Long time, No post

Hello long lost friends!

Life has swept me up and carried me away the past few months.  Family events, school, and now work have all combined to keep me away from blogging.  However, you will be happy to know that I’ve stayed Paleo in the midst of everything!

It has been over four months since I began the Paleo diet to find a way to manage my Fibromyalgia.  The first couple of months were a real struggle.  I threatened to pull my hair out, and my family was not too happy with me or the diet.  However, by month three things started to click.  I stay within the 80-95% range of the Whole 30 plan.  Restaurant food is the biggest reason that I break any rules.  I’m still learning about all the crazy stuff they put in food at restaurants. I went to Chuy’s (Mexican restaurant) the other day and learned that they put gluten in the spice packet they use on their fajita meat. What on earth???

Anyways, so far there are several awesome results of sticking to this diet:

  • I can eat any paleo-approved vegetable out there with almost zero side effects.  Occasionally, too much cabbage will upset my stomach, or other things like that. However, it’s nothing compared to what I experienced before.  The rest of my family is also doing better with vegetables.
  • I rarely crave the unhealthy junk food I used to eat, and I really enjoy the various flavors of real, whole food.  My taste buds have adapted nicely to this way of life.  I feel so much more satisfied at the end of a meal, and I don’t feel the need to eat all day like I used to. I’ve also noticed an increase in my energy levels.
  • I’ve lost about 12 pounds and I’m still losing! I didn’t set out to lose weight and I’ve been more sedentary than I’ve ever been in my entire life in these past few months, yet the weight just keeps coming off.  The rest of my family is losing weight as well. We all needed to.  This is such a relief, because I don’t have the ability to exercise right now.  Before going paleo, I was gaining weight rapidly and had no idea what to do about it.

All of these reasons have convinced me to stay paleo as a way of life, at least for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, though, there has been no improvement in my pain levels.  The diet has made no difference in this area.  The next step, perhaps at the end of the summer, is to look at autoimmune versions of paleo, or other diets designed specifically for people with chronic pain.

I feel that going paleo was completely worth it, and there may yet be some improvement.  We will see, I suppose.

 

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Kale and Bacon

YUM! This is my favorite snack now a days. It’s really filling without being an energy drainer.  It’s also pretty quick to make.  Here is where I found the original recipe.  Check out her helpful pictures! I will have to add some later.  I wanted to eat it, not take pics of it…

Ingredients:

1 bunch of kale (think medium-sized bowl full), thinly chopped (take out big stems)
3 slices of nitrate-free bacon cut into 1/4 inch pieces
lemon juice to taste
sea salt
ground black pepper

  1. Cook the bacon in a non-stick pan until crisp.
  2. Add in kale (medium heat). Stir for a few minutes until slightly wilted.
  3. Squeeze lemon juice over the top, serve in bowl or on a plate.

I bought a bag of kale from Trader Joe’s.  It lasted forever and was pretty cheap.  I think this would also work well as a side dish.

Paleo Cinnamon Bread

Here is where the recipe came from.  You have to scroll down a ways to see it.  I’m reprinting it here to make things easier!

**Important note: The first time my family made this, we used Trader Joe’s Almond Meal. It’s a great price, but if you look at the stuff you can see the skins mixed in with the almond meat (unblanched) and it’s pretty coarsely ground.  The bread came out really heavy and it dried out by the next day.  The next time we made it, I bought almond meal/flour at Whole Foods in the bulk section. Way more expensive, but it was also very finely ground with no obvious skins included.  The bread came out light, soft, and stayed moist for several days. The taste was also better and more balanced! This is a great article on how to buy almond flour.

Ingredients

2 cups almond flour (see note above)

2 tbsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp sea salt

5 eggs

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup walnuts

Directions:

  1. preheat oven to 350
  2. cut a piece of parchment paper to fit your bread pan, with enough sticking out on either side to make “handles” to pull it out
  3. combine almond flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a medium sized bowl
  4. combine eggs, honey, coconut oil, and vanilla with a hand mixer (or in a stand mixer) until all ingredients are well incorporated
  5. slowly add dry ingredients to the wet, and continue mixing
  6. once everything is well mixed, add raisins and walnuts
  7. pour batter into bread pan
  8. bake for about 40-45 minutes. test with a toothpick in at least two places to make sure it’s clean

Discouragement, Honestly… and always some hope

Ok, so I knew this was going to be hard.

I was wrong. It’s been even harder than I thought.

I knew it would be a huge adjustment to cook basically every meal. (My life before now was an embarrassingly haphazard combination of cereal, canned soups, random fruits and meats, breads, crackers, and drive-through meals.) I knew I would have to learn some more advanced cooking skills.  (I’ve never enjoyed cooking, so I’ve always left the complicated stuff to the professionals.) I also knew I would need to plan and prepare more than I ever have before.

What I didn’t understand was the big picture of putting this all together.

This is not a part-of-my-life change. This is an all-of-my-life change. (This is where all of you say, “Well duh! We already knew that!”) I guess I knew that in theory too. Now I am experiencing it!

Just in case you were wondering, let me describe for you what I and one other family member have been doing the last three weeks:

  • Looking at endless paleo recipes on pinterest and other websites.  Printing and organizing them into a binder, then making a meal chart for the week.  Then, taking all those recipes and writing out every ingredient I need to buy. With the quantities (which I forgot several times, so I had to go back through and find the ingredients again). Then, trying to organize that massive list into something that I can actually use in the grocery store.
  • Visiting three different stores, reading labels and perusing produce carefully and cautiously. Checking my list three and four times. I’m not joking– each two-three hour trip left me feeling slightly dizzy with a massive headache afterwards.
  • Learning all about vegetables that I’ve never eaten before.  For example, I had no idea how to pick a spaghetti squash or a butternut squash. I didn’t even know what they looked like! There are tons of types of sweet potatoes out there. Which ones will my family eat?  Why does this store have only two types of lettuce, and this store has five? Which ones do we like?
  • Reading America’s Test Kitchen’s reviews on all kinds of fancy kitchen equipment that I now need and trying to find the best prices for those items, either online or in stores. I don’t have the luxury to just buy things without paying attention to the price.

