I. Love. Food.
I love shopping for it. I love prepping it. I love cooking it. I love serving it. And, most of all, I love eating it! But, it must be good food or else I have no problem passing. You know that old saying, “If you’re hungry enough, you’ll eat anything!”? Well, from my earliest memories to the present, that hasn’t proven true for me. After Hurricane Katrina, there were six days where we only had bottled water to drink and MREs to eat. I survived on just the bottled water, which is my drink of choice anyway, and the cookie in each meal.
For most of my life, I was blessed with genes and a metabolism that let me eat to my heart’s content without gaining weight. However, once I hit 50, well, things changed. Without changing my diet or physical activity level, I gained 24 pounds in less than a year! My half-century marker also came with other disturbing changes in my health–extreme exhaustion, joint pain, non-restorative sleep, IBS, brain fog, syncope (fainting), osteopenia, mitral valve prolapse and more. Eventually, I was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome–Hypermobility Type, a genetic disorder that is characterized by defective collagen, which can affect nearly every organ and system in your body and the symptoms of which tend to worsen with age. Yay!
In February 2015, upon my wellness doctor’s strong recommendation, I embarked (very grumpily) and on a three-month “yeast elimination” diet. For a girl whose diet consisted largely of fried oyster po-boys with seasoned fries, red beans and rice with smoked sausage, shrimp and grits, candy (all day long) and baked treats (daily), the proposed diet was brutal. For the first two weeks, the only allowed foods were non-starchy vegetables, nuts, lean cuts of meat, eggs, coconut oil, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemons, lime and stevia. No fruit. No dairy. No processed or cured meats. No grains. No peas, corn or potatoes. The list doesn’t sound too bad to me now, but at the time, I didn’t know how to turn these limited ingredients into delicious food. (I do now!)
After the first two weeks, butter and certain “favorable” fruits were allowed. For those first two weeks, I drove my husband nuts (more than usual) with constant observations like “In eleven days, four hours and sixteen minutes, I will be able to eat a strawberry!” After the first 30 days, brown rice (hated), sweet potato (hated even more), cheese and unsweetened plain yogurt were allowed. The countdown to that cheese consumed most of my waking thoughts.
I lost 10 pounds in the first ten days, which I attributed to the fact that I wasn’t eating as much because there were not a lot of “good” options. I was obsessed with bread–specifically, the “bite down, pull and tear” ritual. I wanted so badly to eat something that didn’t immediately yield in my mouth. At some point, I discovered My Heart Beet’s paleo naan recipe. O.M.G. I slathered the naan with delicious ghee. The paleo naan recipe led me to My Heart Beet’s paleo butter chicken. I was skeptical. Cajun girls don’t have much experience with curries or Indian food in general. I gave it a shot. The heavens opened and angels sang! Even better, my husband (who loved my “real” food) proclaimed it the best thing he ever ate. That was the turning point for me. I realized that this food could not only be “good,” but even delicious! I was on a mission to discover other great paleo/primal blogs. Enter Daniel Walker’s Against All Grain, another plentiful source of amazing paleo/primal recipes, but, in my view, her best recipes are in her two books, which you can find here and here. Before I knew it, the three-months was up, I was down 21 pounds, and I had zero desire to go back to my old “good” food. I no longer felt deprived. I felt great! One day I realized that I didn’t have joint pain anymore. I didn’t have IBS symptoms. I had energy. I felt like my pre-50 self!
At that point, I realized that I wanted this to be a permanent lifestyle change for me. My husband surprised me a few weeks later by announcing that he wanted to follow the same dietary restrictions. (He had been eating all of my new primal/paleo meals, but supplementing with fried chicken, sandwiches and other “illegal” foods.) Like many who have gone down this path, I have made some tweaks to the standard paleo and the standard primal diets that work for me. I can tolerate dairy, so our diet does include butter, cheese and, occasionally, full fat sour cream. When we are craving sweets (which isn’t as often as I would have thought), I use ripe bananas, fruit juice and stevia as my primary sweeteners, but if the recipe works better, I will use pure maple syrup, dates, coconut sugar, and/or raw honey. I still prefer to avoid potatoes, peas, corn and legumes. There are still days when some of my EDS symptoms flare up, but that tends to happen only when I’m not taking care of myself the way I should (usually too much work and not enough R&R). I’m still learning on this journey and am excited to share and learn with you!
All information on PrimalPraline.com is intended solely for informational purposes and is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for professional medical advice. I encourage you to verify any information shared related to my personal health experiences with your licensed health care provider or with your own independent research before making any medical decisions.