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paleo 2

A little backstory…

In 2009, after experiencing unexplained weight loss and undergoing thorough testing, Steve was diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus. (The disease presents much like GERD but is more severe and increases the risk of developing esophageal cancer.) He was prescribed medications to ease his symptoms, advised to avoid exacerbating foods and drinks and told he would have to undergo routine endoscopies and biopsies to monitor for precancerous and cancerous cells. Steve has a family history of esophageal cancer so the news was especially, well, hard to swallow.

He followed the doctor’s orders but after a few months nothing had changed too much, and emerging research was showing that some of his medications could have complications after long-term use. It was then that Steve started seeking alternative treatment options which included drastically changing his diet. (I’m over-simplifying his efforts to avoid a post with a 2,000 word count but…) Over time his symptoms disappeared and, eventually, he was able to stop all meds. His last endoscopy showed no signs of Barrett’s or even GERD. (!)

Fast forward several years. A friend at work introduced Steve to Crossfit which ultimately led him to discover the paleo diet. He took to both – Crossfit and paleo – and nowadays follows a *mostly* paleo diet *most* of the time.

I, on the other hand, do not. While I’m all for cutting out processed foods, I’ve found it difficult to do entirely. (Not that I’ve actually tried. I can’t even commit to starting a paleo diet.) Also, I’m no vegetarian (hello, Five Guys), but I’ve never been much of a meat eater. There are times when just thinking about chewing meat makes me cringe. That doesn’t bode well for eating like a caveman. I tend to subscribe to everything in moderation, although dairy and I haven’t been on good terms since I went dairy-free when Mabrey was a newborn. No cow’s milk for us; I buy unsweetened almond milk. Most of my time in the grocery store is spent shopping the produce, meat and natural foods sections…and telling the kids no to donuts, candy and fruit snacks. We eat a lot of eggs and fish.

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Since we’re in the Midwest, quality seafood can be hard to come by without paying a pretty penny at a gourmet grocery store. Instead, I order Blue Apron meals that incorporate fish. Their Alaskan sockeye salmon is wild-caught, sustainably sourced and is rated “Best Choice” by Seafood Watch, a company that helps consumers and businesses choose seafood that’s fished or farmed in ways that are minimally invasive to natural habitats. Blue Apron avoids overfished species. Their seafood is always raised within natural ecosystems or sustainable farms without the use of antibiotics and added hormones. You can read more about the company’s mission here.

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Over the years readers have asked how we meld Steve’s diet with mine and the kids’. Honestly, it takes effort and some days it doesn’t happen. Some days the kids and I eat something completely different for dinner. Either I make a separate meal for Steve, or he’ll make himself something. (During the week, he often gets home after we’ve eaten anyway.) Some days I don’t have the energy to make more than one meal for everyone, so I’ll make something tried and true that I know everyone will like that also happens to be paleo. Some days I don’t have the energy to listen to my kids whine about how much they don’t want (insert healthy paleo food) again, so I’ll make pizza, light on the cheese.

Even though the kids and I don’t identify as paleo, by association with Steve, we do eat more paleo meals than we would if we were left to our own devices. Thanks to picking up simple and effective cooking tips from Blue Apron, I’ve become pretty good at throwing together quick meals or tweaking recipes to fit Steve’s dietary needs. I have twinges of optimism where I think, “Hey! I could maybe do this paleo family thing.” Then one of the boys comes home with a bag of Doritos from their grandparents’ house or a sucker from a classmate’s birthday party, and I roll my eyes and give up too easily.

I thought it might be helpful fun to share a few things I’ve noticed from living with a paleo spouse…

*SO. MUCH. GREASE. Maybe it’s just what Steve is choosing to cook and his preparation methods but, holy cow, nearly everything is pan-fried in olive oil, coconut oil or butter. And when your spouse cooks like he’s on the set of a cooking show (meaning he uses every dish, pan and utensil EXCEPT for a lid and doesn’t have time for a thorough cleanup), oil and grease end up everywhere…on the stovetop, countertop, backsplash and even the island pendants. I’ve been known to throw open the kitchen window on the chilliest of winter days to air out the Denny’s smell. Sometimes when I leave the house, I can smell fried meat and onions on my clothes and I’m paranoid that I smell like the old people at the pharmacy who smell like fried food. Lots of grease here, folks.

*SO. MUCH. SUGAR. By far, the biggest thing I’ve learned is that sugar is hidden in just about everything. I read labels and search for products without added sugars. (Food companies like to hide them in all kinds of forms, in all kinds of foods.) I favor fresh ingredients over boxed foods. I’m much more aware of sugar content. I think that’s the biggest takeaway.

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*When in doubt, add sweet potatoes. Many Blue Apron recipes are paleo-friendly with little to no tweaking. I’ll use almond milk instead of buttermilk, almond meal instead of flour, etc. I’ll forgo non-paleo seasonings on one serving of meat or fish especially for Steve. If I’m looking for a side substitute for Steve, I’ll roast sweet potato coins. Slicing coins is so much easier and quicker than peeling/dicing. If I have more time, I’ll make mashed sweet potatoes. (The first time I made mashed sweet potatoes was from a Blue Apron recipe and I couldn’t believe how easy it was.) Or I’ll throw them into stews and use them as “filler” in salmon patties, too.

FYI – The kids aren’t keen on standalone sweet potato dishes but they’ll eat them when I sneak them into things like salmon patties. Or I’ll just bake diced gold potatoes for them. Again, we aren’t paleo perfect.

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*Platters > personal plates. One thing I’ve found helpful is serving meals (usually lunch or dinner) on a big platter and letting everyone fill their plates themselves instead of plopping down plates specifically catered to each family member. I choose what goes on the platter. The kids and Steve choose what goes on their plates. It feels less divisive, less restrictive. Luckily, seafood is one thing everyone in our family likes. Collard greens? Not so much.

