfectly Paleo dinners.  Yay us!  And for the record, I did not eat any of the girls' frozen yogurt even though I wanted to.  I should get some kind of award.

And so, with that, wish us luck!


  1. Wow! I'm very impressed...not that you're doing it to impress anybody. But still, I would really love to hear some of the meals and recipes you try! And by the way, those pictures REALLY make me miss Maryland. The closest Trader Joe's (and Whole Foods) is an hour away. Our Costco is much better than the one you referenced, but it's 45 minutes away. Still, I might be willing to give this diet a shot if it works for you. Keep us posted!!

  2. Anonymous1:10 PM

    Way to go, girlfriend!!! :) And after your 30 days, you should totally re-introduce cheese (esp if you can get local, full fat, grass fed!)... Oh I know where you can find that... Come visit me at the farmer's market...hehehe. Full fat, grass fed dairy is Primal! PHEW. South Mountain Creamery baby. mmmm. Hang in there and goooo you guys!

  3. Good for you! I have been toying with going paleo/primal after baby comes to help with the weight loss so I can't wait to hear how you guys do!

  4. Woohoo! :D I'm actually starting a Whole30 ( tomorrow! It's pretty similar to Paleo with a few extra restrictions since the point is to hit the reset button and detox the system (for example, no added sugar, period!). I'm a little nervous about it but it will be good to know someone else is going through a similar change at the same time! :) Best wishes! Will definitely be checking back in on the blog as you make the journey!


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