Guest Post by Angie Alt: Unexpected Paleo

February 21, 2013 in Categories: by

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Angie AltAngie Alt is wife, mother, world traveler & blogger. She’s also a warrior in the autoimmunity war. Angie confronts three autoimmune disorders each day, including Celiac Disease, with powerful management techniques like AIPaleo & the Paleolithic lifestyle. She blogs regularly about the emotional side of tackling autoimmunity, adopting Paleo, and how it impacts her, her family, & their way of life. You can read more by Angela Alt at her blog and connect with her on Facebook.

You know what I am sick of . . . and I’m surprising myself saying this, but seriously, I’m sick of hearing about how Paleo is so easy.  It seems like I read story after story all day long about how adopting Paleo was the easiest thing that “Paleolithic John” ever did for himself.  As someone trying hard to manage autoimmunity with AIP, I’m not sure I can bear one more blow-by-blow narrative about “Paleolithic Jane” eating awesome buffalo chili and nut-flour based cookies while simultaneously achieving a perfect weight, spending peak sunshine hours outside soaking up rays, AND kicking butt at her job with all her new, incredible energy.  Really?  It was no big deal?

 Paleo takes commitment, planning, and often, to be honest, bucks.  Convenient?  Not always.  Spontaneous?  Not really.  The truth is that Paleo is not always easy and certainly not effortless, but somewhere along the path you might notice some unexpected benefits.  The more annoyed I felt about the “Paleo is super easy, but also transformed my life” stories, the more I tried to focus on the unanticipated rewards that this lifestyle has offered me.  The following are four of the reasons I keep working at the Paleo ideal, despite the fact that it is, (shhh, don’t tell Paleolithic John & Jane) hard work.

 1)  I spend more time with my family.  Real time.  We don’t rush to the next event while chowing down the fast food we were forced to pick up on the way.  Following a Paleo diet means a lot more work, more than just one person can do (and not sleep in the kitchen anyway).  We plan meals together, we cook together, we eat together and we clean up together.  My daughter and I pick out new Paleo-fied desserts and learn how to make them together.  My husband and I high-five each other and joke about being stellar chefs when we get a new roast recipe perfect.  Somehow this simple act of changing the kinds of food we eat, has changed how much time we spend together and the value of that time.

 2)  This seems a little strange, but not having as many choices, has made me less stressed.  I don’t go to the grocery store worried about missing the sale on the best salad dressings, I don’t worry about trying to fit in a trip to Dunkin’ Donuts before I get to the office, and while overall Paleo takes a lot of planning, the basics of putting together a meal are straightforward.  I need to eat meat, veggies, and fat with a little fruit and I need to drink water.  I have plenty of choices to navigate every day, making food choice more streamlined makes me a less stressed lady.

 3)  So, this follows . . . I appreciate the good food more I have left over when all those extra choices are eliminated.  Much more.  I made pork roast with just oregano and garlic the other night and it was the most delicious thing I ever put in my mouth.  My food is yummier than it used to be and I think it is because I eliminated all the “clutter.”  It might also be that I don’t feel awful right after I eat, that’s a biggie too.

 4)  I have become more thoughtful about my priorities.  Doctors have judgment about how I’m eating.  Friends, family, etc. think I am taking it way too far with this Paleo stuff.  I know it is working though, so I keep on going against the grain (pun intended).  I don’t believe that risking my health or my family’s for the sake of going with the flow is a legitimate choice anymore.  It’s not always comfortable to stick with it though and that has forced me to truly clarify my priorities.  Clear priorities mean a more confident me.

 The clear health benefits I’ve experienced by following a Paleo template obviously make it worthwhile, but those benefits were hard won.  Adapting to the Paleo life is truly a work in progress.  I’m finding that all that effort is showing up in lots of unexpected places and inspiring me to keep putting my health first.


