Pa-le-OH woes

Senior shares unique dieting experience


Illustration by Alex O’Gorman

No grains. No dairy. No sweets. After a month of living with the diet of a caveman, I’ve noticed a lot of changes within myself. Growing up, I always heard the phrase “it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle,” and I always thought about how dumb that was. Just fixing the way you eat changes your life? Not eating junk? Vegetables? Ha, definite no thanks.

Sara Vaughn
Sara Vaughn

But as I got older, I changed my mind. Bad food causes pimples; it makes you feel gross and sluggish. And, not to mention, makes you gain weight. Those things are all pretty unpleasant, so I figured it wouldn’t be too difficult to cut them off at the root.

Starting paleo wasn’t cutting all food cold turkey for me. I had been “dieting” for over a year by then, but it was still difficult. It didn’t help that nobody around me was also swearing off processed foods and junk.

Paleo is short for “Paleolithic,” which is the era of the cavemen. In the day of the caveman, they had simple diet of fresh and unprocessed ingredients. The “paleo approved” list consists of meats, eggs, vegetables, oils, nuts and fruits.

At the beginning, I ate carrots. That was the only vegetable I would eat, but I’m used to the vegetable taste now, so I like pretty much all of them. I’ve always liked meat, so eating loads of protein was super pleasant. Almonds were constantly in my purse. They are my emergency hunger buster.

There is a crazy variety of meals, recipes and things that can replace regular foods. Portions are the fun part because paleo doesn’t restrict the amount of approved food you can eat.

I can eat as much bacon as I want with no shame. How great is that?”

— Sara Vaughn

I’ve tried a lot of diets, but this one is completely good for your body and allows you to be satisfied. The “low carb diet” doesn’t let you eat fruit, but fruit is healthy, so I find that a little iffy. Simply counting calories means you can eat 1,500 of candy, which is also pretty iffy. Paleo ensures that what you put in your body is working for you, not against you.

Humans survived without oreos, chicken nuggets and soda for centuries, so why can’t I? Yes, of course, I miss my (previously) favorite food group, bread, but eating cleanly makes you feel uplifted and flooded with power.

The first week is the toughest. When you are accustomed to fake flavors, real food tastes slightly dull. It takes an insane amount of willpower, but after the first week, the cravings for burgers and pizza decrease and the appeal of vegetables and fruits grows immensely.

Although, not everyone can handle the paleo lifestyle. Originally, I started with a friend so I had a support system, but she ached every time she looked at queso. Needless to say, she caved and I was left to fend for myself. Something that pulls me through everyday is the results. Feeling good and having clear skin tastes better than pasta that you can only savor for about half an hour.

In this month, eggs have become my lifesaver. I eat at least three daily. I’ve also discovered that there is a replacement for practically everything, and they taste practically the same as the original. Instead of sugar, I use honey. Instead of peanut butter, I use almond butter. And instead of regular flour, I use either almond or coconut flour.

Food overruns today’s society. Making plans with friends to meet at restaurants doesn’t seem so simple anymore, since eating paleo in public is beyond stressful. Orders are complicated and earn strange looks from waiters. Foods are generally cooked in butter or have grease, but, even though you might get eyeballed, you can order the food specially made. On the brightside, getting food without sides makes it cheaper.

Wheat products tend to lurk around restaurant meals. At IHOP, they add pancake batter to their eggs to make them fluffier. One night, I went to IHOP and had to send my omelet back three times because they either forgot to take the cheese off or forgot to take out the pancake batter.

In general, restaurants hate me.”

Eating a diet of meat, fruit, vegetables and nuts sounds depressing; 10-year-old me would loathe me right now. I used to have nightmares of zucchini, but now any vegetable that’s put in front of me will be devoured and completely enjoyed. It’s a good feeling, though. Kind of like studying for a huge, important test and acing it with ease because you know exactly what you’re doing is working.                          

It’s wonderful to know everything in your body is helping you, and it makes you feel like a superhuman. If you put junk in, you’re going to feel junky. I’m also happier. Not focusing all of my attention on cravings makes me more carefree. Honestly, just from a month of paleo, I’m on top of the world. Oh, and losing weight is definitely a plus too.