Sunday, August 26, 2012

It's Not So Easy A Caveman Could Do It, But We're Doing It

My husband, Mr. Technology, Mr. I.T. Professional has turned his modern family onto a "caveman" diet.  Call it primal.  Call it Paleo.  Call us all crazy but that's what we've been doing since Memorial Day weekend of 2012.  While others were enjoying their barbecues with sauce made of high fructose corn syrup, my hubby was on a detox diet (and I was breastfeeding a month old baby and trying to make sense of this new food venture). 

The path toward our primal way of eating began just after our second daughter was born.  We were overjoyed with the new addition to our family.  After over a year of trying for a second child and a few disappointments, our beautiful Lana Jane was born on April 27, 2012.  Our family was so happy.  But at the same time, my husband felt sick, literally sick every day.   He had indigestion, heart burn, reflux, gas and nothing seemed to make him feel better.  He suffered with this off and on for months but it really heightened around the time that Lana came along.  No matter what the doctors prescribed him Kirk didn't feel much better.  And we all know how modern doctors today just want to write a note for a pill...  You have an ailment, I have medicine for it! 

Well not my husband Kirk.  He was tired of taking pills.  He took matters into his own hands and began researching about foods, detox diets and going all natural.  Kirk kicked it off with a detox diet that stripped him of all seasonings, dairy, sugar and more.  He ate some really bland foods for three days.  He then gradually introduced certain foods back into his daily diet.  His discovery was that he felt better when he didn't eat much carbohydrates.  He felt better eating more protein and almost no sugar at all.  He didn't suffer from stomach aches when he ate fruits, vegetables, organic meats and unprocessed foods. 

We watched the documentary Food Inc.  After seeing that eye-opening film, we never wanted to eat the same way again.  Then after talking with his friend Josh who loosely follows the Paleo diet and reading Mark Sisson's website, Mark's Daily Apple, Kirk announces that he wanted to go "primal" and abandon all gluten foods, all soy-based products, all sugar products and any meats/eggs/fish that are not organically, naturally grown.  He also wanted to go grain-free, as in no oats, flour, rice, or grains of any kind.  Therefore that meant no cereal, oatmeal, traditional flours, etc. etc. 

Okay, that doesn't sound too bad right?  We can live with that.  But wait, what?  Soy is in everything!  Gluten is in everything. Even the foods that don't have gluten have soy and other harmful things in there.  How do the two of us working parents cook from scratch every day with two young kids at home?  There is no more opening up a package of pasta and cooking it on the stove and having dinner ready in fifteen minutes.  We can no longer eat our red beans and rice the way we used to do each week. 

Oh boy!  I sigh.  My husband is crazy and this is his early mid-life crisis, I think.  He's gone food-crazy.  I mean, I thought we ate healthy.  We ate "whole grain" and "whole wheat."  We ate low-fat or no-fat.  That's what you're supposed to do, right?  Heck, I even wrote a cookbook about our healthy eating habits and 50 recipes of my family's favorites.  I self-published it and sold it to family and friends for Christmas in 2010.   I even had a whole blog dedicated to our "healthy" recipes for awhile. 

Still, Kirk became very passionate about this.  And well, he's my husband.  For better or for worse, I'm with him.  Even if this includes food-crazy habits.  If he wants to completely change the way we eat, so be it.  I'm in it with him, 100%.  Well maybe 85%.  I still have a cheat meal or snack every now and then.  There was no way I wasn't going to enjoy a little sugar on my birthday after all!  However, I usually regret my non-natural meal when I feel tired and yucky afterwards....  That's what happens when your body becomes used to eating what it's meant to have - natural foods!

So together, because we're a team, we began cooking fresh, homemade meals every day.  We threw out half of our pantry - got rid of nearly all the packaged foods we had on hand.  I donated them to a Ronald McDonald charity house.  Don't think that makes me look good as I probably just shortened the lives of those families with processed junk.  Oh well, I couldn't bring myself to just throw out hundreds of dollars of foods.  

Kirk really stepped it up in the kitchen, I have to say.  But then again, he had to, remember?  This was all his idea after all. Plus, I was just a little busy dealing with a newborn and her big sister.  In the beginning, it was nearly all him doing the cooking.  I pitched in when I could and when a baby wasn't sucking on my boobs.  I looked up recipes and organized a spreadsheet of the ones we prepared.  I took the format a friend shared with me years ago and sorted out our foods by day, month and ones to try.  I divided them by the food type - seafood, chicken, bread substitutes, desserts, etc.  Soon after we'd had a collection of print-outs, I grabbed a binder from work with those A to Z tab inserts and we began alphabetizing our favorite recipes. 

We've managed to create quite a good collection so far, even after just three months.  Some of my favorites are the egg quiches my husband makes on a weekly basis, a skillet hash made with all natural sausage, sweet potatoes and spinach, a shrimp scampi dish over cauliflower 'rice' and banana-chocolate chip 'cake' cookies that are made with ground almonds. 

The biggest thing I've learned about this way of lifestyle eating is that you have to be very organized.  You have to have a plan.  Because this way of eating is making your foods from scratch, it's not easy to throw something together, at least not in the beginning. 

Sounds hard right?  Well some moments it is.  Healthy foods like fresh produce and organic meats often cost more than processed foods and items with fillers and preservatives.  But with time and practice you learn how to shop smarter and more frugally.  Eventually you become faster at how to prepare "primal" foods ahead of time.  After all, we don't have to go out and hunt our food before we eat it like the cavemen did.  We can shop at the whole foods store and put items in the freezer.  

