Saturday, January 14, 2012

What day is it again?

I think it's day . . . six?  Here's how I feel about it: ARGH!

Though, to be completely honest, I feel healthier, so I am going to say it's been worth it. 

The girls and I started our day at the hotel breakfast nook, which was surprisingly fresh and yummy. There were *fresh* bear claws, blueberry cake donuts, and freshly made waffles. So. Delicious. Looking! (and smelling). 

We, however, had the hard boiled eggs, bacon, yogurt, and grapes. Two of the kids had some milk, the others had to wait it out since all they had was juice or coffee (no water?!). 

All of us made googly eyes at the pastries. "Please, can't we just share a donut? That way we'll just have one bite!"  Nice try, kids.  

So here I feel I should defend myself from all of you now thinking "oh my gosh, like one bite of a donut is going to really hurt them!" -- Actually, it would.

I suppose I haven't explained it very well when in comes to Primal and the girls, so here goes! 

All of my kids (ages 2-8) have some sort of food problem. Whether they have one issue, or several each, it's incredibly difficult to manage. 

Some parents say they don't have the time to deal with food issues and simply do not. Others spend their life searching for a cure so little Johnny can once again chow down on a peanut butter sandwich. Me? I accept that they have allergies/intolerance/what have you, and I do my best to come up with meals that is pleasing to the family as a whole, and yet does not exclude any one member. When you have to cook around at least six different food allergies, it gets ... well, overwhelming. That in itself is a full time job. Now add to that a constantly crying 2 year old, a huge house to maintain, and a husband who forgets to eat and drink on a regular basis... it's kinda hard, people! 

Not that I'm complaining. For the most part I'm good at it, and while it can be annoying, I enjoy it.  So keeping all that in mind....

When Tom found The Primal Blueprint, my first thought was "Yay, we can finally get healthier together!" and then it was "Hey, this is the kind of diet that is said to help heal/minimize allergies. I'm in!"  

There's a lot of medical speak and gross-out factors and what not when it comes to allergies, but some allergies are caused by holes in the lining of your intestines, which allows small food particles to get through, and then your brain tells your body to invade the foreign suckers! So it does, and voila! you have allergies. Kinda cool in a Scientific sense, but not so much fun to live with.  

What helps repair these holes? I'm glad you asked! Lots of good probiotics. Going off the offending foods for a while. Annnnnd, staying away from grains, carbs, and sugars. Why?  Because grains, carbs, and sugars feed yeast (you have good yeast and you have bad yeast. A yeast infection is the result of your good yeast being outnumbered by the bad yeast. And that, my friends, leads to your worst enemy: Candida (click the word to get a brief description of this beast.)

According to all of my readings, talking with people, and with some doctors, I have found that you must, must, must refrain from eating grains and sugars for at least two weeks (maybe longer if the overgrowth is terribly bad) for the bad yeast to die off. 

If, during this time, you eat a bagel, or cookies, or whatever else, you have just given a life line to the dying yeast.  So, YES, I have to be sure the girls are staying on track and not just prolonging their suffering by sneaking foods. Heck, I'd much rather have one bite of a donut than nothing at all, but I wouldn't do that to my kids. 

If my kids were completely healthy and had no food issues, then I would revamp what I'm doing. I would absolutely give them some type of carbs (not overload them though) every day. Kids are growing and can handle things we as adults cannot. So once my girls get past the first 21 days of Going Primal, they will be allowed to have things (in moderation, of course) that they cannot have now.

And we fully intend to make use of the 80/20 rule. Once a week I intend to have whatever it is I want to have that day... but you really shouldn't do any cheating within the first three weeks of the "diet", so my family will not.  

If your kids are not overweight, and have no food issues, I would suggest you maintain some form of carbs in their daily diet (whether it's whole grains, sweet potatoes, bread, etc. is up to you), and give them fruit! It will satisfy their sweet tooth in a way that candy is unable.  Just do you research and come up with what works for your family best. 

Anyway... we went to the Children's Science Museum with Aunts Mary and Beth, and had a great time (until we couldn't find two kids. but that's a story for another time)! Then, the dreaded "I'm hungry!" came. I haven't been able to get to a grocery store, so we've been eating a lot of what I had packed for the car trip. I didn't know I could bring food into the museum, so we had to eat at the cafe. I was really kind of scared given that it was a kids place...what could I feed them?  Turns out, there was a grilled chicken salad so I ordered two and a cup of veggies (turned out to be just carrots. hmph) and since Amy hates chicken. I ordered a hotdog, and gave it to her without the bun. It wasn't Primal approved in the sense that none of it was organic, home grown, or clean, but we stuck to no grains, and only water to drink. I think we earned a few points for this. 

