Concerned over lack of energy from reduced carbs, the fruit & veggie restrictions making options more limited, and the effects of a fruit & veg heavy meal on the too-much-of-a-good-thing basis.
When I was first looking for dinner ideas after going Low-FODMAP, to “treat” (really, to prevent incidence of) my IBS, I found a lot of good ideas on Paleo websites, though we often added rice, quinoa, or corn options to round them out to our preferred mean type. Even when I reviewed the Paleo Slow Cooker cookbook we did the same. Basically, I’m not fond of any diet/lifestyle that overly restricts or cuts out an entire nutrient class completely.
While Paleo (and it’s cousin Primal) diets do cut out grains, refined sugars, and a whole host of other things, the don’t cut out a particular macronutrient (say, carbohydrates or fats) en masse, they just limit the sources to what they think are more beneficial to our bodies. So, okay, I’m not 100% against the idea.
The topic of eating Paleo came up recently, shortlyÂ after (though not related to) my endocrinologist commenting that my triglycerides were higher than he wanted them. His suggestion was to cut down on the sweets, breads, and alcohol. In other words, the things I’ve already cut back on one way or another (you’ve noticed the slow-down on the cocktail posts, yes? there were reasons for that). But, fine, we can try to do a little better, so I signed up for a trial of PaleoPlan.com and set abound finding options for this past week’s dinners.
I mention Paleo Plan not to make this a review of their site, just to reference where my recipes were coming from for those who might be curious. We didn’t adhere to a strict Paleo lifestyle for a few reasons, but for dinners and the subsequent leftover lunches we did our best to follow the recipes as presented, making only necessary substitutions (green onions for red, yellow or white, for instance) and not adding anything else. The goal was just to figure out if this was something we could do in general, or would want to do.
Two things concerned me about eating Paleo for 2/3 of our meals (we stuck with ourÂ usual breakfasts, I also kept up with my coffee and milk to-go in the mornings) both centered around the source of carbohydrates in the Paleo eating style:
a) Carbohydrates are where we get the lion’s share of our energy. Without the ready sources in rice, corn, or quinoa, would we have enough to sustain us?
b) The carbohydrates that are available are from fruit and vegetable sources, many of which are prohibited as naturally High-FODMAP or limited in quantity to keep their Low-FODMAP status in check. Would we be piling on the fruits and veggies to the extent that it would make me ill?
Here’s what our dinners looked like this past week:
Clockwise from upper left: Chicken Primavera Bowl; Green Lightening Shrimp w/Kale & Tomatoes; Pork Tenderloin w/Blueberry Sauce and Green Beans; Chicken w/Cumin, Kale, and Red Peppers; and Lime & Cilantro Pork Tacos (not pictured: Zucchini and Ground Beef)
As far as the concern about triggering my IBS symptoms with the amount of veggies consumed went, it was mostly a non-issue but only because I was paying careful attention to the portion sizes. This week’s menu didn’t need a lot of futzing with, but I’ve seen other entrees on that particular site that just wouldn’t work for me at all. The protein-heavy meals were definitely filling and while we did remark that rice or pasta would certainly be tasty along with what we were eating, the meals were enough. (Except the “tacos,” those needed a side of some sort.)
The first few days last week we felt pretty good. It wasn’t until Thursday that the lack of grain-based carbs caught up with us. At about 3pm for me (and 1pm for Todd) we both hit the wall and were fighting sleep for the rest of the day. Worse, I was fighting sleep on the drive home, all hour-plus of it! Not a good way to be. Now, it may have been different if we’d also been adhering to the snack schedule Paleo Plan suggests. There are a lot of nut butters & fruit combinations which might do well for an energy pick-me-up. I did have snacks on hand but they were my usual mandarin orange and cheese stick sort (yes, I know cheese isn’t Paleo) which, with our usual eating habits, exists to keep my blood sugar nice and steady until dinner time, but doesn’t give a big energy boost.
And, of all weeks to hit that wall, this was the week we finally were able to relax after tying up the household moving business. No more schlepping boxes every evening. No more late nights because of said box schlepping. We were getting to bed on time and sleeping soundly. So, if anything, we should have had more energy at our disposal!
So, what’s the verdict?
In my unscientific, non-nutritionist or dietitian’s totally anecdotal experience, I would not suggest a 100% Paleo lifestyle for someone needing to eat Low-FODMAP to control IBS symptoms. The way I see it, we’re already restricting our diets enough as it is, imposing further, arbitrary, restrictions does not seem wise to me as the more restrictions we place on our food the tougher it becomes to meet our nutritional needs. (Variety being the #1 way of ensuring a balanced diet.)
And, yes, I do consider the Paleo and Primal lifestyles rather arbitrary. To say that our bodies cannot handle grains just because we didn’t start out as an agricultural species makes no sense to me. Our bodies have had ages to adapt and plenty of people have no problem whatsoever digesting grains. Do we need to scale back on them? Perhaps, in fact I’d say very likely, but to cut them out entirely doesn’t strike me asÂ very sound. It’d be like me telling otherwise healthy friends that they must avoid onions, garlic, wheat and so much more just because certain people have a problem digesting them on a regular basis. I guess I’m still not a fan of bandwagon-jumping, regardless of how well-meaning that wagon is. I’ll stick to moderation, and not give up my sushi.
But it was nice to see that we could have satisfying meals without the grains we’d usually add. While I joked with Todd that he would retaliate this coming week with an all-grain menu (he’s not, for the record), we agreed that eating Paleo on occasion wouldn’t be so bad.
We just won’t do it for more than three days in a row!