*Inspiration > resentment. Truthfully, when Steve made the choice to go paleo, I was annoyed.

“What? Is my prosaic menu not good enough for you?”

“Why do I feel like this is going to be more work for ME?

“Well, of course, you can eat healthy. You only have to worry about feeding yourself. You aren’t at home all day with three little people who have very opinionated taste buds.”

“If you’re going to eat like a caveman, then I’m going to shave like a cavewoman.”

But you know what? I was taking it way too personally. He’s being proactive about his health in order to be the best husband and father he can for the longest time possible. He’s inspiring me to eat healthier and setting a great example for our kids. (He packs the boys’ lunches most days.) He’s healthier and happier, and he looks pretty damn awesome. #handsoff I’m so proud of him. Even if he won’t eat my really awesome spaghetti ;)

Do you follow a paleo diet or know someone who does? Do you have any tips for cutting out processed foods or favorite paleo recipes to share? If your family is committed to a paleo diet, how do you handle school events and family get-togethers? I find those situations the most difficult to control. Sometimes I’ll make a paleo dish and bring it to a family function to share, but the host is noticeably offended. What then?

If you’d like to start incorporating more fresh food into your meals, you can give Blue Apron a try by clicking here. The first 50 readers will get two free meals on their first Blue Apron order!

P.S. – How I clean the globe lights.

UPDATE: After reading through the comments, Steve was compelled to share his thoughts:

Hi, everyone. Steve here. So many great questions and insights. I thought I would try to comment on as many as I could in hopes that it helps someone out. First off, my Barrett’s did not present the typical symptom of heartburn. The only thing I ever noticed was occasional indigestion and the need to clear my throat after I ate. So the diagnosis was a real shock to me and my doctor. I found out later, through my own research, that my symptoms were consistent with LPR or silent reflux. I’ll be honest, when they told me I had Barrett’s, I was freaking out on the inside.

I’m the type of person who reads, researches, digs and occasionally obsesses over things. It only took about 15 minutes on WebMD and the recent death of a loved one to esophageal cancer for me to mentally seal my own fate. If you only take away one thought from this reply, recognize that stress and digestive health are intrinsically linked. There’s a reason we have expressions like “having a gut feeling” or “butterflies in the stomach.” This is not groundbreaking news, but I didn’t realize the full connection back then. Gradually, the increased stress resulted in worsening symptoms and on it went. I tried to do everything right, but perfectionism only exacerbated my anxiety. I can still remember standing in the grocery store after I had been told I should cut gluten, eggs, yeast, dairy, and nuts from my diet thinking “What the f*ck am I going to eat?” Thankfully, I’m in a much better place now. It’s been a long journey, but it was necessary for me.  A few things I’ve learned…

Be your own guinea pig. I’ve tried just about all of the diets.  And each time I’ve learned something about myself and my specific needs. Don’t be afraid to do the same. Some people say dairy is the devil, and other’s do just fine with it. Everyone is different to a degree. Ultimately, you will most likely settle on something that doesn’t fit perfectly into someone else’s definition, but rather suits your individual needs. Keep in mind that this will take time. Remind yourself that with each little experiment, you’ll be moving closer to what works best for you.

Be easy and honest with yourself. As I mentioned before, the more gravity you put on this, the more stress you’ll create. That’s not going to get you where you want. Treat each experiment with some lightness or a sense of curiosity about your body. Allow yourself to slip up or indulge once in a while. The only way a donut will kill you is if it becomes lodged in your throat which could just as easily happen with a piece of broccoli. That being said, don’t allow yourself to make excuses either. Eating half an ice cream cake every Wednesday is not an occasional treat. It’s a pattern. Again, it’s about balance and honesty.

Quality > calories. The quality and nutritional value of our food typically has a much larger impact on our overall health than just a calorie count. It’s not as simple as some would lead you to believe – calories in versus calories out. This explains why eating a low calorie/high carbohydrate diet often causes people to continue to gain weight. As a rule of thumb, we try to make the bulk of our groceries organic foods that are perishable.  

Forethought is your friend. Consistently eating clean takes some planning. When starting to make a change, you’ll need to think through your week and make a rough meal plan. Winging it is not a good strategy. Make sure you have quality snacks and go-to foods if you get in a jam. Don’t let this overwhelm you though. I promise, it becomes very easy after a while. Soon you’ll know exactly what you want when you go to the grocery store…or roll into Chipotle ;)

Eat! There are so many wonderful foods out there that are perfectly nutritious. Don’t focus your attention and efforts on what you’re cutting out. Look at all those wonderful foods that you can eat and dig in.

With those tidbits in mind, there were quite a few questions about my diet specifically. I don’t even like to refer to it as a “diet” because I think that term comes with baggage. It’s just the way I eat. It’s a combination of Paleo principles, Zone diet principles and what I’ve found my body needs. If I had to put some words around it, I would pull them straight out of the Crossfit Journal. This mantra is easy and makes sense to me, “Meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar.” Typically, I eat a big breakfast hash that consists of some or all of the following: pulled pork or grass-fed ground beef or egg, sweet potatoes or Jersey yams, mushrooms, onions, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper to taste. It’s awesome. I drink a green juice most days as well (one primarily made up of vegetable juice). I have a snack around 10:30 a.m. of a protein, fat and carbohydrate. This is often canned tuna in olive oil, a piece of fruit or some carrots and some nuts. Then I work out. I supplement with a clean protein shake immediately afterwards. I eat a late lunch salad about an hour after my workout. My salads are epic and often the envy of my co-workers: romaine or spinach, chicken, sliced apple, peppers, carrots, cucumber, a few raisins, pecans and an oil and vinegar dressing. I have another snack in the evening before I head home (again, protein/fat/carbohydrate). Dinner at home usually consists of a piece of chicken or pork, steamed broccoli or cauliflower and grass-fed butter. If I want something sweet before bed, a date and a handful of almonds hit the spot most nights.

