Eating Paleo/Primal and Listening to Your Body

Written by Kate • June 5, 2012 •
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Caveman

Image Thanks to Lord Jim

I used to be able to eat/drink cow’s milk, like cheese, milk, sour cream, and ice cream. And then I spent two years in West Africa in the Peace Corps where few people in the area I lived in had access to cow’s milk and therefore I rarely had any cheese and never had any milk or other refrigerated products. And then after Peace Corps, I started traveling for work and spent a lot of time in overseas and continued to reduce my intake until one day, I woke up and my body said no more.

The End of an Era

Because I had a habit of not listening to my body’s wisdom, I tested this message a few times. First I started having massive stomach pains from eating cow’s milk, rolling on the floor, groaning type pain. And then I made myself a fruit smoothie for breakfast – low fat milk and berries. By the time I got to work, I barely made it to the bathroom before I starting vomiting. But this wasn’t a big enough lesson for me. I thought to myself, maybe the milk or the berries were bad. Certainly, with all of my traveling in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean, I’ve had my share of food poisoning, dysentery, and giardia. Maybe it was that. So I waited a week and got all new ingredients and tried it again. This time, I didn’t make it to work and had to turn back home to worship at the porcelain god.  But this time I noticed that I felt perfectly fine after I got rid of the offending inputs. And I knew then that cow’s milk and me had just said goodbye.

Moving On

It took a lot of adjustment and trial and error but I was able to create a perfectly satisfying diet without cow’s milk. I can eat all the sheep’s and goat cheese I want, for example, so I still get my cheese. And there a lot of ice cream brands out there that are “dairy” free.

Last year, however, I started noticing that there was just something wrong with the food I was eating but I couldn’t tell what it was. It wasn’t overt like my issue with cow’s milk but it was persistent and getting worse. So with the gluten free craze currently in vogue, I decided to cut gluten out of my life. I did feel better but it didn’t fix everything. And plus it was so hard to eat that way, with delicious sour dough bread, beer, and goat cheese pizza out there, the sacrifice didn’t seem worth.

Eating Paleo/Primal

But the malaise continued and I was still turning around in my head what to do about it when I heard about eating Paleo [or Primal]. Dooce, one of my absolute fave bloggers, talked about how she was eating Paleo as well, and gave a great overview of what she was eating and why. So I bought Robb Wolf’s book and was sold on the concept. So I recruited Dion into eating Paleo for one month, because I knew a one month trial would be so much easier if we both were invested. And off we went.

Well, all of my low level malaise disappeared and my constant hunger- gone. We then discovered Mark Sisson‘s Primal eating through his Mark’s Daily Apple. Fast forward and it’s now coming up on one year of eating Paleo/Primal. It’s been hard cutting bread, beer, and gluten out of my diet but it’s so worth it. Just last week I decided to throw caution to the wind and I had three doughnuts to celebrate an accomplishment with some friends. I was so sick later that day- quite a reminder that gluten actually does me harm.

Listen

My take away message is my body knows what it needs and wants far better than what my brain tells me I need or want. Listening to my body and taking action on the clues is the best course of action, always.

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