Thank you so so much for this Post! It is great to hear someone being realistic about Paleo. My personal frustration is that all the Paleo bloggers seem to have families that are happily on board. I admire that your family works so well together in the kitchen. I gather from your previous post that your resolution of serious health issues as well asl your daughter’s from going Paleo helped get them on board. That is not the case in my household. I have older kids (12 and 9) who are so much more averse to the “unusual” food I cook and so much more desirable of eating the “regular food” their friends eat, then those younger kids who devour and relish the recipes their Paleo-blogger parents invent. My husband is supportive but no way is he going Paleo himself. It gets really frustrating going against the grain in your own house! I would love to hear from more people on this, especially those with older kids.

Thanks for reading Holly! My daughter is also 12. You can read my blog, where she recently wrote about how hard it is to do this in middle school. Can you imagine a worse place to try to go Paleo? It is not all rainbows & unicorns in our home. There were months & months of adjustment & I had to really convince my daughter that she needed to do it. And both my husband & daughter occasionally still “cheat,” so don’t be hard on yourself. Poke around The Paleo Mom’s blog too, she also had a long period of adjustment w/ her family. Your families journey is totally normal.

I have a twelve year old and a 17 year old. The older one ? Forget it. My younger is trying at least, but we are not even close yet. Its a work in progress. And work yes, alot of work. But hopefully worth it in the long run.

Angie – thanks for your reply! I am eager to read your daughter’s post but I didn’t see it on your blog. You mentioned my family’s period of adjustment and journey – but I am not sure that there is such a journey going on. I have been Paleo for over 8 months, but since the others have no obvious health issues, they do not want to go Paleo despite my attempts to educate them on it. I have resigned to the fact that I cannot make someone change and I have to let them be until they are interested on their own. Are there other Paleo people that function under this “family model”…I question whether it is a realistic assumption that family members will eventually “get it” and jump on board.

Great post Angie! Although I had an initial honeymoom period with Paleo, after the first 6 months it started getting harder and I’ve gone back and forth with easy months and struggling months over the 2 years I’ve been (mostly) Paleo. However, I can’t see me EVER going back to my old ways of eating and feeling!

Hi Holly:
It took me several years to go from a standard diet to low-carb to Primal to Paleo. It took my husband a couple more years to follow along. My mother (79 years old) has now joined us and says she is feeling great. My father (age 81) still eats his bread and pasta, but it works for him. Hang in there, and just do the best you can.

Love how you added the positive progression of adapting the Paleo way of eating. I did the whole 30 last month and my family of 6 made fun of me. Little did they know that they are also eating Paleo. The potatoes in our curry last night were turnips and the many meals that included lots of meat and yams, stirfry and desserts of berries with coconut milk and nuts were paleo compliant. Their breakfast of ground sausage,eggs and strawberries stayed on program and packed lunches with meat, carrots, nuts, raisins and fruit have not attracted any negative attention. I guess it is just what you are used to. Soon enough breakfast will look like any other meal, and they won’t know what hit them! The best part, is i don’t have to worry anymore about my child who has Celiac disease eating the wrong food. The “off limit foods” don’t even exist in our home anymore which allows me to cook for everyone the same!.

Vicki, I have Celiac too. Knowing my home is a total safe zone is worth every bit of work & thankfully my family has been so supportive about that . . . I’m sure your child w/ Celiac really appreciates Mom making sure things are safe at home! Good job!

Thank you for this post! I’m on a Paleo AI diet, but it is severely restricted because I am rotating among 8 to 10 foods each week because of many food intolerances and a leaky gut. However, the food does taste better because I have eliminated the clutter, as you say.

I find our grocery bill is rising rapidly, and that is a bit frustrating. I wish some people would share how much their groceries on a Paleo diet run. I know everyone is different financially, but when all you see are bloggers sharing how little they spent buying processed food, it can be a bit disheartening. I want to see a blogger realistically share how much a Paleo diet costs (because I do believe it is worth the expense).

