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5 Things I Learnt on the Paleo Diet

New year, new me – this is what I tell myself every single year while scribbling out my exceptionally bold New Year’s Resolutions List. However, this year, I did not have to add “eat cleaner” to my list because my mom was kind enough to decide that my whole family needed to eat clean. And by clean…I mean Paleo clean. Being paleo means being free of gluten, grains, dairy, beans, soy, refined oil, sugar, processed foods and basically, everything that is not nutrient dense or may cause inflammation in the body.

My mom, being the powerful force she is, threw out all foods that were not Paleo-friendly. Additionally, she packed our toaster away and dusted off our blender. I would like a moment of silence for the toaster who stood by me during my peanut butter and toast craving days. 

Was it fun? No. Did I learn a few things? Yes. I shall be sharing them with you now:

1. The Hanger is Real

 I cannot count the number of arguments I found myself in because I was hangry. Hangry, defined according to  Merriam-Webster, means “being irritable due to hunger”. As someone who adores high-sugar foods, detoxing off of it proved to be the most difficult part of this diet.

2. You will learn things about yourself

I discovered how much money I spend on treats alone. I won’t go into detail, but it’s A LOT. Many say eating healthy is expensive; which, it can be, especially if you try to substitute unhealthy food for healthier ones. I discovered a possible remedy for this conundrum – rather stick to basics: fruits and veggies, nuts, seafood, and lean meat. 

3. You’ll be tired AF

Personally, if I’m busy, I tend to depend on sugar or simple carbohydrates to pick me up. Without these, I felt a bit more cloudy and sleepy for the first two weeks. This does tend to lead to grumpiness, but you feel quite refreshed after the initial detox. Read why this happens here.

4. You will lose weight

Sugar and carbohydrates are our bodies’ first sources of energy. Essentially, to save you the biology lesson, if our bodies don’t have these sources readily available, they have to dip into your fat stores, which your body would prefer not to. As paleo tends to be low carb, this is what your body is forced to do.

5. Smoothies. Lots of them.

You learn to be extremely creative. I initially loathed the thought of a green smoothie, but once I found one that I genuinely liked, I made it continuously. I alternated between a green smoothie, chocolate smoothie, and a vanilla smoothie. Smoothie mixes help, but there’s no reason you can’t only use fresh fruits and veg to create the perfect smoothie.

Honestly, after the initial two weeks, this diet did make me feel really good. My hair was shinier, my skin cleared up and I felt a lot lighter. However, this diet was extremely restrictive and hard to stick to. The main purpose of any diet or healthy eating plan should be to improve your health and how you feel, not necessarily how you look. 

Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, Gender Studies and Anthropology at UCT.
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