I wrote this post a few years ago when I was vegan and experimenting with being Paleo (yup, a Paleo Vegan/Vegetarian!!!). Much has changed since then (I do like my fish and chicken! And dairy!), but the bottom line remains that FOOD IS GOOD. Individual nutrition needs change, and although a person may have thrived on McDonalds and Taco Bell in his twenties, he may now realize that in his forties, he may need more vegetables and fruit to be able to thrive.
Give this article a read! And then comment below–what are your thoughts? Are you vegan? Vegetarian? Paleo?
Oh, miracle of miracles, I made it. It has a hard and arduous road, but I emerged victorious. For those that are new to this blog, you may be thinking to yourself, “What in the heck did Lauren do?! Did she complete an ultra marathon? Sky dive from deathly high heights? Swim with sharks?” Truth is, I lasted 2 weeks on a vegan/vegetarian Paleo diet, and lived to tell the tale.
Ok, ok. I am overreacting a bit. Being Paleo wasn’t that bad. In all honesty, I actually enjoyed the foods I ate these pat 14 days. Nuts, seeds, veggies, and fruit, minimal grains and no sugar (well, almost no sugar). I went from downing about a block of tofu a day to snacking on pumpkin seeds, homemade protein bars (dates, raw protein powder, and almonds processed together and formed into rectangular pieces of Heaven), and Go Raw “chips” (dehydrated seeds, dates, and other spices). Breakfasts were primarily eggs cooked with kale, carrots, celery, basically anything that was a vegetable. Top with avocado and a side of coconut oil sauteed yams, and enjoy! Throughout the 2 weeks of my Paleo adventure, it’s safe to say I stayed with the diet most days, and only indulged in my husband’s homemade “candy” (the base were almonds and dates, the top was melted vegan chocolate chips, I’m sure that’s not Paleo) every so often. Oh wait. The homemade candy topped with almond butter and blueberries. Yum yum. There were a few instances when I was almost REALLY thrown off track: a Crossfit dinner at an all you can eat Korean BBQ and a Superbowl party bonanza. But I stuck with my 80/20 approach–follow Paleo 80% of the time, and the other 20% have a “cheat meal”. So I had some of the pizza and cauliflower “hot wings” my husband made as we watched the 49ers lose the big game (and they were HOOOOTTTTT!), and indulged in a few beers at the box dinner. Nothing crazy (it wasn’t like I grilled up some meat at the Korean restaurant), but enough to where I could enjoy myself at these functions and not let the diet override having fun with others. I mean, really, what’s the point of following an eating schedule so rigid, that you can’t relax and spend time with family and friends?
when I first started this experiment, I wanted to see if I could gain weight on the Paleo plan and increase my athletic ability. I have always been relatively thin, and wanted to gain at least a pound a week (optimistic, I know). Funny enough, I ended up gaining 1 1/2 pounds in 2 weeks, but lost about 2% body fat. Now I take that body fat number with some trepidation, since I used a bio-impedance machine, and those aren’t always the most reliable. What is more concrete evidence of muscle gain/fat loss, however, is that my pants are a bit looser in the waist, but my strength is increasing. I just made a new max dead lift today, and also a new push jerk record. Was it the result of the diet? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, I’m happy with my athletic progress. The change in my body composition was a nice surprise, but not something that I was purposefully out to acheive.
As for the other physical changes I experienced, I’m still pooping like there’s no tomorrow and my “stress rash” (aka psoriasis) is pretty much gone. I don’t crave soy, wheat, or corn, although when my husband made a BBQ tempeh and vegan coleslaw sandwich, my mouth did salivate a bit.
One of the biggest lessons I learned throughout this time was the importance of food preparation. Since I get hungry pretty often, I needed to have snacks on hand. No way could I sneak into a convenience store, pick up a candy bar and chow down when my stomach started to grumble. To maintain a Paleo diet, I had to always have nuts, seeds, fruit, and homemade bars on hand–portable and easy to eat whole foods. Meals were also tricky, our family’s schedule is quite hectic. We eventually ended up planning out what to buy from the store on the weekend, got the groceries and prepped it before Monday, then merely took out the pre-cut veggies, etc. when we needed to cook them. Dear husband would also go to the farmer’s market on Wednesday for any other produce we couldn’t get beforehand, and also pick up whatever extras we didn’t buy earlier. In order for this meal prepping to work, we had to think about what meals we wanted to eat and the ingredients needed. Thankfully we have a TREMENDOUS food processor that does wonders in the kitchen (soup, nut burgers, energy bars, it does it all), and when worse came to worse, I’d make huge spinach and kale salads topped with a variety of nuts, hemp powder, avocado, Udo’s oil, and other veggies for dinner.
Now that the two weeks of my Paleo experiment have ended, I have a decision to make: go crazy with the tofu, grains, and other processed goods, or stick to my current eating habits. I am sure I’ll sneak in some quinoa or beans from time to time, but I actually really enjoy eating in this Paleo manner. Since I am Crossfitting regularly and also teach yoga often, I know my carbohydrate, protein, and fat needs and intake will probably be higher thn those looking to lose weight on the diet. But rather than down bowls of rice, I’m planning on eating more yams, sweet potatoes and fruit for carbohydrates. I like the taste and crunch of nuts in comparison to tofu, and will probably drink more almond milk thought the day. We just made our own batch of milk, and it was hard to NOT down the whole jar right away. I also discovered the joy of coconut oil, and I’m not embarrased to say that I’ve licked a spoonful of the stuff like how kids eat cookie dough from a mixing bowl.
So there you have it: veggie Paleo experiment successful! Through the course of these two weeks I learned that eating cleanly, healthfully, and with a good plan CAN lead to better overall health and athleticism. What I liked about Paleo eating was that you ate when hungry, stopped when full. I felt more in tune with what my body wanted and needed (growling stomach=feed me!), and discovered how properly nourishing myself with fresh food also made ME feel refreshed and energetic. I had a great experience eating this way, and maybe I’ve peaked your interest enough to try it too. Some of you may think, “Yes! Veggie Paleo, that’s totally doeable!”, while others may just be shaking your head and muttering, “No way. No way.” Whatever and however you choose to eat (vegan, vegetarian, flexatarian, or carnivore), hopefully you too can find comfort, strength and internal nourishment from the food that sustains you.