My journey with Paleo began in January 2013 when I decided to address my health and digestion issues on my own after years of consulting different doctors who did not help me find the root cause of my problems and pushed me to accept that my body was “like that” and there was nothing to do about it. I faced years of severe indigestion and constipation, acne, bloating, weight gain, low energy and chronic fatigue when I should have been experiencing the peak of my youth at the age of 23. I was always feeling hungry and felt I could eat three times what normal people would in a day. I was constantly trying to restrict my calorie intake which was literal torture and made me feel I was destined to live my entire life feeling hungry if I wanted to stay fit. I would spend days and sometimes up to more than a week without a BM, only to find myself curled up in bed and crying of the physical pain and toxicity of never releasing anything from my body. Mentally, I was self-judgmental, constantly experiencing a roller-coaster of mood swings and a high level of stress from trying to always achieve more than I reasonably could. If I’d get sick, I would do everything to keep myself from staying in bed and push myself to literal exhaustion just to prove my weak body wrong. If I was constipated, I would take chemical supplements and eat inhuman amounts of fiber until I forced my body to have a BM. I realize today how much stress and judgment I put on my body on a daily basis.
In January 2013, I discovered that everything I was experiencing could be linked to gluten, and I decided to eliminate it from my diet to see if my symptoms could improve, along with most grains and legumes. For the first time in my life, I felt I was tackling the causes of my problems rather than trying to solve them temporarily with a pill or magic remedy. Before that, my diet was close to vegetarian and high in what I assumed were “healthy” sources of sugar/carbohydrates: I would have chicken or turkey about once a week and red meat less than once every two months, feeding myself mostly of lots of vegetables, 5 servings of fruit a day and lots of whole grains. Eliminating all grains and legumes felt close to impossible and I thought I would last 1 month at best. However, the positive results I observed day after day encouraged me to keep strong with this diet shift. Instead of taking gluten-free eating as a “punishment” like most people might (every day I have people tell me “poor you! no wheat? not even pasta?”), I decided to turn it into a fantastic journey where I rediscover every day my relationship to food – and especially “real food” -, challenge myself physically and most importantly, learn to listen to what my body tells me.
I started implementing progressively more and more tenets of the paleo diet into my lifestyle. I started working out more and realized that I had spent my life thinking I was “no good” at sports and would never be a fit person. I now work out 4 to 5 times a week, running and lifting weights, and have never been in such great shape or felt so excited about doing sports. I have lost more than 15 pounds and have returned to my pre-college weight. I was not particularly overweight but I had been gaining a few extra pounds every year and could definitely stand to lose some. I feel in control of my hunger, I eat satisfying portions, lots of healthy fats and protein, feel satiated without counting calories, and no longer need to snack during the day. My skin has also completely healed from years and years of severe acne, and my digestive issues have dramatically improved, although I feel that my gut may take potentially years to heal and “re-educate” itself, which is okay because if there’s one thing that I’ve learned from Paleo above all, it’s to be patient and sensitive to your body. Mentally, I am also much more at peace with myself and with others. I am attentive to my level of stress and no longer aim constant overachievement at the price of my psychological well-being. I sleep better, wake up everyday in a good mood, feel much more zen and take my time with everything.
Finally, I have always been a big cooking enthusiast and used to spend a lot of my free time cooking and preparing meals for my family and friends. Here again, going gluten-free and paleo could have felt like a barrier in the kitchen, but it did all the contrary and sparked my creativity to an entirely new level, allowing me to rediscover how to cook all over again with new and exciting ingredients. I decided to start my own food blog, a project which was already well in the back of my head before but which became something I personally felt very strongly about once I discovered that food was not only a gastronomical hobby but also at the core of my health and well-being.
My blog, My Little Jar of Spices (http://mylittlejarofspices.com), brings together my eternal love of good gastronomy and my path towards well-being and healthy living. It’s about everything that food can and should represents for us as humans, from pleasure to health, family, culture and the joy of sharing, without forgetting the most important lesson of all: listening to and caring for our bodies everyday.
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