Making a Clean Shift

Six weeks ago, I decided to make a change in how I was eating. When you live with another person, it’s helpful when they also validate your choice, and go along with it. Mary and I are both more than six weeks into what we’re calling “clean eating.” Others knowledgeable in our new lifestyle choice might refer to it as paleo.

It really doesn’t matter what you call it. Both of us feel better, have lost weight, and more important—we’ve eliminated so much junk and crap from our diets that it’s hard to believe we didn’t both adopt this earlier.

We’re both active people. Swimming, biking, running all require a good energy source and fuel for our bodies. Add to that the demands of work and the 21st century lifestyle—one that seems intent on killing us all—and changing things up becomes all the more apparent, at least in hindsight. We’re both amazed that it took us so long to get here.

Actually, I’m not unaware of the paleo lifestyle. Both Mary and I know enough people that are living it. Several friends and family members that are into CrossFit have been adherents of paleo. Our sports medicine doctor has hinted to both Mary and I that making dietary changes, especially given some of the inflammation and sports-related issues Mary and I have both been battling, might be a wise choice.

Paleo made a flash on America’s constantly-changing radar of new fads and dietary choices a few years back. Like most everything else, it was gone, and Americans were off searching for their next flavor-of-the-month.

Paleo isn’t new. In fact, the idea of foregoing grains dates back to the beginning of time. It’s basically the diet that hunters and gatherers existed on. Of course, fast forward 70,000 years and life today is much different than when cavemen (and cavewomen) roamed the earth.


Paleo: So easy, a caveman can do it.

Often when you make a change—especially one that has you going against the grain (no pun intended)—there comes an awareness of how deeply entrenched certain things are in our culture of dysfunction. Before, whenever I was hungry, I would simply pick up some package of processed food, gorge myself with some or all of the contents. Off I’d go, convinced I wasn’t hungry any longer. Or, I’d keep eating, and eating, and eating…many of you know what I’m talking about.

Obviously, something’s not working for us in America. Obesity is now an epidemic. According to the Journal of American Medicine, more than one-third of U.S. adults (nearly 79 million) are obese. That number keeps ticking upward, too. And yet again, new programs are being launched to help us deal with our battle of the bulge.

Things have gotten so dire and hopeless that we’re even trying to make being fat seem like it’s just another lifestyle choice. God forbid that we shame anyone that’s carrying around an extra 50, 75, or 100 pounds, rather than addressing root issues.

Since I don’t subscribe to PC conventions, I could care less about whether or not calling someone “fat” is mean or not. All I know is that for a host of reasons, I don’t want to be unhealthy anymore—and both Mary and I have taken proactive steps not to be.

Think you’d like to make a change? Does paleo sound like something you’d like to know more about? There are a host of resources that can get you up to speed on the subject and lifestyle. One that I found most helpful was John Durant’s The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health. It’s a great crash course in why paleo matters and the science and philosophy undergirding it. There are certainly a host of other resources, too.

3 thoughts on “Making a Clean Shift

  1. @Sally There are plenty of terrific resources out there that can help anyone serious about making a change, get started down the path to “clean” eating. Mary is probably a better resource than I am in that area. I’ve been reading selectively about paleo. I really like Durant’s book, because it gets at some of the core issues why making this change is beneficial (and essential).

    Of course, there are plenty of people that will denounce our lifestyle choice. America’s funny like that.

  2. I recommend Jim Robb’s approach. He does his best to explain why certain things and why not others, and in response to the endless litany of complaints from people who have never cooked a damned piece of real food in their lives, lays out menu plans, shopping lists, recipes, etc., to get folks started.

    The big thing to remember is that paleo is not an exercise in historical reenactment. A common jibe is, “Olive oil is okay for paleo, but olive oil wasn’t around in caveman times, therefore you aren’t really paleo.” Umm, the point is that our bodies evolved to eat a certain diet, and much if not most of our modern diet differs so substantially from that diet that our bodies don’t really know how to handle it, resulting in a wide array of modern diseases that are almost all the result of our bodies actually fighting back against these foods. Robb, a biochemist by training, explains this quite well.

    To be honest, it’s really not that hard. Just stick to real food, nothing that was processed (and all breads are processed), and you’re already way ahead of the game. Pick it yourself, peel it yourself, slice it yourself, season it yourself, cook it yourself, eat it with anyone you want to.

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