Since beginning the Lurong Living Paleo Challenge, my diet has cleaned up significantly! I was always that person who was apparently healthy and worked out regularly, so no one has ever questioned me and told me I need to get healthier…except my boyfriend. Now don’t get me wrong he is not trying to get me to lose weight, in fact he would prefer I gain a little weight, however, we have had many discussions about him cleaning up his diet and losing some weight, but have never focused on me since my weight is at a healthy level. Recently he has pointed out that I don’t help in his weight loss/get healthy journey. For example, I always do the cooking, so many nights I would just make macaroni and cheese or lasagna, I love my comfort food. So with his help I realized that just because I am at a reasonable weight, does not mean that I am healthy. No, I never had a health scare to help me realize I need to clean things up and I’m happy that I am being pro-active, rather than responsive in my journey. We just both want to be around to spend many years together, so we’re in this together.
Since I have begun my Paleo Challenge journey I have made a number of small changes that have made a big difference in my diet and my health…
- Eat three food groups at breakfast. First of all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it is one that I have always loved. I used to be a bread or oatmeal eater (note: I still don’t think oatmeal is “bad” for you and after my challenge I may bring it back in my regular breakfast rotation) for breakfast, but I never got a good variety in my meal. The majority of my breakfast was always carbs, which did not leave me full for very long. Now I try to make sure my breakfast includes protein, carbs and healthy fats. For example fruit, eggs and paleo bread.
- Meatless Monday. Prior to this journey I did not eat a lot of meat, now I eat much more. I have conflicting feelings on this based on a number of research readings I have done, but for now I continue to have meat in my diet. I do like to have one day a week that is meatless though, primarily because meat is fatty and I cannot afford to buy the best of the best paleo approved meat that is lower in fat/hormones/other junk. On these Meatless Mondays (or which ever day works in any given week) I like to make vegetarian meals like spaghetti squash lasagna or veggie stir fry.
- Fill half your plate with produce. This has been one of the biggest changes for me, bulking up my meals with fruit and vegetables rather than processed carbs. Eating produce as my carb source I leave the table feeling satisfied, but not sluggish and bloated. Filling up on produce rather than processed carbs helps keep my body healthy, reduces inflammation, and helps control my blood sugar better so I don’t experience any “crashes” during the day. And an added bonus, as you fill up on produce it leaves you with less room for high calorie sides and desserts.
- Get more calcium. My normal sources of calcium- milk, cheese, yogurt – are out of the picture during the challenge, so it is important to me to continue getting enough calcium to keep my body in balance. Some of the sources that I focus on now to get my daily calcium dose are spinach, kale, okra, salmon, and broccoli. It is definitely more challenging, but it also forces me to make conscious decisions about my diet, no more mindless eating.
- Upgrade salad greens. We used to buy the bagged lettuce, but especially for the purpose of calcium, we have begun purchasing darker, more colorful greens. Darker greens provide more fiber, calcium, vitamin c, and iron.
- Ditch the packaged diet food. Ditching packaged, processed food is the basis of the Paleo lifestyle. I used to think if I was getting “healthy” grab-and-go bars or low-calorie snacks I was being healthy. I realize now that choosing fresh fruit or homemade fruit and nut bars is the way to go. Again by eating these I feel fuller, longer and do not experience cravings for more sweet stuff. A bonus… you don’t ingest ingredients that you can’t pronounce or recognize on the back of the package.
- Redefine dessert. Since I have cut out processed carbs, I do not crave sweets, it’s amazing! If I have a cheat meal, I instantly crave a luscious, indulgent dessert to follow it up, but when I eat clean I don’t feel the need. I like to make 3 ingredient bars and eat fruit for dessert now. I haven’t played around with paleo dessert recipes as much, but I have seen a number of yummy things I would like to try out.
I will be sharing the paleo bread and 3 ingredient bar recipes that I mentioned above tomorrow, so be sure to stop back!