30 Day Paleo & Clean Eating Health Challenge

For the past three years, I have been on the journey of trying to sustain a healthier lifestyle. 

This journey has included a more balanced diet, eliminating excess or unnecessary sugar and processed foods from my diet and incorporating exercise that goes beyond 500 metres. Because of implementing healthier options and beliefs, I’ve had the pleasure of watching my waist shrink to a more flattering hourglass figure, the scales drop a few numbers and a positive psychological wellbeing emerge.

However, like any other human, I also suffer from periods of where the thought of having to physically remove myself from the premises of my house is unbearable and the thought of consuming another dish with vegetables may kill me and I would do anything for a plate of pasta.  Lastly, the thought of having to socially interact with others makes me want to revisit my childhood to throw a tantrum or growl like a dog.

At this point in time where I do and have found myself growling at another human being back in 2016, I started questioning my sanity when hearing about the latest and trendiest-trend regarding fad diets and the promise of losing those extra love handles you’re currently carrying around in a backpack.  Quickly shoving this trendiest trend to the side with an eye roll, I went back to eating my bowl of pasta until my reality came to a shuddering stop when my dearest, Lady Blacksnot III Esq. told me that she was breaking her diet.

That evening after parting separate ways, I thought heavily upon what had been said about this ‘diet’ and decided to do my own investigation. Some four hours and countless nutritional websites and academic journals later, a few things made me question the “health benefits” of going paleo. 

For starters, Paleo eliminates all forms of sugar unless it’s organic maple syrup, fats are limited to organically grass-fed based butter (even then, some debate butter is even Paleo) and coconut oil. Legumes and Paleo should never cross paths with one another and any form of carbohydrate such as bread, white potatoes and pasta (RIP!), grains such as quinoa, some seeds and dairy are considered to not be from Neanderthal times.

I obtained this information and wondered how someone would get the required nutrients and minerals for sustaining a healthy diet, it was then followed by the decision that I would never go Paleo. Reason being: it simply restricted what I could eat and the portion size of everything and like any human who can be swayed by technology, communication and personal opinions; I quietly observed the impact and not so subtle changes within LBS’ lifestyle and physical appearances.

Moving away from the political sh*t storm 2016 was as it featured heavily upon my ovaries and psychological wellbeing of a crazed nursing student and the secretive life of Lady Blacksnot III; where at one point in time after months of speculation and concern, I had prewritten a blog post that would inevitably make public that Lady Blacksnot III was harbouring a fugitive otherwise known as the Big C.

While sitting in my drafts box amongst other written posts, I must admit that when writing my feelings, thoughts and silent concerns down into words because I was trying to hold it together for LBS, I kept on going back and questioning the effect of Paleo and the toll it was having upon her body. For LBS had lost a substantial amount of weight and this caused me to ultimately force myself into giving her hug each time I saw her for she simply felt like a walking doll made from skin and bone.

But before we all jump on the bandwagon of hating trendiest-trend-fad diets, a series of doctors ruled out Paleo being the villain in this story as it hadn’t contributed to LBS’ significant weight loss. As a result, my opinion upon the so-called ‘health benefits’ and the general sense of the Paleo diet seemed to spiral towards more of a negative direction as I continued to ponder about what had initially caused LBS’ mysterious illness to occur.

That was until I put my not-so-quiet thoughts and opinions to the side or rather in a blog post and decided that I would try a 30-Day Paleo health challenge. While some take up Paleo for a variety of health reasons or for weight loss (I’ll talk more about this later), I sat down one evening in February after my birthday weekend and thought quite hard about the reasons why I wanted to a consume a Paleo based diet before listing them down.

My reasons for wanting to go Paleo and effectively seeing what the fuss was all about were:

– I wanted to see what ‘health benefits’ it had regarding someone who had a negative relationship, both psychologically and physically, with food. 
– How my body and mind would handle going through a relatively small processed, grain, pasta and carbohydrate detox.
– If healthy eating lead to you experiencing the sudden urge to sh*t your pants.
– What affect does drinking 8 glasses of water or 2-3L of filtered water have upon your body and endocrine system.

After consulting with my parents and telling them how potentially emotionally damaging the next month may entail and that if they were to find myself in the corner, crying while shitting my pants profusely due to my body effectively giving way, I decided I would document each week so I could see where my mental capacity and mind were currently sitting, what foods I had been favouring and if I’d gone shopping and where I had shit my pants like Charlotte.

Some healthy shit in a bowl.

Week One:

The life I once knew finished at midnight last night alongside my last plate of pasta and anything that appeared to have a grain or a speck of life still in it. As a result, the life that I am about to undertake for the next 30 days is going to be somewhat of a challenge, pun intended, but I decided when signing up for this ‘life altering’ diet that I wanted to essentially discover why people have converted to Paleo and how it has affected them both mentally and physically.

