Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Day 30 - a recap

I was hoping I'd have more to say this month, but how often does anyone want to read a post that says "I hate this, 14 days 'til carbs" or "I just ate the exact same meal for the 12th time"? I'm gonna guess once will suffice for each.

So here we are. I've just finished my last mandate-Paleo meal (for the record, it was red curry again, which was delicious but... red curry again. I think I had six or seven red curry meals). I am clawing at midnight. My first week or two was rough, and then I settled into a groove where I felt comfortable enough with what I was eating, and the light at the end of the tunnel wasn't shining on me yet. It is now shining. I wish to go into the light. I am seriously considering staying up 'til midnight just to eat something that is verboten right now. I don't have to get up early - why not?

The only thing I've been more excited about this month than eating carbs tomorrow is getting my top choice internship. I've been salivating over the possibilities for breakfast. I have something delectable in mind. I cannot wait.

Let's recap. I'll start with the good.

  • I appear to have lost about five pounds, without trying. Actually, I lost about five pounds the first week or so, and have pretty much remained at that weight. I've mentioned I wanted to lose a little, so this is good! It's hard to say whether this was an inherent aspect of the food I was eating, or due more to the inaccessibility of snacking. Not that I didn't snack, but it took more time, thought, and preparation. Granola bars make me fat? Maybe.
  • My heartburn decreased significantly. Actually, the first week or two, I had basically none (except after cheat meals), but it's been coming back more frequently in the latter part. [If you happen to be curious about other digestive effects: no improvement, no problems.]
  • I'm actually inclined to see my diet over the last month as pretty healthy (but there's more about this later). I ate a lot of seafood, and my fruits & veg consumption jumped a lot. I hope I'll keep that up!
  • As I've mentioned in previous posts, this has been a great source of learning, and of different ways of viewing and thinking about food.

There's also the not so good.

  • Did I mention how I hated it? It doesn't matter if I lost weight, because I hated this diet. The best I ever managed to feel about it was neutral. There are probably other ways of doing Paleo that I would enjoy more (my friends do a Paleo-like diet where they eat beans. I miss beans), but I'm not interested in much more research.
  • My energy levels never recovered. Like I said before, I feel fine just hanging around, but any attempt at intense activity and I feel unbearably weighed down. Even today, as I hustled up one - one - flight of stairs, I felt winded and tired in a way that I never used to. I did manage a good run this weekend, so I suspect it may only have been a matter of time, but again, not a transition I wish to see through.
  • Oh god, the cost. Even choosing very economical meats like canned and frozen fish and bone-in chicken thighs, and being fortunate to have many of my produce choices on sale, I spent a lot of money on food. I spent around $300 on just me this month - somehow Keith managed to pretty much not eat at home this month, so the grocery costs really were almost all me. It's a lot more than I normally would spend.
  • I still feel like I spend every waking moment thinking about, preparing, or eating food, and then cleaning up. It's really annoying.
  • But here's my favorite not-so-good. I wish I'd planned ahead and had a blood panel done last month, but I didn't, so instead I'm using my not-super-fuzzy memory of my lipid levels from about three years ago. I feel my lifestyle has been stable enough in that time, however, to make them a valid point of comparison (the doctor who ordered my tests agreed). I did at least plan ahead enough to have a new lipid panel done this week. At this point, I was honestly rooting for Paleo. I would love to have hard data make me eat my skeptical words. Didn't happen. First the neutral: my (good) HDL was basically unchanged at 44mg/dL. A little low, but still in the okay range. I think my HDL may have been slightly higher a few years ago, but we're still talking 40s. And then the bad: my (bad) LDL increased from ~45mg/dL to 61mg/dL. I think my LDL may actually have been lower, but I'm trying not to overstate my case. This is not good! Obviously, 61mg/dL is still a great level, and I wouldn't give it a second glance on its own, but that's over a 30% increase. That's concerning. That's enough right there to make me say, nope, not gonna happen, experiment over.

So that's my recap. I'm a little disappointed to be vindicated. I'm actively trying to avoid being a dietitian who clings to yesterday's research and shuns tomorrow's. I was honestly hoping this might be good for me. And that's not to say it's bad; my friends who do the beany-Paleo have had marked improvements in their lab values. What I do know is that it's not for me. I hated the limitations, I hated the time and cost it required, I hated the totally arbitrary social limitations, and it obviously did not agree with my body. I wouldn't immediately tell a patient who was interested in Paleo not to do it, but I certainly have a new sense of caution I'd use to discuss it.

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