Lately, I’ve been hearing so many good things about a certain way of eating called the Paleo Diet. I really didn’t know much about it, but thankfully I know someone who does! I chatted with my friend Jennifer from The Unrefined Kitchen, who shared with me her family’s journey to eating the Paleo way and the improvements they’ve seen in their overall health since beginning this type of diet.
Q: What is a Paleo Diet?
Technically, it is a “hunter and gatherer” diet. It includes lots of meat, veggies, good fats and fruit. It avoids grains, refined sugars, legumes and dairy (depending on how strict you are).
Q: What motivated you and your family to start eating Paleo?
My hormones had been out-of-whack for quite some time and I was on a mission to figure out how to fix that. My chiropractor and his wife had tried the diet themselves and strongly encouraged me to try it for 30 days and see how I felt. When I explained the idea to my husband, he lovingly said he would do it with me! He was the biggest motivating factor to stick with it for 30 days.
Q: What are some of the things you do/don’t eat on a Paleo diet?
Paleo eaters don’t eat wheat, oats, barley, rice, corn (and any other grain), potatoes, legumes (peanuts and beans—not green), refined sugar, vegetable oils, soy and dairy. Strict Paleo also would not eat sweet potatoes, peas, maple syrup and baked goods…needless to say—we aren’t that strict.
What we do eat is meat, vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds and fruit. I bake with coconut flour, almond meal/flour, arrowroot powder, coconut oil and raw honey. We also use pure maple syrup, butter, sweet potatoes, peas and occasionally cheese. Adding dairy to the diet makes it more of a “primal” diet. So we are somewhere in between!
Q: What was the hardest thing about switching to eating this way?
The hardest thing at first was craving everything you can’t have. It is almost a mind-game where you know you can’t eat it, so you want it more. The “30-day goal” didn’t seem quite as daunting as a life-long way of eating. After doing the diet for 30 days, we went off of it and my lupus flared up. Within a week of cheating we were back on the diet and much more committed to sticking with it.
Currently, the hardest thing now is trying to explain to my three-year old why she can’t have a piece of cake or a regular cookie at an event. She likes my desserts, but I don’t always have an alternative with me. The recent times she had gluten, she became constipated and woke up more frequently at night.
Q: How has it affected you and your family’s health?
How hasn’t it?? I have personally seen more and more health benefits as time has gone on. Here are some of those:
1. More-balanced hormones (I literally went from being low in progesterone and having to take progesterone during my pregnancy with my daughter to having normal levels of progesterone and not taking any with my pregnancy with my son!)
2. More energy
3. More motivation
4. More “normal” emotions
5. Almost no lupus-related joint-pain
6. Lowered blood pressure
7. Virtually no nightmares (I had nightmares/scary dreams quite often before the diet even though I NEVER watch scary movies. I’ve probably had only 4-6 slightly scary dreams in the past 15 months…and most of those were after a stint of cheating on grains!)
8. Less headaches
9. Clearer skin (less pimples)
10. Less itchy skin
11. Less dry skin
My husband has more energy, less “dry-patches” of skin and has lost weight. My daughter (almost 3 years old) has had her constant runny-nose clear up and now rarely wakes up at night (unless we’ve cheated).
Share with us two of your favorite Paleo recipes!
One thing you should know about me is that I LOVE desserts! The “dessert” section of my “Recipe Box” page is rather lengthy. These cookies have been popular among paleo and non-paleo people alike. If you’d like, you can check out my recipe for Almond Butter Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies.
This pizza crust is one of our favorites. Yes, there is cheese in that picture. You can totally make it without cheese though!
Thanks, Jennifer, for the interesting and informative interview! Have any of you tried a Paleo Diet?
Jennifer Maltby is a food blogger for The Unrefined Kitchen. She has been happily married to her husband for 6 years. They have a three-year old girl and a baby boy. Jennifer loves being in the kitchen and especially loves baking. Due to multiple health issues, she changed her diet in April 2011 and saw significant, positive changes. Parting from the average American diet was a bit of a challenge, but Jennifer found that using some creativity could turn this diet into something that could be very tasty. She started her website as a tool and resource for others trying to change their diet in a similar way. The Unrefined Kitchen is grain-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free and dairy-free (almost, they like butter!).