Honestly? I was skeptical...I wasn't sure we could keep it up...I wasn't sure we could recover from Superman's 3 week leave filled his favorites from life BP (Before Primal) as well as a lot of festive eating. Amazingly, we did. The results we'd gotten before Superman came home made it possible for me to put on a bathing suit in the middle of March with very view qualms. Returning to our Primal way of eating as soon as we got back from vacation helped us quickly bounce back to our pre-vacation status. Since then, we've just continued to make progress.
I've felt like I've been keeping a secret and couldn't seem to blog around that secret...the change has been that monumental. So, now you know. We use words like "primal" to describe our eating habits (even the kids) and we're comfortable with that.
Want some more information? Okay, then, this is my take on it all.
What is the difference between "Primal" and "Paleo"? Both ways of eating exclude grains and legumes and include meat, nuts, eggs, vegetables and fruit. At first blush, the difference is simply the inclusion vs. exclusion of dairy products (Primal Eating lets you eat limited dairy/Paleo eating says dairy is a no-no.) To me, however, the different is much more fundamental. Mark Sisson, the author of the Primal Blueprint, encourages a relaxed approach to eating (and to life)...figuring in "cheats" or non-primal eating as part of a modern lifestyle. Perfection is not the goal of the Primal Blueprint. As Mark puts it, "Many of the benefits of a strict and discipline "healthy" lifestyle can be compromised by a perfectionist mentality. The forces of hectic daily life (cultural traditions, convenience, and fast pace) will divert you from your ideal often, and this is perfectly okay (just make smart adjustments!). Strive for 100% with the understanding that your efforts will probably get you to 80%." It is for this reason that I chose the Primal Blueprint instead of the Paleo Solution....but if you have intestinal issues (IBS, etc.) people have tremendous results with the more restrictive Paleo diet. (Don't believe me? Read the comments on Robb Wolf's blog...they are so encouraging!) The Primal Blueprint just seemed more doable for me (and I didn't have any health problems I was trying to resolve).
The compromise reminds me that these are guidelines that I can work to fit into my life, but if some of them don't work, it will be okay. For example, remember my friend who gleefully informed me she's lost 7 pounds? She eats oatmeal for breakfast everyday - Monday thru Friday. She's unwilling to give it up. Still, in a month of primal eating with this compromise, she's lost 7 pounds! That 7 pounds has encouraged her to keep going...the compromises she's made has kept this way of eating doable for her.
As for me? I love, love, love Mexican food. (No, really, I love it!) Unfortunately, refried beans are legumes, flour tortillas are made of grain, corn tortillas and tortilla chips are made of a different grain--you knew corn is a grain, right? Truly, this is NOT primal. Still, I won't give them up...I just won't. My compromise? I don't have them at home anymore (although I make amazing refried beans and homemade tortilla chips to die for). When we go to our favorite Mexican restaurant, I eat whatever I want with no guilt...and it is good! It hasn't undermined my results. In fact, it has worked out to be the opposite because I don't feel deprived at all. The kids like/miss other things...Buttercup is desperately wanting a Taco Ring, so next weekend, we'll be having a Taco Ring. (I won't be eating the bread part, because I'm just not missing it.) Valiant wants lasagna with pasta (not long strips of zucchini in their place, so we're getting "real" lasagna on the menu in the next few weeks. Nothing is forbidden.
The basic idea is to eliminate grains, get your protein and good fats up and your carbs way down. It is that simple. No calorie counting, no real "rules". This way of eating encourages eating vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Some people really get into figuring out macronutrients and micronutrients of everything they eat, but I don't. I just make sure I have protein at every meal, good fats, nuts, and lots of vegetables and fruits.
If you even begin to consider this way of eating, you'll face head on the realization that our typical American diet is grain based. It can feel daunting to change that paradigm in your own home, especially with a spouse and/or kids who is/are reluctant to change the status quo. In the next few days, I tell you how I began this way of eating and even more importantly, how I convinced my kids that this was a worthwhile experiment. (Superman is theoretically on board, but the Mess Hall (DFAC) doesn't really offer much that isn't processed.)
For now, think about it...do you ever have a meal that doesn't have grains?
P.S. I'm turning 48 this year and as I read through the comments on the blogs of both Mark Sisson and Robb Wolf the thing that struck me most about the people who'd tried this way of eating? Even "oldsters" were having tremendous success...it is easy to get results on a 25-year old body, but to get results on a 55-year old body? That is impressive.