Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Beginning

About a year and a half ago, I started dating a guy in Sacramento. At the time I lived in Davis, and I would commute out to his place to see him, on weekends and sometimes Wednesdays. Why Wednesdays? That his off day from his Crossfit workouts. When he and I first met, I had no idea what Crossfit even was, let alone how it interacted with a Paleo diet. In the time since then, I've not only learned a lot, but begun my own Crossfit/Paleo regimen.
What is Paleo, though? It's actually pretty simple. From the Wikipedia article:

"The modern dietary regimen known as the Paleolithic diet (abbreviated paleo diet or paleodiet), also popularly referred to as the caveman diet, Stone Age diet and hunter-gatherer diet, is a nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals that various human species habitually consumed during the Paleolithic—a period of about 2.5 million years duration that ended around 10,000 years ago with the development of agriculture. In common usage, such terms as the "Paleolithic diet" also refer to the actual ancestral human diet. Centered on commonly available modern foods, the "contemporary" Paleolithic diet consists mainly of meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar, and processed oils."

So, in summary,: Stay away from grains, starches, and processed sugars, and focus more on vegetables, meats, and nuts.

At first I was reluctant to follow this diet. I couldn't understand how Ramon could eat so much meat and stay so healthy. I was caught up in the out-dated ideas that red meat was bad, while whole grains were healthy. That was what we always learned in school, right? The bottom of the food pyramid was always made up of grains. It only took a little bit of research, though, to realize that there really was something to this Paleo thing. The rise of news articles about the perils of carbohydrates, and the popularity of similar diets like Atkins, made me re-think the nutritional information I had always read in the past. But what really gt me dedicated to changing the way I ate were two things-- my own unhappiness with my weight and lack of fitness (despite trying many times in the past to lose weight), and Ramon's challenge to me to join him on the diet for six months. He explained to me that he wanted to be more strict about his diet (possible goaded by the extra holiday pounds), and since we now lived together, it was difficult for him to be strict if I was bringing junk food into the house. I had to agree. I wasn't happy about my post-Christmas weight, either, and with a 30th birthday looming in the near future, I decided it was past time to get myself into shape.

The transition was made easier by the participation of our roommates, CJay and Bryce, who decided to join us on our six-month Paleo Challange. CJay had been doing Crossfit with Ramon for almost three years by then, and had always been stricter about his food habits than Ramon. So, January first, we gt together and rid the house of anything that didn't fit in with our new eating style. Mac and Cheese, bread, rice-- all of it was given away to friends and family, or simply dumped. Instead, our fridge was restocked with a variety of fresh vegetables, fruit, beef, poultry, and fish. The only thing I refused to budge on was the dairy. I don't drink much milk and have never liked yogurt, but I put my foot down on cheese. Yes, go ahead and tell me it's not Paleo, I don't care, I LOVE CHEESE. You know how they say that bacon is the only food that will make a person stop being a vegetarian? Cheese is the food that makes me be not-so-strictly Paleo. However, I did cut a lot of it out, and I usually only eat cheese a few times a week now.

The first few weeks were really hard. Ramon had been eating Paleo for years, and so he transitioned into the challenge easily. I, however, did not. I love carbs, always have, and the craving were incredibly hard to ignore for the first two or three weeks. On the advice of The Paleo Solution, by Robb Wolf and Dr. Loren Cordain(link here ), we decided to start of with and 85/15 split, meaning 85% of our meals were Paleo and 15% not, or three meals a week as "cheats". After two weeks we moved that down to two meals, and eventually weaned ourselves to just one cheat meal a week. The book recommends keeping that one cheat meal and a way to control your cheating, which makes it much less likely that you will backslide into previous eating patterns. The less I ate carbs, the more the cravings for them went away. I still look forward to my cheat meals (hooray, french fries!), but I'm not longer cranky and argumentative because of my desire for pasta, rice, or bread.

I also found it much easier to transition because of the help and support of Ramon and of our roommates. We often trade recipe ideas, and share a series of Paleo cookbooks that live in our kitchen. However, as much as I love to cook, sometimes we just want to get out and have a meal in a restaurant. So, a few weeks ago, I hopped online to see if there were any listing of Paleo-friendly restaurants in the Sacramento area. The listing were surprisingly lacking. It was around this time that Ramon and I thought to ourselves-- we live in Sacramento, we eat Paleo, why don't we share what we know with other Paleo people? Thus the genesis of this blog. We hope to share with our friends and fellow cavemen the restaurants in Sacramento where we can find delicious, healthy food.

We'll try to post reviews of restaurants as often as possible, and welcome suggestions from anyone in the area who knows of good places to eat.

Go Paleo!