Done Being Hangry

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Hangry = angry + hungry, which is what I felt for about a month straight.  Paleo got a little easier the last week and a half, mostly because I wasn’t really following it too strictly.  Instead of the 85/15 rule, I was eating more along the lines of a 60/40 rule.

There were a few observations/beneficial things that I learned whilst following the Paleo diet.

  1. Grass fed beef tastes way better than conventionally grown beef.  It also smells WAY better while cooking it.  Since I don’t really like beef (a very important thing I learned this month), I think I’ll only cook grass-fed beef on the rare occasion that I ever actually eat it.
  2. I don’t need to eat as many grains as I thought I did.  Like most Americans, my grain intake was pretty high.  While I am in no way ready to swear them off, I learned that I can make do with less of them and find more creative ways to cook that don’t involve grains.  Not only is this probably good for my health, it’s a good way to stick it to the man and big agri-business like Monsanto.  And I always like to stick it to the man.
  3. I ate so much more protein this month than before, so I decided to start working out (might as well put the protein somewhere).  Once I figured out my carb intake, working out became a lot easier, and I put on a bit of muscle, which is cool.
  4. I learned how to make mayonnaise.  If you ever find yourself with a mayo shortage, but you have eggs and oil, here’s what you do: in a blender, mix together 1 cup oil (I used ½ olive and ½ walnut), 1 egg, ~1 tbsp lemon juice, ~1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard.  This will keep for about a week in the fridge.  You can also get pretty creative with what you add to your mayo to make it more interesting.

Tricks

Here are a couple of tricks that got me through my Paleo month.  I learned after about a week that I needed to do a bunch of prep on the weekends to make my weeks easier.  One thing I did was make my quinoa “oatmeal” for the week (see previous post for more info).

I also roasted a bunch of root vegetables (potato, sweet potato, butternut squash, rutabaga) on the weekend.  Throughout the week, I would use those veggies in other meals, sometimes as a side.  A couple times I ate the veggies with sautéed kale and turkey bacon to make a tasty meal.  Another time I made some turkey meatballs and made a soup using chicken broth, the meatballs, and the veggies.

Treats

I love dessert and I don’t like to bake.  Since ice cream, frozen yogurt, and all other processed frozen treats were off the menu, I had to come up with something new.  I had seen a few recipes for banana ice cream made by blending frozen bananas, almond butter, and cocoa powder.  I tried that, but they weren’t really blending, so I added just a little coconut milk.  This worked, but of course you can’t freeze that and then eat it again because it will be solid as a rock (trust me, I tried, despite my better judgment that told me not to).  Instead this made more of a pudding (once thawed), but it was still really good, and definitely fulfilled by sweet tooth cravings.

Paleosagna

I only made one meal that I really LOVED this month, which was this “lasagna,”  made with eggplant, zucchini, and parsnips as the “noodles.”  I would actually call it more of a casserole because the sauce made with red wine made it smell and taste more like a stroganoff and the layers didn’t really stay together very well.  But man was it tasty.  Instead of using ricotta, I made cashew ricotta.

Blend 1 cup cashews (unsalted) with 1 cup water, ~1 T lemon juice, ~1 T minced garlic, ~3 T nutritional yeast flakes (these aren’t necessary, I just had them on hand and they add a really nice flavor).

Parmesan: Nutritional yeast flakes + almond meal.  I actually have no idea how much…maybe equal parts…?

With both of these “cheeses,” there isn’t really a right or wrong way. Just play with them until they taste right. This is also nice for me because I rarely have ricotta on hand, but I almost always have a wide array of nuts in the pantry.  Thanks, veganism!

