Our guest author Christina Kasper tried to live Paleo for 30 days. Read on and see how it went.
The new year started with a 30-day Paleo challenge for me. 30 days of no sugar, no dairy, no grain, rice, or bread. Just raw and freshly cooked food.
But let’s start at the beginning.
About half a year ago, I joined a local Crossfit box and have been working out there several times a week. I really like it, but quickly had the feeling that it requires a different kind of diet. As a trained TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) nutritionist, I thought I was already eating fairly healthy. But it is one thing to tell people what is healthy for them, and another thing to, well, really like chocolate! 🙂
At the end of last year, I decided to make a clear cut and reset my body. The very next day, my Crossfit box announced a 30-day Paleo challenge. The timing was perfect!
What is the Paleo diet?
The Paleo diet consists of foods that were available in the Paleolithic/Stone Age. This excludes everything that is processed in any way as well as any products containing food additives. Sugar, legumes or grains (rice, noodles, bread) are excluded.
You might feel there is nothing left to eat, but in fact there is a lot: Meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, eggs, nuts.
There are many health benefits attributed to a Paleo diet. Studies show that people who eat low-carb lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks.
For the 30-day Paleo challenge, you are not supposed to eat any dairy products or drink alcohol. Cigarettes and coffee should be reduced as much as possible. Only high-grade oil is allowed for cooking, which means using coconut oil for frying or olive oil in salads.
However, the paleo challenge is not just about eating differently. It is also a change of lifestyle. The challenge was not only to eat the right foods, but also to get enough sleep and exercise, do something that is good for yourself, and do something from a “plus” category. For each of these things you get points.
You would get 5 points if are following a strict Paleo diet for a day, 2 points if you do a workout, 2 points if you get at least 7.5 hours of sleep and 2 points if you do something for yourself. This could be a nice chat with a friend, reading a book or going for walk. Watching TV does not count! 🙂
For the “plus” category, think of something additional you could do: not take the elevator, completely resign coffee, take a cold shower.
Preparation is everything
As with many things in life: preparation is everything. To really do it, it is necessary to be prepared, because once you get hungry, it gets hard to eat Paleo.
Therefore, I planned each week ahead, 3 meals a day. Going shopping took much longer than usual, because I had to check every label for food-additives. I was shocked how many additives could be found in supposedly healthy and organic foods.
I have this nice thermo bowl for work, so I just brought my own food. I resisted to accept any dinner invitations during the 30 days and didn’t eat out at any restaurant.
How did it go?
It went much better than expected. As I said I am a real chocoholic. And when I started the Paleo challenge, I thought resigning from chocolate would be the biggest hurdle. However, it was no problem at all. There are many Paleo recipes which contain chocolate, such as this 2-minute chocolate cake – one of my favorites.
Preparing food takes some time, but as I had been cooking regularly before it didn’t make much of a difference. I only had to convince my family to give my paleo meals a try 😉
Every night, I would cook a meal for the four of us plus a spare meal I could take to work the next day. If you are searching the internet for Paleo recipes, you will find that many dishes contain meat, but also salad or fruits. This did not really fit my TCM approach towards a healthy meal, as I hardly eat any meat, salad, or fruits and I don’t drink smoothies. Skipping dairy, however, is a core principle of both diets.
So what did I eat all day? Lots of vegetables, in different forms – in soups, or steamed, fried or baked. A lot of eggs, most of the time as an omelette, especially for breakfast. Once a week I had meat, once or twice a week fish. And I’m proud to say that I cooked something new almost every day. This was a nice change, because usually my meals were repeated very often.
For a snack I always had some nuts nearby or sometimes a piece of fruit. I even tried some Paleo cakes and they were really delicious. For me, the Paleo diet is a diet that could go on forever. You can eat as much as you want and even with all the restrictions there are many things left that taste great and fit perfectly into your life.
I lost a little bit of weight. 1.5 kilos to be precise. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but apparently this was in all the right places. In total, I lost 15 centimeters circumference all in all (neck, upper arm, waist, hip, thigh). Two new personal records for me. Oh, and I hit 5th place, with an overall score of 359 points.
About the author
Christina is a computer scientist with special interest in Chinese medicine. She is a crossfit addict and equipment freak, no matter what kind, from sport to tech to kitchen gear.