I’ve been toying with the idea of Paleo eating for a while, but I didn’t really understand the “why” of it. I was not sold on the concept of “eat like a caveman” and didn’t really believe that our bodies haven’t adapted since caveman days.
I’ll be honest, I’m still not 100% sold on the idea, but It Starts with Food did a great job of explaining the science and biology behind that way of eating.
The basic premise of the book is that grains (even whole grains), dairy, sugar, and legumes cause inflammation in the body and that removing them from your diet can lead to improvements in a large number of medical conditions. Instead, they recommend eating meat/seafood/eggs, healthy fats, vegetables, and fruits. And they want you to start the lifestyle by following the program 100% for 30 days. After the 30 days (potentially a little longer), you can add small amounts of the off limit foods back in to see where you individually can cheat.
The Whole 30 is not an endeavor to be taken lightly. I found this out the hard way when I tried it for a little over a week (and I was only “perfect” for 5 days).
My body did not handle the change well. Despite eating a ton of food (including more sweet potato and fruit than they recommend) and drinking a boatload of water and green tea, I dropped five pounds in five days. I had zero energy and I was crabby as all hell. While they do mention in the book that you might feel this way for a week or two, I don’t think it was emphasized enough. And trying to do it while running mileage that is twice my “normal” running? Yeah, not a great idea. I also found that I was not prepared with enough options to make sure I had enough to eat each day. And only eating 3 times a day was just not going to happen.
I do think the book is a must read if you are serious about going paleo. It lays out a good framework and is a well-written, easy to read book. I know I’ll be re-reading parts of it as I move forward with this journey. But I also believe that for most people, a pre-Whole30 period, where you begin removing the offenders and start working on replacements, would be a better start than diving in cold turkey.
For me, the plan for now is to slowly eliminate specific offenders, while cutting back on others, until I both get through my five half marathon challenge and figure out enough meals to not get tired of eating. Running the kind of mileage I am + not eating enough is exactly what pushed me off the wagon.
If you want to try it, here are my tips:
- Read the book. Then read the parts about when and what to eat again.
- Surf the web and Pinterest for good ideas for meals. There are a lot of bloggers doing the Whole30 right now who have some good suggestions up. Here are a few blogs: Running to the Kitchen, Caroline Calcote, Gabby’s Gluten Free and Eat,Run,Sail
- Make a detailed shopping list. Have back up ideas for things. (My grocery store had no ripe avocados, so I had a really hard time finding enough fat while I was waiting for those to ripen.) Pencil in a second trip for later in the week when you run out of food.
- Be prepared to not feel awesome (ok, I totally felt like crap) and your runs to not feel great (mine flatout sucked) for a week or two. Celebrate if this doesn’t happen to you. Eat more sweet potatoes and pumpkin if it does…
- Plan your social activities. I have no problem not drinking a beer when we are hanging out with friends. I have a much harder time not drinking a beer if we go to a brew pub for dinner.
All in all, I do believe it has a lot of valid information and is a great starting point for eating healthier. If nothing else, it’s worth the time to read and understand why they (and others) recommend this lifestyle. Good luck!
Disclaimer: As a FitFluential Ambassador, I was offered a free copy of It Starts with Food to read and review. All opinions are my own.