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My Paleo Experiment, Part 3 of 4

1 Jul 2010


5 Steps of Grief, Paleo style.

by Elizabeth

Cave life is no walk in the park.

Two weeks down in primal living, and I’m definitely not feeling at the top of my game. Now granted, I’ve not been a very good cavewoman so far – instead of running and jumping and playing outside all summer, I’ve been working full time and driving a lot (not a healthy paleo past-time).

As I suspected, the first two weeks of my gastronomic lifestyle change bring more inconveniences than payoffs, and my taste buds miss the old me. In their honor, I present my challenges as the five stages of grief, paleo style.

The five stages of grief:

1. Shock and Denial

My body experienced the shock, and me, the denial.

For the first two days of adjusting to much higher fiber levels, my stomach was so bloated it resembled a second trimester pregnancy, my “fiber baby” as I like to call it. (But a fiber baby is much better than a sugar/sodium bloated belly!)

My workouts are weaker–much weaker–partly because of less carbs but also because of my work schedule preventing me from working out much more than 3 times a week. So far, my body doesn’t appear any fitter than before. It’s still adjusting.

2-Anger-wanting to fight back or get even

The problem with fighting back is you have to have someone to fight, and this whole paleolithic experiment is self-inflicted. It’s not Grok’s fault that modern life has made me soft, so my only way of getting even in this stage of grief is by “trash talking” Grok and his funny diet a little bit.

The thing about being paleolithic is that it is very cost prohibitive and also inconvenient. Not only is it nearly impossible to eat out, but you must be very active in planning and preparing meals. As I’ve expressed, I’m all for mindful, conscious eating, but being paleolithic demands that you are constantly on your game and ready with recipes. One busy day of distractions can lead you straying off course. I suppose though, to be fair to poor Grok, that straying can be the case with any lifestyle, and at least with the paleo one you can’t stray much farther than an excessive amount of almonds and peaches.

At least initially while I’m getting used to it, I’ve noticed that leading a hunter-gatherer life can sometimes leave me, well, hunting and gathering. I’m looking for something to satisfy my cravings and appetite when my snack fare won’t cut it. I believe that, done right, paleo fare can be extremely filling. What isn’t completely satiating about a big, juicy steak? The only problem is that it requires a lot of money and effort to have a big, juicy (not to mention organic and local, which I’m all behind) steak a minimum of once a day. That just isn’t feasible for most modern day human beings.


Almond butter has become my guilty pleasure. The endearing thing about processed foods is that they are quick and an easily accessible dose of addictive sweetness. Although taste buds certainly adjust, it’s a bit harder to get that quick, immediate “yum” factor out of vegetables and meat without preparation. That’s where almond butter (raw, of course) comes in. Its sweetness has replaced all of my cravings for ice cream, bread, cereal, chocolate, etc. For a guilty pleasure, it’s a great choice for its low levels of saturated fats and high levels of ALA omega 3’s. Ideally, though, I should only have one serving of nuts a day (high in calories), but I haven’t quite gotten the gist of preparing primal food on a busy, nonstop modern schedule. Thus, for these first two weeks I’ve had a lot of “snack foods” (fruits, nuts, paleo-approved bars such as the tasty Larabars).

Oh, but there has been much more bargaining than just dessert compromises. I have literally stood staring at the ingredients of some of my favorite foods that are soo close to being okay (sun-dried tomatoes, dried apricots, dark chocolate, turkey sausage, and of course, almond butter) and gone tête-à-tête with my shoulder angels. “But there’s less than 2% sulfur dioxide…surely my body won’t know the difference! But the cane sugar is organic. It’s natural right?” Etcetera etcetera…and etcetera.

4. Depression-frustration and self-pity.

I’m working at a restaurant where I’m surrounded by the aroma of authentic homemade Italian food. As I present the hot, savory pizzas to the customers and watch the looks of pleasure that cross their faces with just one bite, I’m practically salivating. Once I get back home late, I consider skipping dinner and going to bed instead of cooking a meal. Eventually I decide that I need to eat (12 hours without eating lowers metabolic function by 50%), but instead of meticulously preparing a nice hunk of game meat like I probably should, I settle for some almond butter.

One night, exhausted from a busy shift, I sat down with a spoon and a jar of the night’s choice comfort food: organic unsweetened applesauce. At that moment a member of the Sherrill family entered the kitchen for a snack and pulled out my favorite organic dark chocolate with almonds…suddenly my comfort food wasn’t so comforting.


Well…I haven’t quite gotten here yet! However, I’m saying all of these negative things about the diet now when I’m on my long haul into the dark tunnel of being paleo. Right now I’m not happy about all that I have to give up, and I don’t feel significantly different yet to feel like this is worth it…but that’s how everyone is at the beginning, I’m sure. In a couple weeks I may be the strongest advocate of this diet out of anyone! I won’t make any definite conclusions until my mission is complete.


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