Don and I thought that it would be hard to ditch processed foods, grains, and sugar. It really wasn’t. Not physically. Mentally it was little challenging at first. Like cliff diving for the first time (which we haven’t actually done but I imagine that first step off the cliff is daunting) or jumping off a platform hundreds of feet in the air and ziplining through a forest (we actually have done this at Whistler and stepping off that platform was always the hardest part.)
Having conquered that initial first step of breaking away from processed foods, we have not wanted for anything in terms of flavor or variety. It is hard for a lot of people to believe and it’s equally hard to explain. People misinterpret that we are on a “diet”. People are starting to notice that Don’s excess weight has been falling off with little to no effort on his part and he’s often asked, “What’s your secret?”
So I’m writing today to tell you – there’s no secret. No meal regimen. No red or blue pill. We stopped counting calories. We stopped buying low-fat or no fat products. (Fat is good people! Carbs and sugar are not.) We eliminated rice, bread, pasta, beans, potatoes, cereal, oatmeal, all condiments with high fructose corn syrup, and a slew of other things. We eat larger portions of meat, bacon and eggs, lots of veggies, fruits, and nuts.
It sounds plain doesn’t it? That’s why I say it’s so hard to explain to people. It’s not plain! There is still so much you can do to dress up your food, to make traditional dishes in a new way (like no noodle lasagna, primal pizza, and mashed squash.)
One of the amazing results of making this change is that fruit has so much more flavor than it ever did before! We can really taste the sugar and sweetness of fruit (which is ok because the fruit provides its own counter to the sugar – fiber – to allow your body all the nutrients it needs to process the fruit in a positive way.) Before, fruit was something we tried to get a little of every day, based on the traditional food pyramid (2-4 servings) but it held little interest. Now, my goodness, fruit is like dessert. It’s a little piece of heaven and we’re not even indulging in anything truly sweet, like cake, or candy. It’s just fruit.
Let me back up because I wanted to tell a little about how we got here.
In the beginning, we thought we would use up the rest of what we had in the house that was processed and that over time we just would not replace those foods and that in this gradual way we would transition to more whole foods, less sugar, no high fructose corn syrup, etc.
This really wasn’t effective. For us anyway. After a few weeks of half-hearted commitment and trying to juggle smaller amounts of processed foods in our meals (but still eating them) we finally said let’s just get rid of it all. We gave it all away and immediately we felt better for it. We could really focus on making meals with only the things we wanted to be eating and we were ready to spread our wings.
I want to reiterate that we are not dieting.
Our food philosophy has fundamentally changed and we are simply eating differently. Take a look at our food pyramid.
We strive for an 80/20 approach to our food – 80 percent primal, 20 percent traditional. Meaning, there are some things we still enjoy that some people might argue are not “healthy” or not in strict keeping with primal or paleo ideologies.
Um, so? That’s our right to choose. Don’t criticize our choices because you don’t understand or agree with them. Oh, sorry, that was me on my soapbox a little bit.
We do still enjoy a glass of wine or a mixed drink when we want to. We eat out with friends or family from time to time and might take that opportunity to enjoy foods we generally do not eat. We eat cheese and peanuts which for some primal or paleo folks are on their do not eat list. I still LOVE cake more than anything and I will have some for my birthday next week. 🙂 Bottom line, we are not following a prescribed food plan from a weight loss program that tells us what we can and cannot eat. We are making those choices ourselves, based on documentaries, articles, blogs, and other resources that we have studied. And we will continue to learn and our choices might change. It is all a work in progress.
For those that are interested in numbers, Don has lost about 25 pounds; I’ve shed a few extra as well (I didn’t think that was possible at this point.) I am weighing in at about 147 – a number I’ve never seen as an adult. And to top it off, we feel more energetic and fit. Personally I feel stronger than I ever have in my life. This was all possible by simply removing a few things from our meals and replacing them with larger portions of meat and more veggies. We do get a lot of regular exercise too but we don’t go to the gym and punish ourselves for hours on end with relentless cardio activities. Our exercise plan (if you must call it a plan) is simple: get up and move around. As a guideline we follow Mark Sisson’s fitness pyramid, which really isn’t that much different from what we were doing already.
I will try to include more recipes or posts on what we are eating to help debunk the ideas that it’s too hard, too time-consuming, or just plain old boring. It’s not, I promise you. We don’t feel like we are missing out on anything and our meals are full of spicy kick, flavor, and nutrition.
And, get this, we aren’t hungry anymore! Did you know that carbs and sugar are processed by your body in such a way that it tricks you into feeling hungry when your body truly doesn’t need anything? Check out some of the things that started us on our journey if you’d like to know more. I can’t explain the science (I’ve probably gotten a few things wrong in my descriptions already.) But I can tell you, we feel amazing, we love to eat, and we enjoy the foods we are eating without a sense of loss for the things we are not.
You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.
~ Julia Child