Stats

Goal/Normal

Baseline Data

Jan-Vegan

February-Paleo

Anthros

Weight

121-60

127.5

127.5

128.5

BMI

18.5-24.9

20

20

20.1

PBF

21-32

21.4

21.2

20.6

WC

<35

27.5

27.5

27.5

HC

38.5

37.5

38

W:H Ratio

<0.8

0.71

0.73

0.72

Blood Pressure

<120/80

113/77

101/69

105/72

Diet

Total kcal

2000-2200

1975

1809

1965

Protein (g)

77.5

57

100

Protein (%)

10-35

16

12

20

CHO (%)

45-65

51

39-50

39

Fiber (g)

at least 25

26

42

32

Fat (%)

20-35

29.5

44-54

47

Sat Fat (%)

<10

7

8

8

Sodium (mg)

2300

2587

2138-2527

2132

Potassium (mg)

4700

3479

3959-4109

3742

Fruit/Veg (servings)

5-9

3-7

8-12

6-8

Cost

192.59

206.38

I lost about ½ a percent of body fat and put on about a pound of muscle.  My hip circumference also went up (slightly). In light of this, let’s make a documentary entitled “How Caitlin Got Her Butt Back.”  I bet it’ll be a top seller.

The only real noticeable difference in nutrient intake compared to veganism was my protein intake (way up) and my fiber/fruit and veggie intake (down).

This was obviously a very expensive month for me, mainly because meat and eggs grown the responsible, healthy way comes with a heftier price tag.  It looks like I spent close to the same amount as I did on veganism, but don’t be fooled.  I had a lot of food left over from that month.  I had absolutely nothing left over this month, and I wasn’t even eating very “paleo” by the end.  I imagine this wouldn’t be the case every month, and as I got a better handle on what I liked/needed, that cost would go down.

It’s also really hard to test out this diet in a month.  It took almost that long for me to start to feel even close to normal.  I’m not sure that everyone goes through that.  A lot of people who go on Paleo say that they’ve never felt better.  I think a lot of those people are coming off of a Western diet, high in refined carbs, processed fats, and low in fruits and veggies, so they’re bound to feel pretty great.  That obviously wasn’t the case for me.  The bottom line for me was that I felt insanely restricted the whole month and thoughts of food were constantly riddled with “I can’t have that/I want that.” I don’t do well with restriction – I never have.  I don’t consider myself an extremely rebellious person, but I felt like a petulant teenager this whole month, wanting to throw a tantrum in the form of eating bread the entire time.  But I guess this is what I signed up for – I wanted to know what people go through when they go on a diet. Now I know.

I’m also not saying that there is anything inherently wrong with Paleo.  I don’t know how much science there is to back it up, but from a health standpoint, I can’t fault it too much.  You can get all of your macro and micronutrients by following the diet, though you might have to get creative in some ways.  The biggest issue with food in American today is how little food there actually is because everything has been refined so much with chemicals and additives that very little of our food is actually “food.”  Paleo takes people back to basics and completely eliminates processed foods, for which I certainly cannot fault the diet.  I very much support it.

However, it just isn’t the diet for me.  A person’s approach to food (and life) should always be individualized.  Just because Dr. Oz swears that he’s found the miracle food, doesn’t mean he has or that it will do anything for you.  Likewise, just because Paleo sucked for me doesn’t mean it will suck for you.  It could be a great fit, particularly if you are someone who responds well to structure.  I’m not one of those people.  I think a lot of people like black and white, especially when it comes to health.  I live my life happily in the vast expanses of grey area, and my approach to almost all things in life is grey.  It’s not right or wrong; it’s just what works for me.  If you want to be healthy, try different things.  Some will fit, some won’t.  But most importantly, if a certain diet or regimen is too hard, don’t just give up and eat Doritos and assume you can never make a healthy lifestyle work for you.  Make small changes gradually.  Take what fits and incorporate those into your life and discard the other stuff.  Eventually, you’ll become a healthier, happier version of yourself.  Health doesn’t equal misery.

And with that, I say farewell to Paleo.  It’s been an interesting experience, and I’m all about trying new things, if for no other reason than to understand something better.  But now, I move on to Weight Watchers, and I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited about the prospects of all the food I get to enjoy again! Bread! Pasta! Yogurt! Ah, sweet relief 🙂

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