Health and Fitness has always been something that is important to me. Over the years, I have (with a lot of help from my husband) figured out what works well for me and our family. We eat mostly Paleo or Hunter/Gatherer way. I don’t count calories or macro nutrients but we do eat whole foods. Paleo is eating a variety of vegetables and fruit, meat from healthy animals (particularly animals fed diets they were bioloigically meant to eat- cows eat grass, chickens eat bugs and roam free, fish are meant to be wild and not farmed, etc.) and healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, lard, ghee, nuts and some seeds. Some terms like ‘primal’ usually mean there is some grass-fed diary included in the diet.
Our journey with eating Paleo began in the spring of 2011. My husband was at the state chiropractic convention working on continuing education hours and at this particular convention they had Dr. James Chestnut speaking for several sessions. My husband came home and said, “I think I want to get my wellness certification.” I was curious what that all entailed. Over the next several months, he flew around the country for weekend seminars, he had homework again and a certification test. What he learned during that time totally changed the way we eat and think about health and exercise. I’ll admit when he came home from one of these seminars and said ‘I think we need to cut out grains and dairy,’ I thought he was absolutely crazy. (A bit of background- I was originally a Nutrition, Fitness and Health Promotion major, but switched half way through undergrad) He explained his reasonings and I trusted he wouldn’t make such a suggestion without thoroughly researching it first. He has since provided me with a wealth of information and studies to support this way of eating. I definitely went through a range of emotions and was frustrated because I didn’t know how to implement this in our daily lives.
Once I began to understand the health implications of eating the standard American diet, it all started to make sense to me why my husband was so passionate about how we eat, move, and think. The first paleo book I read was The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain, Ph.D. It was eye opening. We found a few cookbooks, one in particular was a game changer for me. My husband got Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan for a present and I was hooked. It really should have been a present for me. Her recipes were relatable, easy and tasted amazing. She had so many tips and tricks and a ‘you know how you can do that’ section that really resonated with me. We have tried almost all of her recipes in her first book and love her second cookbook as well.
I started noticing changes in myself by eating paleo. I learned that I didn’t have to have headaches at all anymore. I learned that gluten, while I am not a celiac, does not work well for me. When I eat an ‘open meal’ that has gluten I can be sure that I will be getting a headache several hours later. I learned I don’t have to feel that, ‘I feel so stuffed I want a nap now…’ after most meals. The food we eat is meant to nourish us and make us healthier, not just fill us up until the next mealtime.
I have continued to read more books, articles and studies on the paleo/primal way of eating and I would say my favorite book is The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson. It is a quick read with great examples. The Primal Blueprint focuses on diet, exercise and lifestyle. It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig is another great read. It brings all the science yet practical information together. The main focus of this book is a person’s diet. Both are great and I would certainly recommend them to anyone curious about Paleo/Primal eating.
What started out as a difficult transition for me has ended up being so rewarding in many ways. First, I am thankful to my husband for all of his research, putting up with my complaining and encouraging our family to make this transition. Our kids are great eaters and I love knowing what we are feeding them is truly nourishing their growing bodies. We feel great and have more energy than before, my headaches have disappeared and I no longer dread the ‘What are we having for dinner?’ question each day. We love trying new paleo recipes and finding ways to make this transition easier for others looking for optimal health!
Here are a few of my favorite cookbooks:
Here are a few of my favorite websites: