Seeing the world through a different lens

I’ve always loved grocery flyers. I don’t know; I guess I’m just a nerd that way. I remember that once I stopped buying meat at the grocery store (and started buying it from the butcher), I started noticing how much of the average grocery flyer I could just ignore – almost always an entire page or two.

On my last trip to Superstore, having done up a fairly primal meal plan for the week (well, at least not requiring any new non-primal supplies), I was again surprised to notice how much of the store I could just ignore! I’ve generally been a fairly “outside aisle” shopper, but on this occasion, all I had on my list was produce, dairy, fish, and just a few canned goods, condiments, and nuts on my list. I only had to venture down an interior aisle for mustard, coconut milk/water chestnuts/bamboo shoots, and walnuts. No need to go to the bakery for anything. No getting trapped behind oblivious shoppers as they debate which brand of whatever they want. It meant I got in and out of the store pretty quickly, which my little guy was glad about!

Then a couple nights ago, I was picking up a few random things at Sobeys and decided to see what the chocolate section looked like – I like that “fancy” chocolate is available at most grocery and drugstores nowadays. Anyway, in this Sobeys, this section is located at the end of an aisle that’s virtually all candy, rice cakes, fancy crackers, gluten-free (read: rice-based) products, ice cream supplies, etc. As I walked down the aisle I had another mini-epiphany – what if everyone ate Primally? They could condense this particular aisle down to a tenth of the shelf space! (Pretty sure I have not eaten my last Sour Patch Kid or bowl of popcorn, so I’m not going to say they could get rid of the entire aisle.)  It was just a surreal feeling to think – not one of these products could you make at home… it was all so heavily processed and manufactured. (I just requested “Outside the Box: Why Our Kids Need Real Food, Not Food Products” by Canadian journalist Jeannie Marshall from the library. Looks awesome.)

Anyway, when “they” say that PB is about a different way of thinking about food, they’re right. I’m already starting to see things differently.

Aside: I’ve been thinking I should hit up Young’s, a large Asian market in town, one of these days – I already know it’s the best place to get exotic peppers and other Asian produce, but I’m wondering if they have more Aroy-D products, and maybe even the Tetra Pak coconut milk? I also want to check out Gimli Fish…. fish at the grocery store always looks so sad and nasty.

Ugh…

Last night I had book club. Book club is not as much about the book as it is about everyone bringing something delicious and the group mowing down while we talk about everything but the book. It was my first big social occasion since thinking about trying to eat more primally… and it gave me lots of challenges.

For my contribution, I made spanakopita and tzatziki. I was cleaning out my deep freeze the other day and found two packages of phyllo, and figured I’d get some help in using them up… I’m not just going to throw them away. So, there was that: a good combo of veggies & cheese… wrapped in wheatiness. Luckily, I inadvertently underbaked them, so they were not as appealing to me as they normally would have been. Thank you, fear of burnt food!

Someone brought homemade jalapeno poppers, which were scrumptious, but were coated in panko (more wheat); another person brought crackers (even more wheat) and a hot spread along with some devilled eggs (I’m not going to lie, it was fun eating the eggs without guilt!). For dessert, someone had made homemade chocolate ice cream with chocolate bits, and our drinks were mixed cocktails, one with Coke. Everything was delicious and I had some of everything.

Those poppers were awesome. I could probably make them with some sort of nut-based coating, though it would change the flavours. Something to experiment with!

But I also had a raging headache and suddenly was feeling really congested within an hour of finishing my ice cream. I don’t know if it was because of all the sugar and wheat, or just because it was getting late and I was tired…. but it wasn’t a nice feeling.

I could have limited myself more. To be honest, I went into the evening not really thinking about whether I would limit myself… I knew there would be lots of unprimal food, and I knew I would eat it. I just didn’t anticipate how uncomfortable that would physically make me! (I thought of my sister and her grilled cheese headache.)

Anyway, it’s unlikely that I’m going to go to book club down the road and not try a little bit of everything. I’m thinking the key will be to bring something I can eat fairly freely and then just make sure I take it easy on everything else. I’m on drinks next time… time to start brainstorming that! (Maybe sangria?)

It probably didn’t help that yesterday I had a couple slices of bread and a beer during the day, although it was an otherwise “good” day, food-wise. We’re housesitting for my in-laws this weekend and they had stocked the fridge with tons of fresh veggies and there was lots of meat and fish in the freezer. I made a coconut curry salmon, pepper, and onion dish (with cauliflower rice! it’s good!) for dinner; we had an egg scramble with lots of veggies for lunch, and yogurt and berries for breakfast. But it’s that damn Winnipeg-style rye that got me! It’s the only bread they keep in the house because my FIL loves it (my MIL is gluten intolerant). But it’s like crack. It’s impossible to stop eating once I’ve started. So I had three small pieces of toast slathered in butter with lunch. I don’t know if it’s something I will ever be able to give up….as a treat, anyway.

Okay – today is a new day. There’s a birthday at our family dinner tonight, so there may be cake to contend with. My strategy will be to remember how awful I felt at the end of the night last night and see if I can resist the cake. And have a glass of wine instead of beer. But it’s a gorgeous sunny day. It’s a beer kind of day. We’ll see.

p.s. Happy Mother’s Day to me. A reminder: the best gift I can give myself is to take care of myself – no one else can do it for me!

Brainstorming meals

To set myself up for success, not failure, I feel like I need to do some pretty significant planning. Here are some meals I’ve been brainstorming.

Breakfasts

  • Eggs – scrambled, omelette or frittata style, etc.
  • Omelette muffins
  • Strained yogurt & berries or fruit/nuts/coconut
  • No-atmeal (made this for my SIL postpartum and we all loved it!)
  • Coconut pancakes & fruit
  • Add-ons: avocados & tomato slices, bacon, sausage

Lunches

Lunches are challenging for a couple of reasons. Ideally, we eat leftovers from the previous night’s dinner, but because there are almost always three of us eating lunch at home, sometimes there isn’t quite enough to go around, even though I try to make extras at dinner for just this reason. Second, lots of our “old” lunches involve bread – grilled cheese, tuna melts, wraps, etc.

I need some more ideas for lunches that come together in 10 minutes or less… with minimal preparation, but here are a couple bits & pieces I’ve thought of that could be combined to make a good lunch:
  • Soup (make big batches of several kinds & freeze in smaller amounts, take some out the night before)
  • Hardboiled eggs
  • Veggies & dip
  • Primal crackers with cream cheese/regular cheese & olives
Dinners
Here are some generic ideas plus some from the MDA Reader Cookbook that look awesome.
  • Basic meat/veggie combos
  • Spaghetti squash or zucchini “pasta” with veggies & sauce (mmmm…. carbonara with cream and bacon!)
  • Meal salads (Bacon, Chicken & Avocado salad – MDA)
  • Taco salad (sans chips) with sour cream & guacamole
  • Pulled pork & coleslaw
  • Mojo salmon with veggie sides
  • Mustard-roasted fish (Ina Garten)
  • Pizza with cauliflower/mozza crust
  • Curries (mmm, butter chicken without the guilt!) and cauliflower “rice”
  • Zucchini/sweet potato pancakes with sausage or bacon
  • Pork tenderloin with cilantro pesto (MDA)
  • Crockpot pork-stuffed peppers (MDA)
  • Mediterranean-stuffed pork loin (MDA)
  • Sesame chicken and “rice” with fiery ginger and chile sauce (MDA)
  • Crispy nut & herb fried chicken with creamy avocado (MDA)

Snacks

  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Celery with cream cheese or almond butter
  • Piece of fruit & slice of cheese
  • Veggies & dip
  • Handful of nuts or trail mix
  • Primal crackers (MDA sesame & sunflower crackers looks delish)

Pros and cons, opportunities and challenges

I’m trying to see some of the off-limits things about the Primal Blueprint as opportunities instead of challenges, so I’ve been brainstorming a bit about what will be easy and what might be hard, but that I can see as an opportunity.

No challenge here:

  • I love berries and they’re Mark’s choice for best possible fruit to eat. I almost never buy fresh berries because they’re expensive (out of season, anyway), but big bags of frozen mixed berries are a pretty good deal.
  • I love coconut everything. Bring on the coconut milk! (Speaking of coconut milk, I was looking at a few different brands the other day and noticed most of them are full of absolute crap. The only brand I found that’s just coconut milk and water is Aroy-D, which is the same brand as my favourite canned curry, and as it happens, Mark’s favourite brand for coconut milk and cream. I’ll have to keep an eye out for the tetra paks; I’ve only even seen it in cans.)
  • I love eggs, fish, chicken & pork
  • I love veggies and, knowing we could stand to eat a lot more of them, will be glad to incorporate more “meal salads” into our meal plans

Challenges into opportunities:

  • I have quite a few grain-dependent recipes that I make frequently and will be kind of sad to see go. But I love trying new recipes, and it will be especially fun to start making things that I would have previously seen as a treat (like bacon anything!). I just subscribed to MDA’s newsletter and got the free PDF cookbooks…. lots of tasty recipes in there that I’m keen to try.
  • I love baking (although to be fair, I haven’t done too much of it in the last few months.. I don’t know why!). I’d be sad to give up things like Saturday morning pancakes and making hot cross buns with my mum at Easter. But I’m trying to see this as an opportunity to keep traditions, just tweak them. Coconut “paleo pancakes” are just as good as flour-based ones – no reason not to make that swap. I came across a blog last night called What I Crave that shows you can be primal and still do lots of baking – just just have to think outside the box.
  • Probably my favourite thing to make for my loved ones is pizza. Since a bread crust is off-limits and the thought of meatza pizza makes me want to throw up, I’m psyched to try out the cauliflower & cheese pizza crust recipe my sister has perfected – it sounds delicious!

Challenges, full-stop:

  • It would be hard to live sans legumes. I love beans, and as a family on a budget that doesn’t eat tons of meat, we’ve been eating a lot of legumes. Although I’m going to try to follow the PB as closely as possible for my 30 days, I don’t foresee a time when I don’t use beans as protein at least occasionally.
  • I don’t eat red meat, and again, for PB on a budget, that kind of sucks because it is almost always a cheaper meat than poultry. At least pork is somewhere in the middle, and we all like pork.
  • I’m a huge popcorn fan. It’ll be hard to give that one up. And just when I find out that mo’ butter is mo’ better!

I came across a quote on This Primal Life that encouraged me:

“This isn’t a contest.  There is no judgment or guilt.  It’s about making it work for you and your life.”

Along with Mark’s 80/20 principle, this is a good reminder that no one’s perfect – there is room for imperfection in the Primal Blueprint.

Budget issues

As I’ve been researching the primal diet, I’ve realized that I’m not the only one who has budget issues to deal with. I love everything about food; I’d love to just shop without concern for what the bill will be, but that’s not possible at this point in my life.

I’ve noticed that the standard response to this is along the lines of, “Stop buying processed crap, and you’ll have money to buy pastured meat and eggs!” But it isn’t as simple as this. We already purchase minimal amounts of processed food; we’ve been making our own bread for several months and cook virtually 100% of our meals at home. Generally, the only processed foods we buy are condiments, dairy, and some processed breads like pitas and tortillas. (Also canned beans and tomatoes, if you consider those processed. I don’t.) So we’ll definitely be saving some money on not buying any bread products (or flour, yeast, etc.) but I’m not sure the savings will be quite as substantial as they’d need to be to buy the amount of meat that seems to be required.

The fact is that we almost always eat at least one or two legume-based meals a week; and I don’t know if we can afford to replace those with meat. At play is the larger moral issue that I don’t know if I WANT to consume that much meat anyway. At least I’m good with eggs.

There are some great ways to save money on good quality meat, but the ones I’m aware of require large initial investments (purchasing a meat subscription or even a value/bulk pack at the butcher) – almost always more than one week’s groceries. Neither of those is an option for me right now. I’m committed to not buying meat at the grocery store, where it’s cheaper, but you get what you pay for and I practically have nightmares about how those animals are raised. So, I think unless I can afford good meat, I won’t buy it. It’s a well-known fact that the initial investment for bulk products is a hurdle to eating good food on a budget. (I’m not saying we live in poverty, I’m just saying it’s a factor.)

But in the spirit of fairness, in addition to not buying flour/yeast/baked bread items, there are some ways I think we will save money. Here’s a few:

  • I currently use a lot of milk in baking, so I won’t be buying as much milk as usual
  • We can use eggs as a protein more often
  • Once we hit berry season, try to do lots of u-pick and freeze lots of berries instead of buying them at the store
  • I don’t buy a ton of them, but I’ll be buying fewer condiments because of added sugar or vegetable oils

Anyway, all of this is not to make excuses but to explain why I think it will be challenging. But a good challenge, I think. Speaking of which… next up, seeing challenges as opportunities.

Weight loss

I said that there were benefits of the Primal lifestyle that I find much more compelling than the “effortless weight loss” touted in the book’s subtitle. Like boundless energy – I want some of that! But weight loss would be nice, too.

I wouldn’t say I’ve been a yo-yo dieter, not by any stretch, but as an adult I’ve had periods of being heavier and lighter. At 22 and almost 5’7″, I weighed about 155 lbs – and I started Dr. Phil’s Ultimate Weight Solution plan, so clearly, I thought I had weight to lose. In 2007 I started Weight Watchers – I don’t remember what my starting weight was, but it was probably in the mid-170s. At one point I managed to get down to about 160. By the time I got pregnant in 2009 I was up to 177 again. I lost the pregnancy weight within a few months (even while eating like a maniac – breastfeeding helped make short work of those extra pounds). But here we are again – I’m at about 185 now. The heaviest I’ve ever been, not counting pregnancy. I have been as high as 190, and the last few weeks I’ve managed to lose a few pounds through more mindful eating.

In some ways, I thought I had sort of made peace with my weight. I thought maybe this was just my body’s natural weight. I knew I needed to be concerned about it, but I just couldn’t bring myself to care much about it. This past winter, I did Zumba once a week for several months, which I absolutely loved, but other than that, my exercise has been walking in the neighbourhood. I love walking, but I haven’t been doing nearly enough of it, especially over the winter.

Since having a baby, my relationship with my body and mind has proven to be quite complex. On one hand, since becoming interested in physiological childbirth and breastfeeding, I have developed such a great appreciation of the female body. It is such a remarkable physical structure that doesn’t get nearly enough credit for the amazing things it is capable of — or enough chances to just do what it is built to do.

On the other hand, emotionally, I have really struggled with feeling at peace and acceptance with my new life. I could write post upon post about that topic – there’s an entirely different blog for another day – but needless to say, becoming a mother has introduced a whole new set of things to my life, which have to be assigned priorities. Unfortunately, making time to exercise and take care of my body in other ways (even something as simple as painting my toenails more than once every four months) has been hard. Given the choice to sit and read quietly by myself almost always wins. I’m still working on it, but I know that I need more balance in my life, and that won’t happen on its own. I need to make it happen. Today’s post at strocel.com on motherhood, selflessness, and meeting your own needs couldn’t have arrived at a better time!

Anyway, back to my weight. Deep down I know it’s not healthy. I don’t feel great about it. When I look at pictures of me when I first met my husband, I think, “Wow, I look so tiny!” (I was about 160 then. We have both gained weight over the years.) I used to love wearing dresses almost daily. I now have a closet full of dresses that don’t fit. And numbers don’t lie. Gaining 25 lbs in three and a half years is not good any way you look at it.

I’ve been rationalizing too much. I tell myself, why bother losing weight when I’ll just get pregnant again in the not-too-distant future and have to start over? What a terrible attitude. Since I was successful with Weight Watchers, I feel confident that I could start that up again and have good results. But like so many people say, “I don’t want to count points for the rest of my life.” And I want to put cream in my coffee and not have that use up a tenth of my daily points!

So, it’ll be interesting to see what effect the 30-day challenge has on my weight. I’m not expecting miracles but I am expecting to see a change. Since my decision to think about doing the challenge, I’ve been working at cutting back grains and that seems to be making a difference in my weight already. So we shall see!

What will others think?

One of the things I had to wrap my head around before I felt I could commit to doing the 30-Day Challenge was what others would think of me. I wrote to my sister:

“I think one thing I’m sort of wary of – and I realise this is just my own neuroses – is that I don’t want to be someone who seems snobby and bandwagon-y if I do wind up trying and sticking with Primal. I suspect I’ll probably just learn to say “I’m gluten free and try to avoid sugar” and hope that’s understandable enough! (It’s weird – I had zero problem telling people “I’m on Weight Watchers”, and I guess with PB it’s more of a lifestyle and not just a diet – and I kind of hate the word “lifestyle” and all its connotations. Anyways… like I said… my own neurotic thoughts and I guess in the end it’s semantics. And no one’s business but my own!”

Cutting out sugar is one thing. Even going gluten-free is completely unradical these days. But cutting out all grains? Rice – the trust gluten-free standard? It really gave me pause to imagine going to dinner at someone’s house and having to add to my usual “no red meat, no shellfish”, “oh, and also, no wheat, no grains, no sugar, no legumes.”

I started to think of various traditions and activities that I cherish and how they might be affected. Meeting relatives for breakfast at a local bakery cafe – that’s out (unless I want to eat soup for breakfast!). What about our family’s annual vinetarte-making day? I guess I could still go and participate – I just probably won’t come home with a stack of cakes for our freezer. Maybe this is too much “all or nothing” thinking.

I don’t know. Most of all, I don’t want to be a giant PITA. I’ve been so grateful that people are willing to accommodate my “no red meat” preferences and I’m in no hurry to add a bunch more demands to that. I hate the feeling of stressing out over whether there will be something I can eat in a given social situation, especially where I have no other options and no control over the food. I don’t mind carrying a ziplock of nuts in my purse, but I don’t want to be rude and show up with my own “just in case” food. (I guess I’ve done this before – bring veggie burgers or dogs to a barbecue, and no one seemed to mind.)

My sister said that shortly after she started PB, they were at someone’s house and what was offered for lunch was grilled cheese. It was a family with a new baby, and they didn’t know about her recent dietary changes, so there was no way she was going to make a fuss about not being able to eat the bread. So she ate a grilled-cheese sandwich. And then felt sick and headachy and shaky. But at least she didn’t cause a scene. I guess the thing is that if you’re not actually allergic to or severely intolerant of these things (gluten, sugar) it’s not like you’ll die if you have to eat them to be polite or just to put some food into your body. It’ll just be uncomfortable. I guess I can handle that.

Okay, enough ramblings for now. Later… thoughts on weight-loss.

Reading The Primal Blueprint

So, I picked up Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint from the library and began to read. I wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s strange to say, but I think part of me was sort of afraid to learn what could be the inconvenient truth about grains. Pretty quickly, I noticed how well-written the book was, easy to read and even funny in parts. Mark explained everything about how the body processes carbs and what that does to our blood glucose. Surprisingly, it made a lot of sense, and none of it struck me as radical or unbelieveable.

But… I have thought the same in reading other diet and lifestyle books, like Dr. Phil’s Ultimate Weight Solution and Mireille Guiliano’s French Women Don’t Get Fat. And I had definitely walked out of Weight Watchers meetings thinking, “I can really do this! This seems great!”

Something about this was different, and I think it was knowing that my sister had had such marvellous results. By this time, I had had a long phone call with her, and I could hear in her voice how much happier and healthier she felt, having been eating the Primal way for five months. She was very encouraging but put no pressure on me to try the 30-Day Challenge, saying only that since we have similar body types, she thought I’d do quite well with it. Maybe it was because we were talking about something she felt really passionate about, but she sounded like a different person, in the best possible way.

As I read the book, what really struck me what that there were health benefits that were much more compelling to me than weight loss, even though that’s what I suspect brings a lot of people to the idea. As I read, I recognized myself in a lot of the descriptions of what happens when you’re eating a conventional diet.

What surprised me most was learning about how sugar and grains can cause inflammation. Since having a baby at 28, my body has been becoming progressively and inexplicably achy. I’d never had a problem with joint pain in my life until then. It started with my knees, and my doctor recommended physio, which helped a lot when I was vigilant about doing my exercises. A few months later I noticed my hips and legs seemed achy at night as I was trying to fall asleep. Then, a few weeks ago, out of nowhere, I started having low-back pain. As I read about how this way of eating can reduce inflammation and joint pain, I had my first tinge of thinking it might be worth trying – if only for that benefit.

Also, I’d never thought of myself as someone who felt tired all the time, but as I read the book, I started paying closer attention to how my body actually felt. And what I found was that if I really thought about it, I kind of felt tired and lazy all the time.

I know, for instance, that taking my son outside to play or walk every day is really important, but so many days I have to pep myself up and really convince myself to do it. (To be fair, part of that is because ending the walk or the time outside is always a battle… he would be outside 24/7 if he could!) I’m now seeing some parallels between primal living and Dr. Karp’s advice in The Happiest Toddler on the Block (which, coincidentally, is based on the idea that as they age, toddlers progress through stages that are remarkably similar to human evolution – from charming chimp children to knee-high neanderthals to clever cave-kids to versatile villagers:

“We assume that living in a house or apartment is normal, but it’s actually a very weird environment for toddlers. That’s because for 99.9 percent of human history, children spentmost of every day frolicking…outside.”

Of course, once we get outside and get going, it’s fine, but I just don’t like constantly having to drag myself to do things that are – objectively speaking – good for us, and for the most part, really enjoyable. As I wrote in an email to my sister, I want to have consistently higher energy. There’s no reason that I shouldn’t. I’m only 30!

I was familiar with Mark’s website, Mark’s Daily Apple, from various recipes that my sister-in-law likes – but I’d never really spent much time there, learning about his ideas. So while I read the book, I started poking around the site. I read a bunch of success stories that my sister sent me, and saw that I had a lot of things in common with many of them. Then I read a bunch more! I prowled around for things that were of interest to me: going Primal without eating beef, Primal options for vegetarians, Primal on a budget, etc. I became really impressed at what a huge community of Primal folks there is, with widely varying degrees of adherence to the plan, yet with the same enthusiasm.

Once I finished the book, I felt sort of like a changed person – like I was seeing the world with fresh eyes. As I thought about how much of our diet was grain-based, it was kind of appalling. Even though I hadn’t yet started the 30-Day Challenge, I felt as if I were sort of already applying the principles to my life. But I still had some things to work out, mentally and financially, before I could proceed.

How did I get here?

How did someone who previously thought the idea of eliminating an entire food group from one’s diet was a crazy idea decide to consider cutting grains and sugar for an entire month?

Are grains and sugar problematic?

