Photo via Bon Appetit’s Food Lover’s Cleanse
Friends, it’s time I got honest with you about a secret I’ve been keeping for the last month or so. As the title of this post suggests, the way I’ve been eating and how my diet and evolved has changed quite a bit over the last month. After eating vegetarian for over 3 years, I’ve been dabbling in the world of paleo-style eating, meaning my new diet is heavy on the veggies (no change there), meat (big change there!), fruit and nuts.
I hesitate to say that I’ve really been eating truly “paleo” since that’s not entirely accurate. It’s probably the reason I’ve always hated labels when it comes to eating styles, because I think what works for each individual person rarely fits into a very neatly defined category or diet structure. If you are one of those people, count yourself lucky that you don’t need to explain your eating style and can very neatly tie it up into a single phrase or term.
As a bit of background, ever since my miscarriage I’ve been reading a lot about nutrition and what we put into our bodies. In no way am I saying that I think the way I was eating caused my miscarriage, but I felt a pull to re-evaluate what I eat and why I eat it. In the wake of my miscarriage, I had a serious almost primal desire to eat eggs, eggs eggs! And chicken! And I even found myself craving a sandwich with turkey deli meat. Strange coming from someone who hates eggs, has never craved chicken in my 3+ years of being vegetarian and really never loved deli meat even when I wasn’t veg.
Since I’ve always focused on eating a balanced, well-rounded vegetarian diet with seafood mixed in now and again, the cravings really took me by surprise. But, as my mom once said, if you’re craving something it must mean that your body is telling you something, that something is lacking in one way or another. (Side note: I don’t think that saying applies to, say, chocolate cake, ice cream or brownies.) My mom is so wise like that. She has always been a huge supporter of “listening to your body.”
So, I set off on my new “experiment” if you will with a few general guidelines:
1. Give paleo-style eating a try and use it as a rough guideline going forward. However, breakfast was my one non-negotiable. Since I am pretty attached to my morning bowl of oat bran with nut butter (either peanut butter or almond butter) I wasn’t going to part ways with that aspect of eating any time soon. However, since starting this new way of eating, I have found that eating eggs with a slice of bacon tastes way better with a cup of black coffee than oatmeal, oat bran or anything sweet ever could. Who knew?
2. Focus as much as possible on quality meats, organic and free-range poultry and sustainably caught fish. I love canned tuna but have been shelling out the extra $$ for pole-caught tuna with a low mercury content. I was never a steak eater, so I don’t see myself eating a bunch of red meat anytime soon, but that’s not to say that I won’t ever eat red meat, just in moderation.
3. Avoid eating grains, breads, pastas, legumes and all sweets/baked goods as much as possible. I’ve been making exceptions here and there to this rule. I’m still eating hummus and peanut butter because of the ease and convenience, but mostly I’ve been getting my carbs from foods like sweet potatoes, the occasional banana and squash. I’m not going to lie, right now I’m dreaming about a crusty whole grain roll with butter the way I used to dream about chocolate cake.
4. Eat plenty of healthy fats. I’ve been eating a lot of healthy fats in the form of almonds, walnuts, avocados and olive oil. These have really helped me feel super satisfied at mealtimes and when having a snack.
So far, I’ve been feeling really great! I’m amazed at how full I feel after meals and I find I’m staying full longer than in the past. I’m not sure where this will take me, but I’ll keep you posted along the way.
Has anyone else made a big shift in eating styles? I would love to hear your thoughts or experiences!