My fiancé is a caveman. At least, he eats like one. He follows the diet known as "Paleo," or "Primal". This diet emphasizes the minimization or elimination of several different types of food, including sugars, dairy, processed foods, and legumes, from one's diet and the introduction of fat as the primary fuel source. That means that my fiancé does not eat gluten or wheat products of any kind, no beans, legumes, or grains, unnecessary sugars, sometimes no dairy, and absolutely nothing artificial or stuffed full of preservatives. Instead, he eats a lot of meat, vegetables, few fruits, occasionally some nuts, and a lot of coconut and olive oils.
When I first met him, this diet seemed crazy to me. Having lived with him for nine months now and cooking with him, this diet still seems crazy, especially to someone who loves her beer and chocolate, used to be a vegetarian, and works in a bakery.
More than once his restrictive diet has almost sent me over the edge--we have a choice of only two restaurants in our town where he can find something to eat that isn't too carb heavy, and for the past two weeks our fridge has only been stocked with chicken, bacon, eggs, and brussel sprouts.
As a foodie, I revel in eating a varied diet, with no holds barred. I will eat anything, if only once, and I am not one to eat the same thing too often. Even at the coffee shops I frequent, no barista can guess my order for the day, even while they know my fiancé's request as soon as he walks through the door.
So, this idea of eating a diet that I might argue eliminates some of my favorite things (buttery, flaky croissants, pasta with garlic bread, pizza and calzones and breadsticks), was a hard sell for me. But, I still tried it. For 30 days, I ate like a "cavewoman". Well, for the most part.
I'll admit up front, I lasted about a week before I was craving all the sweets and bread and carbs I could get my hands on. I went to work every morning having eaten an Epic bar (think a really thick stick of jerky, with nuts and fruit) and black coffee and then I spent my whole morning eyeing the trays of muffins, scones, croissants, and cinnamon rolls until lunch, when I sat down and ate a salad or my leftovers from the previous night. I was fairly grumpy the first couple days and I didn't notice any benefits from the new diet.
But I stuck with it and only ended up "cheating" a couple times—pizza had never tasted so good after going two weeks without any bread, and another time I indulged in a white chocolate mocha and slurped the sugary drink with glee. And really, by the end of the month I started to enjoy the Paleo diet.
It was all too easy to slip back into old habits after the challenge was over, though. I had started the challenge because I wanted to try something new and because I wanted to show my support for my fiancé. The benefits I took away from it where extra bonuses. I felt more energetic, stopped needing the afternoon naps I'd been taking every day, saved money by eating more meals at home, and ended up dropping a couple pounds of unnecessary weight, too.
Now, months later, I am going to embark on the Paleo challenge a second time. This go-around I'm making it more than just a one-month challenge—I'm working to make it my consistent diet.
I should clarify that when I say "diet," I really mean the Webster definition—"habitual nourishment", and not just "a special course of food restrictions designed to lose weight". In a culture that places too much emphasis on being skinny but not necessarily healthy, I do not want to fall into that trap of trying crazy fads and weight-loss tips and supplements as a means of achieving a goal weight or size. I'm going to try it the old-fashioned way instead: eating healthy, nourishing food that support my mind as well as my body, and working out to build and tone muscle.
It may turn out that I am just not suited to be a cavewoman.But it is still worth trying, at least for the sake of my health. And, at the very least, this new diet will include plenty of bacon.