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One Family’s Primal Journey

People often give my funny looks when they find out I don’t eat grains of any kind. I get even funnier looks when they find out that I eat three meals a day without any snacking. But it’s true and I feel more healthy and energetic than ever before at the ripe young age of 40.

What does it mean to eat primal? Basically, if you could hunt or gather it back in paleolithic times, it’s ok to eat. Some joke that you just need to eat like grok. But the premise is to eat as our ancestors did and thereby avoid a lot of the modern day toxins that are present in our food sources.

The biggest difference from mainstream diets is that I don’t eat any grains. And I mean any grains, including wheat, barley, rye, rice, corn and quinoa. Legumes are also not eaten and that includes all beans, peanuts and soy. Since we are primal in our home we do eat dairy and the occasional starchy tuber like sweet potatoes. And the big no-no for most people….  no processed foods.

Now, you may think that after cutting all of that out of my diet that I am left with nothing to eat. On the contrary! My menus have never been tastier. I enjoy all cuts of meat and make sure they are grass fed. The nutritional benefits of grass fed are significant and if you buy locally, the price is normally reasonable. I eat most any vegetables, typically buying locally and what is in season. By doing that I can support local farmers and find I don’t get bored with our food. In our home we eat a lot of fruit too, with small kids fresh fruit is a nice treat to have in place of sugar or other processed foods. And like I mentioned, I eat dairy, lots of grass fed butter, cream, cheeses, raw milk and kefir.

My journey to primal eating has been a typical one. I got really tired of my afternoon sluggishness, the extra pounds I was carrying around my middle, and my poor quality of sleep. I was eating a typical American diet full of whole grains, lean meats and cheeses, fruit and some vegetables. I didn’t eat great, but didn’t consider it to be all that bad either.

I didn’t realize I could be doing so much more for my health and the health of my family. I will admit, it seemed far fetched when I was first introduced to the primal lifestyle by a friend. But, given the way I was feeling and my desire to lose some weight, get fit and stay that way, I didn’t have anything to lose.

The first thing I did was to cut grains out of my diet completely, cold turkey. I’m an all or nothing kind of gal so that was the best tact to take. I estimate that one change cut around 200-300 carbs from my daily macronutrients. I started eating fat again. I had forgotten how wonderful food tastes when cooked in butter! I then cut out sugar. I tend to like a sweet treat on a regular basis, but my palate changed so much after cutting grains out that the typical sweet treat became too sweet to enjoy. Now a square of 85% dark cacao does the trick, but I rarely crave anything sweet anymore.

Those changes were the backbone of my primal beginnings. It didn’t take long before the whole family was primal and no one has regretted it. We are more active, healthier and we feel better with this lifestyle. Overall, it’s been the right choice for our family. Financially it hasn’t made a difference. Yes, our meats are slightly more expensive, but that is offset by the fact that we don’t buy anything in the center of the grocery store. All the savings from cereals, crackers, cookies, and any other processed foods cover the increased costs of meats and produce easily. The family also cooks more together. It’s created a common interest in us and we have really enjoyed discovering new foods and recipes to try together. Every weekend we make almond flour pancakes together and that ritual has become a family favorite.

For me personally, I’ll never eat any other way again. In the first year of being primal I lost 20 pounds with no exercise, dropped 40 points of cholesterol and began sleeping better than I ever have in my life. My seasonal allergies are gone and I’ve always suffered every spring and fall. My energy levels are constant through the day and are always high. My joints feel better, I just don’t have the typical aches and pains anymore (that’s due to less inflammation caused by grains). And, it’s gotten my family outdoors and more active than ever. Swimming, hiking and walking are all daily activities now rather than just weekly. And like I mentioned before, it’s brought us closer together and forged common interests between us that will be there our entire lives. It’s why I call this our primal journey, because it will never end it will just continue evolving and sustaining us through many, many years to come.

Interested in learning more about primal eating and living? Check out Mark’s Daily Apple or google “primal eating” or “paleo eating” to read more.

8 thoughts on “One Family’s Primal Journey

  1. I love hearing about how others got started in this lifestyle! We started our paleo journey about six years ago. We have had our ups and down with sticking to it, but we really do feel so much more vibrant and alive when do! Love Mark’s Daily Apple!

  2. What do you do for kids lunches at school? I’m definitely going to give this a try for 30 days

    1. Well, for our kids we send fruit and veggies, usually ones that can be eaten quickly! We make our own applesauce using honey and lemon as a sweetener & preservative, and we make our own fruit leathers or buy high quality ones. We also send leftovers like chicken and just make sure to add in a decent ice pack (we live in the desert, so that is critical). Hard boiled eggs are good, bacon crumbled on a salad, etc… One of my kids’ favorites is “Zombie Brains” (I have boys). I mash a banana with some nut butter, add a bit of honey and cinnamon and the gobble it down. It has plenty of carbs and protein to get them through the afternoon. For kids not used to eating this way, it may be a big change that they are not comfortable with, so you may have to go slowly. My own kids (10 and 13) think the school lunches are completely gross and unappetizing, so they don’t mind bringing their own “good stuff.” They have been teased a little, but they start telling the other kids what types of ingredients they are consuming in the school lunches and that usually stops those comments. Many kids just never think about what they are putting in their bodies! We discuss it all the time, but make sure the kids know they are welcome to try out “non-paleo” foods too – it is their choice too.

      1. We homeschool so school lunches aren’t as much of an issue, but we are on the go so much with activities and my son’s therapies that we do pack quite a few meals to eat out. Kelly listed a lot of our go to items. I make home made Lara bars which are great for lunchboxes. My kids love boiled eggs, bacon, uncured pepperoni with cream cheese and rolled up. We make applesauce too, but with no sweetener. I just throw the apples in the Vitamix and add some berries and let it whirl, lol. Yogurt is another go to food for us. We also do almond flour pancakes in bulk and freeze them, the kids eat those plain when we’re on the go. They’d actually go into a lunchbox frozen and be perfect by lunchtime. Make some with chopped berries or blueberries in them and they don’t need syrup at all. Muffins of all kinds made with almond flour are also good. Heidi, give it a full 30 days and you’ll be amazed. Once you get over the carb withdrawal it’s amazing how great you’ll feel!

  3. Thanks for sharing, K!!

  4. Yes, I was wondering about lunches to pack for school. I guess hard boiled eggs would work but how do you keep meat and eggs cold when they have to sit in a locker for 4 hours?

  5. I was surprised to read that quinoa was not included in this diet as it is not a grain, it is more closely related to beets or spinach. I love it and it is such a great part of my diet. I have tried some of the paleo diet but am not yet convinced. I think that really what works for some bodies may not work for other bodies. One of the issues that I have with the diet is the amount of recipes with almond flour, almond butter, and tree nuts. We are currently a nut free house for the most part due to allergies. I have tried grainless banana pancakes and love them.

    1. Carrie, I know what you mean. I actually eat Paleo myself while the family is primal and although I do nut flours for the kids, I don’t eat it myself. I find it pretty easy for me to keep nuts out of my diet. You are so right, everyone’s experiences vary!

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