I hope this provides some help to anyone looking to feel and perform better. It’s a commitment, but it’s completely doable as long as perfection is not the goal.

*This post sponsored in part by Blue Apron. In order to remain transparent, I would like to mention that I pay out of pocket for my own subscription. Blue Apron provided the meal seen in this post. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

84 Comments

10.March.2016

Hi Dana, do you mind sharing the helpful dietary changes your husband made before discovering paleo? We are in a similar situation here, and right now the meds just aren’t enough.
Thanks!

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replied on March 11th, 2016

I will ask Steve to respond when he returns home from a work trip this weekend! He’s better equipped to answer this than I am as he’s the one who made the changes.

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replied on March 11th, 2016

Following! I’m also interested in knowing what changes he made…

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10.March.2016

My husband and I both do a Paleo diet and have for the last 6 months. We have cut out alot of sugar and now buy breads that are gluten free, dairy free and grain free. One book that I love is Eating Clean with a Dirty Mind. It has the best recipes for baking and simple suppers.

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10.March.2016

i loved this post! great tips. my husband and i went paleo for 2 months, and then way less strict (like most people tend to do) a few years ago. After experimenting with it, we found that we didn’t have any sensitivities and it was way too difficult to maintain the standard for only weight loss/management. I’ve found moderation has really worked for me instead. I will always be thankful to paleo for teaching me more about nutrition than I had ever learned and continue to try and incorporate those things into my eating!

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10.March.2016

When my daughter came home from college, (majoring in engineering) and said, “Mom, I am so glad, when we were little and told you we got an A, you always asked, ‘Do you understand the material?’. You focused on the learning and didn’t worry about the grade. So many of my friends are floundering now, because you can’t memorize and regurgitate just to get a good grade in college.”

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replied on March 11th, 2016

I love this!!! What a great compliment and what an even greater insight into your children’s education.

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10.March.2016

Interesting post. What food has your husband avoided to promote the healing of his Barrettts?

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10.March.2016

I’m mostly paleo most of the time too. I’ve found it’s more of a mindset thing than anything to just not have certain things. I don’t miss bread or pasta, I do still cave to the occassional sweet or potato chip, and I allow myself dairy. I really got into a paleo diet after doing a Whole30 – a pretty extreme paleo diet. It really opened my eyes to hidden ingredients.

I’ve gotten really good at substituting items to make a non-paleo dish totally paleo. You love spaghetti? I do too. I sub spaghetti squash for the pasta and otherwise make it the same (Rao’s sauce, homemade meatballs). I love everything that PaleOMG and Against All Grain do. Their cook books and blogs are my go-tos!

I can’t believe some people are offended by what you bring to a dinner. If I were you, I wouldn’t label it paleo, and I bet they never notice.

Now, I also don’t have kids, so this is all pretty easy to do with just me and one other pretty non-picky adult. :)

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replied on March 11th, 2016

Steve is doing Whole30 right now as kind of a reset which has challenged my cooking repertoire – in a good way. We’ve done the spaghetti squash + homemade meatballs (there’s a really great slow cooker recipe for that) but my kids don’t like the spaghetti squash “noodles.” They’re like, “Nope. Not buying it. We want real noodles.” So I’ll boil pasta for them and cover it with paleo sauce and meatballs. There’s always some give and take. When I bring healthy dishes to gatherings, I don’t label them paleo but sometimes hosts are still offended. I’ve just learned to let it roll off my back.

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replied on March 11th, 2016

I wasn’t a huge fan of spaghetti squash noodles, but I love zucchini noodles and sweet potato noodles. I think they have a better consistency. If you don’t already have one, I recommend getting a spiralizer of some sort. It’s a game changer when trying follow a paleo / clean eating diet. My carb-loving husband was even converted after eating zoodles with meatballs!

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10.March.2016

My cousin and her husband also started Crossfit/Paleo, and she’d look amazing if she were 18 and she’s almost 40 with 2 kids! Her husband also dropped probably 40-50 lbs and looks great.

I just wanted to say I’ve had the same post-dairy-free issues since dropping dairy while breastfeeding my son! I can tolerate it in small amounts, but it’s just not the same. I feel so good when I’m not consuming dairy – it’s just such a dietary crutch! I’m currently working on some dairy-free subsitutions… cashew-based “cream cheese” is pretty excellent, and I found a recipe for dairy-free “parmesan cheese” that I’m getting ready to make so I can enjoy pesto again :)

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replied on March 11th, 2016

I’ve noticed significant improvement in my digestion, mood and skin appearance when I drop dairy. I’ve also found that certain dairy items affect me differently. I’m okay with eggs, butter and small amounts of milk baked into things. But cheese, yogurt, ice cream, straight cow’s milk and anything with sour cream/heavy cream? I usually regret eating it afterwards.

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replied on March 11th, 2016

Kate, I just recently experimented with dairy free pesto. It’s not perfect, but blending 1/2 an avocado, two heads of basil (A LOT OF BASIL), two-three garlic cloves, pine nuts, and salt and pepper made a pretty delicious pesto — no oil and no cheese needed.

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replied on March 23rd, 2016

Practical Paleo has a great cilantro pesto. It’s essentially a bunch of cilantro, a 1/2 cup of macadamia nuts, 1/2 cup of olive oil, a clove of garlic and a pinch of salt in a food processor or blender. I have served it to others who thought it was a traditional basil – parm pesto. It’s great with zucchini noodles and almost any protein – hot or cold.

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replied on March 24th, 2016

That sounds amazing. I’m totally making it. Thanks for sharing!

