People often ask me if it is difficult to eat the way I eat, following such a strict diet, and I can honestly reply that no, it isn’t, now… very bold, italic now. The first couple months were very difficult, because I had to completely revamp my pantry, and come up with new staple foods. Before, I always ate some kind of protein with rice and beans (typical Brazilian food) and maybe a little vegetable side dish….all of a sudden the rice and beans were off limits, and I would eat just the protein and side veggies and be ravenous shortly thereafter. Many people who switch to paleo start eating a lot of salads, which did ‘t work for me because I don’t do well with raw vegetables of any kind. After I while I developed my new staple foods, and eating became easy again. My most recent challenge was that I realized that some of my staple foods (eggs, butter, plantains, fruit, and tree nuts) were causing me more problems and I had to remove them as well. Here are some tricks that I learned:
1) Don’t just take away foods, add new ones
Sweet potatoes, tuna-fish, olives, and artichoke hearts
In the place of rice I now eat all different kinds of squash, sweet potatoes and yams, yucca, carrots, and other starchy vegetables. Even if you don’t think you like these things, I bet that you will start to enjoy them as your palate changes. Some delicious things that I learned to love are yam fries, avocado mousse, coconut milk whipped cream, strawberry lime jello, sauteed kale with garlic, and soups made with creamy squash and bone broth. Ok I realize that some of these things sound weird now, but give it time.
2) Don’t limit your portions of veggies
That whole pot? For me!
I often eat 2 large carrots, a whole zucchini, and 2 cups of kale. When I start to cook it is literally a mountain of food, but it shrinks quite a bit before it goes on my plate. The more variety of veggies we eat the better, Dr. Wahl, auther of the Wahls Protocol recommends that we eat 9 cups of vegetables per day to get all the vitamins and minerals we need. She suggests that we eat 3 cups of each color group. If you see something that looks strange and interesting in the produce section or at your local farmer’s market give it a go…google can tell you how to cook just about anything. I like to use a spiralizer to make my vegetables into noodles, but you can also use a regular peeler.
3) Think of the foods that you don’t eat as “non-foods”
Some of my husband’s “non-food” stash
I don’t even take a bite of foods that are against my diet because I know that they are poison to my body. Instead of eating the cake at a birthday party, I make myself a treat at home. Honestly when I used to eat a lot of processed food I would leave the aforementioned birthday party feeling guilty and sick. Now I don’t, and it is so much easier. I used to have to make a choice….hmmmm should I have a piece? Now that doesn’t cross my mind. The foods that I now consider “non-foods” are just that, it would occur to me to eat them just about as much as it would occur to me to eat a plate, or a cardboard box.
4) Be prepared
My purse often has emergency food….just don’t sit on it!
If you get home from work STARVING TO DEATH, and there are only crackers on the counter, you will eat what? Crackers. When I started this diet my husband and I would chop and cook a bunch of carrots and yucca so that I would always have something on hand. I often arrived from work and fried up some bacon and threw the cooked veggies in before I took of my uniform, or even said hi to my husband. I usually carry a can of salmon and an avocado in my glovebox in case of emergencies. If you are stuck out and hungry it can be pretty difficult to find something to eat fast. Now these emergencies happen less frequently because I eat very balanced and high fat meals. I can go five or six hours without getting hungry. Another favorite for these moments are sweet potato chips like these!
5) Don’t be afraid of fat
Avocado Oil, Coconut Oil, and Olive Oil….three of my best friends
We are so used to being afraid of eating fat that at first it seems pretty scary to fry some bacon, and then fry some kale in it with garlic, and then eat it all. Not that I am telling you to start eating buckets of lard at a time, but you will soon see that fat will not make you fat. I fry veggies in coconut oil, eat fatty chunks of meat, and often pour olive oil all over whatever I happen to be eating. I am on time-out from butter, but if I find that I can tolerate it again….oh man, everything is better with butter! Seriously though, eating fat is very important for healing, and making us feel full. We need fat to operate.
6) Don’t let your diet ruin your social life
Avocado carob mousse, no one will know unless you tell them…
This can be hard because all of a sudden you are going to have to think a lot more about food, and you won’t be able to eat most things on the menu of any standard restaurant. I have become the customer that I dreaded when I was a waitress…”What kind of oil do you fry your sweet potatoes in? Do you fry them in the same place as you fry your fish and chips?” So yes, I try to avoid restaurants. However, this doesn’t mean that I can’t have a social life. Inviting friends over to your house is great, you can control your menu and make sure that there is something for everyone. If you get invited to someone’s house you can go….just offer to bring a dish that you can eat and who knows, maybe everyone will love it! The mousse pictured above is made from avocado, carob powder, and a dash of maple syrup, and cinnamon. No one will ever guess that this chocolate delicacy is made with avocado, unless you tell them. But probably don’t tell them until after they finish eating, they might stop…
7) Don’t preach
Don’t be that annoying person at the birthday party that makes everyone feel shitty about themselves because they are having a beer and Doritos. If someone you know really is interested you can talk to them about your choices, otherwise it is kind of like convincing a Japanese tree that it should go for a jog- in French. I only tell people details about my diet and health stuff if they ask. Typical questions I receive:
Q: “Why aren’t you eating cake?”
A: “Because I am allergic.”
Q: “Are you a crazy anorexic?”
A) “Ummmm no, I actually adore eating bacon. I am just allergic to (insert whatever the offending food is here).” if they really persist….
Q: “What are you allergic to?”
A) “Anything that comes out of a package.” Just kidding… I usually say that I have an autoimmune disease that causes me to be sensitive to a lot of things and I am trying to get better. Also that gluten is pretty much evil for all humans, and dogs. At this point they usually either have a genuine interest and we have a conversation, or they mumble something like “I see” and walk away. While I think it is important to educate people, and would love for everyone to share the interest I have in eating real, healthy food I have learned that people have to come to these things on their own. When they are ready they will ask. If you try to talk them into something they will probably resist. If they make a big deal about how weird your diet is and how crazy you are it is probably because they feel bad and guilty about theirs. I know for a fact that it took me getting really really sick to begin to change my own habits. Everyone has their own way.