Angie, this was a great post! Thank you for being honest regarding the fact that this lifestyle choice is not always easy and won’t always make us all look like Olympic athletes! It took me awhile to adjust to shopping, prepping food, planning ahead, etc., not to mention the increased monetary cost. Pasta, breads, cereals, rice — they’re all MUCH cheaper pound for pound than organic fruits & vegetables, and that isn’t even taking into account grass-fed beef and organic free range chicken and eggs!!!!! My husband balks at the grocery bill all the time. And while he appreciates the paleo dinners I prepare, he won’t give up his gross packaged frozen waffles, bread for sandwiches, etc. My kids about about 70% paleo but they still eat pizza and ice cream at parties (though my 13-year-old daughter found that she doesn’t like those things as much anymore).

It’s also extremely difficult when eating at restaurants, and traveling is the worst!!! Yes, I’ve read lots and lots of websites with ideas of what to do about food when traveling, but it’s still difficult. There have been times that I have been tempted to just get a sandwich because it’s easier than hunting around for things I can eat….except that I know I’ll pay for it with bathroom trips for 3 hours following! Not worth it.

And I never did end up looking like an Olympic athlete. Ha ha.

NJ Paleo, I am actually traveling right now & following the highly restrictive AIP. You are right, it is really hard, but it can be done. And don’t worry, I don’t look like an Olympic athlete either . . . more like a skinny (but determined) lady w/ bruised bananas in her purse. Nice visual, right?

I feel you, especially the bit about the nut flour cookies. One of the reasons I am so looking forward to Sarah’s book (and wish I had it when I started my journey) is that I sometimes get frustrated looking at all the beautiful nut, egg & nightshade recipes on paleo sites. The AI protocol just adds so much more restriction. I am still finding it very difficult and have been nowhere near perfect. I got a good 3 months in last year and then blew it by introducing too many things at once. I ate out at a Korean place and did have a reaction but I still don’t know if it was the nightshades, the peanuts, the soy (wheat?), the pufas or the eggs that I reacted to. One moment of weakness undid so much work so I will be doing it again. I just did GAPS intro as written (since my new doctor asked me too) but now that is done, I’m planning to recommit to 3 months of AI eating and a proper reintroduction. The only thing that keeps me on track is reading Sarah’s awesome The WHY’s of the AI Protocol series. I’m re-reading them all to get myself psyched up for another go. I need an app that prods me with one of those articles a day!

Keep up the good work Jen! I’ve tried eggs (no go) & grass-fed butter (seems ok in small quantity). Other than that, I have been totally chicken & totally restricted for 10 months now. I just decided to wait for a major reintro trial when I reach a yr. LOL! I’m in this far, why not go further w/ it.

Thanks for your honest post. I too am on AIP & my husband is a dedicated vegetarian. This is not easy but my health is worth it. I spend hours every Saturday batch cooking for the week which wipes me out & I have to spend Sunday horizontal to have energy to start the work week Monday. Paleo has taken what little extra energy I had left over outside of work. My autoimmune disease causes chronic pain & fatigue. However when you get sick enough & drugs don’t work, you get willing to make any reasonable sacrifice.

Thank’s for this post… I’m on Paleo for just a short time, but I feel much better. (I have m.s.) My husband doesn’t see the need to go on Paleo himself, he’s not sick so that’s why. I can tell how good Paleo is but that works the wrong way;-) So I hope he will see how good it is for me and that he will start also.
Paleomom,you have a good blog, I’m going to read much more here!

Okay – kids – 11 year old is pretty paleo – 15 year old at boarding school in another country – NO WAY!!!

Me – geez it’s hard sometimes – like tonight I am heading to a school quizz night, a curry buffet – sounds fine maybe but I have no idea if there is gluten in the sauces they use (unlikely to be an expensive curry made from scratch, let’s be honest), among other things. I travel sooo much and am often famished before I can find something to eat. Airlines don’t do Paleo!!!

Fighting autoimmune means you can’t just relax. So, I eat before I go and suffer the consequences of trying not to eat all the yummy stuff everyone else is and trying not to be conspicuous by my lack of food. Then suffering the need to explain my choices. I guess it is preferable to not being able to walk, brush my teeth, wash my hair or hug my kids because of my painful joints

So, so, so good to hear I am not the only one who FINDS THIS “F@#$%ING” HARD!!!