In the long run, if we live longer, healthier lives and have minimal doctor visits, it is worth the extra money and effort to eat this way!  After all, we finally realized that what you put into your mouth is extremely important. What you eat becomes you....  You truly are what you eat.  And if you are eating a bunch of junk, you're going to feel like junk. Carbohydrates may give you energy but eating too much of them just turns them into sugar and then causes your body to go into insulin shock.  Before you know it, you're overweight and dealing with Diabetes.  Believe me, we see it on both sides of our families... obesity and no energy from relatives.  If they'd only control what they put into their diet and mouths, they'd feel well again!   My grandmother manages hers by eating and she's lost weight effortlessly. 

Unless you're an athlete in need of a quick energy boost, you don't need to consume a bunch of carbohydrates.  They just don't do your body any good in the long run.  Therefore, we keep our carb content down and only eat what we deem the good carbs that are in nuts (not peanuts since they are legumes), fruits and veggies. 

Sure we've given up some items.  We stopped eating breads.  I even gave away my bread maker machine.   I've given up cereal - even those supposed 'good for you whole-grain' types.  I've given up oatmeal.   I've given up rice, except for the occasional outing where I eat sushi.  Why these things you ask?  Surely they can't be that bad for you?  Well maybe they are not that bad, but they're not really good either!  They really don't do your body any favors at all.  And if I'm going to put food into my body, then I want it to be doing something good for me.  I want it to be foods that will be properly digested and broken down into my body for nourishment, not just coming out the other end in the same manner it when in, if you catch my drift! 

Even though we've lost some foods I used to eat, here's what we've gained back:  Butter, lots of butter actually.  And Bacon.  I just can't say enough good things about bacon (in moderation of course) when it's from a healthy, roaming pig.  And whole milk, the organic kind.  No more skimming and skimping on the fatty stuff for us.  It turns out that the low-fat and fat-free things out there are worse than the real deal.  The crap they put in those things to make them low-fat or no-fat just puts you one foot into the grave sooner. 

I can't tell you how wonderful our kitchen smells when we cook up REAL FOOD and how delicious those first bites are especially after you've been eating a low-fat, whole-grain diet for years now!!  Yes sir, the real stuff, the fatty stuff, is sooo much better!  Real hot dogs made with no nitrates are just about the best damn thing ever!  Better tasting, and as it turns out, better for you too!

If you're a vegetarian or a vegan and you happen to be reading this post, well I'm sorry about that.  We love our vegetables too.  In fact we now enjoy more broccoli, spinach and cauliflower than ever before.  We also eat asparagus, eggplant and tons of other things.  But dang it, we love our meats too! We mostly eat lean meats, like chicken, ground turkey and lamb.   We also eat a lot more fish now too.  Red fish, rainbow trout, catfish and tilapia to name a few. Occasionally we enjoy steak or bison meat.  And it's so good, I mean really, really good!   You veggie people can keep your soy and tofu and I'll stick with what we like and believe is better for us.

This is still new to us.  We're still learning and figuring our way.  But I can tell you that I lost my 40+ pounds baby weight in no time thanks to eating this way.  I can also tell you that I have more energy now than I have in years.  And with a four-month old baby around waking up in the middle of the night, that is saying a lot!!!  Best of all, my husband is feeling well again.  No more heart burn.  No more gas.  And no more visits to the E.R. and doctor. 

The biggest surprise since we've gone primal is my realization that eating fat doesn't make you fat.  If anything at all, it makes you lose body fat (as long as you're eating the right kinds of fat - nuts, avocado, meats, butter, etc.)   I'm eating more fat than I have in years, and I feel better and I'm thinner than I've been for awhile, without even trying or exercising much.  I love my cashew nuts, almond, Kerrygold butter, olive oil and bacon.  I drink whole milk and have it in my husband's homemade yogurt too.  I have all natural cheese in moderation.  My husband doesn't eat much of cheese these days but I still enjoy it from time to time. 

So those low-fat, low-calorie diets out there can kiss my butt!!  Count your points if you have to but  I don't count calories and I don't worry about fat, not even the saturated fats which have a bad reputation.  I keep my carbohydrates to a minimum and I go for hours without eating; I don't feel hungry like I used to always be. I still enjoy the foods I used to eat but in new and improved ways.  

I started this new food blog to share some of these amazing recipes we've been trying and eating.  We've discovered some great ways to still have the types of foods we used to enjoy. 

From now on, we are putting nutritious, wholesome, all natural foods on our dinner plates.  You can have your fast food chicken nuggets and boxed up macaroni and cheese while I consume my bison burger wrapped in bacon and onions, my sauteed broccoli, a sweet potato and a little bit of dark chocolate for dessert (the all-natural, 90% cacao kind by Lindt Swiss is the best!

This way of eating may not always be easy but if the cavemen did it, then so can our family, with a few modern gadgets and kitchen tools!   Stay tuned as I update you on our new food journey.  I'll let you know how we eat and how we're feeling....

(Note: I should point out here that my husband diagnosed himself because no doctor could find anything 'wrong' with him.  We are not sure if he has a condition or a disease.  Neither he or I believe that he has a gluten or soy or dairy allergy exactly.  For him, it is more of an intolerance that causes bad reactions in him.   After making these changes in all our diets, our family believes that our bodies just weren't meant to eat those kinds of foods -- boxed items full of sugar along with processed, genetically modified items that the government and television marketing campaigns are selling us.  We're just not!   That's why most people are sick these days, in our humble opinion.  Change what you eat and how you eat it and we bet you'll feel better!)