Since the Paleo challenge is quickly approaching, I asked Stefanie Stramotas, who is a huge supporter and practitioner of the Paleo diet to talk a bit about it.
She wanted to talk about her father’s experience in recently adopting this style of eating. At the time he had reached a point where he was looking for a solution to various health concerns.
I’ll let Stephanie tell you the rest….
In May 2011,
I finished graduate school and moved back home to live with my parents. One of the first things we talked about was whether or not my mom and dad would join me in adopting a Paleo lifestyle. Thankfully, they were excited about making the change.
Both of them had a lot to gain. My father has had digestive problems since he was a child. Though he was always very lean, in the last decade he started gaining weight in his midsection – a sign of increased risk for heart disease. He was also taking medications for his high blood pressure, acid reflux, and high cholesterol. My mother knew she could dramatically change her health, too. She wanted to lose weight and become more insulin sensitive. She wasn’t diabetic, but she was close to it.
In this post, I am going to focus on my father’s journey.
The first three weeks were incredibly hard for him to handle. He was used to spiking his blood sugar multiple times a day by snacking at work and at home. He craved sweets and bread. I told him he would feel energized throughout the day, the way I had when I first started, but his body didn’t adjust as easily as mine had. He demonstrated a couple of withdrawal symptoms, the worst of which were headaches. At the same time, he started leaning out. He lost nine pounds after three weeks, and his midsection bloating disappeared. He no longer had problems digesting his food, something he considers a miracle. It’s baffling to think that in his entire lifetime (he is 61 years old), no doctor or caretaker has ever considered that he may be sensitive to certain foods (grains, legumes, or dairy, for example). To me, it makes perfect sense that what you put in your mouth affects how your body responds to digesting it!
Understanding what he could eat was a small struggle. He often called home to ask if certain foods were allowed, and became frustrated when he realized he had few options when eating out. We cooked some meals for him to take to work with him (usually an extra portion of dinner from the night before), and his weekly Friday lunch outing with co-workers at a Thai restaurant just needed some tweaking to eliminate peanut sauce, rice and noodles (green curry chicken with no rice is my favorite Paleo option).
After three weeks, he adjusted from being “metabolically deranged”, as Robb Wolf would put it, to being energetically stable. With this transformation, his headaches and cravings vanished, and he maintained a healthy level of energy throughout the day. However, a new symptom appeared. He started feeling weak and dizzy. At first, I thought that perhaps he wasn’t eating enough. Then, we realized that his blood pressure was extremely low. Pre-Paleo, my father’s blood pressure was 130/85 with medication. At this point, he had dropped down to 96/56. We were so astonished! His primary care physician recommended that he take half of his normal dose of medication, but even that kept his blood pressure too low. So, now he is completely off the medication, and naturally stays around 110/80. A great improvement!
After four months on the diet, he had some blood work done. During the short time that he changed his eating habits, his cholesterol breakdown improved. He’s not ready to stop taking his cholesterol medication, however that is his next goal.
Now, my father is five months deep in Paleo habits. Once a chocolate fiend, he is now able to easily resist a bite of dessert at company dinners. He has lost a total of 17 pounds, he doesn’t have to worry about daily bouts with indigestion, his stamina throughout the workday has improved, and he is taking one less medication. Effectively, he has improved his health and reduced his risk of heart disease.
Please check out Stephanie’s site for more great content.
Paleo for Public Health
21-15 and 9 rep rounds of:
Left Arm Kettlebell Snatch, 1.5 Pood
Right Arm Kettlebell Snatch, 1.5 Pood