What the $%^# is Paleo? and Why do I Care? Here’s My Story

                                                       What the $#%@ is Paleo?

         ” Paleo” or the “Caveman Diet” is a diet associated with the “Paleolithic Era”  and how our ancestors ate; it also looks like they might have known a thing or two about food that we don’t.  Often in these recent days we have fallen prey to fast and easy conveniences in our daily lives; Whether it be texting when we can call, driving three miles down the street when we could have walked, or eating out in restaurants and fast food joints.  We do these things simply because we are Americans, we live extremely full lives and stressful ones at that.  We are also a country riddled with disease, “The health of Americans is far worse than the health of people in other countries despite the fact that we spend more money on health care,” says report author Steven H. Woolf, MD, MPH.  So why is this?

Recipes, Information, Exercises, and Motivation

Number of deaths for leading causes of death for 2011 according to the CDC

  • Heart disease: 597,689 (poor diet, smoking, inflammation, and sugar)
  • Cancer: 574,743 (genes, poor lifestyle, poor diet, smoking, no exercise, radiation, and environmental factors)
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 138,080  (smoking, infections, genetics)
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 129,476 (being over-weight, smoking, poor lifestyle, diabetes, poor diet)
  • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 120,859
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 83,494  (genes, poor lifestyle, environmental factors)
  • Diabetes: 69,071 (obesity, genes, poor diet, inactivity)
  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 50,476 (infections, toxins, and auto-immune disease, which is a big part of why Paleo is so good for us…but we’ll get to that later)
  • Influenza and Pneoniuma: 50,097 (poor-immune functions)
  • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 38,364

As you can see above its safe to say that with today’s bevy of information pouring out about all corners of our broken food system, our lifestyles are the culprits.  If you would like you learn more about what is happening to your food on its way to your body, I recommend some research in your free time. I will post a few of my favorite documentaries that are available on Netflix at some point soon.

so freaking enlightened

A lot of people are starting to wake up to our poor diets being the cause of our untimely, costly, and avoidable deaths.  Paleo, Vegetarian, Vegan,  and Pescetarian are all forms of healthier eating.

The Paleo diet however, is the only diet I have found and tried along with countless others that actually works for me. Black and White NO BS I LOVE food ! I mean I’m a culinary arts major, my favorite hobby is cooking for people, eating, and food porn. I used to think that because I was a foodie I was supposed to have an insatiable appetite and along with this comes the pounds…So what do we all do first? Well usually working out seems better than giving up your favorite foods, right?

I spent a long time in the gym with no results, and I work-out really hard. My gym sessions usually last between 2-3 hours a day and consist of constant changing high resistance interval training, there is really no way why no one would lose weight doing this along side eating “healthy”.  I use healthy very loosely because I have learned in my own personal research over the years that things being sold to us as “healthy” aren’t, they’re just cheap and business is business.

frustration

Needles to say I was becoming very frustrated, insecure, and dis-heartened by my ability to not lose weight…..and isn’t the gym supposed to give you energy? I was tired all of the time, moody, and depressed.  I figured I just had a slow metabolism and I was doomed to deal with not being at my ideal weight anymore…over the years I’ve done nothing but research food, diets, diet pills (which worked great for a year until I became almost a delusional anxiety case, developed fibrosis in my left breast from the caffeine, and my thyroid gland was also becoming affected by this, so I stopped. Slowly re-gained the weight and double time! I look at pictures of myself and the word for myself was swollen. I had accepted that this was my size and I would just deal with it.

Then I started to hear more about auto-immune diseases, and gluten allergies being the culprit of a lot of our little problems that cause an over all large amount of damage to our bodies.

 

Autoimmune Disease

Autoimmune disease affects up to 50 million Americans, according to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA). An autoimmune disease develops when your immune system, which defends your body against disease, decides your healthy cells are foreign. As a result, your immune system attacks healthy body cells. Depending on the type, an autoimmune disease can affect one or many different types of body tissue. It can also cause abnormal organ growth and changes in organ function. There are as many as 80 types of autoimmune diseases. Many of them have similar symptoms, which makes them very difficult to diagnose. It is also possible to have more than one at the same time. They usually fluctuate between periods of remission (little/no symptoms) and flare-ups (worsening symptoms). There are no cures for autoimmune diseases, so treatment focuses on relieving the symptoms.

Autoimmune diseases often run in families, and 75 percent of those affected are women (AARDA). African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans also have an increased risk of developing an autoimmune disease.

