Our Journey to Paleo

After a long enough wait, how about getting into our journey to paleo?

We start with a rough pregnancy, a frustrated overweight man, permaculture videos, and a cat with urinary tract crystals.

My husband has struggled with weight pretty much his whole life. When we married, he was down to close to 200, but was unable to keep it off. This didn’t really bother him a lot until after we started having kids, and he kept gaining. He was unable to do the things he wanted to do to play with the boys. Over the 14 years we’ve been married, he kept saying, “How did our great-grandparents eat so much food and so much fatty food, yet obesity was not the issue it was today with all the ‘healthy diet’ stuff being shoved down our throats?” He was somewhat successful at Weight Watchers, until an injury sidelined him and he gained it all back, plus more. This is despite the fact that at home, I fixed healthy foods. Homemade whole grain breads, no processed foods, minimal sugars, very low fat – everything you’d expect from what Conventional Wisdom (CW) advocates. He was a very frustrated man.

I was pregnant with our 6th child. The pregnancy wasn’t my worst, but it wasn’t great. For one, my blood pressure was always a little on the high side for me. In pregnancy, it usually goes to about 110/64, compared to the 116/72 that is my normal non-pregnant blood pressure. With our 6th, it was 120/80, which the nurses always gushed about how great it was, and I always complained about how high it was. About July 1 , which was 2.5 months before baby P was due, I made an emergency trip to L & D because of feeling dizzy & seeing spots. It turns out I was also having contractions, but the most concerning to me was the bp that was 139/90ish. Fortunately, it wasn’t pre-eclampsia, but I did earn myself bed rest of some sort for pretty much the rest of the pregnancy. My Beloved was able to work from home to help me out with our other boys, and this is where the story starts picking up.

At this same time, our cat, Olivia, started acting sick. She seemed to be in a lot of pain, so I took her to the vet with T10 helping. When we got there, the vet said, “Why, he’s got crystals blocking his urinary tract!” Color me surprised! The cat is a boy? Really? How did I not know that for 2.5 years?!? After that shock (and visual evidence shown by the vet), we discussed treatment options and preventative maintenance. One suggestion was to buy this super expensive food for him. No way! I wasn’t going to pay $20/week for my kitty to eat that!

While I was waiting for him to have a minor crystal-removing procedure & recover from the anesthesia, I began researching the best diet for cats. Turns out that simply feeding him canned food is a ton better than a grain-based dry cat food. Cats are not designed to digest grains. It causes inflammation, most notably in the urinary tract, and can cause the kitty lots of troubles besides an increased risk for UTIs. So, we started buying Friskies Poultry Platter (has the least meat by-products & best macronutrients for an active indoor-outdoor cat like him). Within a week, the cat was running & jumping like a kitten, not laying around all day. He started hunting a lot more. You could tell the cat was feeling better than he had since we got him. Anecdotally, the evidence was compelling.

One day, my husband was exploring permaculture links, podcasts, and videos, since we like to garden & our gardens have been varying degrees of flops. After watching a video referring to it by Paul Wheaton, he watched the documentary, Fat Head. He was so impressed that he had me watch it after a nap. It completely changed our way of thinking about food and nutrition. This led us to read The Primal Blueprint and change our lifestyle. Besides the compelling evidence given in both the video and the book, we remembered the cat’s experience from a week or two earlier.

We originally decided to try it for 30 days, to see if it was all that is proponents claimed it to be.  Within just the first few weeks, the adults in the family noticed significant results.  My husband was feeling more active & thinking more clearly than he has in a long time.  Although I still had to be careful about my activity level, I also started feeling better.  My joint aches, a common pregnancy downside for me, were almost non-existant. Numbers started telling a very nice story – husband’s blood pressure was on a downhill slide from somewhat high (around that 140/80ish), my own blood pressure went down to a more normal pregnancy range for me – 116/72, I believe. Weight was beginning to melt off my dh.  This was with eating bacon and eggs every day for breakfast, which made him an extremely happy man.  At the end of our 30 day trial of a paleo or primal diet, I delivered our 6th son, P. We never talked about if we were going to continue it.  It just seemed to work so well that we never gave it another thought.

This is significant, too.  That our 5th son, J, was a fairly scrawny little guy with dry, dull hair.  I was getting concerned with him, because he didn’t seem to be gaining weight.  This was the day I went into labor with P.  By the time that P was 3 weeks old, the changes in J were dramatic.  His hair had thickened up – gorgeous shiny hair that grows extremely rapidly. He had shot up a good 3-4 inches and gained 5-6 pounds. His cheeks were the lovely soft baby cheeks again.  He continues to have gorgeous hair and a sturdy preschooler’s body. Our 2nd son, L, has always been very active and highly distractible. Since going paleo, he is still extremely active, but not in a hyper way, and he is able to focus far better.  The other boys are also seeing benefits, just not  as extreme and L and J.

That, dear readers, is the story of our journey to paleo, which started with a sick cat and permaculture. 😀

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