Thursday, February 21, 2013

My pre-paleo diet

The other day I got to thinking about my pre-paleo days. Specifically, my pre-paleo diet. I thought my choices were so healthy, but I was very misguided (thanks to the years and years I spent taking advice from mainstream nutrition experts). Now, I don't even want to think about how terrible I would feel if I returned to my old ways for even a few days. Low fat, high carb, constant calorie counting, guilt, etc., etc. Ugh. I feel like paleo has given me so much freedom. Maybe it sounds a little kookie to say that my previous eating habits had me in chains, but it is true.

This is what I used to eat on a typical day ...

For breakfast, cereal with non-fat milk. I preferred Honey Nut Cheerios, Puffins or Peace Cereal's Vanilla Almond Crunch. Every now and then I would throw on half of a sliced banana. You know, to give me a jump start on getting in my five servings of fruit and vegetables.

I used to always start my day with cereal.

By 10am, I was usually famished. My typical morning snack: string cheese. And almonds. Many, many almonds. I had zero portion control. But it didn't matter because the almonds gave me protein and healthy fats, right? Hahaha!

Lunch was sometimes better. Sometimes. Salad with lots of veggies and protein, with olive oil, lemon and sunflower seeds. But that was on a good day. Most of the time, I went for a turkey sandwich. The sandwich consisted of one slice of whole grain bread (I tried to make sure the bread didn't surpass 140 calories), a couple of slices of deli turkey (at least I was buying the natural turkey!) and two wedges of Laughing Cow Cheese. Oh, and I cannot forgot the chips! Kettle Chips. Exactly 15 of them, because that it what the bag deemed to be a serving. For dessert, I usually had an apple. Unless there were low calorie ice cream or fruit bars in the freezer. In that case I would ditch the apple and go for the frozen treat.

My afternoon snack habits were hit or miss. If I had a work deadline, things often got crazy because I used the kitchen as a procrastination tool. Oh, I'll just have a few more chips. I haven't had enough calcium today ... that lowfat yogurt looks good. I need a cup of tea (two teaspoons of sugar won't hurt me). I better finish these blueberries before they get rotten. Peanut butter is good source of protein so I'll just eat it from the jar with a spoon. I might be exaggerating some, but you get the point. Non-deadline days were totally different, though. If I snacked at all, it was a couple of carrot sticks. It is probably worth mentioning that I always had a really hard time staying awake after lunch. Long naps were not uncommon.

If you can believe it, dinner was probably my worst meal of the day. Yep, worse than what I've already described. A couple of nights a week I did some serious cooking. I made stew or stuffed chicken breasts or something we called tuna rice muffins (essentially mini tuna casseroles baked in a muffin tin). I guess those nights weren't so bad. The other nights, though? They were pathetic. I made stir-fry a lot because it was quick and easy, but I usually picked out the meat and just ate the rice and vegetables. Or, I boiled some pasta and tossed it in olive oil, Parmesan cheese and maybe some frozen broccoli. Sometimes I made a Crockpot meal that consisted of chicken breasts and three varieties of Campbell's soup. And sometimes I skipped dinner altogether, because I was too tired/lazy/busy to cook. I always added up my calories and I usually counted fat grams. It's quite sad, really. I was depleted and deprived, and I didn't even know it. I thought I was doing the right thing because the Today Show told me I was doing the right thing. But in reality, I was way, way off.

I'm so relieved to have this chapter behind me, and even though I do have my 'off' days they never look anything like this. Ever. I mean, I would seriously rather fast for an entire weekend than eat Laughing Cow Cheese or pour Campbell's soup into my Crockpot. I love that I no longer need to count calories or fat grams, I love that I am finally giving my body real nourishment, I love that I can eat eggs and butter for breakfast at 8am and have plenty of energy to make it through a really tough workout four hours later. It's a really great feeling, and I'll never turn back.