  • What Are Some of the Most Common Autoimmune Diseases?

    The following are some of the more common autoimmune diseases:

    • rheumatoid arthritis—inflammation of joints and surrounding tissues
    • systemic lupus erythematosus—affects skin, joints, kidneysbrain, and other organs
    • multiple sclerosis—affects the brain and spinal cord
    • celiac sprue disease—a reaction to gluten (found in wheat, rye, and barley) that causes damage to the lining of the small intestine
    • pernicious anemia—decrease in red blood cells caused by inability to absorb vitamin B12
    • vitiligo—white patches on the skin caused by loss of pigment
    • scleroderma—a connective tissue disease that causes changes in skin, blood vessels, muscles, and internal organs
    • psoriasis—a skin condition that causes redness and irritation as well as thick, flaky, silver-white patches
    • inflammatory bowel disease—a group of inflammatory diseases of the colon and small intestine
    • Hashimoto’s disease—inflammation of the thyroid gland
    • Addison’s disease—adrenal hormone insufficiency
    • Graves’ disease—overactive thyroid gland
    • reactive arthritis—inflammation of joints, urethra, and eyes; may cause sores on the skin and mucus membranes
    • Sjögren’s syndrome—destroys the glands that produce tears and saliva causing dry eyes and mouth; may affect kidneys and lungs
    • Type 1 diabetes—destruction of insulin producing cells in the pancreas

    I began to discover that many of my problems seemed to coincide with having an auto-immune problem. I also started to pay attention to the fact that whenever I’d eat at a restaurant,  no matter what I’d get mucus buildup, sneeze, and started coughing like crazy once I was done eating. I have SAD (seasonal affected disorder), allergies, lethargy, mood swings, bad eyesight, acne, very bad joints and a torn ACL, Plantar’s,  constipation, eczema, and a bad shoulder due to a crash. I felt like I was 90 and I was only 24!

    hiking

     

I became frustrated with myself and decided I needed to get back to nature where I was from in NH and to hike (hiking is when I feel most at peace and my thoughts just seem to become so clear (probably due to the negative ions in the air, also in ocean air), one day soon I plan to hike the Appalachian Trail).

So I went up north and spent some time in nature, then it occurred to me maybe I should just stop eating grains, beans,and dairy and see how that goes for me (mostly because of what I was eating on the trails, there’s not a lot of cheese, bread, and sugar around and every die-hard hiker knows those aren’t good things to load up on before going on a 10-20 mile hike.) I was noticing though how my body was reacting to the food I was making for myself, mostly for energy, I wasn’t trying to heal anything.

So I decided to stick with it and not eat dairy, beans (legumes), or non-naturally occurring sugars. My diet was pretty consistent of a fresh berries, water, and coconut milk smoothie along with two eggs over easy for breakfast and I’d bring nuts with me if I got hungry. For lunch I would just try and have veggies, soup, salad, and for dinner I would either have turkey, chicken, lamb, or bison with more veggies prepared some way. I still like my alcohol in the evening so I switched to wine from beer…and one glass when you are clean eating is all you need trust me, drunk as a skunk off two.  So essentially I was doing Paleo and didn’t realize it. It just started to all make sense to me, maybe I wasn’t giving my body what it needed and that’s why I was over eating, because I was really starving inside on a cellular level. My skin became very vibrant, my hair was growing in silky, my body felt strong and young, my ummm GI-Tract was definitely healthy..(no one tells you how much poop your going to deal with the first week of eating clean…that alone was disturbing, to know all that was just hanging around) . Once we cut out the processed refined foods that have no nutritional value and only harm our bodies on a cellular level, we see awesome things happen. These positive side effects that usually start about a week into Paleo become pretty obvious, mentally and physically.

accomplishment

I was happier, more excited to wake up and wake up early, I felt beautiful inside and out, every issue I had been experiencing started to become less of a bother, it was awesome.

Then I fell off the wagon, but this was the most important thing I could do. Without becoming unhealthy again, I wouldn’t really appreciate and understand how eating bad can really affect the body and mental state.  First thing that went was my joints and feet and I started to develop Plantar’s Faciitis, it is a super painful almost snapping feeling along your arch and it takes about 9 months to heal with physical therapy, my knees and hips started to inflame, my skin started to become uneven looking and acne came back, my hair started to get dry again, and my body was losing tone and gaining weight.

