Last Updated on June 15, 2022 by Renee’
What is the Paleo Diet?
What is the Paleo Diet? Well, to put it simply, It is a real food diet with no processed foods.
Thousands of years ago, cavemen hunted for their food. They ate meat, fish, berries, fruits, nuts, seeds, and veggies. They were lean & muscular.
Cavemen didn’t sit inside on their computers & Ipads or on their x-boxes as we do today. They were always on the move.
They didn’t have fast food, junk food (processed foods & oils), or GMOs that we have today.
They ate real food! Everything was organic and non-GMO.
What can you eat?
On the Paleo diet, you eat lots of vegetables, meats, seafood, nuts, seeds, eggs, bone broth, healthy fats & oils.
What is Forbidden?
All Grains (including corn), Legumes, Soy, Dairy, Refined Sugars, Refined Processed Foods, Processed Oils, Chemicals & Additives. Basically, if it has a label & it’s in a package, it’s forbidden. Now, that being said, there are companies out there that are selling Paleo & AIP convenient products. You just have to know who they are & where to get them.
I know this sounds like a lot to give up, but it is so worth it. After doing the Paleo Diet for about 6 months & feeling so much better, we decided to go one step further & commit to the AIP Diet (Auto-Immune Protocol).
AIP is a stricter version of the Paleo diet, where you eliminate foods that can cause inflammation, such as eggs, nuts, seeds, nightshades, cocoa, alcohol, coffee, etc… for at least 30 days or until all symptoms disappear. Then you reintroduce the foods in stages one at a time to see how you react.
How hard was it to Transition?
It was not easy at first, however, it does get easier & becomes a habit. My daughter at 12 years old had a hard time adjusting at first, but now, she is making her own paleo pasta, tortillas, pizzas & treats. It just takes patience & persistence. It does pay off!
My husband, thank goodness, is very supportive. (Sometimes they can be the most difficult) My daughter didn’t have a choice. I am her mother! As a mom, I knew what I had to do to help her, even when she did not feel like I was. We had many meltdowns. She just wanted to be like all her friends.
I think one of the things that helped her transition was taking her with me to the grocery store & making a game of it. I would tell her to pick out the weirdest ugliest vegetable she could find & we would then figure out what to do with it.
She started looking on Pinterest & would find awesome recipes. She actually looked forward to going grocery shopping every week so we could make something new.
Now my daughter is always in the kitchen cooking. She cooks for her friends, & I just have to smile when I hear her telling them about the ingredients that she’s using & how it is so much healthier for them.
She has a boyfriend now, & she is always nagging him about what he is ordering when we go out. He has now started ordering the gluten-free bun with his burger. Not perfect but it’s progress! One of her favorite recipes to make is Paleo Buffalo Chicken Pizza.
Transitioning was much easier to do in Stages, especially with a tween. I think it’s much easier with smaller children. The younger they are introduced to a healthier way of eating, the easier it is to develop good habits early. If it takes longer in-between stages, don’t worry, just take more time if you need it. I feel that making habits that last, is much more important for long-term success.
I just wish I had known before my daughter was diagnosed that the food we were eating was causing our autoimmune issues.
How did I Transition my Family to the Paleo Diet?
Step 1– First thing I did, was clean out my pantry. (I got rid of everything that wasn’t Paleo) Read about it here. If it’s not there, you can’t eat it. You can do this at each stage if it’s too overwhelming to do all at once. I made sure that when I went to the grocery store that I didn’t buy anything that wasn’t Paleo going forward.
Step 2 – Stop eating grains- all grains, that means, no more bread, pasta, rice, corn, oats, etc… This is going to be your hardest week. Expect to go through withdrawal. Make sure you are getting enough carbs through veggies, such as sweet potatoes, butternut squash, plantains, etc… This should help with the withdrawal. Sweet Potatoes have become my best friend! If you find out it’s too hard, start with one thing at a time until you are grain-free.
Step 3– Stop eating all processed foods including processed oils & margarine, (if it has a label, it is probably processed) Focus on getting enough good fats, such as Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Butter, Avocado etc…
Step 4– Stop eating dairy (yes that means milk, cheese, etc.) Switch to coconut milk, almond milk, etc… (read labels) I buy canned, non-BPA, organic, non-GMO coconut milk. Most store-bought non-dairy milk has preservatives & nasty chemicals, so make sure you read the labels.
Step 5– Stop eating legumes (yes, that means peanuts & soy, they are a bean) Have almond butter instead of peanut butter. You can still have green beans (as long as the pod is edible it is allowed). Make sure you are eating plenty of greens, such as kale, collards, spinach, lettuce, etc…
Step 6– Now it’s time to ditch the sugar. This is probably the hardest for most people, but you have already detoxed from grains, so it’s relatively easy now. You can use natural sweeteners such as Raw Honey, real Maple syrup, molasses, dates, etc. but remember, only in moderation.
Make sure you are eating the best quality vegetables, fruits, meats, fish & eggs that you can buy. Preferably, organic, 100% grass-fed, organic, pastured, non-GMO, wild-caught, etc… Go to farmer’s markets & buy in season & get to know your local farmers.
Some of my Family favorite Recipes:
- AIP Paleo Mediterranean Chicken
- AIP Paleo Asian Grilled Chicken
- Paleo Coconut Chicken Soup
- AIP Paleo Chicken Pot Pie Soup
- Paleo Steak Fajitas
- Paleo Almond Joy Cookies
What has been my Hardest Struggle to go Paleo?
The hardest part of eating healthy would have to be not eating at home. For my daughter, eating at someone else’s house. Her friend’s parents mean well but would try to get her to eat things that the SAD (Standard American Diet) claims are healthy or that it is “gluten-free”.
I just told her that they don’t understand autoimmune disease, it’s not their fault. I usually pack her enough snacks that she won’t go hungry. At first, this was especially hard, but now she just politely declines.
In the beginning, we didn’t eat out for 30 days. I felt this was critical to making sure we were eating the way we should. The first time we went out, I ended up in tears & not ordering anything. I just had to remember why I was doing this & kept moving forward.
It has gotten so much easier now that more restaurants & grocery stores are carrying more paleo options. When I go out to eat I ask a lot of questions. Most places are very willing to accommodate. We still eat mostly at home, but on weekends we try to go out at least a couple of times, to not only give me a break but allow our daughter to “be normal”.
Things I do for Self Care
- Exercise – I try to get at least 30 min of exercise 3-5 days a week. I walk 2-4 miles most days (outside if possible) & do bodyweight exercises 2-3 times a week.
- Magnesium Baths – I take a magnesium bath with lavender essential oil at least once a week. Magnesium helps you to unwind, relax & sleep better.
- Dry Brushing – This makes my skin feel so good & helps to stimulate the lymphatic system.
- Supplements – I take these supplements to support my thyroid & immune system.
Is Reversing Auto-Immune Disease Possible?
In November 2016 for the first time in 3 years, my blood work came back normal for RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) & Sjogren’s. I still take Thyroid meds. which have been stable now since starting the Paleo diet. I probably will always have to take thyroid medicine due to so much damage having been done before finally being diagnosed. My daughter is taking the lowest dosage we can get for her thyroid & it has been stable now for 3 years. We don’t take any other meds.
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If you or anyone in your family is suffering from an auto-immune disease, I would highly recommend starting the Paleo Diet & then possibly transitioning to the AIP (Auto-Immune Protocol) Diet.
This was the best thing I did to not only help myself heal but also to help my child. I realized, that I had to be healthy in order to help her.