Dinner was very enjoyable. We went to a Chinese food place with my lovely grandparents. It was the biggest spread I've ever seen in a Chinese restaurant. I had warned the kids before hand that they could have rice, noodles, anything fried, and only water to drink. We all went in thinking "what can we have?!"  Turns out, there was plenty of fresh food, without MSG, and it was really great tasting. The kids didn't complain once about not having grains/carbs. I was really very proud of them. And it showed me that while I may not be able to be 100% on target with being Primal, that I could make the best of what I had and still feel good about it.

We had a late night snack of apples and beef jerky. Kids are weird. Why they like that stuff, I don't know. And now all kids are in bed sound asleep.  Thank the Lord!

Now I still have the same headache I've had for five or six days now. I'm really achy. And I just want a piece of cake. Honestly, the only thing that is getting me through this is the support I've received from everybody and hearing from those who have been down this road and have told me it does get better. I hope so! It's a lot of work. And I'd rather not feel like a zombie, but if it means in two more weeks I'll feel and look better. I can stick it out that long. 

The upsides so far: Sleeping better. More patient throughout the day. I feel happier (most of the time). And I can now get out of bed and stand up immediately without the "Oww, I'm so sore!" feeling in my back. So... must be doing something right. 

Good night!


  1. Strength, committment, and drive are the words that come to mind. Looking back through my clildhood memories, I find very few memories of events like these - the situations parents dread and stress over. I decided a while back that they are not all that important. You are putting your children (and yourself/husband) onto a healthier path. One difficult road trip or food-nightmare for 3 weeks are likely to be forgotten when the next Disney movie hits the theaters. Do what you think is right and keep the faith.

    A cute story for you: while attending a birthday party for my daughter's daycare friend, pizza was served. I had one bite and decided it was not worth it (tasted like tomato cardboard). I gave it to my daughter (3). My son offered up his crust because "you don't eat enough Daddy". If you keep the language in check (sailor mouth still lives occasionally), the kids repeat the most entertaining things you've ever said. 3 weeks of a transformation is nothing in the grand scheme of creating more memories that can be recalled for the next generation!

  2. Oh, and I found out that one of the other daycare parents is Primal. Can't wait for a primal get together.

  3. One common theme I'm seeing as I read through your blog is that everybody seems hungry. If you're feeling hungry, by all means EAT MORE! The transition will go a lot more smoothly if you're keeping yourselves full. As long as you're putting the right things in your body, don't worry at all about overeating....especially in the beginning. As time passes, your appetites will start to self-regulate and you'll get a better idea of how much food you really need, but until then eat more than you think you should. It'll make the first month or two much easier.

    Good luck, and stick with it. It's worth it.

  4. It will get much better - stick it out. One tip I would offer is that when you are struggling/craving something grimly unprimal - treat yourself with something decadent but primal shortly thereafter. I often spoil myself with a really nice steak and steamed veggies on a weeknight if I feel I'm slipping and it makes me feel a lot more positive.

  5. Good luck to the both of you! I have been eating Primal since November 2009, but did not get the full benefits until I stopped taking a medication that inhibited glycogen formation in the liver (I did this in May 2010). For the first time in my life, I, a former chubby kid and physical fitness derelict, can bench my weight and have washboard abs.

  6. I agree with Brad. Don't ever leave the table hungry when you are primal. And pour/slather fat on everything: butter on veggies, olive oil on salad, and don't drain the bacon fat. Remember, the fat is your primary fuel now and your brain and every organ needs and thrives on it. Don't let any part of yourself think of calorie restriction; your body will decide it wants less food later, when it is fueled how it should be.

    When this phase is done, you'll feel better! And gorge on fat to get through it faster. I recommend reading Gary Taube's Why We Get Fat and (forgot author for this one) Wheat Belly to round out the Primal mindset

  7. We rarely snack any more. I would suggest feeding your kids hamburgers or chicken for breakfast or even a protein shake along with their breakfast. I think we are just conditioned to snack and your kids will adjust to the no snacking thing.

    My other favorite book is wheat belly too. it will keep you motivated to stay on track. My husband has lost 35 pounds since going primal and although I haven't lost any weight, my moods have improved, my health has improved and my body looks better overall. We are 47 years old.

    I also found out that sprints are fun. To run as fast as you can for a short length-it's so fun! I feel like a kid. And it firms the tummy area.