That was my opinion until I went shopping for things that are only deemed as being “paleo acceptable” and spent close to an hour and a half walking around the store, looking like a lost puppy because at one stage, I found myself pouring over the back panel of a jar of tomato sauce and discovered there were additives, preservatives, gum powder and something starting with an S and ending with every letter in the alphabet. It was soon replaced within another jar and almost died at the cashiers at the cost of trying to eat a relatively healthy diet that consisted of meat, vegetables and that’s about it.

I can now see as a health professional, why lower socioeconomic families rely heavily upon fast food outlets and prepackaged dinners.

Magic ‘shrooms & a poached ovary egg.

 Week Two:

In closing of week one and my new radical diet, I have noticed subtle and slight changes to and within my body such as my face has lost some of its roundness because of finishing my period. I have also discovered since going Paleo, the need to go too the bathroom a lot to pee which is why the water content stored in my body is being eliminated and as a result, my waist and thighs are showing signs of slimming.

Speaking of elimination, I’ve noticed during this week is consistency in stool (your poop people!) because I’ve essentially eliminated bulking tools like grains, legumes and carbs from my diet. So in non-medical talk, I’ve been really “regular” on a daily basis and can say after being told that my bowel motions are not considered normal, it has been nice to have a poop every morning.

After going shopping for fresh vegetables and Paleo friendly snacks such as fruit and nuts, I cut down the shopping experience from the original hour and a half to thirty minutes because I could now easily recognise what was considered friendly and enemy on the paleo recommendation list. Something that I must admit, I am pretty excited about because I knew what I could eat and didn’t appear like a lost puppy at all but did find myself once again crying into my penniless wallet. 

Another thing that has been noticed over the past several days is the way my brain is recognising, understanding and processing things is because they are less ‘foggy’ and more defined. Therefore, my common day anxiety has reduced slightly and it feels like I’m not being suffocated by the world and my imagination of expectations.

Jessica, it’s coconut crumbed chicken.

Week Three:

Like anything you set your mind to, there is going to come a time when you either hit a brick wall, want to drive yourself off a cliff like Thelma and Louise or stuff yourself stupid with a meat pie and cupcake. I have officially hit midpoint of this experiment and up until yesterday, still fondly referred it as being a healthy lifestyle challenge. The turning point in this stupid and yet incredibly sane moment of mine, I had reached my pivotal moment in time where I desperately wanted a cupcake with vanilla icing and a sprinkling of sprinkles and a meat pie and yet, I found myself cooking up a paleo cake and tried telling myself that it would taste the same.

Least to say, I have not only become someone who has lost a staggering 6 kilos of water weight and excess sugars being eliminated but I have also become a compulsive liar. The lying came about after three failed attempts of trying to make a paleo based cake edible and discovering that somewhere in the recipe they had missed a step (this is actually true), I went back and scoured the net before settling on a paleo, gluten free and vegan chocolate cake.

Whipping this concoction that had coconut oil, cocoa powder and chia seeds with a few mashed bananas, I served myself a thin slice and for once, didn’t find myself having to lie. Another thing that I did find myself lying compulsively about was how amazing vegetables were because being an inner vegetarian who craves vegetables any moment of the day, alongside my pivotal moment in time, had reached the limits of eating vegetables and would have quite happily thrown a tantrum.

As I wrap the third week of Paleo based diet and clean eating, I hit a couple of periods this week where I couldn’t handle the thought of being restricted by a strict regime of what I could and couldn’t eat and felt very suffocated as a result. This caused me to take a break from actively eating and living a Paleo lifestyle and found myself enjoying a pasta dish that also had restricted items like cheese (Ricotta and Bocconcini) while on a date but also enjoyed the freedom non-Paleo based eaters have. In other words: I felt “normal” and didn’t have to apologise for being Paleo, something of which I’ve learnt that not all dates are accommodating or accepting of.

Calling reality.

Week Four:

I have reached the end of week four and thus find myself at the end of a rather long, slightly windy health challenge with the stomach contents consisting of mushed vegetables, a vanilla and red velvet cupcakes and the lingering trace of 2L of water and a cup of coffee.

As I bring this time of my life and blog post to an end, I’ve learnt some pretty important things not only about myself such as the self-drive I have to be able to completely change my life around and even when insanity reared its ugly head, I enjoyed eating and thinking healthy. I also discovered that my brain is a damn strong sponge-like-consistency and therefore should be rewarded for soldiering on when anxiety hits me incredibly hard.

Having originally thought I would need to put my social and private life on hold until my Paleo phase had finished, I learnt that most people are happy to work around it. But when stepping out into public, people are more likely to ask personal questions as to why you went this route of dieting/lifestyle and not a lot of restaurants are accommodating to your dietary requests. All in all, it was an experience of a lifetime and even though I can honestly say that I am not going to become a fully-fledged die-hard Paleo consumer, I am going to take certain aspects and integrate it into my own life.

Lastly: am still yet to shit my pants.

Until next time,

~S xo

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