30 day Paleo challenge

Yo! It’s been a while and I have no excuse for not following my planned blog schedule. Anyways, back on track!

So, a variety of things have happened. For this post I want to focus on the experience I’ve just been through: 30 days of Paleo.

What the heck is Paleo?
Good question! The theory behind it: you should eat what our ancestors ate in the Stone Age over 2 million years ago.

Nutritional advisers claim that most of the things we eat nowadays are basically not good for our human body. Let’s rephrase: our body hasn’t had time to adjust its setup to our current nutrition, since evolution takes time and the development of food in the recent years has been way faster than the ability of the human body to adjust to these circumstances.
That was my explanation to people who had asked me before I started the diet. Today I would say that it is more a guideline to focus on nutritious food. Meaning that the value for your body is higher when you eat a pepper than when you eat ice cream. Also, you are not allowed to eat processed/convenience food. Which is obvious, as you either don’t know exactly what it contains or it shows on the package and you simply know that all these added ingredients shouldn’t be in it.

So, what have I been allowed to eat?
– Meat (preferable: not packed and local, i.e. turkey, chicken, lamb, beef)
– Fish
– Eggs
– Vegetables
– Fruits (not too much due to fructose)
– Nuts (not every type)
– Fats, oils and spices (most of them)
– Honey

Grey zone and allowed to eat, but shouldn’t be included often.
– white rice
– potatoes

Not allowed to eat:
– Any wheat products (includes noodles, bread, cornflakes, …)
– Milk products
– Sugar
(Coffee would be allowed, but, without sugar and any form of milk. Plus, since you follow the diet to treat your body in a healthy way, alcohol isn’t a good choice either. Considering that I wanted to do it right and see how my body reacts to the changes, I avoided both.)

In total, I’ve been following these guidelines for 30 days, here are some effects I encountered:
Positive effects:
– actually knowing what I am eating
– gaining more knowledge about cooking
– feeling more mindful and “in the moment”
– positive effect on other parts of life
(since you put a lot of effort into this, you want to make sure that other factors don’t interfere, i.e. getting enough sleep, do sports, saying “no”)
– identity change (This will have a follow up post, but I already see myself as a healthier person)
– the urge for sugar and for your previous favorite food goes away (also due to the two previous points)
– lost weight (I didn’t measure, but yes)

Possible placebo:
– my skin seems healthier
– I am feeling better and have a higher energy level
No clear proof for either, but it almost doesn’t matter, if it is a placebo or not, especially for the latter. You start actually believing what you think/believe, so there is a positive loop. Also I am just feeling better, since eating healthier was a long term goal of mine and I finally started doing it.

Other effects:
– eating less at the beginning, as I didn’t know what to eat and my fridge wasn’t prepared enough
– seems like my body needs longer to recover after sports
– spending way more time in the kitchen
– going out less for dinner
– sometimes hard to find a location for lunch or dinner dates, since you want to eat something as well
– seems like I’m freezing more than the people around me (does someone have an explanation for this?)
– people will ask you about it, because you behave differently than the other people at the table
– you have to consider that some people you eat with will feel awkward, because you do what they want to do
– people will make an extra effort for your dietary needs (i.e. preparing a special dinner, going to another place)

So, will you never eat a delicious burger, your mighty pancakes or have drinks with your friends again? Hell no – but the frequency will decrease. I will be more mindful about my nutrition and will carefully choose when to break it. There are people who have a cheat day once per week, but even if they enjoy this one day, they feel bad the day after. Also when you are invited to dinner or someone offers you his baked muffin, it’s just disrespectful to be the person “Do you mind making a special plate for me/I’m sorry, I can’t eat this”. Therefore, I will probably eat Paleo when I am on my own or can control the dish without creating too much trouble for other people. If that is not the case, I will choose the best of what is available or will prepare food for these occasions.

In total, it was a fantastic decision. I cook more, gained knowledge about food and the human body, feel better, and it has a positive effect on other areas of my life.

So, let’s start the day with some eggs, dates and bacon.



Follow up posts will be about:
– how to prepare for 30 days of Paleo
– identity change

Let me know, if there is anything else you want to know about Paleo / the experience.

Thanks to Heather, Sebastian, and Sophie for pre reading.