Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Why I Abandoned My Paleo 30 Challenge After 9 Days



One of my July goals was to eat Paleo for 30 days.  Here is why I abandoned my Go Paleo 30 day challenge after only 9 days. 

It had nothing to do with my love of peanut butter, hummus, and wine. Well, almost nothing.
I loved the idea of the Paleo diet. Eat as our ancestors ate, the hunters and gatherers. I’m no expert, but from what I gathered (no pun intended) the bones (I’m on a roll!) of the diet is you only eat meat, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. I already try to eat whole natural foods most of the time. This is pretty much my current diet anyway, sans my weekly indulgence meals. I thought it would be a super easy transition.   
As I read into it more, I discovered that there were a couple of foods on the Paleo naughty list that were a regular part of my weekly diet:


1. Peanut butter: I consume crunchy all-natural peanut butter at least three times a day and often cite it as my favorite food.
2. Chick peas: I love hummus and go on a weekly outing to a local Mediterranean lunch buffet to load up on the best hummus I have ever had.  Weekly.  Without fail.   Sometimes twice weekly.
3. Edamame:  Not only is this my go-to healthy dish at Chinese restaurants, I buy the single servings at the grocery store and eat as a snack at work.
4. Corn: Specifically, corn on the cob. I love a good corn on the cob off the grill with my steak.  It is one of those things we eat nearly every week-end during the summer months.

Then there were a couple of foods that I enjoy in moderation, that I don’t consider a cheat or an indulgence food, I just make sure I don’t go overboard. I usually consume these once or twice a week, but Paleo says no-no:

1. 100% whole wheat bread or wraps: This girl likes to eat her turkey burger on a bun once in a while.
2. Cheese: Proper serving sizes, used in moderation never hurt me.
3. Wine:  I like to enjoy a glass of wine or three.

These are all things that I consider to be healthy, that I really enjoy. I’m still not sure I understand the reasoning behind why I can’t have these foods on the Paleo diet.  I read about it, but the reasons aren’t resonating with me. Besides cutting the above foods out, my diet would pretty much stay exactly the same.  It was only for 30 days (plus I was still allowing for indulgence meals where I didn’t follow any rules). I could go without peanut butter and hummus for 30 days, right? Right?

I admit that I started out a little skeptical. I am not trying to lose any weight, it fact, I am trying to gain (muscle).  I already eat a clean diet 90% of the time.  How much difference would I feel or see by removing just a couple of foods from my diet, especially when weight loss isn’t the desired effect? How would I explain to my lunch friends why I was skipping out on the best hummus on the planet all of a sudden?  It was just an experiment, just to see the result, if any? I understand that when someone is eating unhealthy and then switches to the Paleo diet, there is a dramatic difference in weight, in mood, and  in energy.  What if my weight, mood & energy are already where I like them?  When I asked myself what I thought I would achieve, or even what I was hoping to achieve, I couldn’t answer that question. I think my negative mindset coupled with my lack of pinpointing my desired results were the first two downfalls of my Paleo challenge.

Then there was the hummus thing.

Week one, day one:  I immediately bought myself a jar of almond butter to replace my regular peanut butter.  Almond butter has almost the exactly same nutrition facts as peanut butter, it just doesn’t have peanuts, therefore it is Paleo friendly.  It doesn’t taste quite as good as peanut butter, and it is more expensive, but it was a suitable replacement.  I could live with this, knowing it was just temporary.

Week one, day two: The skipped the slice of cheese on my turkey pattie.  Success!

Week one, day three: It happened to be July 4th. Hubby brought home corn on the cob for the grill that night. I had to remind him that I couldn’t eat corn on my new Paleo experiment, again without really being able to give him  a good reason why.  He was a trooper and ate both cobs himself. But then, I wanted a glass of wine on the patio on this grilling holiday.  First fail.  

Week one, day five: It was my weekly outing to my favorite hummus buffet.  I couldn’t stop myself.  I always easily skip over the pita bread, the potatoes and the rice.  No problem, I usually do that anyway!  I loaded my plate with chicken kabobs, vegetables, roasted cauliflower, salad and… hummus.  I had to do it.  I swear this is the best hummus on the planet (have I mentioned that yet?).   The hummus was staring up at me from the buffet table literally asking me why I was doing this Paleo thing in the first place. OK, not literally.

I made it through the first week-end just fine, considering this is the time I have my indulgence meals anyway, and I didn’t have to follow any rules at all.  I had a chicken fajita taco with beans on a  flour tortilla, tortilla chips, queso and a beer!  Take that Paleo! Nom. Nom. Nom.

I tried to evaluate any effectiveness after my first week. Weight: same (good).  Mood: same (good).  Energy same (good).   I realize it was only the first week and I slipped up a couple of times (plus my indulgence meal) but was this making any difference at all? Was I ready to give up?  Was I not giving it enough of a chance?

