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Paleo: Probably Not for Me (and Paleo Pizza Too!)

20 J0000007UTC 2011

If you already got an e-mail with this unfinished post, oops. Here’s the real one.

by Natalie Dee

It’s officially come to an end. As our Paleo experiment closes, a Thanksgiving turkey still resides in our freezer and the smell of last night’s trout still lingers in my nostrils. I couldn’t eat it. Not because it once had a face or that I believe in fish-souls. I’m just tired of meat; the smell of it, preparing it, chewing. Also our “empty” fridge typically contains coconut water, a jar of sunflower seeds and a head of cabbage. When I’m sick of sausage and spinach for breakfast, there’s no consolation peanut butter toast.

What happened during Paleo-month and what comes next? First let me say that one month, though it may seem like a long time for you to give up beer or cheese, is not very long at all. This month of no beans, grains, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, and very limited sugar– scarcely any processed food at all (we did have some sweet potato chips and maaaybe some bbq sauce)– was but a breath. Anyone who says they can’t give up bread for a week needs to seriously re-evaluate their relationship to the loaf. Here’s the run-down:

What I Enjoyed: feeling fuller longer thus not having to eat as much as often; being less hangry (hungry + angry = hangry) which means better blood sugar regulation; bacon intake; simplicity, as in, lots of salads and fresh vegetables without complex meals; increased energy.

bad potatoes

What I Did Not Enjoy: eating out; eating at other people’s houses; slowed digestion; potatoes, which surprised me; feeling like a puffy pig the more bacon I ate; rules. I don’t like rules, programs, and systems.

Kinks In the System: The main inconsistency I see with ‘ancestral eating’ is that we modern folks do not act, move, flex our muscles, or expend calories in the same way Paleolithic people did. So that, even if we are eating in this seemingly evolutionary manner (meaning no Twizzlers, Hot Pockets, or Gatorade), we’re still only partway there. More consistent would be to chase grass-fed cows, slaughter them with our own two hands, drag them back to camp, skin them, roast them, share them, or else eat them bloody along the trail. Or if we dug up sweet potatoes, climbed for papayas, scavenged for raspberries, or smased shells on rocks to acquire our walnuts. You get the idea. // Though I don’t know how it began, it seems like the intertwined nature of the Paleo diet and CrossFit has been the main answer to this issue. I rarely hear about someone ‘eating Paleo’ unless they’re doing CrossFit for their exercise regimen. I rarely hear about someone who can endure the rigors of CrossFit without eating Paleo. As one who is eating Paleo without either chasing cows and climbing trees or doing CrossFit, I get it. I either have too much bottled up energy (really unheard of), or just feel kinda chunky (pretty unheard of too). So….

Why I Am Moving On: …unless I join up with CrossFit, develop a farm, move to an island, or just get off my computer and get exercising sometime soon, my metabolism will not be able to handle eating like this, even in the smaller portions I’ve settled into. I’m listening to my body, and my body is telling me that it just feels all weird and wrong. Also, even though I could build a bunch of muscle (I’ve done it before), I really don’t want to. I like the way my jeans fit.

Who Should Try It: power athletes; muscle builders; diabetics or pre-diabetics; those with mysterious food allergies or bodily symptoms; meat-lovers who need more vegetable balance; carb-addicts; processed food junkies; pasty-colored waifs who need more balance and protein; those who need what I call “grounding” in both diet and life; I’m sure a few other groups I can’t think of. Heads up, though. It’s super helpful, but starts out challenging. Two weeks in, it gets way easier.

What I Learned: I discovered new recipes and chucked crappy foods. I ate lots of veggies and learend to make almond crusts and cookies. I’ll keep all that. I figured out that potatoes make me feel weird, so I’m cutting back. I like energy, so I’m calculating how to optimize this. I’m more interested in exercise, so my dog and I are walking more and my husband and I are climbing more. Who knows? If Arco and I find a herd of something to chase, we might try it. He’s already good at catching bunnies.

The Final Word: is that I’m not sold or convinced on this whole Paleo thing. The main reason is not on paper, or in theory, but in my own body. Sure, there’s some user error, but I always return to the belief that each of us (though all human in physiology and anatomy– unless you are an alien) is very unique in digestion, liver function, disease, calorie requirements, energy, hormones, and metabolism. Each factor helps determine what, when, and how much we should eat. There are a few things that remain true for all people, but the rest is up for grabs. This means that Paleo isn’t for everyone, no matter how prehistoric it is, no matter how much the gurus say it is.

Flax-Almond-Coconut Pizza Crust

If You Are Sold On Paleo, then great! Good for you and I wish you the best and hope you are finding a

healthy and happy way of doing it. My suggestion if you are feeling lost is to check out Paleo Plan to get some great background and recipe ideas. Also, you can find The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Paleo by Neely Quinn. She is really smart, knows a lot more about Paleo than I ever will, and is sold on it. You can also check out Mark’s Daily Apple (Primal Living in the Modern World) and see what Mark has going on. He seems really smart and balanced, too.

Parting Paleo Recipe: Paleo Pizza Pie! (probably the best Paleo recipe we made the whole month!):

The Crust (adapted from Paleo Plan)

Heat oven to 425, then sift together:

1/2 c flax meal

1/2 c almond meal

1/4 c coconut flour

3/4 tsp sea salt

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp Italian herbs or crushed red pepper

Then add:

2 eggs

1/4 c filtered water + more if dough is too dry

2 Tbsp olive oil OR 2 Tbsp melted coconut oil

1 tsp raw honey

Stir together until totally combined in a big ball. // Grease a baking sheet with either olive oil or coconut oil, not cooking spray. Just get rid of that. // Grease your hands with olive oil or coconut oil and smash the ball onto your baking sheet to your desired pizza thickness. This is a hearty crust, so keep that in mind. // Bake for 15 minutes, remove, and cool for a bit before toppings.

Topping Suggestions:

red sauce, basil or spinach or arugula pesto made with walnuts or pine nuts, garlic and olive oil (some Paleo people do not consider olive oil to be Paleo. okay.)

Daiya cheese-like shreds. This is my favorite non-dairy cheese-ish product. You can try others, but I don’t recommend it.

Meat

Vegetables

Olives

Bake for 15-20 more minutes, to desired crispiness. Enjoy the heck out of this, cause you’re probably not getting pizza any other way, sucker!

The Bottom Line on this pizza and this diet is that we’ll keep the pizza because it’s the best we’ve had; that my husband, aside from an occasional beer out with peer-pressuring buddies and a once-in-a-while burger on a bun, is going to stick with Paleo. It did him a world of good– he is well-er and thinner than he’s ever been; that I’m going to do a grain and bean challenge, putting each one back in turn to check for reactions. For the most part we’ll leave gluten, dairy, and processed food out. We will be more relaxed eating out and with friends (just good form for us). And, just for kicks, I might try being a Vegetarian for a month…if I can give up bacon.

Chow!

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