Paleo is not about what you eat, it's about what you don't eat.
I'm not sitting around eating vegetables while holding my nose like I'm in 5th grade and my parents are tormenting me with asparagus again. Rather, I'm not eating anything that causes inflammation in my body, chains me with addictive behavior or smacks me - and everyone else around me - with mood swings.
Cutting those things out of my diet made me feel happy, instantly.
I spent the better part of a decade doing spiritual things in order to become a calmer, nicer, more grounded person. I wanted to be zen. Able to meditate. Get my legs into the lotus position. (Well, maybe not that, the look of that pose still gives me the heebie geebies.) I wanted it so badly I went all in. I quit my lucrative internet career, moved to a new city and opened up a Healing Arts Center. I legally changed my first name to Alora. I started hearing things. Literally. I learned a lot during that time, and the spiritual stuff did help.
But it was nothing, I repeat nothing, compared to going Paleo.
During those spiritual years I still had to get myself grounded all the time. Release my inner child's woes. Process my feelings. "I'm an empath!" I would say. "I can't help it that I cry at Folger's commercials or that I'm a bit dramatic. It's just who I am!"
And it was, really, who I was. I was a person who did pick up every little emotion around me, even when they weren't mine. It made me a little, um, high maintenance. Oh, I liked to claim I wasn't high maintenance because I never wanted a fancy dinner or a manicure but looking back, I was very much in need of a lot of maintenance. All day, every day. From myself and from those around me. (Sorry, ex-boyfriends!)
Then I changed my diet.
Or rather, my diet changed me.
And all of a sudden I was no longer un-grounded, un-zen or in angst about my inner child, whoever she is. I was just.... me. Peaceful. Calm. Centered.
"Holy crap!" I exclaimed. "I'm spiritually and emotionally integrated now and it had nothing to do with my spiritual practice? I mean, I'm sure that helped, and I still like that stuff and all but really.... all I had to do was just stop eating junk that made my body stressed out? Without a stressed body, there is no stressed me?"
So yes, I'm Paleo. And yes it means I don't go through the drive-thru or order pizza, not even when I'm super busy. I do cook all of my family's meals. I do. But not in an angry-rushed-yucky way. I've got the Bee Gee's Station playing on my Pandora App and I'm smiling the entire time. My children (in our TV-free home) are chirping away like little birdies flitting around the house doing projects and playing together. Or now, cooking their own Paleo dishes near me. Nicely. Easily. Happily.
Because their little bodies are not stressed out with inflammation, addictive food cycles and cranky-pants mood swings.
Of course there are other factors. You might say "temperament" or "environment" and stuff like that. I agree that there are other things at play as well. But I tell you - my oldest daughter was a "Highly Sensitive Child" or an "Explosive Child" until she went Paleo and then within four days of going off gluten she was like Wendy from Peter Pan, all sweet and standing up straight and gently looking out for her little sibling. I will never forget the first morning she woke up like that. Not for as long as I live.
We were gluten, dairy and soy free for seven months before we went Paleo. She knew, within 48 hours, that she had found nirvana at the age of seven. "I'm Paleo for life, Mom", she said, once the sugar and the rest of the grains left her system and her stuffy nose, her dark circles, her hypoglycemia and the rest of her lingering "temperament" disappeared.
It's not just me and my family.
My story has inspired others around me to go Paleo and the feedback is always the same. Comments like:
So when people ask me "What is Paleo?" and I tell them what I don't eat - no grains, no legumes, no dairy and no sugar - and they freak out (I don't blame them) I want to shout, smiling into my microphone like I'm announcing on The Price Is Right:
"Yes! Yes! It's what you DON'T eat on Paleo that makes it so fantastic! So you, yes you...come on down! The price of happiness is always right!" :)
I like the easy Paleo stuff.