I decided to call it quits on Monday of the second week, when my regular lunch friend suggested the hummus restaurant again (I told you it was a weekly outing).  I started to try to explain why I shouldn’t go. I tested my will-power at the buffet last week and failed when I ate the hummus. Again, I struggled to explain why I was doing this, what I was hoping to gain, and why I was further limiting my already healthy diet for no apparent reason. It was especially hard to explain to someone who already thinks my regular diet is over-the-top strict. I already couldn’t explain it to myself, when I tried to explain it to another person out loud, I realized right then and there I was putting undue pressure on myself.  I could eat a chick pea if I wanted to. Why would I limit myself from my beloved peanut butter, when eating peanut butter never caused any determent to my health and fitness goals? What did peanut butter ever do to me?

I ultimately decided my general happiness and enjoyment of life was more important than some 30 day challenge. If peanut butter and hummus and an occasional glass of red wine bring me joy, there was no good reason to limit that joy.  We are talking about peanut butter here people, not drugs, smoking or excessive drinking!

While I still love the general idea of the Paleo diet, and strongly believe most people would benefit from eating only whole natural foods,  it is a little too restricting for me personally. I don’t see the need to cut out certain healthy foods from my diet, especially when I can’t fully understand the reasons why. I certainly don't have anything against the people who follow the diet and love it! I gave it a shot, and while I wasn’t successful, I wouldn’t call it a failure either. I would call it a learning experience. I learned I can't live without peanut butter and hummus and those cave men were really missing out.

I saw this over on Pinterest, and I think this says it best:
Source: via BackAt on Pinterest


Keep Running,

Lea

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28 comments :

  1. Good for you for listening to yourself! I tried Paleo/Primal several months ago and had to stop earlier than I originally intended because my gallbladder started flaring up.

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    1. That is interesting you had negative results. I didn't consider that possibility! I guess we all have to do what is best for us! :)

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  2. Lea what is your favorite brand of peanut butter?

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    1. we buy Smart Balance brand, all natural, chunky. Any brand is fine as long as it is all natural. :)

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  3. BTW it's me Deb that was wondering about the peanut butter!

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  4. Great post! I am about 80% Paleo but I do eat dairy, beans, and peanuts. I did strict Paleo for awhile and then slowly added things back in to see what bothered and these foods did not so why cut them out! Paleo is a lifestyle and you shouldn't feel like you are restricting or giving things up that you have no reason too! Good for you for listening to your body and realizing this :)

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  5. you can eat humus on paleo in moderation... it is a bit of a grey area as some hard core paleo people i have spoken to do eat them on occasion while others say the are too much a part of the legume family..

    I am paleo 90% of the time.... but i refuse to give up wine. I also switched from peanut butter to almond butter and i actually prefer it.... but yes it is difficult to cut out things you love, i still dont eat any grains or wheat though (gluten allergy)

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  6. I don't know much about the paleo diet but I'm not too excited about any "diets" that restrict a bunch of stuff. But to each it's own--what works for one person may not work for another. What works for me is eating healthy foods, trying to avoid processed foods, counting my calories and eating whatever I want in moderation. It works for me.

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    1. Lisa, I agree with you 100%, for me it is all about eating whole natural foods, limiting sugar and avoiding processed foods. It is a lifestyle - not a fad diet! :)

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  7. I follow a primal menu. It's not as strict as a paleo menu. I don't hace problems with dairy and can't live without greek yogurt or cheese.

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  8. I think everyone has to do what is right for themselves.

    I did a Whole30 Paleo challenge for the month of January and am pretty much still eating that way other than occasional red wine.

    If you read any of the leading paleo books such at The Paleo Diet (Dr Cordain) or It Starts With Food you would understand why you cannot have your favorite foods... they tell you in the books why these foods are unhealthy.

    I would never have been able to make the changes without supporting science.

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  9. I never really have understood why people create barriers for themselves when it comes to food. One thing I hate the most is hearing someone say they miss eating a particular food...especially when there is no medical reason for them to not eat it in the first place. If you WANT to eat yogurt, eat yogurt! If you WANT hummus, have at it! What's stopping you, right? Good for you for listening to your body and going with what works best for YOU!

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    1. Try being overweight with that mentality - it doesn't work. In fact, it is a lack of food barriers that causes many of our issues in the first place. I see where you are coming from, but you should consider that not everyone has the luxury of eating any-and-everything they want.

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    2. So right. 100% agree.

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  10. Thanks for sharing, I am thinking of going Paleo for health reasons, but giving up beans is going to be difficult and hummus too! I happen to like almond butter better than PB, but dont see why one is okay and not the other. I may just give up dairy and wheat (supposedly my trigger foods) instead of going completely Paleo...we will see.

