Shifting to primal/paleo eating – part 2

In my first post about primal/paleo eating I gave a (very) brief overview of the principles of eating this way. In this one I will talk about the process I followed to make the change to my diet.

It’s worth pointing out that I wasn’t really planning to make this change when I started. Instead I wanted to solve other issues I was having like staying full after meals and low energy levels in the afternoon – it turned out that this was the best way of doing it.

It meant I went into it gradually, meal by meal, which is contrary to a lot of advice, but made for quite an easy transition. Hopefully it will be useful for other people thinking of making a similar change but that feel like it is too big a leap.

Change one – breakfast
Breakfast as I was growing up was always cereal and I carried that on as an adult. The trouble was that no matter how much I ate in the morning, I would find myself hungry again by 10am. And not just a bit peckish, a gnawing, light headed, ‘have to eat’ kind of hungry.

I used to solve this by simply eating again but a few months ago started to wonder if there was a better way – if I was getting that hungry so quickly after a meal, maybe there was something wrong with the meal?

Initially I tried muesli, oats and porridge but nothing changed (they are still cereals!). I then tried quiche and salad for a while, which was ‘just plain wrong’ according to my Dad, and that didn’t work either.

As I did more research and understood more about using fat for fuel I also read (I can’t remember where) that the first meal of the day dictates whether you continue burn fat following your overnight fast, or start to rely on a continued intake of carbs for fuel.

This sounded like it could be the answer so I switched to eggs for breakfast. Initially the mid-morning hunger was still there, but it was a different, more manageable feeling. I found I could ignore it quite easily and it would go away. After a few days it was gone altogether – winner!

Change two – lunch and snacks
I was intrigued. The idea of primal eating had always appealed and now I was starting to see the benefits for myself. I’d wake up, have my eggs, feel energised all morning, then eat sandwiches for lunch and promptly feel like I was about to fall asleep at my desk.

As the my experiment with a high fat/protein breakfast had been successful, I thought I’d try continue it through the day. I switched lunch to a salad with loads of meat and oily fish and cut out all sugary snacks.

The snacks were difficult at first as the people I work with are biscuit fiends. I resisted by always having some almonds in my desk and would snack on those whenever I was tempted. This was great as it meant I was never hungry and never felt like I was missing out.

After a few days I was not at all sleepy in the afternoons. I was amazed, doubly so as this this was just after having our new baby and my sleep was awful.

Change three – dinner
By this point my Wife had been seeing the effect this diet was having on me and had made similar changes herself.

There was really only one change left to make. To see such great results during the day only to eat a massive pasta dinner seemed ridiculous. Plus many of our favourite meals are some combination of meat, fish and vegetables.

That was it – the whole process took place over roughly six weeks. The great thing was that each decision was reinforced by its effects and the incremental nature of the changes made it easy to build, and keep, good habits.

It has been a bit of challenge to our food budget but we have found ways around it. There is an excellent farm shop not far from us that sells meat in bulk. Not only is the meat great quality, it’s also good value. Plus I get to say things like ‘we just bought quarter of a pig’, which is truly awesome.

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