Back in December, my sister sent my mum and I an email, to let us know that she had recently cut grains, sugar, and processed foods from her diet. She just wanted to give us a heads up in anticipation of the Christmas gorge-fest that she wouldn’t be eating certain things. She’d decided to cut wheat to see if would affect her asthma, and to cut sugar for weight and health reasons. I’d never thought she had any reason to lose weight, but I knew that over the years, her weight had fluctuated, much like my own. I could relate to wanting to drop a few pounds.

She said she had eating this way for two weeks and she couldn’t believe what a difference it had made already. She’d lost several pounds and her breathing was noticeably better. I told her I was looking forward to hearing about how it was going when we were all together at Christmas.

When we saw each other a couple weeks later, she did look great. Surprisingly, her new eating habits didn’t seem to have a major effect on what the rest of us ate. I tried to be sensitive to what she could eat, but she insisted no one make a fuss over her. I noticed she ate very few potatoes over the holidays, and no bread or tortillas or anything, but she definitely indulged in some sweet, creamy liqueur and potato chips during the festivities – so I felt like her “diet” wasn’t impeding on the food-related good times of the season.

I later learned that she was following the Primal Blueprint, which I wasn’t familiar with. My mother- and sister-in-law are both gluten intolerant and into Crossfit, which often comes along with an enthusiasm for the Paleo diet. All I knew about the Paleo diet was that I didn’t like how meat-oriented it seemed to be. And the idea that we should be modeling ourselves after cavepeople really didn’t resonate with me. After all, we’re not out there hunting and gathering all day. We’re sitting at desks in front of computers. It didn’t compute.

…Or maybe dairy isn’t so innocent?

Anyway, around the same time as my sister “went Primal”, I visited a good friend of mine who lives in another city. She’d stopped eating dairy the year before to see if it would help with her acne, which she’d had troubles with since being a teenager. Turns out, her skin looked absolutely fabulous. She had also taken up running and had started taking a lot better care of herself: getting lots of sleep, improving work/life balance, and eating better. I wondered if it was something that might work for me, too – I’ve become really frustrated lately that I’m 30 and still have moderate acne.

Or then again, maybe it’s the meat?

Then the mother of another friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer and started looking into how to optimize her diet to fight cancer and promote healing. As my friend was telling me about this, I heard of the “China Study” for the first time – which basically links high protein intake through animal products to all sorts of chronic health problems including cancer, heart disease, and obesity. Turns out there is a whole movement devoted to promoting plant-based nutrition.

Conflicting concepts

So – in the span of a few months, I heard about several people cutting out entire groups of food, with each diet promising amazing results. I felt conflicted. Sugar, I could absolutely believe had no redeeming qualities. I’ve never been a huge meat-eater and haven’t eaten red meat in more than 10 years. Dairy was a hard one to think about giving up, though. Plus, I had heard that a lot of the vilification of dairy didn’t necessarily apply to Canadian milk, which is free of artificial hormones and antibiotics. But grains — we mostly eat homemade whole wheat bread, quinoa, and oatmeal, with some pasta and storebought tortillas — could they seriously be so bad?

All in all, I sort of thought that the idea of giving up an entire group of food seemed crazy, unless it was causing you a bothersome problem – as it does with gluten intolerance.

But…. about a month ago I was looking for new and less chemically-intensive ways to treat my acne on the acne.org forums, when I noticed that a ton of people saying that eliminating gluten was the key to eliminating their acne. So I emailed my sister to ask if she’d noticed whether cutting gluten had made a difference in her skin.

She wrote back saying that it had, and she thought sugar was a big part of it, too. This prompted a longer exchange of emails, during which I became interested to see if Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint was available from the library. It was, and so I checked it out.

Here we go!

I’ve decided to try the Primal Blueprint 30-Day Challenge, and thought it would fun (and useful) to chronicle my experiences leading up to, throughout, and after the challenge. Because, you know, what’s one more blog??