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  11. I did the 30 day paleo challenge, along with many others at the crossfit I go to. I stopped doing the challenge around the 2 week mark. Along with you, I couldn't justify to myself why I was restricting myself from what I normally considered healthy food. I am a female, 24 years old and was 5'7" and 126 lbs (mostly lean with muscle)when I started. After day 5 I was down to 120 lbs. I had no energy and was told I wasn't eating "enough". I am not sure what enough is, considering I was eating all the time and in fact a lot. With the no energy came skipping the gym, laying around more, and feeling sick. I actually became nauseous and was turned off from food all together around day 8-9. I was getting headaches, which I am sure were from the sugar withdrawal. A friend of mine who is a nutritionist completely disagreed with what I was doing and said I needed more carbs. I know I was getting some from fruits and vegetables, but not enough. I eat healthy 75% of the time, and even my unhealthy 25% isn't that bad! Yes I allow myself to indulge at family parties, or birthday dinners, but I don't go crazy. I wasn't trying to lose weight during the paleo challenge and couldn't understand why yogurt, cheese, peanut butter were forbidden. If whole grains are so bad for you, why are there so many studies showing the benefits? I also like the occasional wheat wrap and wheat bread for sandwiches and think those are smart choices considering the many other food choices I could be making. I don't drink so had no problem with restricting alcohol. I believe this works person to person. For me, I am already lean and this was probably more dangerous then beneficial for my health. I find it funny when people say I eat this percent paleo. Why even say that, when in all reality a lot of people eat paleo a certain percent and non paleo another percent. Isn't eating healthy (however much percent) to each his own? Almost everyone that I know to eat paleo has their own version/twist of it, or bends the rules to fit what works best for them. Why even bother saying I eat this much paleo? Yes I am sure you do, but don't I technically eat paleo too then (plus grains, sugar, and dairy...) So then what is my percent? My point is everyone will do what is best for them and I find that it is far and few between that people really follow strict paleo 100%. It seems as if mentioning how paleo they eat gives them more satisfaction then just knowing they eat as healthy as they can, with their occasional indulgences. Maybe that is just my opinion, and I give props to all those who do follow the paleo diet! I was hoping it worked for me, it just didn't... and I wasn't healthy while on it. I do agree trying the challenge can be beneficial to some people who may need to restructure their diets completely, or want a jump start to feeling better. For others who may already eat what they consider healthy enough, this challenge did give me some good tips and I have incorporated more fruits/veggies and less grains. There are benefits of paleo, but everyone's body is different so don't be so hard on yourself when trying.

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  12. If you read the book "It starts with food" it will explain why you can't have certain items and what they do to the body. They even let you have your wine!

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  13. Amen Sister! Paleo is fantastic but what is the point of cutting out whole foods that your body is thriving off just becuase they don't fit within a certain category.

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  14. Amen Sister! Paleo is fantastic but what is the point of cutting out whole foods that your body is thriving off just becuase they don't fit within a certain category.

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  15. Try Sunflower butter

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  16. I completely agree. Being someone going from a traditional American diet of crap, to Paleo was amazing for my body- but I have found, like you, that some things are just illogical. I did cut out wheat, and dairy, because I noticed my body felt better, overall when I was not consuming these things. Thank you for sharing.

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  17. This post is a revelation: if you don't stick to a diet, you won't see the results. Who saw that coming? I sure didn't.

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    1. THANK YOU! You weren't even strict for a full week - how can you even confidently say it doesn't work for you? It takes a week or two to fully cleanse your body anyways. I understand if you missed your favorite foods and it wasn't worth it to you, but don't claim that you saw no results when you didn't even give a valiant effort.

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    2. I completely agree that I didn't give it a true test or effort. I absolutely did not. I just realized that I would rather eat the foods that I like and still eat healthfully than restrict myself that much. That's all. It just wasn't for me. It clearly IS for a lot of people and that is great for them. To each his own. I really didn't mean to come across as saying "it didn't work" That wasn't my point at all. thanks for your comment.

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  18. Going paleo for 30 days isn't really a big question of "Can you" make it to finish? The real thing is "Will you?"

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  19. Informative post, I am sharing some informative “1000 top Paleo Recipes” tips about weight loss which your visitors may like: http://bit.ly/1zZlLT9

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  20. I'm just starting this diet, was a bit concerned about the foods I would have to omit from my diet, as my main goal was to eliminate WHEAT and GRAINS. However, I will agree with those of you who for whatever reason decided NOT to stick with the full plan. After all, To Each His Own, as they say. In spite of all the reviews, I still want to try the diet, and will be combining the information under this plan and another well received book of information on Wheat Belly plans. So, I too, in the end, will be modifying all this to my benefit for hopefully satisfactory results. Having said this, one point I want to mention...with regard to the 'feeling sick, or tired', etc. your body will go through WITHDRAWALS... some suffer more than others, some don't suffer at all... just thought you should know... Best to All. Boynton Beach, FL

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  21. Peanut butter and hummus are literally the only two things holding me back from trying the Whole30. Good to know I'm not alone :) thanks for sharing your story

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