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10.March.2016

No one in my family is paleo (or has a restricted diet), but I’m always fascinated by eating habits, food prep, and meal plans in other families. I love your food platter idea. And your responses to his proposed caveman diet cracked me up :)

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10.March.2016

My husband went paleo 4 years ago when I was pregnant with our son, he lost 70 lbs in a year! I resisted it at first (pregnant and then nursing, I needed all the carbs :)), but the health benefits made so much sense, we decided to raise our children paleo as well. At that point, it was just easier to give in.I never knew how gluten and dairy affected me until I cut it out, now if I have any dairy, I feel the effects almost immediately. Seeing the changes in our family have resulted in extended family members trying it also, most have gotten used to our dietary restrictions. It’s tough though when grandparents want to spoil their grandkids with candy and ice cream :)

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10.March.2016

I’m so happy you mentioned being annoyed so I’m not alone! My husband & I went vegetarian last year & he’s commented here & there that he’d feel better going vegan but I am just sooo not ready for that commitment. I have to stop myself from being short about it when he brings it up because I know it’s not fair to him. It just seems so daunting to me to come up with meals for him!

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10.March.2016

I love this post! I have done a Whole30 in the past and while it made me feel great, it wasn’t critical for me to remain 100% paleo in everyday life. I avoid gluten 99% of the time (and always regret the 1% when I cave!) and have given up dairy for Lent entirely, though after Easter I’ll toy with a low-carb diet.

This post was especially interesting because it helped me see the perspective of the non-restricted partner. My boyfriend does a great job making sure I always have something I can eat, wherever we are. Supportive partners for the win!

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replied on March 11th, 2016

Kudos to those who don’t force their dietary choices on us non-restricted partners, too! It goes both ways.

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10.March.2016

I am curious how Steve’s cholesterol/triglycerides have fared with all that “grease”? :) I have genetically elevated cholesterol so I would be worried about eating that much oil and butter. Like I said, just curious!

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replied on March 11th, 2016

We both had our cholesterol checked last year and everything was great! Without getting too technical, all the bad stuff was below the recommended guidelines and all the good stuff was above the recommended guidelines. We both have a family history of hyperlipidemia so we get our cholesterol checked regularly. Good question!

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10.March.2016

oh paleo…

I can’t say we eat paleo all the time, and I can definitely say that our kids don’t eat paleo, but I have incorporated A LOT of paleo concepts into our daily lives. While I’m grain and practically dairy free (health reasons), I still like a bit of sugar in my diet (this mom needs her chocolate and red wine). For husband and kids I’ve adopted parts of paleo that I think are super important: as little sugar as possible + as little processed food as possible + focus on gut health (broth every day). But have also allowed foods that they don’t seem to have any adverse reactions to, like fermented raw/unpasturized dairy. You could say our household eats mostly primal/paleo, and when we don’t, we enjoy what we’re eating and do better the next day.

Because I’m the one with the health issues and the one doing the cooking, I actually cook for myself first and add things to the meals that my brood likes. For example, kids love mashed potatoes (with lots of butter and milk) and they get that as a side to whatever protein is on the table, while I eat the protein with roasted veggies and hubs eats all of the above :) It helps that my kids eat 100% at home so I have complete control over their paleo and non-paleo choices (birthday parties notwithstanding).

One other thing I wanted to add (and sorry this is long, I could talk about what I feed my kids for days) is that I’m NOT a huge meat eater. Our household sustains on eggs/fish/chicken/turkey. We only sometimes eat pork and eat beef even more infrequently than that.

Great post!

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replied on March 11th, 2016

This mama needs her chocolate-covered raisins and red wine, too. Thanks for sharing what works for you!

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10.March.2016

My family eats mostly Paleo too. I’ve stopped telling people I eat that way and instead, I just cook. People eat over all the time, and we bring dishes to school or parties and get rave reviews. No one ever notices that we eat “differently” and everyone always asks for our recipes. If people comment, which is rare, I just say we’re trying to cut out the crap and eat less processed foods. For some reason, everyone agrees and supports that lifestyle, where as getting people onboard with Paleo is much harder. It’s strange, because the very core of Paleo is easy to support: eat clean meat (humanely raised, less factory-farmed and chemically-induced), lots of fruits and veggies. It’s actually more pre-depression era than it is caveman. The whole low-carb fad isn’t some concrete Paleo rule, it’s just a side effect of eating less processed food, since processed food takes out fat and replaces it with sugar to maintain the flavor. Sorry, off the soapbox now.

We cook with ghee. It has a much higher smoke point so it doesn’t ever burn off and cause the kitchen to smell like grease. Also, we Use a smoker to cook most of our meat, and just smoke a ton of it on the weekend. . The big green egg an turn anyone into a carnivore LOL.

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replied on March 11th, 2016

Thanks for your tip about ghee! We’ve been meaning to try it. I’m going to grab some the next time I go grocery shopping. Steve was gifted a smoker last year and he uses it when the weather allows. It’s kind of comical; he has all these tech accessories (thermometer, timer, remote temp monitor/alarm, etc.) so when he’s smoking meat he’s walking around with some electronic device clipped to his waistband. It’s like he’s on call or something. I find it hilarious. The thing with the smoker is that we usually have the windows open so our house ends up smelling like a smoke shed :/ I’ve heard great things about the big green egg!

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replied on March 25th, 2016

Tin Star Brown Butter Ghee is the absolute best. The flavor it adds is sublime. I get mine at onestoppaleo, but other places have it as well. Yum!

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10.March.2016

Thank you for sharing. Due to health issues, my husband also eats a paleo diet, but his is a very restricted paleo diet. His meals are almost always completely separate from mine and the kids, as he only has a handful of ingredients that he eats. It can be discouraging to me that our family does not eat together, so I appreciate you sharing how you make it work for your family and pointing out the positives!