When this began to happen, it really happened very slowly which is why no one really notices these things about themselves. I just started to wear makeup and straight iron my hair again like most girls. I decided I was going to eat whatever I wanted and I didn’t care if I gained a little weight, my depression has a tendency to lead me to do this with food, especially getting into the habit of using food as a reward for something,  we can always find a reason to justify eating something we know isn’t good.

I moved back to Charlotte, NC. I picked up pretty un-healthy habits to stay skinny..smoking, diet soda (I never drank soda before I worked in a bar), and eating whatever I felt like..justifying it somehow to myself. I kept my weight fairly under control but I didn’t look or feel healthy at all (I just faked it with makeup), I could barely get up for work and by the time I got home I just wanted to sit on the couch until I got tired. I stopped having energy to go to the gym as often and started to dodge it, losing a lot of muscle tone and started to get…cellulite…I know its normal but not all over your body and not for me (probably because of rapid weight loss and gain). Once I learned it was genetic and really isn’t fat distribution but actually how your skin is attached to the muscle, I became very dis-heartened.  I still wanted to get back to where I was though before  during the summer in New Hampshire.

ACL

All my physical goals and dreams of being back in peak condition  were brought to a pretty fast stop when I tore my ACL while I was skiing. Growing up in the North East I loved to ski, it is in my family’s blood from my father who was a ski jumper, cross country from my mom, or to my uncle who skis all over the world all year as an instructor.

I didn’t realize how bad it was going to be, essentially after you are able to walk on your own again in about 1-2 weeks you find that you’ve lost the ability to use side to side motion..at all. My knee would re-tear and I would have to experience the pain and go through the same re-healing process. I could have gotten surgery but it’s around $15,000.00. After a year of babying my left leg I had lost almost all of my strength in it..and my body showed it.

Finally after a year I was able to start walking again on a treadmill, but my knee would be so inflamed afterwards it wasn’t helping at all. I decided to stick with very mild exercise and just try to eat better, like I did in NH.

I became very bored with my same meals everyday of chicken, salad, and eggs…like I said cooking is one of my biggest if not my biggest passion in life. Cooking healthy isn’t really fun when your on a boring diet, you just do it. Until I discovered Paleo around Christmas of 2013 while I was looking for a deviled egg recipe.

I found the recipe online for a Christmas party and it called for Paleo mayonnaise. I felt like kind of a idiot running around the grocery store asking for puh-lay-oh mayonnaise, which I thought was just fancy mayo. I started searching and realized it was homemade mayo, who the hell would want to make their own mayo?                      paleo pyramid

I didn’t really give it much thought until I started to see it pop up around my health sites I like to visit.  I saw the rules and it started to make sense to me that what I was doing that summer was actually a serious healthy way of eating and also one that combated auto-immune disease…which made sense why my body responded so well and so quickly to that way of eating. I realized I needed to go back to this because I was learning that all my ailments could potentially be fixed with food, and the recipes looked so amazing! Finally a diet with so much resource and geared towards people who love food and eating…JACKPOT!

I started a few months ago and I can say I’ll never go back to the prescribed American diet of bread, dairy, bad fats, and sugar. Here is how my reaction the Paleo diet went and where I currently am .

  •       Headaches, tired, muscle aches, nausea, chills, gas, extreme cravings for sugar and salt, and diarrhea (this is normal and lasts a few days to a week, depending on how toxic your system is)
  •      Energy (a lot of energy),  better sleep, normal bowel functions (which is very important for many reasons)
  •      Not needing deodorant, unless I have alcohol or bad food, my skin starts to glow, my attitude is 100% better in every aspect
  •      I feel smarter…I know this sounds strange but I no longer feel like the foggy headed lazy couch potato that I was becoming, I feel quick-witted and constantly creative again…probably since I was a kid to be honest. I can draw up information easier in conversation, and I have become much more in-tune with my personal self. I no longer get angry at the little things in life, mostly because I can rationalize things better or it’s because I have the energy to accomplish tasks that used to stress me out.

Now I am most thankful because my knee has made almost a full recovery and I am quickly heading back to that accomplished, healthy, and fitness oriented woman I used to be.

benefits-of-paleo

When we eat foods that nature intended we eat our bodies begin to even out, problems caused by a lack of nutrients are fixed. We no longer eat like we are starving all the time, we get full very fast and stay full. I attended a seminar on the Paleo diet, the nutritionist actually reported people growing back teeth and repairing very fast from injury.  It really is something everyone should try just to feel the benefits, and then control your diet and what you want to eat through trial and error to see how your body reacts. If you become gassy, un-satisfied, inflamed,fatigued, or show signs of mucus after eating then that food doesn’t work with your body and could potentially weaken your cells. However, we won’t know what foods do this to us without a clean slate to experiment with.