  8. I would like to 2nd Brad's suggestion - eat more! And try to find out what kind of primal snacks each of you likes, and keep them around. A few of my favorites:
    - macadamia nuts (better fat profile than other nuts)
    - celery & cream cheese
    - coconut milk smoothies (coconut milk blended with frozen berries)
    - processed cold meats* (balogna, hot dogs, lil' smokies)

    * lots of Primal hard core types would shoot me down for this one, but Primal is a sliding scale, not black and white. If eating a piece of balogna wrapped around cheese keeps me away from the glazed donut, then it's well worth it in my book.

    Good luck and hope you can stick it out. In awhile you'll be running up stairs because walking is too slow; then you'll know how nature intends you to feel.

  9. I have had vicious candida combined with a dairy and egg allergy for most of my life, and I can honestly say Primal is the way to beat it.

    My mother nearly went out of her mind trying to feed me 20 years ago, when allergies weren't recognised, let alone yeast infections in the gut, and she had no advice given to her about why I was always sick. I speak from experience when I say your kids will thank you for feeding them in this way from a young age - you are saving them a great deal suffering, both physical and mental, now and in the future.

    Stay strong. Grok on!

  10. Two weeks in and 8 pounds down. No bloat, no hunger and no counting calories. It is so worth it. I feel now that its become second nature to eat this way and I don't want to go back to feeling the way I did before.

    I second or is it third? on reading The Wheat Belly. It helped me to understand not only the effects of grains, but also what we know now as grains to really be a shadow of their former selves.

  11. Instead of increasing carbs for kids in the form of grains, you can increase their good fat intake. You can also keep dried fruit on hand. Macadamia nuts are great snacks, too. Mark Sisson has a cool article on primal snacks:

  12. Almost forgot... Elana's Pantry has great recipes for almond and coconut flour breads! No need to depend on grains at all.

  13. Second the recommendation for Elana's Pantry, although since you are really new it might be easier to just avoid baked goods for the time being. When you start baking, almond flour works better than coconut flour, and unfortunately not all the paleo recipes out there are tested up to the standards you might expect, so it's important to find a reliable source. As in, I've tried 6-7 pancake recipes and still haven't found a good one.

    For the coke cravings, what about carrying cold-brew iced tea bags (green tea or decaf?), or when you're home, filling a pitcher with water and slicing in some fruit. Oranges, lemons, cucumbers, pineapple, whatever you like.

  14. Wow! You are doing an amazing job! I have 3 picky kids with different food needs, so am sympathetic to your plight! Keep up the good work! Some suggestions: Have you tried smoothies? Add protein powder if you like and to keep you full. Great for breakfast. For lunch: try hummus and carrots, turkey rolled with cream cheese. mozzarella sticks, babybel cheese, mini greek yogurts, sugar snap peas, olives? (my daughter loves them!) Also my daughter will eat almost anything dipped in "pink sauce". This is a mixture of ketchup and mayo. You will have to look for ketchup with no sugar added though. She will dip cooked veggies and all meat into it.

    Finally, did your family eat a lot of pasta? I saute chicken breasts and pour our favorite pasta sauce (tomato, meat sauce or pesto) over the top. Add parmesan or mozzarella to the top, cover and simmer on low. You get to eat the yummy sauce on the chicken and all my kids like it! Also, salads: they'll eat a wedge of iceberg with blue cheese, and ceasar salads. Do they like tacos? Make the meat and cheese and put in romaine lettuce "tacos". Finally, stir fry with no rice, and Joe's Special are no carb favorites. Link to Joe's special recipe:

    Last point before this comment gets too long: It seems you are quitting caffeine and carbs at the same time. That is asking a lot! Try some black tea with milk or green tea to get some caffeine to help with the headaches. If you are feeling tired add some carbs with lots of veggies. I also like greek yogurt with dark chocolate chips for a treat! mmmm

  15. Heather
    Just wanted to encourage you, hang in there it will be worth it in the end. We've been Paleo(mostly)for a year now( with a family of 11 and truthfully it is much easier to have everyone eat the one way.

