primal journal (rumoredcellist)
I started easing into primal eating habits toward the end of last year as I was getting ready to move to a new house. I've been lurking in the background, reading the blog and boards for several months now, and finally decided to officially join the community.
I love the recipe section, by the way. The Arctic Char Chowder (sans heavy cream) got me through the winter - my Sunday afternoon ritual was to make a batch of it to have for lunch a few times during the work week. It's my new comfort food.
I'd been tall and underweight most of my life and could eat whatever I wanted as much as I wanted. I'd been avoiding cow's milk since my teens since it made acne and menstrual cramps worse, and after an acute attack of food poisoning in my last semester at college, I developed a gluten allergy. I assume the food poisoning triggered an auto-immune response somehow. Before the food poisoning, I could eat gluten-containing foods no problem; after the food poisoning, not so much.
I'd been on a series of SSRIs for depression and anxiety for 12 years. I finally decided to get off of them because while they did lessen the depression and anxiety somewhat, I was gaining weight, not sleeping well, and lacking in mental focus and energy, and my thyroid levels were heading further and further away from normal. That's no way to live.
Getting off SSRIs was the hardest thing I've ever done. The withdrawal symptoms were awful, even with gradual tapering off of medication. I had the shakes, sweats, brain zaps, horrible moods. Psychoactive drugs are addicting, especially after 12 years of them. Fortunately, I had an acupuncturist with experience getting people off these drugs. She started me on fish oil in addition to the acupuncture treatments. I also started knitting again and taking cello lessons - both are good distractions in my anxious moments. I've been SSRI-free for almost two years.
After 12 years of meds, I had a weight problem, which was hard to accept, having been skinny most of my life. But I saw the number on the scale, and my skinny clothes didn't fit anymore, couldn't even be zipped up or buttoned. My highest weight was 178 (for a 5'8" female). It may not sound like a high number, but I'd been in the 120s in high school and college, so that's a fair amount of weight gain.
I was new to the dieting world and fell into all the traps. The latest fads, the low-calorie (and, funnily enough, low-nutrient and low taste) bars and shakes, the workout DVDs. I could never stick to any of it for long. I figured I'd just go vegan and that would take care of the problem. However, not only did I not lose any weight at all, but I actually [I]gained [/I]weight, and the carb cravings were atrocious - always hungry, never satisfied even when I did eat something. That led to bingeing and overwhelming guilt afterwards.
For awhile, I thought maybe I should just accept the weight gain rather than do anything about it. But I had one nagging motivation to do something about it. My father had a triple bypass [I]at 46 years old[/I]. His father died of a heart attack at 50, two years before the first bypass graft surgery was available to patients. Standing at the end of my father's bed in the ICU after his surgery and seeing him hooked up to a respirator, two walls of machines monitoring everything, tubes everywhere, and a huge incision on his chest, I faced my possible future. My father was diagnosed with hypertension and type 2 diabetes right before he had the cardiac cath that found the blockages that led to surgery. His lifestyle had everything to do with ending up on the operating table - little to no exercise and a great deal of unhealthy eating.
Most everyone in my family is "pleasantly plump" or larger, except me and a few others. Hypertension and diabetes run in the family. I want to avoid both.
In my work as a medical writer, I started running across articles and blog posts about primal and paleo diets. Just like anyone else, I was skeptical at first. Fat is good, not bad? Carbs are bad, not good? Really? But what about the food pyramid? What about everything doctors tell you about nutrition? It's all backwards? Even wrong? How can this be?
I read more medical journal articles, I read Weston A Price, I read [I]Primal Blueprint[/I], I read [I]Paleo Solution[/I], I read blog posts on many sites, including this one. I read Barbara Kingsolver's [I][I]Animal, Vegetable, Miracle[/I]. [/I]I also read Michael Pollan and was attracted to his "eat real food" mantra, which is echoed in primal and paleo eating.
So I decided to try it. I had a mild version of carb flu at first, which I attriute to already giving up gluten years ago, so I only had to deal with the rice and legumes issue. (I love chickpeas.) It hasn't been all that hard to change the eating habits, and who wouldn't look forward to a daily breakfast of free-range eggs and organic, nitrite-free bacon and homemade salsa?
My weight has dropped below 160 and continues to fall, albeit slowly. The skinny clothes are starting to fit again and are even [I]loose[/I]! I sleep better, I don't get tired in the afternoon, and I'm more clear-headed and focused.
Strange to find a diet one actually [I]likes[/I], isn't it?
I will write about my typical menus, supplements, and exercise in other posts.