Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rachael: Why Paleo?

Those are the two simplest words...but the meaning behind them is so complex:

Why Paleo?

People ask me what the difference between following the Paleo Diet versus following a no- or low- carb diet such as South Beach and Atkins, or just going vegan?

So let me break it down, and bare with me. I have to give you some of my background and share how I came to be where I am now.

But first of all, I am not a dietician nor a nutritionist. I cannot give nutritional advice legally or charge you money for that advice. I have to state that up front because there are some states that are actually censoring people for blogging about their nutritional habits. Diabetes Blogger Sues NC Agency for Censoring Site.

However, I am going to share with your my journey, and the research I did to get me there.


I've been a diabetic for a little over 10 years. Most of that time, I lived in denial, ate what I wanted, and watched my weight go up and down, my energy leaving me, my joints start to break systematically down, and my feet start to go numb.

Fun, right?

Over the years, I would attempt to reign it all in. I'd go to the Doctor, read books on how to control my diet, Try and figure out what kind of exercise my broken down body could tolerate without injuring myself further. When I didn't find anything that worked, I pretty much stopped trying to move. I was put on progressively higher and higher doses of medicines in order to control chemically what I couldn't seem to do naturally anymore - blood sugar, blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. And the coup de grace: Wellbutrin, to control my resulting depression.

I found that in the summer time, I'd eat a lot more fresh veggies because they were available and reasonable. But in the winter time, starting, oh around Halloween, I'd fall off the good food wagon, and start eating crap. Fresh veggies are more expensive in the fall and winter, and the holidays were about enjoying yourself, right?

From Halloween through Thanksgiving, until after Christmas. Then I'd attempt to eat better as my "New Year's Resolution, which lasted for a couple of weeks, until my birthday at the end of January. Through the chocolate-soaked month of Valentine's, I mean, February..and then Easter.

Wow, did I just spend 6+ months eating candy and crap and calling it "The Holidays?"

Yes, I did.

And then wait for summer again, when fresh veggies and fruits were plentiful and "cheap" again.

Where are you going with this? I'm getting there, don't rush me....

I read the Atkin's book. However, it was an original edition put out in the 60's, and I didn't give it too much consideration, other than to chuckle and think, "Wow, this doctor says I can eat all the bacon I want!"

Around 2005 my husband I decided to give the brand new South Beach Diet a try. I wasn't working at the time, and systematically went through the menus, making everything and following the plan to the letter. It was pretty easy to get into, so long as you loved to cook, and had all the time in the world to prep and cook the delicious meals in the original book. Then I got a job, and wasn't available to spend 3+ hours chopping veggies to make gastpacho anymore.  Plus, there wasn't as much of a web presence for SB, and the limited menu in the book became boring. I also, around this time, developed a rather large and insanely embarrassing "sensitivity" to sugar substitutes  like Splenda and Aspertame. As well as dairy.

I didn't know it at the time, but my gut was breaking down with all the crap I'd eaten over the years.

So, once I got over the crushing realization that I couldn't drink diet sodas anymore, I started to feel a little chuffed about NOT putting chemicals in my body. Except, at, you know, "The Holidays." And I still didn't really know about high-fructose corn syrup, and what that does to your body (despite what the FDA says).

Wow, am I an idiot. I freely admit this.

Fast cut to 2008. I hadn't been to a Doctor in about 2 years. I wasn't taking any diabetic meds, I'd given up going to the doctors. But I slipped on a patch of ice in my driveway and dislocated my knee. A trip to the emergency room, and a knee brace for a week led me to a hospital stay for a very scary situation with a blood clot that developed behind my knee, and was creeping up my leg, making its way to my heart or lungs.  With the resulting bloodwork of the hospital stay got me back into see a doctor about my diabetes, my cholesterol, my high blood pressure, etc.  I really couldn't deny the fact that my body was giving out on me, and I wasn't even 40 yet.  I started trying to reign in my sugar in take, moving onto low-fat items in the grocery store.

In 2010 I got pregnant, but lost the baby near the end of my first trimester. It was discovered that I had several large cysts on one of my ovaries, a present left to me by the endometrosis fairy who visited me in my 20's. I had surgery to have that ovary removed.

In 2011 I had surgery in my right hand to have my thumb joint replaced. Arthritis was attacking my joints pretty severely, and I was finding it harder and harder to move through out the day.

I was putting off having my knees 'scoped and a possible hip replacement. But knew they were in the very near future, because I couldn't even walk around the block anymore.

My 2012 New Year's Resolution was to NOT have surgery this year.  I knew I needed to feel healthier, but cutting out more and more foods that I couldn't tolerate was getting depressing.

Cut to May, when my husband stumbled across The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf. I have no idea what brought that book into his life, but he read it, and it resonated with him. He wanted to try it, and talked to me about it. He asked me to read the book, and I did. And it resonated with me. Robb Wolf explains in simple, yet concise terms "why" eating naturally is the best thing for your body. He gets technical, but not boring, explaining what your innards do to digest food, and why you gain weight or get sick from eating things that your body hasn't evolved into accepting (cavemen didn't have Splenda or corn syrup, yo).

It's been 3 months since my hubby and I have made the attempt to cut out the crap from our diet, and we feel great. My don't crawl out of bed anymore, knowing that it will take 2-3 hours of mobility before my joints "warm up" enough to feel human again.  I'm able to walk around the block without wanting my hubby to get the car to get me back home. I've lost 20 lbs. and I have energy again.

And my blood sugars are better than they have been in years. I've got a blood test scheduled for the end of the month, and I'll let you know how it goes, but I have the feeling that my doctor's will be most pleased with me.  My goal is to reduce and hopefully get off the meds within an years time.

Atkins and South Beach and the Paleo Diet all have their good points. I would venture to say that the Paleo lifestyle of eating is "evolved" from Atkins or South Beach by going back to our body's genetic past and looking for what our ancestors did right. However that's oversimplifying it a bit.

If you haven't heard me pleading lately for you to read the book, here it is: READ IT. And try it.

Your body will thank you.


  1. I didn't read the book and I won't.
    The title always seems funny to me.
    Getting health advice of a population that had a life expextency of 30 strikes my nonsense bone.

    But I do believe that processed food is a slow, delicious and lethal poison.

    Beer was invented around paleolitic, so they cannot be totally wrong

  2. From what I understand Scry, that statistic is oversimplified. Actually the death rate for children dying before the age of 15 was 40%. If you made it past the age of 15, your life expectancy was to around 60-70.

  3. Even though I knew all of those things about you, reading them all at once gave me goosebumps and got me a lil' misty-eyed. I'm so happy you're doing this and that it's helping you in so many ways. I'm glad you gently nudged me enough times for me to try it, too.

  4. I'm with Sara. I've been watching your yo-yo medical issues for a while now.
    And I'm thrilled this is working for you.
    And for ME.
    And for SARA.
    And my MOM.
    And HER elderly friends.

    And so on.. and so on. *hugs

    This is a journey we're on together.