At the end of round one or two of this, I realized that making basically 21 recipes every week was just not going to cut it.  (A more astute person would’ve figured that out right away, I’m sure.) The most logical thing was to try the “weekly cook-up method” in the “Well Fed” cookbook by Melissa Joulwan. However, I always make things harder than they are and even this has not been easy. It still requires going to at least two stores.  I have been comparing prices online for some items, like coconut aminos and almond flour, with prices in stores. I’m keeping track of prices in three different stores plus online for eight or more items, and my head hurts.

For the weekly cook-up, you need to have a day for shopping and a part of a day set aside for prep.  However, with my Fibro, I don’t have enough energy to get everything done in two days.  The method starts to fall apart in some ways if you don’t have everything there and ready.  It’s also very experimental.  It’s quick and easy (after the shopping and prep work) and requires you to be willing to try a lot of different mixtures of spices, meats, and vegetables.  My family is still getting used to this idea. Honestly, I’m still getting used to the idea.

Surprisingly, in the three weeks that I’ve been at least 60% paleo, I haven’t missed bread or other grains really. I haven’t had any bread in at least three weeks, maybe longer.  I’ve had rice only a handful of times.   I’m truly and thoroughly convinced that gluten and grains have done me much more harm than good.  I’m happy to leave them behind. I’ve learned that I can feel satisfied and full without them.

What I’m really missing is the convenience.

The convenience of grabbing whatever and eating it.  With Fibro, I already feel exhausted most of the time.  Planning and preparing meals is just one more burden.  The shopping, at least right now, is the biggest burden. My grocery bill has tripled, which is causing some sticker shock.

However, my whole family is determined that this is still what we need to do.  We’re surprisingly and stubbornly positive about the whole thing. We are praying hard and doing our best to love one another and ourselves through this process.

The planning will get easier. We’re already learning how to eyeball the amount of vegetables we need per week (it’s astronomical!!!), and I know how to pick a spaghetti squash now. I know where to buy coconut milk and I will remember to stock up so I don’t have to go back more than once a month.

Finally, we aren’t as hungry as we used to be.  Eventually, I know that all this good food will give me more energy. Eventually, I’m praying that the pain will be more manageable.  Even if eating paleo doesn’t change my pain levels, I know I will still be healthier and happier.  And so will my family, which is even more important.

Paleo is a Class Society

Is it just me, or does anyone else sense that there are “levels” of paleo? I’m guessing the Whole30 is about as high society as it gets, although at least those lovely folks only expect you to manage that for 30 days. After that, there are some who bake and cook with natural sweeteners and flour made with nuts.  Finally, there are people who *horror* eat white potatoes.

I also read something somewhere about people who only eat raw meat and raw vegetables.  They probably consider themselves at the top of the paleo class structure, and I’m perfectly fine with letting them think that. Aren’t you?  Let’s leave those poor people alone.

I’ve always been a middle class girl, and I am perfectly satisfied with staying there. The goal, at least right now, is to cut out those foods that cause inflammation.  Eventually, I would like to try the Whole30 but it’s going to take awhile before my body can handle that.

Where Do I Start?

I’m not gonna lie, the amount of info out there about Paleo is absolutely overwhelming!  Not everyone follows the same rules. I even read one short book that said, “Just think about what a caveman would eat.”  I have no idea what cave men ate!  I’ve been on a farm maybe three times in my life.  I’m a city girl whose idea of meat comes in a package, and vegetables are those things you buy and bag by weight.

All that being said, I’m also really grateful for all the info out there.  It’s nice to be able to read other people’s blogs, or get free kindle books on Amazon.com all about paleo. They have a ton!  Honestly, pinterest is a lifesaver.

I’ve been perusing this awesome blog, Cave Girl in the City.  This blog is not the first to mention something called the Whole30 or the Whole9.  What is that? Well, I’m learning that it’s basically a synonym for Paleo.  These guys at Whole30 have packaged it into a trend.  Their website is pretty cool.  The first eight steps are here.  I’m working through these right now.  Hopefully, this will help me to decide how I’m going to go about this whole Paleo thing.

Anyone else tired of doctors?

Is it just me, or are most doctors a waste of time?  They’re great for everyday stuff, but when I hand them my patient history (10 years of Fibromyalgia), it’s not long before they give up.

I’m tired of doctors giving up on me.

Fibromyalgia is not curable.  There is nothing I can do to make it go away or become white noise in the background of my life.  I’ve had it long enough to accept that.  What I refuse to accept is that I have to quit at life and just spend my time managing this disease.

God made me for more than that.

I managed my Fibro for a long time with the usual stuff: physical therapy, pain meds, trying different treatments, some exercise.  Two years ago, all of that stopped helping.  This disease isn’t supposed to progress, and yet it has.  I went from 80% functional (compared to an average person my age) to 20% functional over the course of those two years.  No one knows why, and no one has had any solutions.

I’m praying, asking God for wisdom, and the next obvious thing to do is to change the way I eat.  That’s my plan, and with God’s help it will make a difference.

I want my life back. I’m ready to do what it takes to get there.