  16. Strangely enough I've gotten to the point (though I am absolutely POSITIVE nobody in my family has) that grains are poison. I guess that's because of their effect on me. Now I'm totally off sugar for 2 weeks due to an assignment for a class I'm taking. So, today is particularly hard. My family and I are all snuggled down, watching Star Wars and having a junk fest. They are indulging in ice cream, jelly beans, chips, crackers and chocolate. Now, we're an 80/20 family (minus me) so I don't care about this today for them (except maybe our littlest one so we're trying to keep it to a minimum for him). But I'm having a heck of a time. I indulged in smoked salmon and brie lettuce wraps and strawberries with brie. I do have to say it all tasted REALLY good. I wanted jelly beans though! :/ Oh well, I'll feel good tomorrow knowing I kept with my assignment and my diet. Keep up your good work Heather! Really it does get better and easier.

  17. Just about a year ago I started "dabbling" in this style of eating. For a few months I still kept eating my artisan whole grain toast with pb for breakfast, because I just couldn't imagine giving that up. Finally, in July I got the inspiration I needed to drop sugar, grains, most dairy except some full fat dairy and all legumes from my diet. My main issues were gut issues, with an IBS diagnosis. These dietary changes have been wonderful for me. If I do "backslide", I'm usually at least somewhat sorry in the next day or two, from a gut perspective. I did have some trouble with a few days of headaches at the beginning, but that went away as my body adjusted. The most surprising thing to me was basically losing my craving for things like crackers and chips, which I had craved on a daily basis. A change that was hard for me was getting to "breakfast doesn't have to be traditional breakfast foods", but can be anything. I do eat eggs for breakfast, but not every day. I eat leftovers for breakfast, from previous dinners, which is convenient. I lost about 8 pounds, have kept that off for a year and all my clothes fit so much better. Most of the weight came of my 60 year old tummy, which was just where I needed to lose it. I hope you will find this way of eating to be a good fit for your family. Best of luck to you all. BTW, my sister-in-law is doing this for her family. Our 32 year old son is eating this way, he was actually diagnosed "gluten intolerant", my husband eats this way if I'm cooking but still includes grains, dairy and sugar when it's his choice. I have been unable to convince him of the wisdom of these changes, which has been frustrating for me. Let me also confirm that it certainly does get easier over time.

  18. Heather,

    I actually come to your blog by way of "Mark's Daily Apple" because he linked to it and mentioned that you and Tom had gone primal. Being a fan of Tom's work, I had to come check out the writings of his "better half".

    I am a police officer in Oklahoma and decided to do the primal/paleo thing when I was facing having to buy new uniforms in a larger size, found myself out of breath climbing a flight of stairs, was put on statins and told I was now offically diabetic as well as having borderline high blood pressure, by my doctor.

    That was a year ago. I had to get those new uniforms alright only smaller, rather than larger. I now need another size smaller still (as in the size I wore in high school no less). I have a lot more energy, and can RUN up several flights of stairs without being winded. I'm no longer diabetic, my blood pressure, colesterol, triglicerides, etc. are all excellent (and no statins) and most of those benefits were realized before starting any real planned physical activity program. I feel healthier now in my mid-50's than at any time in the last 15 years! The best part was the last testing I did, my doctor wrote on the bottom of my results: "Wow, what ever you are doing, keep doing it!".

    I can understand you wanting to add some things back into your children's diets, and some people do tolerate more carbs in the form of starchy vegetables than others, but I would still be cautious about grains and especially "whole grains". Contrary to the "healthy whole grains" mantra we all have been exposed to for many years, whole grains actually contain more of the anti-nutrients that make them bad for us, than more highly processsed grains. Sugar, in the amounts we consume it in and in its highly processed form is pretty bad, but occasionally indulging in the form of fruit (I say occasionally, if you are trying to lose weight like I was) is what we've done for hundreds of thousands of years.

    Like you, I immediately missed my soft drinks and thought I might "cheat" a little with diet drinks at first, but after some research decided to forego those also and I think I'm much better off healthwise for it.

    One thing that I noticed, as did many of your other commenters, is that you and the kids always seem hungry. On paleo/primal, you should not be hungry. You should eat more. I lost 41 pounds in 3 months and never counted a calorie or went without eating when I was hungry. As a matter of fact I actually think I may have been eating more (hard to say without tracking anything). after a while though, I was less hungry and kind of went into an intermittant fasting mode without really trying to do so, and that is the way I eat now. I might go all day and only eat one meal in the evening because I wasn't hungry until then or I might start the day with a fairly substantial breakfast immediately upon rising. Just listen to your body. Oh, and DON'T think of it as a diet, think of it as a lifestyle.