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10.March.2016

I recently read that the paleo diet can be detrimental for women, since we naturally experience hormonal fluctuations in four distinct phases that can be hurt by a huge amount of animal protein and a low amount of carbohydrates.

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replied on March 11th, 2016

Hey Chantell – the paleo diet is actually very veggie heavy! A good paleo plate should be about 80% veggies and 20% meat. That said, protein will still comprise the majority of ones caloric intake, but it shouldn’t take up most of the plate. Unfortunately, the sheer volume of veggies you need to consume in a day can be pretty overwhelming! Far too often people making the jump from eating grains to the paleo diet fill in the grains with meat and not veggies. If you’re interested, check out the Whole 30. It’s been associated with healing all sorts of illnesses … From autoimmune diseases to hormonal issues.

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10.March.2016

I have often thought about a Paleo diet, but like you I am not much of a meat eater. I am however very curious about what alternative treatments your husband initially used to clear his diagnosis of Barrett’s. Sadly, my dad suffered from Barrett’s and although he did not develop cancer, he did die from a ruptured esophagus. I myself have had some symptoms of GERD lately and am not a fan of the bone loss (or other side effects) of the meds. It sounds like the change to Paleo came later, but I was curious what changes he made in his diet initially, if you wouldn’t mind sharing.

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replied on March 11th, 2016

I am so sorry for your loss, Maureen.

The nutritionist Steve was seeing at the time had him cut out basically everything that could be problematic. He was mostly eating rice, broccoli and meat/fish for a while until he was able to slowly reintroduce foods to see how they affected him. She also suggested supplements (I would have to check with him on what all he tried and still takes – I can’t keep up!) and vitamins. He did take a PPI for a year or so which helped his symptoms. Eventually, he was able to decrease the dosage then remove it all together but not without some symptoms at first. He didn’t stop the PPI until after his endoscopy was clear. Somewhere along the line, we also started juicing and he noticed improved benefits very quickly from that. If you want more in depth info, I can always have Steve email you. I’m probably not remembering something!

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10.March.2016

Hi! Love this post, I also have GERD. Unfortunately the Blue Apron link doesn’t work :(

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replied on March 11th, 2016

Hmmmm…looks like it’s working on my end. Maybe the discount has been exhausted already. Are you a first-time Blue Apron user? Let me know and I’ll see what I can do to get you your two free meals.

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10.March.2016

Thanks for sharing about Blue Apron. I used your last promo and have been obsessed ever since. It makes weekdays so much easier!

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replied on March 11th, 2016

I’m so glad you are enjoying it! Blue Apron is a lifesaver during especially hectic weeks at our house.

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10.March.2016

Dana, thank you so much for sharing this. I am the paleo spouse of my household and never thought of this perspective. I am also the person that cooks our dinners, so it’s hard for my husband to not eat paleo when we have dinner at home!
The hardest thing for me has been the social gatherings: Just last week we were invited to lunch and the menu was pizza – although delicious, they were not accommodating, so I brought my own food, and it was OK. I think if it comes from a place of ‘we are doing this to be healthy’ most people understand. I am also lucky that one of our close friends is paleo, so I’m not alone!

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10.March.2016

Great post! My husband and I have been eating a *mostly* Paleo diet since 2009 and have slipped more than a few times during some moves around the country. I notice a difference in my skin, body and workouts (Crossfit) when I’m taking a Paleo break so I’m always motivated to get back on it. My maternal grandfather had diabetes, my mother has diabetes and I was recently diagnosed with pre-diabetes. My doctor advised that I stay away from white foods such as rice, pasta, bread, sugar; and to limit my juice and soft drink intake. When I told her I eat 98% Paleo (non-paleo condiments always get me) she said, well I guess you’re just predisposed to getting diabetes so stick to Paleo and exercise.

I always bring Brussel sprouts and bacon to family gatherings or events and it’s always one of the first things gone. Most of our social events fall on the weekend (dinners) so if I know we’re going out we eat really good all week so we’re only eating a few non-Paleo meals a week. I also order a local Paleo food service about once a month. They’re cooked, packaged, ready-to-eat meals and they are fabulous. They’re pricey but worth it. Comparable to a meal from the hot food bar at WholeFoods.

Also, look for the wild (frozen) shrimp, scallops and salmon at Costco if they carry it in your area.

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replied on March 11th, 2016

Yes to the brussel sprouts and bacon! Another fave side dish here. Steve asks for gift certificates to Pete’s Paleo (a paleo meal service) frequently and loves their frozen meals. They’re great for those nights he gets home late and we’ve already eaten a (non-paleo) dinner. I’ll have to check out the Costco seafood you mentioned.

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10.March.2016

I follow a paleo diet, also for health reasons – I have crippling rheumatoid arthritis and after every drug has failed me, i started looking for alternatives. Paleo HELPS.it’s not a cure, and it’s not 100%, but I’m off the steroids and have found a drug combination that also helps… I’m not better, but most days are mostly pain free and I can get on with life.

The grease thing – no. when my boyfriend cooks, he gets grease everywhere, I don’t. So i’m not sure what that is about, but I also use very little oil, coconut oil etc. I actually find it mostly easy to follow, i like fish and meat and fruit and vegetables, I miss cookies and cake and gluten-ful pizza. I’ll get a gluten free pizza sometimes, or gluten free pasta… but not often… the sugar is in EVERYTHING?! right!?!!!!

It works for me and my boyfriend follows it too (mostly, kind of like you) … but he is a big meat eater. I prefer fish and chicken to constant red meat … there are definitely ways and means around the meat. I load up my plate with veggies and have smaller portions of meat. I find that when i eat lots of leafy green veggies, I am MUCH less hungry, though I’m rarely hungry.

pinterest is my go-to for fun new paleo recipes.

good luck!

