“I’ll never give up pasta!
Sucks for those Celiacs who can’t eat it.”
I used to say stuff like that.
Almost 3 months ago my husband and I gave up grains and refined sugars and started wandering down the Paleo trail.
Do we feel like hypocrites? Not really.
We stopped eating grains and stop buying processed foods (yep, no cereal, no bagels, no oatmeal, no crackers, no chips) because we learned how important it is for us not to.
People change. But how and why, you ask?
I remember us having conversations about eliminating grains. I would say something like, “I grew up eating pasta and stuffed shells! I want our son to know all about Italian food.” Italians (at least Italians in the US) like their pasta faggioli, garlic knots and cannolis!
How were we possibly going to make this switch?
What would we eat at Christmas dinner with our Aunts and Uncles?
Well, first we stopped making excuses for why we bought and made food like that in the first place – because it was fast, easy and cheap. Plus, more importantly, we stopped whining about cooking and washing dishes every day. Seriously, if that is the biggest problem we have – a pile of dishes in the sink – I think we’re living a pretty good life. There are people dealing with much worse stress on a daily basis – like not having enough food, for example.
Secondly, we started to educate ourselves on why/how we should eat whole, REAL food. (I can go on about how annoying and disheartening it is to re-learn what truly healthy foods are – and they aren’t vegetable oils, low fat snacks and cholesterol free foods – but I’ll save that for another post.)
Thirdly, we simplified what Paleo means to us on our budget and with our busy schedule (two full time jobs, toddler, 2 dogs, cat, life things, etc.).
Lastly, we let go of the social and cultural ties that kept us from doing what is best for our health.
Let’s take a stroll down memory lane for a moment…
Growing up, my mom would make home cooked meals every day. She never made anything out of a box for dinner. And I love her for that. But I felt deprived of all the goodies my friend’s parents would stock their pantries with. Fruit Roll-Ups, Twinkies, Rice Krispie Treats, you know, the “good stuff”! I remember going to college and bingeing on Chef Boyardee, PopTarts and LuckyCharms.
I know how hard it can be to go against the grain (ba-dom-ch!) and not eat like everyone else because I have been taught the same food pyramid as you. The difference is now I think it ridiculous, a waste of marketing dollars and energy to sell whole grain freakin’ LuckyCharms. Are you kidding me? How is that ANY better? (!!!)
When I tell people I cook everything in lard and butter I get crazy looks, and I get it. They don’t understand.
So, I figured I owe it to myself and to you (my friends and family who may or may not think we are weird for turning into hippies overnight) to explain a little more about why we think eating eggs for breakfast every day (Yolks included! Mmm!) is the best life change we have and probably will ever make.
My Grandma died last week.
You’ll remember I was Hoppin’ Mad a few weeks ago after she had her leg amputated. She was 91, the youngest of 13 siblings, had 5 kids, 14 grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren and 3 great great grandchildren. She was an amazing woman.
Grandma had Type 2 diabetes and a pace maker. She was as sharp as a whip right up until the end. I can’t help but wonder how much longer she would have lived and how much better her quality of life would have been without heart disease and diabetes.
Earlier this year I called my Gram just to say hi and ask her how she was doing. She said she was “just existing”…I told her I thought that was sad. She explained that’s what happens when you get old. Now, Gram was a very wise lady and I don’t like to disagree with her, but I have to on this one. I don’t want to just be existing when I am 91. I want to be living until I drop dead.
Here is where Paleo comes in. Paleo is simple – just eat whole foods – (worry about improving the quality once you’re comfortable with this idea) but people over-complicate things when faced with making life changes – just like we did when we considered our Italian/German/American childhoods that included pastas, bread, and baked goods we now know are not good for us.
Everything we learn about industrial seed oils, hydrogenated fats, processed foods, GMOs, and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, helps us understand why people are so damn unhealthy these days. It isn’t just because we are sedentary, sitting on our butts all day typing at work. That is just one part of the problem – it is also because people forgot how to eat! We started blindly following the food pyramid even though it has NEVER been scientifically tested to prove it has any health benefits.
I cringed when I ordered cavatelli and broccoli (even though it was Gram’s favorite), penne vodka and rolls for the repass after my Grandma’s funeral. But, I would of had some pretty confused Italians if I didn’t get pasta for lunch. (I wasn’t about to get on a soap box either.)
I didn’t want my family to eat this stuff because I don’t want them to go through what my Grandma did – and I know grains have a lot to do with the problem.
In addition to the pasta dishes, I ordered chicken Marsala, tri-color salad, potatoes with spicy peppers, mozzarella Caprese, sausage, peppers and onions and some cold cuts – probably not all super clean “Paleo” food, but a pretty good compromise. AND it was all very Italian. (I wonder if anyone would have missed the pasta?).
So don’t let your cultural ties keep you from doing what is best for your body. It is the only one you get in this life. Feed it good food and please God stay away from the pasta.
Oh and before I forget, serious shout out to my rock star brother-in-law who got me hooked on Paleo. Love you bro!
I shared this post on FoodRenegade.com’s Fight Back Fridays, June 15, 2012.