    I saw that Pamela mentioned above how difficult it is to go off caffeine and carbs simultaneously. this is true and might be the source of your headaches. I tried it and had to add back in the caffeine(like many cops I drink a LOT of coffee). That was due to caffeine withdrawal headaches (yes, I said withdrawal). After a bit, I then titrated off the caffeine gradually by mixing decaf with regular, until now I drink mostly decaf. This has been great because when I do drink coffee or strong tea with caffeine I actually get a boost, whereas before I did not, as I was so inured to it. Remember your soft drink of choice (Coca-cola) has caffeine in it and if you drank more than a couple a day, you are probably experiencing your headaches due to caffeine withdrawal.

  19. Glad to hear you and the family are toughing it out! I work raw almonds into a lot of meals, just as something on the side. They also make for a great snack if you find yourself getting hungry between meals. Like other posters have mentioned, eat primal until you're full. As I tell my friends constantly--it's practically guilt-free. I had issues with headaches through the first two to three weeks of going primal. I would freak about not being able to find something suitable to eat at restaurants and fast food vendors. Now it's second-nature. I stay away from grains and most other carbs, and allow myself a 50g daily carb limit. I don't necessarily try and work them in--I just don't sweat it as long as I stick to my limit.

  20. It's really interesting to hear about kids going primal! I'm a junior in college and I've been paleo/primal for almost four months now. I cook a lot, but have definitely found I don't get hungry like I used to. Like everyone else, I would recommend eating more if you're hungry! I really like to sautee onions and then add a can of tomatoes with basil, oregano, salt, and pepper and maybe some whole milk or coconut milk at the end for a quick tomato soup. For a long time, I would put just a little raw honey and unsweetened cocoa power in milk for a treat. I also often eat a couple of spoonfuls of almond butter if I need quick fuel. For easy "pancakes," I mush up two bananas with an egg and a big spoonful of almond butter and cook in butter or coconut oil. I also make up a big batch of unsweetened applesauce most weeks so that I have something warm and cozy ready when I need a treat. These suggestions may be relatively high carb for paleo, but sometimes that makes for a better transition, and they may help for your kids! Can't wait to read more about how it's going!

  21. Hey there! Do your kids like bananas? They are a cheap and easy snack. Frozen chunks dipped in melted dark chocolate are a fun, treat, too. My kids love coconut milk smoothies, as well. They also like homemade with trail mix with dry roasted almonds and raisins. Good luck and know it can be done with kiddos! If they get hungry enough, they will eat anything :) I am so impressed you are doing this while traveling with kids, though!!

  22. A: your headaches are caffiene withdrawal.

    B: Too much fruit is NOT good for the kids. It is a high carb load that they just don't need. Feed them nuts, veggies, meat, yummy good fat, and fruit only once or twice a day. You are feeding the sugar crash horrors.

  23. Cauliflower rice is a great rice replacement. Process raw in food processor until size of rice. Cook slightly in microwave without water until soft but firm.

    1. I use the grater attachment on my food processor to make this easier. Then I toast in the oven for 30 minutes and use the "rice" to make a mock rissoto with the following: chicken fat and chicken stock (made from leftover roast chicken), onions, garlic, heavy cream, butter, and parmesan.

  24. I got off of caffeine very slowly by cutting out 1/4 cup of either soda or coffee every day, until I was down to nothing. (Doctor recommended). I had tried going cold turkey so many times before, but the 3 to 5 day headaches were horrendous. By slowly going off of it, your headaches will only last one or 2 days. Just ease off of the stuff gently. Your body will thank you for it.

  25. This is amazing, Heather. I am so excited for you to be going primal. I love MDA, too, and am jazzed he mentioned you on his site. SO keep up the good work.

    I am majorly impressed that you can manage to do Primal while traveling. That is the hardest thing! When next you get a chance, I think you'd like the Warrior Diet. MDA has mentioned that he approves of it as it is very primal but it suggests intermittent fasting as more of a way of life. Ie mostly fast during the day and then feast (primally) at night. I have liked this (when I"m doing it) because it has given me the freedom to not be wondering/planning my next meal. Also, it has given me a great detachment from food that I've never had before. And from our shared point of view, detachment is a very good thing....

    I am praying for you to keep it up. If you think of it, please pray for my family to get with this program as I think we have some food intolerances and getting the family to do it is the hardest part!!!

  26. please don't start giving your kids any grains after the 21 days. please. they. are. bad. for. humans. any grain intake.

    if you really insist on it and you give them grains after 3 weeks of clean living, be prepared for the return of everything you wanted to get rid of, and some serious indigestion. really, there is nothing you "get" from grains that you can't get from somewhere else more efficiently.

    good luck!