“Real People, Real Paleo” is a series of posts written by real people who were inspired to share their Paleo story with you. There is such diversity in the challenges that bring us to a Paleo diet and lifestyle and in what we hope to achieve by adopting them. These stories are intended to be a place of inspiration, written by real people, showing the diversity of our needs and our approaches to this way of eating and living, and explaining how each individual’s implementation of Paleo meets their needs. By sharing these people’s stories with you on my blog, I hope to redefine what Paleo success is. I do not believe that eating Paleo is purely about losing weight, gaining muscle, and having 6-pack abs. I believe that Paleo is about being healthy enough to thoroughly enjoy life, whatever that means for you, and about sustainability for our entire lives. If you are interested in writing up your story, use the form on this page to contact me.
My Path to Paleo
I’ve never been a person who could stick to a diet. When I know I can’t have something I want it more. But then my digestive health went into the toilet. Pardon the pun. I was diagnosed with IBS over a decade ago, and my doctors said they couldn’t help me heal.
Eating became a nightmare instead of a pleasure. Everything caused pain and bloating and my bowels refused to move. Fiber didn’t help.
I intuitively knew I had to change my diet, but I didn’t know what to eat. So my trial and error healing experiment began, using “Dr. Google” for guidance.
First I tried the Candida cleanse diet for 6 weeks. I lost lots of weight but my bowels remained stubborn.
Next I worked with a naturopath who prescribed an very protein-heavy diet. It wasn’t Paleo, because it included soy and other beans. It also didn’t’ work. I tried it for 8 months, with minimal improvement.
However, I was getting closer, but didn’t know it. And because of that I quit the protein rich diet and tried the opposite.
After lots of research I decided to try the raw food diet. I read that it helped heal IBS. I was willing to try anything for relief.
I was a raw foodist for close to a year, despite the fact that I felt worse on it. Why did I do it for that long? I thought maybe I was experiencing prolonged detoxification symptoms. Also I was stuck because I didn’t know what to do next.
If you told me then about the Paleo diet I would not have bought in. My digestion grew too weak to digest meat. And I was burnt out on diets after choosing the wrong ones.
Then an amazing thing happened. When I was on vacation, at a raw food retreat center, I met a nutritionist who told me she would heal me. Her solution was a modified version of the Paleo diet, but she never called it that.
She told me that I was sensitive to nuts, which was a big part of the raw food diet. She told me to cut out the nuts, gave me hydrochloric acid and some digestive enzymes and suggested I go eat a steak.
And I did. I went from living on nuts and avocados to eating cooked veggies, fruit and red meat. She said the zinc in red meat would heal my liver.
And she was right.
My IBS was healed after one year of eating this way.
My immune system also improved dramatically. I’ve gotten sick twice in the last 8 years. Also, the diet reversed my sensitivity to nuts and other foods. Now I can eat anything in moderation with no digestive backlash. I choose however to eat Paleo-style.
A few years later, when I became a digestive health coach I couldn’t believe how popular my healing diet had become. And as much as I love Paleo, I don’t believe in one-size-fits-all eating plans. Just because something is allowed on Paleo doesn’t mean it’s good for everyone.
If my nutritionist hadn’t tweaked my diet to take out nuts, I wouldn’t have found relief. I would have written Paleo off as just another failure.
That’s why I use Paleo as a foundation, not a religion, in my practice. A gut-healing diet is a trial and error game of customization. You have to make up your own rules about what to eat based on how your body reacts.
What I love about the popularity of Paleo is the community of support around it. Plugging into the online Paleo community is a great antidote to feelings of isolation brought on by eating a “strange” diet.
I tell my clients to use Paleo as a foundation, but to find their own rules. For example, I eat quinoa. Not because it’s technically a seed, not a grain, but because my body likes it and it’s packed with worthwhile nutrition. It also satisfies my carb cravings.
I still consider myself Paleo. I believe what my fellow Paleo peeps believe. Mostly. But I’ve just customized it to fit my body, life and belief system. That way I feel like I’m NOT following a “diet”. It’s just the way I choose to eat!
Angela Privin dispenses free digestive health advice and Superhealer inspiration at www.diyhealthblog.com. She is a dog lover, wife, step mom, avid cook, digestive health coach, blogger and nature lover. When Angela healed herself forever from IBS it changed her life. She knew she had to help others heal themselves from a condition that doctors call incurable! Angela believes that food and rest are the best medicine.
You can connect with Angela on Facebook here.