What was the biggest challenge then (starting Paleo), and what is your biggest challenge now (maintaining Paleo)?
My biggest challenge (next to the financial cost which I outlined above) was just not knowing how to prepare and cook the foods that were healthy for us. I was so used to opening up a can of this or a box of that, stopping through the drive-through or simply just making a sandwich. Following your blog and incorporating the meals you posted into our meal plans was really helpful. I also started following other leaders in the Paleo community on Pinterest. After a while, I built up my own collection of meals that we rotate through. It was almost like teaching myself to cook all over again and relearning everything that I had been taught about what was healthy and what was not. But the time and effort that I spent learning and experimenting is so worth it. It seems like people are always taking the time to learn new hobbies or to learn how to use the latest technology but we don’t want to take the time to learn how to keep our families healthy and strong. The same principles apply and it’s just like learning anything new…it’s hard at first but now it’s like second nature.
That brings me to my second challenge: TIME. It’s the most common excuse I hear from people. “I just don’t have the time.” I was there and said the same thing. But I used the same logic from my financial issue (see above) and I re-prioritized. I saw a quote that said “Over the past decade we have found 2 hours a day to be online but we say we don’t have time to cook”. This really stuck with me and I started being conscious of where I was spending my time. I decided to take a one-month Facebook hiatus and was amazed at how much time I then realized I was hanging out on Social Media. I also cut cable (which also freed up money for our food budget). I then used the extra time to learn how to prepare homemade foods, preserve veggies from CSA/garden for later use, and to find ways to be more efficient in the kitchen.
My biggest challenge now is dealing with family and friends who don’t either understand why we make the food decisions we do or who simply don’t respect the decision.
What benefits have you seen by making these changes?
The changes have been astounding and experiencing them is what keeps me going. Personally, I lost 50 pounds, I no longer experience the allergies and sinus problems that I have struggled with my whole life and I am off my antidepressants. I also have more energy without having to pump by body full of caffeine! My oldest daughter is almost completely off all her medications. We sill keep an inhaler if needed but she has only had to use a few times over the past year (she was using about twice a day). All of my children experience more self-control in their behavior and better concentration during school. I would like to add, that in addition to changing our diet, we became more active, exercised more and we started seeing a Chiropractor through Maximized Living. I believe that all these things together contributed to the changes we experienced .
Are you 100% Paleo now, or do you and your family have a more balanced approach?
I would say we have a more balanced approach. Although most of our meals would be “paleo-approved”, I really don’t use the label much anymore. I tend to use “clean-eating” or “low-crap”. After about 6 months of eating paleo and I felt that our bodies had healed significantly, I started adding in a few non-paleo foods that our bodies were tolerating. For instance, we eat grass-fed butter and the occasional grass-fed cheese. We eat steel-cut oatmeal about once a week, I soak and sprout beans several times a month and we occasionally buy Ezekiel bread or non-GMO corn tortillas. We also enjoy the occasional splurge at birthday parties and celebrations. Since I allow my children to make their own decisions when they are not with me, they tend to eat more non-paleo foods than I do but as they experience the discomfort that goes along with poor choices, I have noticed them making better food choices on their own.
What are a few pieces of advice you’d give to someone just starting out on their Paleo/clean eating journey?
The best thing that I did to help my kids in the transition was include them in my research. I showed them articles and videos of how conventional food was grown and processed and how bad foods negatively affect our bodies. As a family, we watched several documentaries such as Food Inc. and Hungry for a Change. I talked to them about God-made food vs Man-made/ altered food. I got them up early on Saturday mornings and took them with me to the Farmer’s Markets and to the farms where we get our meat. Including them in this process helped them understand the WHY behind the changes we were making and empowered them make good food choices on their own. Instead of path they felt forced to take , it became a journey we wanted to be on together.
I would also say is Keep it Simple. When I started, I always felt I had to follow some recipe or make elaborate dishes. But that just wore me out and discouraged me. What I like about Clean Eats in the Zoo, is that most of your recipes are simple and in most cases, quick to make. Also, don’t feel you have to cook everything. I was surprised at how many veggies my family like just eating raw. This make grabbing a healthy snack quick and healthy.
The last thing I would like to add is to be be aware that it won’t be easy but IT WILL BE WORTH IT! After about a week into my Whole30, I felt worse than I have ever felt. I was so sick, I thought I had the flu. My energy levels were low and I was irritable and cranky. I had no idea what I was doing, how to cook the foods I had bought and my family moaned and groaned at every meal that I did manage to put together. And on top of that, I couldn’t have any chocolate! I was at a point where a lot of people would be ready to give up. I wanted to give up. Mostly because no one was honest enough with me to tell me that it would be this hard and I thought I was doing something wrong. I couldn’t see past my current circumstance and felt that it would always be this way. That is where having a good support system (thank you Shanti for being apart of mine) comes in handy. But I want you to know that it only lasted a very short time . It DID get better! It DID get easier! The flu that I had ended up being the effects my body was experiencing from detoxing all the sugar and crap I had become addicted too. And it only lasted a few days. To be rid of the hold that sugar had on me and to experience the wellness that I have now is priceless compared to the few weeks of misery I went through.
So don’t give up! You can do this!
Thank you, Tina, for your inspiration and for sharing your story with us! I hope it’s inspired all of you, too!