A week ago Wednesday marked the end of my Health Reset Challenge. The mission had been to complete a Whole30 – 30 days of strictly paleo, as well as regular exercise and at least 8 hours of sleep daily.
I was not consistent with keeping to my exercise and sleep goals, mainly due to me prioritising working on my fortune. As I’ve gotten into the groove of the new year and put in motion the game plans to achieve my 2014 goals, I have a more realistic picture of where I can make time for exercise and how I can develop a consistent and sufficient sleep pattern.
I did absolutely succeed in my Whole30 goal! In fact, it was about 2 days after the end that I realised the 30 days was over. And I didn’t rush to indulge then either because, I felt just fine – great even!
In the week since, I’ve had 2 glasses of wine and the first half glass had an immediate effect on me – my body clearly reacting to this now foreign substance and, I didn’t like it! I’ve also had a slice of cake since and it was quite a mission to get through. Yes I was enjoying the taste (cakes and desserts are usually my kryptonite) but, it was very overwhelming in the way you might experience when you have an incredibly rich meal.
Having gone without these things for a significant period of time, I have become so much more in tune with my body and thus more sensitive to the effects of things that it can do without. It’s such a fascinating discovery that makes you marvel at how easy it is to desensitise our bodies through a conventional diet.
This being my second go at a Whole30 [Health Reset Challenge], it’s definitely a ‘reset’ I can see myself doing at least once every year and, in between, sticking to its principles for at least 90% of the time.
Paleo meal ideas and templates
During the 30 days, we prepared and ate several delicious meals. People would ask, incredulously, what we could eat, being that we had cut out all grains, legumes, dairy, sugar and alcohol. Thing is, when you think about the amazing diversity present in nature, there is a wealth of vegetables alone which, we can all enjoy. One thing that I love about paleo eating is that it forces you to be curious and creative.
Below are some ideas on how anybody can make simple substitutions and enjoy a healthier meal. The availability of some of these suggestions will of course depend on your corner of the world.
Switch out your starches
Make cauliflower ‘rice’ to soak up your stews and curries and make ‘spaghetti’ from courgettes for your soups and would-be pasta dishes (making the noodles takes just a few minutes with a spiralizer).
There’s also always cassava, celeriac, eddoe/taro, jerusalem artichokes, kohl rabi, parsnips, swede, sweet potatoes, squash and yams. We make a mean cottage/shepherd’s pie using crushed jerusalem artichokes as the topping.
Naturally sweet treats
Fruits are the obvious contenders but, in the interests of keeping carb intake low (and thus, regulating blood sugar levels), many people following a primal or paleo diet don’t get too excited and eat a whole bunch [see the best low-carb fruits (and the worst)].
There are other ways to get a sweet fix from foods we normally associate with savoury dishes! Once your taste buds have adjusted, you’ll discover just how much natural sweetness is in vegetables and tubers such as:
- Various types of squash (picture above of my roasted butternut squash ‘pudding’ = squash + coconut milk + cinnamon )
- Various types of yams and sweet potato
- Even cooked onions! (caramelisation anyone?).
Most conventional breakfast meals involve grains, grains and more grains! But who said you can’t have protein and vegetables instead? It’s just about changing your mindset and feeling nothing when people look at you strangely.
Some breakfasts that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed:
- Egg bake with assorted vegetables (essentially a large omelette baked in the oven and sliced up to be eaten over several days)
- Canned fish and vegetables
- Homemade burger patties with coleslaw
- Jerk chicken with kale and fresh tomatoes (picture above)
- Leftover meals
- Poached fish and greens
- And there’s always eggs and bacon, with some sort of vegetables on the side
When snacking must
- A heaped tablespoon of almond or brazil nut butter
- Boiled eggs
- Canned fish (the image above is actually of a breakfast packed for me, by my dear friend Tara!)
- Chicken wings
- Cut vegetables (e.g. carrots, celery, cucumbers etc.)
- Homemade vegetable chips/crisps (e.g. kale, carrot)
- Nuts and seeds
- Pork crackling/scratchings/rind (ideally homemade, so you that you know that nothing untoward has been added to them)
- Quality biltong and beef jerky (just make sure to check the ingredient labels!)
- Roasted mushrooms with herbs
- Or just have a meal! I find that whenever I get the urge to snack (which is far less frequent than before I started eating this way), it’s probably because I’m actually hungry and should simply go ahead and have a meal.
What paleo meals have you been enjoying?
Photos taken by Lulu Kitololo and Lusungu Chikamata
- Amazing Results from My Whole30 + Autoimmune Protocol experiment
- Going Primal/Paleo: Blogs to Support Your Diet and Lifestyle Transformation
- How to Resist Temptation at Events When Going Primal (or Following Any Other Unconventional Diet) – Fantastic tips from my formerly vegan and vegetarian friend, Crystal