Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tom's Update--two weeks in

Overall I'm glad we've decided to do it. I wasn't the worst eater in the world, but I had been getting progressively worse over the years, as a sweet tooth I didn't have as a young man really came to the fore. And now that I understand food better, I realize that even my non-dessert eating was far from ideal. So I know it's a good and important step forward to move away from my old habits.

Still, I am torn. For one thing, I'm not very handy in the kitchen, and if you're going to have much variety with this approach you will need to be, at least more so than I am. That's fixable in time, of course. Another is that I feel I need another 5-10 good recipe ideas that are relatively non-time-consuming, both for lunch and dinner. I'm in the process of gathering them. I'm not as enthusiastic about salads -- although I do eat them -- as most of the people who eat this way seem to be, so I need something else.

Another thing is that traveling while doing this is very difficult. Airport restaurants seem calculated not to support you.

And frankly, I very much do miss pizza and desserts. Not to mention that bland beverages are no substitute for the Coke or orange juice I used to enjoy.

Now I do realize these things are bad for me. But I think people understate how difficult it is to give these things up. Or maybe they didn't care for them as much as I do. I still want a big plate of macaroni and cheese. And I like munching on something in front of a movie. Someone actually suggested I dump popcorn for kale chips. Kale chips?

So I do appreciate the health benefits of this, believe me, and I know there are lots of delicious foods we can eat without counting calories. All of that is great. But I still crave a calzone -- from the local joint, and not made from scratch with almond flour after an hour's worth of effort.

One consolation is that I live in Topeka. To paraphrase my friend Bill Kauffman, finding good pizza in Topeka is like looking for the Juice Newton wing in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. So my biggest temptations aren't exactly staring me in the face.

I imagine myself sticking to it, but looking forward to the 20% deviation in the 80/20 ratio.


  1. I don't think people understate the difficulty. It's like giving up ciggarettes... or heroin. Even people who don't go primal should avoid juice and pop. One of the biggest problems in this country is the idea that juice is healthy. You never absorb the numerous vitamins because the sugar beats it to the blood stream. The vitamins just end up in the urine, and juice is merely a sugar delivery system. If I recall correctly, Gary Taubes addresses this in his big book GCBC, specifically how sugars compete with vitamin C for the same carriers.

  2. I have juice I'd already bought before going primal. I tried to buy kinds without high fructose corn syrup, but they are still very sugary since you are getting a bigger dose via juice than eating one or two pieces of fruit. To use up the juice I am pouring about an inch in a tall glass of water. It makes it taste like the bottled flavored waters. Even after only ten days of primal eating, drinking straight juice tastes like drinking syrup!

    Yes, it's hard finding replacements for our old familiar bad snacks, but I find that being able to eat a wider variety of fatty foods like more red meat, sour cream, Greek yogurt etc. has been a nice trade-off. I used to be afraid to eat red meat or full fat dairy.

    Part of the issue is developing better eating habits (getting out of the habit of recreational snacking) and I do think it's possible to achieve that in a few weeks when you are eating tasty, filling meals. I never was much of a soda drinker, so I don't miss that, but I sympathize with those who do. As for munchy items, I'm OK with broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and peppers etc with an assortment of now-permissible creamy dips (or plain).

    After dinner, or later in the evening, we typically have one of a number of flavored herb teas. This really hits the spot as a nice little dessert replacement treat. Try it :-) I like my teas unsweetened. My husband has to have both tea and coffee slightly sweet so he uses a teaspoon of natural maple syrup (we make our own so have an unlimited supply). Despite the cream in his coffee and the maple syrup in tea and coffee, he has been dropping on average a half pound a day since we started eating primaally about ten days ago. I have not weighed myself. I need to lose weight, but it is not my focus. I started this eating style because I have a couple of inflamed disks, back pain, but worse than that, horrific arthritis in my hips. It has been SO painful to walk in other than small steps, roll over in bed, climb stairs, get in and out of the car etc. I am amazed to say that already the pain is MUCH better. I still have reduced range of motion without experiencing pain, but I am running up and down stairs now and walking pain-free with larger strides. The sacrifices are MINIMAL compared to the benefits.

  3. Kale Chips? HAHAHAHA! I love it! Tell him to try to think of it the same way we view this corrupt system that's hijacked our Constitutional Republic.
    The food on the S.A.D.(Standard American Diet) is like the US Dollar; no nutritional value = no intrinsic value.
    The cravings for the S.A.D. food = the spending/consumption addiction the system perpetuates.
    And the Candida/Yeast buildup = the debt accumulated trying to work and live in a debt based system/sugar based food supply.

    And then trying to get off the S.A.D./carb flu = spending less by cutting back on entertainment, fun, consumption in order to pay down debt :)

  4. What can I say? I have usually had some popcorn (Orville Red Lime & Salt mini bags)and Crystal lite lemonade as my snack at night. I had a bad case of strep throat after Thanksgiving and then the lemonade really tasted bad--antibiotics? I had started following the Wheat Belly program and then segwayed into Primal/Paleo so I have dropped the popcorn. I miss that. I have kept the Crystal Lite lemonade but add 1/2 cup of pure orange juice to the half gallon and it makes it a very good drink snack for me. Takes way the sweetner taste and is just plain refreshing. I know--artificial sweetner and orange juice, but this is my little compromise for the moment and the juice is spread out over many glasses of lemonade. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. I am still pain free, losing my muffin top and loving my increased energy level.

