Update: After 18 Months of Paleo

We are a family of  four living in Southern California trying to get healthy and stay healthy in a busy, fast food world.

Our story begins with a downward spiral healthwise. Me, Jennifer, the mom, found myself feeling very ill in summer 2013 after two back to back trade shows for my “day job” as a social media strategist and craft designer. I came home from the last show feeling:

  • Nauseated all the time
  • Generally ill and sore, like I had the flu
  • Terrible heartburn if I ate anything after 3pm
  • A very intense case of gout
  • Exhaustion – I was taking 5 to 6 hour naps daily
  • Constantly swollen feet
  • A severe case of fibromyalgia
  • Chronic sinus infections and ear infections
  • Chronic allergies (trees, pollen, all flowers, etc)
  • Thining hair that broke off at the ends
  • Acne issues
  • Dark bags under my eyes all the time
  • Skin fungus

This blog and blog post get graphic – we are going into detail about the good, the bad, and the ugly we experience during our adventure with this paleo way of eating and our quest to get healthy. We are not experts and we are not dieticians or doctors. We are not giving medical advice. We are sharing OUR experience and story and we hope that inspires you to find your own healthy path.

That weekend, I told my husband, Xaver, that I felt so sick that I thought I needed a detox of some kind. My mom was always talking about Dr. Oz so I looked online and found he had a 3 day detox diet. We started watching documentaries on food on Netflix. As we finished one, Netflix suggested several other similar films to watch. After about 10 films, we noticed a trend – clean, paleo eating was the way to go in order to avoid the after-effects of industrial farms, chemicals, and processed foods. I am a skeptic but faced with the alternative of weightloss surgery and how terrible I had been feeling, I had nothingto lose to give this paleo thing a try.

We downloaded a chart showing which foods were paleo-friendly and which were not and we got started buying and cooking and learning.

After 7 days on paleo, I was able to stop taking ALL of my medications (This is not recommended – you need to see a doctor before you make changes to your meds). 

After two weeks on paleo, my thinking was clearer and my ability to concentrate improved.

After a month on paleo, I lost 20 pounds.

After 6 weeks on paleo, people told me my skin looked brighter and that the dark circles under my eyes were going away.

After 2 months on paleo, the itchy bumps all over my arms and legs, that I had had all my life, started going away.

After 3 months on paleo, my feet stopped smelling bad.

After 4 months on paleo, I was able to go to Disneyland and walk around all day without sitting every 20 minutes. I lasted a whole day!

After 5 months on paleo, I lost 40 pounds.

After 6 months on paleo, I went to a trade show and walked without foot pain the entire 5 days. All of my previously tight shoes were loose. I could stand to wear nylons again.

After 8 months on paleo, the chronic skin fungus I had at my joints and behind my ears was finally controlled.

After 10 months on paleo, the dentist told me my teeth looked better and whiter – it was all the soda I stopped drinking as well as the reduction in sugar intake.

After a year on paleo, my hair started thickening and growing faster.

After having hysterectomy surgery 14 months after going paleo, I was up and walking around in 2 hours. The doctors said they've never seen anyone do that.

After 17 months on paleo, I have had ONE sinus infection. Compare that to 24 trips to the doctor for sinus infections in the previous 17 months.

After 18 months on paleo, I have not once again taken medication for fibromyalgia or allergies. I rarely get colds now. I have had to take some medications but it is totally minimal compared to what I used to have to take. 

I still have all of these heath problems. I still have irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic knee pain, and allergies. I just manage them better with my diet now than with medications. If I don't eat paleo, I feel it the next day. Sometimes I feel it the same day! Paleo is not a cure-all. It is just a way to manage what I take into my body to reduce the negative effects of ingredients in food. In addition to eating paleo, I eat organic whenever possible. I am very conscious of what I eat and drink and I want as few pesticides and chemicals on my food as possible.

I tried to eat as close to paleo as possible without starving at the recent CHA trade show this January. But it's now time to get back on the wagon! People think eating paleo is really hard. But for me, taking 8 different medications a day, needing a 3-5 hour nap a day, not being able to stand more than 30 minutes (so even grocery shopping was impossible let alone Disneyland or the mall or CHA), and all of the other health and lifestyle issues I have without Paleo is harder. If you suffer from fibromyalgia and other health problems like gout, acne, under-eye bags, joint pain, carpal tunnel, allergies, thin hair, irritable bowel syndrome, swollen feet, and more, consider trying paleo like I did! I gained 30 pounds back when I had to take hormones prior to hysterectomy surgery. I don't do paleo for weight loss- I do it for my health.

The first few days of paleo eating is really hard. You feel sluggish and hungry and will get sugar cravings really bad. If you are trying to give up caffeine at the same time, it is even more difficult. But in my experience, this lasts only the first 1-2 days. Each meal that I choose to eat paleo, it gets easier to eat paleo on the next meal.

Here are some other paleo discoveries:

  • Grocery shopping is faster. All the paleo foods are usually in the outside aisles of the store so I make a big loop and avoid the inner aisles.
  • Most paleo foods don't have coupons. I figured out when to shop for deals, like marked down meat at Target (early in the morning) and re-jined Costco to take advantage of their organic meat selection and cash back on executive membership purchases.
  • We spend about $700-$1000 a month on food for a family of four (includes pet food). Prior to paleo, we spent about $400-600 a month on food but an additional $200-300 a month on medications, gas for doctor visits, and copays. Then there is the improved quality of life and you can't put a price on that!
  • My pantry is more empty so I store othr things in there. I don't need flour and sugar and big bags of beans anymore.
  • We eat fresh fruit every day. Before paleo, we struggled to get the kids to eat bananas.
  • We found paleo-friendly delicacies, like SoDelicious Coconut Dairy Free Soy Free “ice cream” and Avocado Oil Potato chips (my fave!!). Nitrate-free bacon and salami are some of my other faves!
  • We eat less – we're fuller sooner on less.
  • We don't crave sweets that badly. In fact, most store bought cakes or donuts taste sickeningly sweet to us now.
  • My tastes changed. My tongue no longer has this coating of oily stuff on it and fresh things taste amazing! Frosting on cupcakes tastes like gasoline. Cheetos taste like salty chemicals.
  • We can eat out on paleo but most fast food makes us feel cruddy. Sometimes it is better to just stop at Target and get some nitrate free salami, Lara Bars, and carrots than to go to a drive-thru. It's cheaper too!
  • We drink more water than ever.
  • Clothes fit me better.
  • People say I look happier.
  • My skin is smoother.
  • I don't smell as “stinky” after working out.
  • I heal faster.

I can only share with you what my experience has been in hopes that it inspires you think about what you eat and how that affects how you feel. I am not a paleo-crazy and I still eat things I shouldn't and I do love a bit of cheese and yogurt every now and then. But for the most part, I eat paleo and after a year and a half of paleo, I can tell you that it has really worked for me and made all of the difference in my life and health. 

I hope this story inspires you and if you have any questions about paleo and doing paleo as a family, please let me know!



About the Author

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Jennifer Priest is a 20+ year designer in the arts & crafts industry and home DIYer with a passion for creativity. An Army veteran raised on a ranch, from her experience, she shares smart DIY projects that save money and fun craft ideas that anyone can make. Besides blogging, Jennifer is a Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP, Hypnosis, and MER, and coaches other online entrepreneurs on money mindset, business, and living an intentional life. When not blogging, Jennifer is having adventures in the wilderness, on road trips, playing with her cats, and making paleo food.

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