Disclaimer: I’m not a nutritionist or expert on the Paleo lifestyle. This is written as my story and includes the resources I have used to learn about how to eat.
Two years ago, I made a pretty big dietary change. After YEARS of dieting, disordered eating and overexercising, my body starting rebelling. I was holding onto extra weight, had horrible allergies (seasonal? HA! Try four seasons), was exhausted all the time and had developed acid reflux. I was in my mid-twenties and although I was on the slighter higher end of weight healthy for my height, I had a lot of muscle mass and thought I ate pretty healthy. I mean, I wasn’t eating fast food all day!
After some conversations with my mom, who had been dealing with some of the same problems, I decided to go gluten free for a while to see if that would fix some of my nagging issues. Within three weeks the acid reflux was gone and I was starting to feel a lot better.
When it comes to Celiac disease, gluten allergies and gluten intolerance you have two options for diagnoses. You can go to a doctor, arrange for testing and get a definitive answer, but you have to continue eating the foods that make you sick. No gluten = no autoimmune reaction. The other options is to do an elimination diet and cut out standard allergens (wheat, dairy, nightshades, etc) and then slowly reintroduce to see what the body reacts to.
I’m not gonna lie, both ways pretty much suck. What sucks more? Continuing to eat food that was making me sick. I have also learned over time that while the belly issues weren’t fun (bloating, digestive distress, acid reflux) grains (not just gluten) were also causing psychological reactions. If I’m not careful or am accidentally dosed, I can suffer from uncontrollable anxiety. When you are in a high performing work environment, that is asking for some seriously sleepless nights.
Unfortunately for me, going GF didn’t fix my issues. If anything, it opened my eyes to much bigger ones. I started doing some research and discovered that while going GF was a great first step, if it was my only step I could look forward to more of the fatigue, allergies and possible weight gain. The reason? Products labeled gluten free don’t carry the gluten protein that triggers the autoimmune response behind my woes, but they aren’t nutritionally sound. So pasta? Pizza? BREAD? I had to start thinking of these as very occasional foods instead of simply replacing them with GF substitutions on a weekly basis.
Once I figured that out, I discovered Paleo. I’m not going to get into all the arguments behind this lifestyle. You can check out the links below to learn more. What I will say is that once I embraced Paleo, my life changed. I’m not exhausted all the time. I perform better in work and at the gym. My allergies are under control. I feel so much better. Take a moment and check out what the real experts on Paleo have to say. It isn’t conventional wisdom, but when we live in a country with sky high obesity numbers, a diabetic pandemic and more and more people suffering from autoimmune diseased (I have alopecia), it may be time to think outside the box.
It Starts With Food – Best book hands down