  5. I just read this the other day and found it very comforting: http://whole9life.com/2012/01/the-five-stages-of-food-grief/

    Good luck!

  6. I sometimes miss pizza and desserts- but I still have them every now and then. The thing is that after eating them my stomach is a mess, knowing that does make the desire go away. Do you have Trader Joes nearby? I eat a lot of nuts as snacks - a lot. I also will bring fruit with me to work as a snack and I try to make soup at least once a week as a hearty lunch to bring with me. What about finding some mostly primal already made soups that you can have around when you don't feel like cooking. like this one:
    Also TJ's has already cooked chicken and burgers in the cold section and in the freezer section. I agree- being primal is not always convenient- I am all about making it do-able to be successful.
    At the airport I would try to find a chicken salad- I have found one at a mexican place at our airport. Traveling is hard! I will find a whole foods or even Safeway with a deli and get some chicken from the deli, often they will have roasted vegetable too.
    Maybe being skinny means less variety.

  7. Two things:

    I've found that in order to lose weight, I have to be restrictive but in order to maintain weight I can relax. And even at my most restrictive, I still eat dairy and some carbs. When you start restricting carbs to lose weight, it takes the guesswork out of dieting - the rate of weight loss is equivalent to the amount of carbs you eat. Conversely, the rate of weight gain is equivalent to the amount of carbs you eat (with some other factors involved like exercise, calorie counts, sleep, etc.)

    Second, don't think of going primal as giving up good food you crave. You can eat all the same food you liked before but without the cheap fillers made of refined carbs and industrial products. For example, next time you eat a calzone, think about what it is you like about the calzone. Odds are you don't like the bread, you like the meat, cheese and sauce. The only reason people like the bread is because it's soaked in fat and provides a quick sugar hit - otherwise it's pretty flavorless and unpalatable, especially if you eat it cold or by itself. Start investigating how industrial foods are produced vs. whole foods. Weston Price Foundation is a good resource for this. The more you know about them, the less appealing certain foods become in comparison to whole foods.

  8. How about snacking on cracklins made from chicken skin? Or pork cracklins? I think they even have those at the gas station (but I don't know what's added to those). Crunchy, greasy, movie food right?
    Also if you soak pecans or walnuts or something in salt water overnight and then dehydrate them, they are really airy and crunchy and make a good snack. You could even flavor them with stuff like chili-lime or chipotle.

  9. Tom, A vegetarian friend talked me into trying her homemade kale chips recently and... they were WONDERFUL! Nothing replaces buttery pop-corn but kale chips can be a real treat:)

  10. I really appreciate your family sharing your experiences. Have you tried using stevia to curb the sweet tooth? Not all stevia is equal in quality and taste, what is available in grocery stores is mostly maltodextrin. Blah! But you can get great tasting powdered stevia by KAL at Amazon. It only takes very small amounts to sweeten things. Lemonade, or better yet, strawberry lemonade with stevia is a real treat. I even make pumpkin "pie" with it, minus the crust. When my husband travels he has a really hard time staying primal. Changing the way you eat is one of the most difficult things to do. I still haven't gone primal, or the kids, but your wife's daily messages are encouraging!

  11. By the way, how has the primal lifestyle affected the family food budget? I know inflation is biting into our food budget, but going more primal has meant an large increase in our food budget. I haven't cut out all grains from our diet. My husband is doing better than me at this. Grain is cheap compared to bacon. With a family to feed with lots of growing kids, this gets expensive!

  12. Way to go, Tom. I travel a lot too, and stop at grocery stores a lot. Airports are bad - having something ready to snack on in the carry-on bag really helps.

    One other thing - I bought a carbonator thing because I like carbonated beverages, and drink 200% more water now that it's carbonated. So convenient. It's called Sodastream, available widely. You can even add flavours - I add a touch of lemon and some stevia. Sometimes I swear it tastes like 7-Up/Sprite.

    My wife tried the kale chips on me too, but it's a tough slog to get those to go down. Maybe if I had a big glass of forbidden orange juice to go along?

    Keep it up! Will be waiting for Tom and Heather's success stories to show up on MDA site before long!

  13. Trader Joes has dark chocolate covered raisins and dark chocolate covered nuts that I like to pick up before going to the movies with my husband but its definitely not every Friday. For weekly movie snacks, what about nuts? Cashews, almonds, pistachios? with some dried currants?

    I would love to hear about the food budget as well. I've been feeding my family of 13 primally for about six months now and can tell you that my little garden is woefully insufficient and will be growing substantially in the near future. Are you composting all those veggie scraps for your future garden? Thinking of adding a hen house? I could easily use a dozen and a half eggs per day and can't afford that many cage-free, so a big hen house is in the works since I have plenty of worms and grubs from my compost pile (I'll probably add a worm bin as well) and will let them loose in the garden for free fertilizer and bug pickin'.

    Keep up the great work!