One year ago I made the decision to change my life forever. I had done some homework on the paleo lifestyle, and all of a sudden it made complete sense to live like this. Unlike many others I went cold turkey. I threw out all grains, sugars, dairy etc, and I pulled my family with me. My husband followed my lead happily, my children with some hesitation. Today, he's about 90% paleo, the kids between 70 and 80%.
Here's what I've learned over the past 12 months... and what I think you can expect as well.
1) If you choose to go cold turkey, expect to feel less than stellar in the first couple of weeks. In my case, the low carb flu gave me severe headaches, I was moody and confused, and I wanted my sugar and bread back. Granted, I'm also a sugar addict if you've ever seen one. DO NOT GIVE UP! It goes away, and when it's over you will feel absolutely wonderful, full of energy and power.
2) You'll poop differently. This is nothing to worry about. When you eat lots of meat and vegetables, your stool will look a greenish brown (or a brownish green?) and you'll find it much easier to go.
3) You may experience quick weight loss in the first few weeks, which will slow down eventually. You'll flush out a ton of toxins, get rid of the inflammation, and BYE BYE, wheat belly!
4) You'll get the look. People WILL look at you funny. And some will tell you you're doing it all wrong. After all, we're told by the government that lots of whole grains are the way to go. Do your homework, so you have a comeback for the know-it-alls... Grow a thick skin. Avoid discussions with people who want to convert you. You won't convert them, they won't convert you. It's useless to get stuck in that conversation.
5) You will spend a good amount of time in your kitchen. After a year this is still true for me. I spend a good half hour preparing breakfast in the morning. It used to be bread, nutella, pb&j... Now it's eggs, bacon, fruit salad, paleo pancakes... My greatest piece of advice if you're in a rush a lot. On a day when you actually do have time, cook larger amounts of these foods. I generally have a few containers of burgers, boiled eggs, cooked chicken, and cut up fruit sitting in my fridge. Makes for quick and easy lunches or snacks. Also, now is the time to plan your shopping trips for several days. Make a plan for what you're going to eat during the week, then go shopping once... not 15 times. :)
6) Do you have kids? They will likely not jump up and down excitedly as you make these changes in your and their lives. Their entire lives they've heard, grains are great. Plus pasta is delicious. And candy... yum! They're going to be skeptical. Be proud of them for it. It's a character trait that they will benefit from when they grow up. For now, be patient. I cook all paleo meals, and my children eat them. BUT, I also have some non-paleo granola at home. And I still do buy some sugary treats now and then. When my husband and I have a date night, I let them eat pasta. But I also consistently keep the conversation going. I tell them about articles I've read, new things I've learned. After one year, they try to eat a lot more paleo than at the beginning. It's a process... and I'm perfectly happy with them being paleo the majority of the time.
7) Restaurants! After a few months you'll have learned where you can go and what places to avoid completely. My advice: check their website before you leave the house. If they don't have a menu posted, call them. Ask them if they have a gluten free menu. If you cannot check the website or call beforehand, let the server know that you have a severe gluten intolerance, so you NEED TO KNOW what's in your food. I actually asked for an ingredients list on several occasions. These days a lot of restaurants are used to people with food issues. They keep a thick book of their menu items with the ingredients. Soon enough, you'll know exactly what you can and cannot eat. When it comes to salads, I generally ask the server for oil and vinegar.
8) You'll probably become a little bit obsessed with food. :) I spent countless hours researching not only what foods I can eat and what I should avoid, but also where my food should come from. I order ground beef in bulk, make sure I never run out of coconut milk, and smoked salmon is my new best friend.
9) You'll probably also become a little obsessed with every piece of information you can get your hands on. Have fun with that. :)
10) You will feel better than you have in a long time. I know I do. I sleep better, I'm regular, I'm at my ideal weight. I am physically and emotionally in great shape. I'm a much happier person than I've ever been. Surrounding myself with like-minded people online and in the real world has made a huge difference. I wouldn't want to have done it all alone. But with the support of friends it's very doable.
Questions? Leave a comment. :)