How did I do this? In short, paleo inspired eating. "Paleo whaa?" I'll get there, I promise.
I eased myself off a vegetarian/vegan diet and began eating real, high-quality, nutrient-dense food - meat, seafood, eggs, veggies, nuts/seeds, and some fruit. In essence, anything that can be hunted or gathered. Kinda like a cavewoman.
Whole9 provides a clear and easy 'elevator pitch' explanation of the paleo diet:
I eat “real” food – fresh, natural food like meat, vegetables and fruit. I choose foods that are nutrient dense, with lots of naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals, over foods that have more calories but less nutrition. And food quality is important – I’m careful about where my meat comes from, and buy produce locally and organically as often as possible.
It’s not a low calorie “diet” – I eat as much as I need to maintain strength, energy and a healthy weight. In fact, my diet is probably much higher in fat than you’d imagine. Fat isn’t the enemy – it’s a great energy source when it comes from high quality foods like avocado, coconut and nuts. And I’m not trying to do a “low carb” thing, but since I’m eating vegetables and fruits instead of bread, cereal and pasta, it just happens to work out that way.
Eating like this is good for maintaining a healthy metabolism, and reducing inflammation within the body. It’s been doing great things for my energy levels, body composition and performance in the gym. It also helps to minimize my risk for a whole host of lifestyle diseases and conditions, like diabetes, heart attack and stroke."Wait, no heart-healthy grains? Fibrous legumes? So you're a crazy cavewoman" Maybe, but don't close this window just yet. I resisted the concept of paleo for quite some time. My initial thought was "ew, all that meat will just rot in your stomach". I was wrong. I read heaps of books, including The China Study, but never actually paused to dissect the science behind it. Science hurts my head. Lucky for me, someone else took care of the science bit.
After struggling to sustain a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle, I couldn't ignore that I wasn't thriving at my best. I was snacking between meals, often reaching for 'natural sugar' such as fruit and dates. Most grains, especially gluten, left me feeling bloated, while certain legumes didn't sit right. My muscle quality was low, even with consistent weight training. I wanted to know why and how to eat and feel great 99.9% of the time.
Everyone is different, with unique goals and human makeup. I could never say that paleo is the ultimate answer for everyone, but I'm pretty excited to have found a working-template for me. I say template because I'm open to change and flexibility. Fresh, real, local, and delicious food, whilst listening to my body.
If you're still scratching your head on the whole paleo thing, I encourage you to read Rob Wolf's Paleo Solution and or check out FitBomb's humorous and resourceful explanation here.
And now for the good stuff, here are a few of my new-favourite meals:
Organic grass-fed chicken breast, cooked in organic coconut flour and coconut flakes.
Change is good and in this case extra tasty.