In the coming weeks we shall feature a series of lifestyle articles from leading experts in various fields, exploring evolutionary science as it relates to diet, exercise, and health—covering the latest research and innovations, from ‘Bedrock’ to ‘Biohacking’.
Introducing the series with a three part piece by Nell Stephenson aka ‘Paleoista’, a competitive endurance athlete and healthy lifestyle coach, best known for her modern approach to paleo nutrition.
Nell shares her secrets on how to adapt the principles of paleo living for a modern world, with advise applicable to everyone from mothers to marathoners.
Step One in Better Overall Health and Eating: Starting Where You Are!
What’s behind the motivation? What are the implications and direction of analysis?
If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, it’s no wonder you’re looking for a new regime, something different to give you back that joie de vivre you seem to have lost along the way.
But what went wrong?
You used to be fit- you exercised often and ate what you wanted, yet never put on an extra pound or had any illnesses.
Now, it’s a different story, but you haven’t changed a thing!
Or, have you?
Often, we begin to form bad habits so gradually that we don’t realize what’s happening. One day of skipping workouts turns into two. A small, occasional treat turns into dessert every night, and those healthy salads with chicken we used to eat at lunch have somehow become fewer and further between in favor of whatever is an easy, quick option to prepare in the constraints of our busy schedules.
Here is where the dietary analysis comes in handy.
When I begin work with a new client, the first step is for them to complete a food log for a few days, which provides the basis for me to determine what the current picture looks like. We need to know where we are starting in order to accurately measure progress.
Interestingly, by tracking what one is eating, they often become aware of trends and habits even before you share the details of your diet with me!
Perhaps you realize that every afternoon, you’re ending up heading to the local café for ‘cake and a milkshake’ (otherwise called a muffin and a blended coffee drink), after a blood sugar crash that occurs three hours post lunch that was far too big.
Or you notice that you’re waking up still full from the night before since you ate such a late dinner that was also too big; no doubt a consequence from the residual effect of the second crash that occurred after the cake and milkshake debacle.
Still others observe that that seemingly innocent snack of low fat cheese and crackers left them with bloating and a headache, likely due to the proteins found in dairy and wheat (casein and gluten, respectively), that cause a host of negative side effects.
Clients often confess that they’re worried about what I’ll think since their current diet is appalling, and not remotely Paleo.
All the more reason to address the issue sooner than later!
Even if one frequents fast food restaurants every day and a stop at the garage for a candy bar is the norm, an analysis is the key beginning part in making positive changes.
Clients keep a food diary of what they eating, how much and when, how they feel before and after, as well as how much they’re sleeping and exercising.
In addition, including other important factors such as any prescriptions or supplements one might be taking, water intake and medical conditions all factor in to dietary recommendations.
Once the log is complete, the work can begin.
For some, an immediate, cold turkey, 100% Paleo approach is preferred; others opt to wean themselves off of the grains, dairy and legumes in stages.
All is well and good, with a few exceptions.
White sugar is something I feel must be eliminated straight away. With zero nutritional value and a laundry list of side effects, including the fact that even a little is enough to keep you hooked, it’s simply got to go.
Same goes for gluten and dairy- cut them out completely in order to facilitate your body’s healing process as the these two sneaky culprits are responsible for far more bad than any good that one might profess them to offer.
Aside from those, if you prefer to take it in steps, like adding more veggies each week and eliminating the other non Paleo foods such as the rest of all grains and legumes in stages, that works perfectly, too.
As long as one gets to 100% Paleo for a full month to really test it out with certainty, that’s the goal I have for all clients.
Learning to identify which foods make you feel good and which make you feel awful is a key component of implementing and adhering to the Paleo diet.
By beginning with the analysis, one can accurately measure before and after, and have data far more significant than anything anyone might find in a study, or hear from a doctor.
What our bodies tell us must supersede all else.
Only we know how we feel and striving toward optimal health is an attainable goal for all of us, so please don’t settle just because you’re a certain age or have a certain health issue you’re dealing with.
After seeing many remarkable recoveries from people from all backgrounds who’ve adapting the principles of True Paleo living, I continue to be further inspired by the impact of eating real, healthy foods and the avoidance of everything that isn’t food has on the body.
Don’t let your fear of facing where you are starting be the reason to not make positive changes.
Set your foot on the path to better health now and face those bad habits head on!
Want to adapt the principles of paleo into your life?
Start here: www.paleoista.com