I've written before about the health benefits of the paleo diet. The following is a guest post written by my friend and fellow blogger, Sylvie McCracken of Hollywood Homestead. I know you're going to enjoy her story, and I hope her experiences will help many folks in need of a positive health transformation. ~Emily
Saying that Paleo saved my life may seem a little extreme, but it’s true. I didn’t get into the paleo lifestyle to lose weight as many people do. I stumbled upon paleo sort of by accident, when my doctor suspected for several months that I had an autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. That was enough to get my attention and start my mad googling on what I could do to reverse it.
I was not an overweight kid but I was definitely a health disaster. By age 15, my list of diagnoses was impressive and the medications and surgeries were starting to pile up:
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Chronic amenhorrea (no periods)
- Tonsillitis and strep throat at least yearly
- Chronic allergic rhinitis and nasal polyps
- Allergic to just about everything
- Epstein-Barr virus (aka “mono”) multiple times
- Supraventricular Tachycardia (heart problems)
Comprehensive diagnosis: a HOT MESS. By the time I was 30 I weighed over 200 pounds which didn’t help matters…
How the paleo diet could save your life
My experiment with paleo came out of desperation since my thyroid symptoms (fatigue being the most crippling one) were persistent and severe despite my lab work being ‘normal'.
I lost 65 lbs with paleo.
The craziest part was that I wasn’t focusing on weight loss at all.
The health improvements I've experienced with paleo are well beyond weight loss and have probably saved my life.
My menstrual cycle is now like clockwork; my blood sugar is regulated; and I no longer rely on large doses of caffeine to prop myself up throughout the day. Most of my allergies disappeared almost instantly and I rarely get sick.
But it wasn’t just me that experienced these benefits, my husband and kids did as well. (You can read my husband’s paleo success story here).
Is a paleo diet safe for children?
Not only is it safe for children, it is often life changing! I have 3 kids and have seen astounding changes in all of them since we adopted a paleo diet.
My teen's acne has significantly improved and my preschoolers are much more in control of their bodies and emotions.
I have no doubt my 4 year old would have been recommended medication eventually if it weren't for the dietary shifts. I talked about how we transitioned the toddlers here and my 14 year old daughter wrote about her experience with paleo in this post.
Do I follow a perfectly paleo diet?
No! I have yet to meet a person that follows a perfect paleo diet, and I've been to all the conferences and eaten alongside several of the paleo celebs. Trust me: ain't nobody got time for perfect.
If you want to really put paleo to the test I'd suggest you try to follow it as closely as possible just for those first 30 days just so you can accurately gauge how well it works for you.
Most of us in the paleo world claim an 80/20 approach, which means that 80% of the foods we eat are paleo and 20% of the time we allow ourselves treats that are not perfectly paleo. As long as you don't have any major intolerances, that approach seems to be the easiest to sustain long term.
For me that means that when I go out to sushi with friends I have white rice or I'll have some organic corn chips to dip my guacamole in and perhaps a gluten free slice of cake here and there. I am very careful to remain gluten free 100% of the time since I react pretty violently to gluten as does one of my kids.
A note on autoimmunity:
Sometimes paleo alone is not enough. If you've had an autoimmune disease for some time and your healing stalls or does not improve on a simple paleo diet you may want to look into an autoimmune paleo diet which further restricts nightshades, eggs, nuts and seeds, NSAIDs (like Ibuprofen) etc.
Relax – the autoimmune protocol is typically a temporary elimination diet until you can figure out which of those foods you react to and which you're ok with.
How do you know if paleo is right for you?
The best way to know is to simply try it. Ideally you would go paleo for 30 days so you can really experience the benefits and be able to compare how you feel on and off grains but if that sounds overwhelming perhaps you can just give it a shot for 1 week and reevaluate then.
What's the worst that can happen?
You'll likely lose a few pounds and gain a bit of energy along the way. If you decide it's not for you, your beloved granola will still be waiting for you when you return.
How to get started with a paleo diet
Just start cooking!
You can check out my website's recipe section for ideas (all recipes are paleo) but I would highly recommend you use Real Plans, which I use for my family at least 5 days a week when I'm not creating recipes for my blog.
It has saved me so much time in the kitchen, meal planning, and creating grocery lists and so much money on paleo-ish take out or groceries gone to waste. Read my review of her meal plans in this post.
CLICK HERE to subscribe to Real Plans and get started healing today!
Sylvie McCracken is a celebrity personal assistant and mom of 3 by day, paleo enthusiast and blogger by night. She and SAHD hubby, Eric, each lost over 60 lbs with paleo and continue to improve their family’s health with food and lifestyle tweaks. Sign up for her newsletter at www.hollywoodhomestead.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.