Sitting here in the middle of the night eating bread and butter to calm my stomach down, the idea of starting a totally Paleo way of eating feels ridiculous and unachievable. But from Monday, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing. I’ve signed up for six months of meal plans, shopping lists and suggested workouts on a site called paleoplan.com.
I first read a book called Protein Power in early 2000, and I was swayed by the authors’ argument that the human body is not set up for a diet in refined carbohydrates. This is no longer lunatic fringe theory, of course, but back then, it really was not regarded highly by the medical profession. Over the years, I’ve come to believe that adjusting my diet to include the kind of nutritional breakdown that the hunter gatherers had (minus the insects!) and eating more in the way of organic, unrefined and unprocessed food would be extremely good for my health, but until now I’ve just not had the time, energy, impetus, need, to go for it wholeheartedly.
But there is no doubt about it, I need to do something about my health and my lifestyle. I’ve taken the alopathic medical route, and I’m diligently taking the drugs, talking to the specialists, striving as hard as I can to do the right thing about my colitis. I’m doing some of the complementary stuff as well, as much yoga as I can dredge up the energy for, eating live yoghurt, trying to reduce stress (hah!) – and although in some ways I’m better than I was, I’m still nowhere near top form. I have three children and a demanding job – I need to be on top form. The Paleo diet makes no claim to cure my colitis – but through experience and common sense, I’m hoping that it will have an overall positive effect on my health.
It may not be realistic to assume I will ever be superwoman, given that I have a non-curable lifelong debilitating condition. I never really was superwoman to start with! But I am convinced there has to be a way for me to regain my energy levels. I’ve attempted to eat in a more ‘paleo’ way before, but it involves such a radical change to my lifestyle that I’ve not been able to stick to it. Paleoplan though, makes all my choices for me. Every meal and snack is pre-chosen for me and there’s a shopping list weekly, so that I’ll always have the right food in the house. I decided to give it a go when I realised that it costs about the same per month as my subscription to Netflix…
Hopefully, I’ll end up losing some weight as well as experiencing some other health benefits. The Cambridge Diet worked. I stuck to it for eight weeks, and lost two stone. I’m glad I did it, even though I put some of the weight back on, because otherwise I’d now be two stone more, and I think that would be very uncomfortable. But for someone like me, for whom food is directly linked in to my happiness and satisfaction with life, in my situation, with three children, and living in a culture (Jewish) where food, community meals, feeding people is so utterly ingrained, it was not sustainable. And, frankly, it was miserable. And because it was not sustainable, it suffered from the same problem that most diets do – when I stopped, I gained weight again.
I would recommend the Cambridge Diet for anyone who needs to lose significant weight in a short space of time. The shakes and soups and bars are actually rather nice, there is a lot of support available from your consultant, and I believe it’s said by the NHS to be nutritionally sound with regard to essential nutrients. But long term, it’s just not for me.
So Paleo, here we come. I’ve bought the first week’s food thanks to the joy of online shopping, and the cost was eyewatering. However, I (hopefully) won’t be buying snacks, or in fact, any other food – so maybe it will even out in time. Even if it doesn’t, if I can find some way of not feeling nauseous most of the time, losing my almost constant headaches, reducing the effects of the arthritis and managing to drag my leadbum up off the sofa, it’ll be worth the extra cost.