Our family was stuck in a diet slump. Because my husband and I both have such hectic work schedules, we got into a rut over the years, eating a lot of processed convenience foods. Awhile back, we cut out nearly all fast food and had been eating at home more often, but we hadn’t necessarily been eating healthier at home. Our typical dinner was high in fat, starch, sodium and preservatives, and we really were not thinking much about it. Although we always ate a vegetable of some type with our meals, it wasn’t enough to balance things out. We also had bread or rolls with each meal, layering starch on top of more starch.
Several months ago, we got to a point where we were literally sick of eating. We just weren’t hungry for the same unhealthy food. We also were tired of feeling sick and tired. We realized we needed a diet change. My husband had brought up the idea of switching to the Paleo Diet. I had no idea what this was and when my husband explained it to me, I laughed out loud.
Just the thought of living as our Paleolithic ancestors did — without sugar, salt, dairy, legumes and grains — was too much for me to handle. Besides that, there was no way our children would stick to the Paleo Diet, which would make it difficult to adapt to our life.
Another issue is that I am an avid couponer. I buy large quantities when items that I have coupons for go on sale and store them until needed. I have a large pantry stockpile. What would we do with several months worth of food that we wouldn’t be able to eat? We knew that we wanted to eat healthier and make changes, but I wasn’t sure that Paleo was the way to go.
It wasn’t until I attended a health talk about a month ago that something clicked. During the event, the speaker said that we don’t have to empty our pantries and go buy all new food in order to eat healthier. Additionally, I learned that people who do that often fail because they can’t handle the radical change all at once. The key is to slowly start incorporating healthier habits into our diets each day. This meant we could attempt to eat healthier while still using items from our pantries, then replacing those items with healthier choices when they run out.
I had my “duh” moment right there during the talk. It was so simple. I couldn’t believe that I was using my pantry full of unhealthy food as an excuse to not eat well.
I picked up a Paleo Diet cookbook that also contains supporting information on how to get started. Even though the diet is very limiting (there is much you can’t eat), there is so much you can do with the foods that are permissible. My book contains a plan that helps users transition to the Paleo Diet in tiers. It says that most people are not full Paleo, but instead use an 85-15 rule. We can eat 85 percent Paleo and 15 percent non-Paleo each week, which allows us to still eat some of those foods that we really love, like pasta.
So my family and I planned a full week’s worth of Paleo dinner recipes. We located a retailer that sells organic and grass-fed beef, chicken and bison and bought what we would need. We then hit the grocery store and bought fresh fruits and vegetables, buying organic when possible.
We started right away by crafting dinner recipes from the book for a full week. My husband and I didn’t say anything to the kids, and they were completely clueless. To our surprise, they didn’t seem to notice much of a change, except for the noticeable lack of dinner rolls.
The recipes mostly were great. They were bland in some ways without all the salt, but more flavorful in others. It took several meals before we adjusted to the changes, but the recipes so far have been really good.
Although we are not sure we will ever eat 100 percent Paleo, we are enjoying trying new recipes and eating better. We’re still working to clear our pantry of the unhealthy stuff; it is a process.
We are glad we made the leap, and now we know that we can eat much healthier and enjoy it — the kids, too. I have changed the way that I grocery shop and am not couponing for couponing’s sake. I shop the organic, produce and meat sections of the store first and usually don’t venture down many other aisles. When I do, I read labels a lot more closely and seek out all-natural or organic products whenever possible.
Change is possible in all types of diets. It takes research and determination to start incorporating healthier choices into your life every day.
For more information on the Paleo Diet, go to thepaleodiet.com.