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10.March.2016

I was Paleo for a while and really feel I should get back to it. I felt much better and did lose some weight. I found that there are some great cook books out there to prevent dinners from getting boring for my spouse. My daughter is 1, so she pretty much eats paleo as well, outside of her occasional Cheerio. I swear the child would live off of chicken, zucchini and avocado if she had her way. Good luck! I really liked the “Paleo for Entertaining” cookbook.

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10.March.2016

Great post Dana! I knew you had mentioned before that Steve was paleo, and I have recently wondered how you guys made that work. I have been following a paleo-ish lifestyle for about 5 months after doing the Whole 30 program back in Oct. My husband is fairly open to eating this way, but he also loves his beer and pizza, so we are trying to find a balance that works for both of us. Our kids are younger (1.5 and 3.5) so it’s a little easier to control what they eat. I don’t have any health issues that require me to eat paleo 100% of the time, but I find as soon as I start to veer off I don’t feel as good (and it becomes harder to get back on track). I also don’t like to stress out about social situations, because to me that defeats the purpose of getting together with friends. I am also really aware about my kids’ attitudes towards food and how we shape their habits – again, I think there’s a balance between eating foods we believe to be the healthiest but also not obsessing over it. I don’t want my kids to feel like I will freak out if they eat an oreo at a friend’s house – but I do think it’s important for them to be in tune with how foods make them feel so that they can make good choices when they are older. Mealtimes are about more than just the food we eat – they are about connecting as a family and how we interact with one another. I love your suggestion to do platters and let everyone serve themselves – I find when we eat that way, our kids eat way more veggies (because it feels like a choice and not what we force on their plates). Some of the paleo websites I like for recipes are againstallgrain.com, meljoulwan.com, and thecleanplateshef.com. I also find that I prefer simple recipes/substitutions versus the really involved paleo cooking. I’ll make spaghetti sauce and then make both a spaghetti squash and some rice pasta to go with it, and then everyone can eat what they prefer (but we are not having to make two entirely separate meals). I have been wanting to try Blue Apron, but I wasn’t sure how paleo-friendly it was, so it’s good to hear your experience. Looking forward to what others have to say – thanks for starting the conversation!

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replied on March 11th, 2016

I completely agree with you about the practical vs. healthy balance! I’ve often told Steve that we can’t simply forbid our kids from eating all sugar. I’m afraid if we did that, when they’re older and given the choice they’ll have no idea how to handle it other than “gimme all the sugar!!” I have a friend whose mother didn’t allow any sugar in the house when she was a kid and when she finally was out on her own and all the parent-enforced restrictions were taken away, she went a little haywire. Fortunately, she’s found a balance but I think it’s just as helpful to set a healthy yet practical example for my kids to follow. We also talk about how we feel after we eat something which seems to help them remember for future reference when making decisions on food.

I do wish my kids weren’t “rewarded” so much with sugary treats at school and the grandparents’ though. It happens way too often.

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10.March.2016

Thank you! My brother was diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus less than a year ago and I’ll definitely be sharing this post with him. I’ve been trying to get him to try a gluten free diet but haven’t read any research on paleo. I’m so glad to hear that it has helped Steve’s health. I also appreciate your candidness and your ability to find balance at your dinner table. I will be trying the “platter method” soon in an effort to keep my dinner-time sanity!

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10.March.2016

We try to eat Paleo and Whole30 mostly at home. It is hard sometimes but we have felt so much better.

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10.March.2016

We don’t eat paleo, but some years ago I switched us to a mostly vegan diet. The goal is to keep animal products to ~10% or less of our diet. The amount of processed foods we eat is minimal (tonight: frozen egg rolls! but i’m making the stir-fry). I don’t worry about eating out, whether it’s at somebody else’s house or at a restaurant, because we’re going for a “everyday food” vs “celebration food” balance.

We ate a lot more seafood when we lived in Houston, but it’s so hard to come by in Philly that it’s a rare treat. (we’re headed home to Dallas for spring break, where I will gorge myself on BBQ, Mexican food, and seafood!).

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10.March.2016

I can totally relate, although this is coming from a kitchen that feeds only my husband and I – no kids, yet. I can only imagine! I was diagnosed with GERD years ago, in college, and was devastated to learn that all of my favorite foods were, coincidentally, huge triggers. After years or denial and failed attempts at “diets”, I begrudgingly tried the Whole30. It was so eye-opening, especially because I had been eating an almost vegetarian diet at the time. Long story short, I learned that my body needs meat to function happily, and I am now 80% Paleo (my sweet tooth wins out more than I’d like to admit). It makes cooking for my husband (an amateur mixed martial artist) incredibly difficult, given his constant state of weight gain / weight loss based on his matches. He supports my efforts to eat better, but complains about the lack of grains, healthy carbs, etc… to the point of annoyance, sometimes ;) I feel you!

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10.March.2016

My adult son eats basically paleo. He has a very basic menu and eats the same thing most days some type of meat mostly pork chops and some type of vegetable usually broccoli with cheese. I second the so much oil. I have grease splatters all over my kitchen. He doesn’t use a lid or a splatter guard. Ugh. This is one thing I won’t miss when he moves back out on his own.

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10.March.2016

I started following a paleo-ish lifestyle, that sometimes morphs more into gluten free/refined sugar free eating. I did it for health concerns. I too love how aware it made me become of added sugar. I don’t bake a lot but when we want something sweet, besides dates, Pinterest has become my best friend. And the good thing is that the less sugar you eat, the more satisfied you are with these healthy sweet treats. Eating out and social events are the hardest! I try to control what I can but sometimes give in a little. Otherwise it becomes overwhelming and it’s easy to become antisocial, which I don’t believe is healthy at all.

