As many of you know, Kyle and I have been eating low-carb (most of the time) for about a year and a half now. Initially, we did it to lose weight (and it worked!) and we also realized that as much as we loved the taste, texture, and experience of carb-y foods, we genuinely felt better when we weren't eating them.
Eventually, however, our enthusiasm for this dietary change began to wane.
Frankly, I think we just got bored with it. Added to that was the huge inconvenience of constantly preparing separate meals for the girls. We didn't feel comfortable taking carbs out of their diets, and so unfortunately, we turned more and more often to prepackaged and convenience foods for them. One of Dacey's favorite meals is fish sticks and white rice, and AJ loves pasta in any shape or form. I feel pretty awful about this, but life just got away from us, and they were eating a lot of not-great stuff a lot of the time.
Once we survived the moved and got settled in to the new house, we both realized it was time to take a hard look at what all of us were eating. (Moving is fueled with fast food and paper plates, right? Or is that just us?) I casually threw the paleo diet out to Kyle and he dug into the research. I mean, he spent days reading the science behind it - and I am so grateful he enjoys that stuff because it all just makes my eyes glaze over. (mmmmmm. glaaaaaaze.)
A few weeks ago, we decided to really commit to switching to a paleo-based approach to eating.
a paleo dinner - meatloaf cupcakes, garden salad, homemade lemon vinaigrette
I'm a long-time reader and fan of Cara's work at Health, Home, and Happiness, so I decided to go even a step further with the girls' food and try to do some of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. In the first picture above, you can see Aliza Joy grinning over our first SCD breakfast. If only she were still grinning over all these changes. (You can find check out the SCD/GAPS meal plan sample at Cara's place by subscribing to her newsletter.)
I very quickly discovered that trying to follow SCD was too much, too fast for me. Although I sometimes wonder if some of my concerns over behavior issues with AJ could be diet-related, I don't think we are at a place yet of really committing to the GAPS/SCD approach. I think the part of it that I find I just can't do is all the fermenting. I understand it's quite simple in theory, but in practice, I do not do well with preparing food ahead of time. I just don't.
So here we are, a few weeks in to some pretty big diet changes, and we've arrived at is a more paleo-driven diet for Kyle and me and a less-restrictive focus on just eating grain-free for the girls.
Why grain-free? There is a ton of information on various paleo websites that explain why a person would want a grain-free approach to eating, but the article I personally found to be the most helpful is this one at Wellness Mama: How Grains Are Killing You Slowly. (How's that for an attention-grabbing headline?) She writes:
The sad truth is that grain consumption, especially in the the forms found today, are a blatant departure from the way humans have eaten for almost our entire history. The ability to grow and process grains more easily allowed more people to afford grain products like flour, a “luxury” previously reserved for the wealthy. The important thing to remember here is that just because humans seem to have no immediate negative effects from grains, doesn’t mean our bodies can handle them or that we can function optimally while consuming them.
The part I bolded is what stands out to me the most. As I've mentioned before, one of my primary motivations for going low-carb is because I have a strong history of Type 2 diabetes in my family, and the older I got, the more blood sugar problems I began to have. Going low-carb truly made me feel better. I honestly can feel my body being more efficient when I don't have carbs in my system to slow me down.
But I have to admit, this transition has not been an easy one to make. I'm going to break it down like this:
Kyle and I both feel good. Great, even! The emphasis on fats in the paleo approach seems to be the missing element that has really connected the dots for us. In the past, we were not only going low-carb, but also low-fat, and we were hungry. A LOT. Eating and enjoying fat has been a delicious discovery.
Y'all, this is a lot of work. A lot a lot a lot of work. In order to ease the transition for the girls, I've been trying to fix grain-free breads, buns, biscuits, and other things they loved from the Standard American Diet they were used to. Eating just gluten-free would be so much easier as gluten-free prepared foods abound in grocery stores today. Grain-free? NOT. SO. MUCH.
Everything we put into our mouths is either a whole food or it's something prepared from scratch. Kyle cooks up a lot of our meats on the weekends, so that helps quite a bit, but even still. I'm so used to grabbing freezer waffles or even a quick bowl of oatmeal for them in the morning. I'm not sure how I would have managed this when they were younger.
my first loaf of grain-free bread via Against All Grain. LOTS of work, but pretty yummy.
We are getting so much resistance from the girls. This morning, Dacey tearfully told me that she just can't believe that her parents are so cruel to make her eat this way. AJ hates nuts of every shape and form so that's a huge hurdle, and she is just beside herself missing pasta.
This resistance bothers Kyle not one bit. He's that personality type that sees it all in black and white, he knows this way of eating is good and healthy for them, and the tears and complaints bounce right off of him. It's much harder for me. As such a touchy-feely type, I take all of their grief over this change so personally. I hate that they hate it, but I know it's important that we fuel their bodies in the best way.
It's also just really discouraging and demoralizing when it takes me a good hour to prepare a lunch and they mumble and grumble through it and eat about half of what is served. I'm just being honest. That makes me want to throw in the towel completely.
So, that's where we are.
You can imagine that with a complete shift like this, it's been both overwhelming and exciting to find new resources to help us navigate the paleo/grain-free life. Here are some of my favorites so far:
I am the very last person on the planet who could ever have imagined going grain-free, but the trade-off is well worth it. We just have to keep campaigning to get the girls on board!
I would love to hear from you: is going grain-free something you have done or considered? If you travel in paleo circles, what are some of your favorite resources? Any suggestions on how to make this easier for our girls?