In some ways, I feel so much better eating in the Primal fashion. I feel less 'addicted' to food; I don't long for crackers or obsess over cookies anymore. I don't pine for chips or candy bars. I look at a box of mac 'n' cheese in the pantry and it seems like Frankenfood to me. It used to be a staple... I grew up on the stuff. But eating mainly whole foods for a stretch of time really makes something 'click' in your brain. All the old processed stuff actually stops looking like FOOD and looks more like chemicals, artificial stuff, old dried up stuff, fake stuff. Even the canned soups and chilis don't appeal to me anymore as I get accustomed to and spoiled by homemade, locally sourced, fresh stuff. Processed food just doesn't measure up.
I think that is a benefit of "clean eating" and not just Primal/Paleo. It seems to me more and more that Paleo is a subset of Primal, and Primal is a subset of clean eating. All of them focus on eating real, whole foods and shunning the processed stuff. Primal extends this further and shuns beans, lentils, peanuts and other legumes along with wheat, oats, rice and other grains.And then Paleo takes it even further, removing dairy completely. There are other minor differences, too. But I am eating at the Primal level right now.
I see a lot of good in all three eating methods. There are lots of clean eaters out there who are happy and healthy, who do eat dairy and whole grains and legumes. And there are lots of Paleo followers who are adamant that dairy, whole grains, and legumes are very detrimental to our bodies. I wonder who is right?
Seems the only way to find out is to eliminate all those questionable things and see how one feels. And then add them back one at a time to see if your health and well being improves or degrades. Have any of you done that? I mean, I know I have readers who are Paleo or Primal. But have you gone for x number of weeks or months with no dairy, grains, or legumes and then tried adding them back in? What did you conclude?
I've cut out the grains, I've cut out the legumes. I am much lower on dairy now, too. The sugar is gone. The processed crap is gone. I am mainly eating
eggs, chicken, beef (home cooked)
vegetables (local and organic when possible)
1-2 servings of fruit (mostly berries, local, organic)
fat (avocado, olive oil, coconut oil)
and the additions of coconut milk, seasonings, a slice of bacon here and there, black coffee, and the occasional low-carb salad dressing. Some raw almonds, too.
The strictest subset of all is the "Whole 30" which is basically an elimination diet/trial of strict Paleo. According to this guide I would need to cut out a few things: ALL sweet stuff like the maple syrup in the one serving of pumpkin custard I ate this week and the "Paleo-fyed" baked goods I'd planned to start making (which means you use grain-free flours like coconut flour and almond flour, and fruit as sweeteners and only healthy fats). I'd have to stop the dairy completely which at this point wouldn't be hard; I do like a Caprese salad but it's not essential. I am much, much closer to "Whole 30" status than I was 2 weeks ago, and I am very pleased that I've been able to make these changes and stick with them. Honestly, cutting out grains and beans and peanuts did seem overwhelming, but it wasn't that hard. The Whole 30 looks a lot more doable now than it did then.
But... and this is a big but... I still feel awful (2 weeks in now). When I increase my carbs a bit (such as when I had the custard, or if I have extra fruit) I feel somewhat better. This reminds me of how heavy and sluggish I felt when I did Atkins all those years ago. Within a couple of weeks I felt repulsed by meat and was on the brink of turning vegetarian. That's how I am starting to feel now. I try to choose 'lighter' proteins like eggs or fish because I just feel gross when I eat a bunch of chicken or beef at every meal. Just ick. I can hardly look at meat anymore. But without beans, lentils, or cheese, it is hard to get enough protein in when I have a salad or a stir fry. So even though I am not logging calories this week, I bet my protein is lower than it should be.
Whether I go Whole 30 or not, I won't be going back to processed foods. I like the "clean eating" part of this plan very much. It used to be tough for me to cut out my favorite products like low-carb wraps, sodas, Kraft singles, pudding cups. But they're gone now and I don't miss them. And I find that fewer food choices really does mean less desire to eat.
Clean eating is here to stay. The rest? We'll see!
Thursday Update: July 23, 2014
9 hours ago