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10.March.2016

I have never heard of Paleo diet. Totally new to me. It is good that he found a way to solve his problem without medications that could cause more problems down the road.

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10.March.2016

When I went paleo my husband came home with two dozen donuts from Krispy Kreme! I think he was a little frantic about the idea. For me it means no bread, crackers, cookies, pie crust, pizza crust or cake. All things I adored. I am slowly addressing sugar (what poison!) but other than that I am very loose. I am not a purist by any means – I had a Snickers today. I have always been a meat eater and now I really indulge in fat, butter and avocado oil. That is the stuff that keeps me sated and I believe that it’s good for my anxiety as well as my joints which used to be quite swollen. I’m much better now even with the junk I still eat.

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11.March.2016

I have to say that I started to giggle and nod along when I got to the “so much grease” part. Steve totally cooks like my husband! And all the pan frying is very similar to Chinese cooking! And I’m so glad you are equally annoyed about the splatter and clean up involved!

Will keep in mind of the sweet potato tricks! :)

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11.March.2016

urgh…I feel your pain…hubby is on the 5-2 diet…which was fine till…teen daughter decides to go vegan on me too whilst teen son still loves his meat so now…my creative flair in cooking is pushed to the limit…it has pushed me to cook a lot more from scratch and some days we just eat vegan but most days I have to cook separate meals…usually starting with the vegan base meal and then adding stuff like meat etc to it for the son and cutting out th carbs for the 5-2 diet hubby…love your threat about shaving like a cave woman – lol! Have to laugh…keeps me sane

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11.March.2016

I love your honesty. I did Whole 30 and found it was hard for everyone else to be happy living with just my food choices so I try more for the paleo with periodic whole 30 “cleanses.” Although I have found some great people on instagram with meals we all like. I too was stunned by what foods had sugar in them – seriously sandwich meat has sugar – who would have thought!

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replied on March 11th, 2016

It sounds like you and Steve could be dietary twins! He’s doing a Whole30 cleanse right now :) And, oh my, I hear you on the deli meat! We were able to find a sugar-free chorizo at Fresh Thyme and I use it to make breakfast tacos (which we eat for dinner, not breakfast) and it is my go-to quick meat.

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11.March.2016

My 14 year old daughter recently decided on her own to go paleo after some stomach issues that the doctors haven’t been able to diagnose. She feels so much better eating only protein, fruit and veggies, and healthy fats, she says it’s easy. My 17 year old son is tired of all the veggies. It is hard to make everyone happy.

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11.March.2016

Excellent post. My husband is on a very strict diet for health reasons. Because of his diet, he’s feeling much better, has more energy, and has been able to wean himself from his medications. I do get frustrated about having to make a separate meal for him because the kids and I need to have the freedom to eat more vegetable varieties than he can handle. When we are invited to someone’s house or a function with food, we eat before we go.

One of our favorite side dishes that everyone loves is russets and sweet potatoes cubed; red pepper chopped; put on baking sheet; sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chives; drizzle with olive oil; roast at 400 stirring occasionally.

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11.March.2016

Love this post! I have been on and off paleo for about a year. When I’m “off” I try to maintain it as best I can but don’t worry too much when I cheat. It’s all about balance. My husband just kind of goes with the flow and supplements meals with things he likes which is totally fine with me! He is a distance runner so the guy craves carbs! And about the sugar, I learned a few weeks ago that just basic table salt has dextrose added to it. I use kosher salt but the next time I went to the store I looked, and sure enough, dextrose was on the label! What the heck?!?!

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11.March.2016

Great post, Dana! My husband and I are vegetarians along with two of our kids, the other two are not. Add in everyone’s likes and dislikes, and dinners can become a real challenge for me! After your last BA post, I finally bit the bullet and signed up. I’m so glad I did! I thought adding Blue Apron meals to our menu would be expensive/extravagant and make more work for me, but surprisingly it’s made dinnertime much easier and more enjoyable:) Also, I love the way you cut the sweet potatoes. I roast sweet potatoes all the time, but I peel and cut them into large chunks. I’m trying your way next time.

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11.March.2016

Maybe you will share your favorite recipes or things that you make over and over. I have been somewhat Paleo for several years now. Primarily meat and vegetables. No dairy and I make my own Ghee from organic butter. And homemade Walnut milk. And homemade mayonnaise. Ask Steve if he has ever read about the blood type diet. It may interest him.
Good for you Steve for being so pro active in your health. Diet plays a huge role in our health.

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11.March.2016

My husband and I have done the Whole30 twice and hope to start it again soon. It definitely takes a lot of planning; however, we both really enjoy our meals and feel better when we are on it. We actually barely pan-fried anything instead we baked and grilled a lot. We did sprinkle olive oil over our vegetables and used it in marinades but I did not feel we were consuming too much grease.

We also came to the same realization that there is so much sugar in everything!!! Some products have 3-5 types of sugar…wow!

At the end of the day, I think the real take home message is that we have to try to consume whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible – the problem is that it so hard to do.

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11.March.2016

What an interesting and, for me, timely post. I’ve heard about Paleo, but always thought I could never eat somuch meat. The current issue of Outside magazine, which I read, has an article about Mark Sisson of Primal Blueprint. I’ve been looking into his research and it struck me as being not quite as restrictive. I have a huge sweet tooth, and have noticed, at the age of 48, that I get quite fatigued very soon after eating sweets. My body can’t take it anymore. So I’m fighting the sweets urges and have cut almost all grains. You gave some great info on how you work with various health situations in your family. So helpful. Would love if you could revisit this topic again sometime. Am trying to read the comments from your great readers too as they have so much info I can learn from.