I like to do a cleanse before I eat this way, to really just get everything out of the way (bloating, water retention, energy, and so forth, but this can be pretty dramatic for new beginners, so it might be easier to achieve detox through food).

  • What Are Some of the Most Common Autoimmune Diseases?

    The following are some of the more common autoimmune diseases:

    • rheumatoid arthritis—inflammation of joints and surrounding tissues
    • systemic lupus erythematosus—affects skin, joints, kidneysbrain, and other organs
    • multiple sclerosis—affects the brain and spinal cord
    • celiac sprue disease—a reaction to gluten (found in wheat, rye, and barley) that causes damage to the lining of the small intestine
    • pernicious anemia—decrease in red blood cells caused by inability to absorb vitamin B12
    • vitiligo—white patches on the skin caused by loss of pigment
    • scleroderma—a connective tissue disease that causes changes in skin, blood vessels, muscles, and internal organs
    • psoriasis—a skin condition that causes redness and irritation as well as thick, flaky, silver-white patches
    • inflammatory bowel disease—a group of inflammatory diseases of the colon and small intestine
    • Hashimoto’s disease—inflammation of the thyroid gland
    • Addison’s disease—adrenal hormone insufficiency
    • Graves’ disease—overactive thyroid gland
    • reactive arthritis—inflammation of joints, urethra, and eyes; may cause sores on the skin and mucus membranes
    • Sjögren’s syndrome—destroys the glands that produce tears and saliva causing dry eyes and mouth; may affect kidneys and lungs
    • Type 1 diabetes—destruction of insulin producing cells in the pancrease.

    Meal-Plan-Chart1_ND

 

We look at things sometimes as being just black and white, we think fitness and diet is for people who want a six-pack. I think that fitness is something that naturally comes along with a full-life(we are designed  for physical fitness it’s in our genes), you are able to operate with a full palate of vibrancy instead of just making it through the day and throwing yourself into bed and waking up miserable and in pain for some reason.

It has been fun becoming part of this community of like-minded people and learning everyday more about exercise, and food as medicine which has side effects worse than the problem sometimes, as far as I can see there is no cures yet for all these things and that might just because you won’t ever be able to fix a life-time of damage with a pill.

 

I look forward to growing this page full of content I really haven’t been able to find all in one place. Information, recipes, exercises, and science.

Thank you for reading, I hope my story somehow inspires others to explore other options for dealing with health issues, or just wanting to learn how to cook healthy for your workouts 🙂

 

Sources:

http://www.healthline.com/health/autoimmune-disorders#Types

http://www.lung.org/assets/documents/publications/lung-disease-data/ldd08-chapters/LDD-08-IP.pdf

http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/conditions/diabetes/what_causes_diabetes.htm

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/basics/causes/con-20023871

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/stroke/basics/risk-factors/con-20042884

http://www.webmd.com/lung/lung-diseases-overview

http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hdw/causes.html

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/lcod.htm

http://www.webmd.com/news/20130104/americans-sicker-other-nations

 

 

 

 

 

Meat of the Week Recipe: Slow Cooked Paprika Chicken

Cooking meat in a Crock Pot is a great way to eat healthy, save time, and you can save the broth for quick soups which maximizes your money and pantry.
What you’ll need :
• 1 Whole Free-Range Organic Chicken (I always opt for the best quality I can find at the fairest price, there’s many reasons to buy Organic but we’ll get into that another time)
• 2 Teaspoons Paprika
• 1 Teaspoon Salt
• 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
• 1 Teaspoon Thyme
• 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
• 1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
• 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
• 1 Onion

Now combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl

Cut up your onion anyway you like and spread it evenly in the crock pot

Rub your chicken down with the dry paprika mixture and leave it to cook for 8 hours on a low setting 😃

If you want to maximize this dish you can save the bones and what’s left of the meat in the crock. Add plenty of water almost to the top, and leave it on a low setting all day. You can let it cool and easily pick out the bones. I like to cool it in the fridge over night to scrape the excess fat off of the top. I will post my soup recipe tomorrow 👍.

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