Thank you so much for the realistic take on how AI protocol on paleo can be – it’s not all rainbows and unicorns, rock hard abs and effortless weight loss. Personally, I had a really rocky start – I felt much worse for a few weeks on straight paleo, until I started the AI protocol, then improvement was slow. Metabolically, I’m broken, lacking a gallbladder, and struggle with thyroid issues and no clear diagnosis. Over time, along with the help of a Paleo nutritionist, I’ve refined my diet further for what worked for me, taking some things out (limiting fibrous veggies, brassica, leafy greens, etc) adding other things back in (nuts, chocolate, occasional white rice). I’ve had some noteworthy results (40lb weight loss, but still have another 40 to go, increase in energy, clearer skin, better sleep, endometriosis relief), but I’m not there yet and I’ve been at it for about a year. The reality is I feel so awful eating otherwise that I just can’t imagine going back, despite the push-back from well-meaning family and friends and strangers I have no energy or desire to justify my lifestyle choices. Very thankful for the great resources I’ve found online, like TPM, Paleo Parents, and Real Sustenance. Really looking forward to the new TPM book. I found some helpful info re: AI in Practical Paleo, but was really frustrated that the AI meal plan in that book included loads of no-nos – eggs, nightshades, etc. I think that with nutrition advice, like anything else in life, labels and expectations are dangerous. You have to sift through it all and determine what works for you – hang on to that, and disregard the rest.

You know… I was one of those that said ‘this is the easiest diets I’ve ever done’. BUT that was before I found out that having thyroid issues (Hashimoto) meant I had autoimmune deficiency. None of my Dr.’s EVER told me this. THEN I find out about ‘leaky gut’. This meant that not only do I have to follow AIP but it limited me even more. We don’t eat out as much and it’s saving us $$ and I like that part. However, I found that I was constipated more than ever so I ate more vegies. THEN I find out that I was eating too many of the wrong vegies. This has turned out to be one of the hardest diets now that I’ve tried. I try to comply with the Paelo as much as possible and tweaking what foods I do eat now because I’m more in tuned with the way foods react to my body and I’m ever so grateful for this. I’m still waiting for the pounds to come off but then again I’m doing Cross Fit while eating Paleo as close as I can. Now, what ticks me off is when I hear people say that this is a ‘fad’ diet. I get it. But all diets can be considered ‘fad’. It may not work for your lifestyle but for me and my husband (who also has thyroid issues); the AIP works and we feel so much better with the elimination of certain foods. Unfortunately, eggs are the biggest culprit and I find it so difficult to even want breakfast anymore. Thank you for this post. I don’t feel so alone in my frustrations. It would be great if I can be directed to a cook book that is for AIP only which eliminated ALL foods which AIP has pointed out.

I’m not on the AIP but I have to say that paleo for me(normal paleo minus starches, eggplant and almonds) seems easy and im not apolagetic about that. It seems easy because pre-paleo, getting a meal consisted of motivating myself to get out of bed, struggling out of bed walking down hallway, down the stairs, napping on the landing, finally making it all the way down the stairs to the kitchen but having to rest in front of the heater before microwaving macaroni or making porridge because I was so cold and tired all the time. I had undiagnosed celiac and went gluten-free and paleo at the same time. I could barely stay awake and standing for 5 minutes and no matter how much I ate (double what should’ve been my calorie needs) I needed to eat more, make more and yet remain tired, hungry and underweight. Living like that was hard. Paleo is easy. Not saying I’m in 100%peek health but at least I have the energy to try and find that health now… And be creative making food in the meantime.

thanks so much for your honesty!! I loved reading your struggles. I am too struggling with autoimmune and trying to stay sugar free, grain free.. it is tough!! and yes, hard work. since we live now in NYC, brooklyn area, it has been crazy expensive and hard! The benefits are way worth the fight though. Hard to convince others about how to choose for themselves, but it is so beneficial. The food today is so toxic and horrible for us! Its a wonder that I am still alive. I think I ate bagels for breakfast lunch and dinner in college, and ramen noodles. I am sure I got the autoimmune from being completely deprived of nutrients and my body fighting off the artificial sweeteners and sugars. ugh.

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