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11.March.2016

I’ve been paleo (but with dairy) for 4 years. My husband is 80% there. We don’t worry too much about the kids — I make them a fresh breakfast from scratch every day with sausage or bacon, and dinner is always low-carb, but lunch and snacks are fairly normal. The health improvements for me have been more than enough to keep me 100% on the diet.

My husband and I are in agreement that dinner is always healthy. We have 5 kids, though, ages 3-13, and keeping them on a paleo diet would require a level of control that I don’t want!

I’d suggest Paleo Perfected by Cook’s Illustrated — http://americastestkitchen.buysub.com/homepage/paleo-perfected.html. Their recipes are always the absolute best. I just got this book so I haven’t done much with it yet.

Also, there’s Mark’s Daily Apple — he’s a great source for paleo information.

And, lastly, try cooking with lard (yes, lard). It’s amazingly easy to clean up, much easier than butter or oil. Tastes great, does an amazing job searing foods. I started using it after reading The Big Fat Surprise, which is one of the most interesting and important books I’ve ever read. See https://thebigfatsurprise.com/. This book and Gary Taube’s Good Calories, Bad Calories were the original reason that I went low-carb. I think reading these two books would probably change how you (or anyone!) looks at nutrition and nutrition science.

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11.March.2016

Hahahaha. So much grease indeed! In addition to it being splattered all over everything, I’m constantly finding little bowls/mugs filled with grease for “later”.
Sounds like you guys have found a great balance for the entire family. In our family, I eat strict paleo to manage colitis and GERD, while my husband eats paleo at home and the 15-year-old boy diet at work :) The kids eat perfect paleo at home, so I don’t mind letting them “cheat” when they are out with grandparents or have playdates and birthday parties.

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replied on March 11th, 2016

P.S. – Is Steve into bone broth? That was an issue in our house for a long while. The sight and smell of it totally grossed me out. But then, vanity got the best of me, as I discovered how good it is for skin! And it really is magical for the insides too :)

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11.March.2016

I’ve suffered through horrible debilitating migraines for more than 20 years-and I’m only 35. Drugs hardly helped and the side affects were almost as bad as the migraines themselves. Then, you can’t take them if you’re pregnant or nursing (that’s been me the past 5 years). I was desperate and tried one last thing before filling a new medication that came with scary scary warnings about dependence and abuse–Whole30. I’m going on 13+ months now with no migraines just from the diet changes I made. In the end I ended up switching to a paleo diet, not that I ever thought I would. But, through the Whole30 reintroductions I found out that gluten, dairy, and legumes were causing me a whole lot of harm…so paleo it is.

I don’t apologize for how I eat and I honestly found the tone of this post a bit irritating. Why worry about what other people think? It sounds like he has avoided some very serious health issues, medications, and potentially life threatening complications (cancer)? If this was a food allergy, or something with one of your kids, I doubt so much second thought or worry would be put into it. Grownups have to take care of themselves too. And if what I’m dealing with, or the health issues your husband has dealt with, is hereditary and our children should know that its important to do what’s needed to care for your health-no matter what others think.

I follow quite a few individuals on instagram who do a low meat/vegetarian version of paleo and whole30. It involves a lot of nuts, seeds, healthy fats, and legumes if you can tolerate them. Most of my recipes also come from instagram-whole30recipes, simplynourishedrecipes, paleoomg just to name a few.

There isn’t one right way to eat-every person’s body is different. It scares me to see some of the advice given out in the comments above. For someone who lives with an individual eating a paleo diet your post is filled with quite a few misconceptions about what it really is. Its disappointing to say the least.

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11.March.2016

Great post! We are not a paleo family but we do try to eat as few processed foods as possible. I am always researching and trying to make our family more healthy. My biggest struggle is not gatherings with family and friends but school. I feel like my kids are always getting some sort of sugary treat. It is really frustrating, do you experience this? Any suggestions?

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replied on March 13th, 2016

Yes, and it irks me to no end that they are rewarded with sugar.

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12.March.2016

Gosh, I eat a vegan diet and there’s no way I could go Paleo. While I applaud the more unprocessed foods and the avoidance of any unnatural additives, the actual “science” behind Paleo is suspect a best. Having said that, if I had an illness like your husband’s and if I found a way to negate it, then I’d be pretty happy.

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12.March.2016

I am a vegetarian but have not raised my kids as vegetarian, so I often cook meat or fish for them (at least a couple of times a week) that I don’t eat. Like you , I generally put a lot of different items on the table, perhaps in a more traditional way- each item in its own bowl or dish, like my mother always did, instead of a platter. Everyone takes what they want – they usually eat some of everything! I love to cook and I love to shop for food, and I am quite frugal, so I have never looked into blue apron – sounds like it work for you!

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13.March.2016

I can understand your reluctance to try paleo, Dana! I felt really great physically on paleo for a few years, and while at first it felt freeing (sooo much better than counting calories), I eventually found myself slipping back into a restrictive mindset and craving all the things. Maybe it was a hormonal thing, or maybe it was the incessant offers of treats from coworkers, but I started feeling better when I loosened the restrictions. These days, while I’ve kept many of the habits from my paleo days, I don’t stress over sugar cravings and I enjoy dairy and homemade bread. TBH I don’t feel quite as well physically, but I’m recovering mentally, and I hope that in time I’ll gravitate naturally towards the diet that makes me feel best. (I don’t have any specific medical conditions, though).

Part of this has been letting go of the — harmful, IMO — stereotype that paleo is low carb and steak-filled. Plenty of paleo folks eat many carbs (tubers!) and a small to moderate amount of meat. It’s really the overall approach to eating that counts, not lists of specific foods that “are paleo” or not. (Recommendation: I like the Latest in Paleo podcast for reminders of that — it’s really open-minded.)

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replied on March 13th, 2016

Thanks for the podcast rec! Going on the ‘to listen to’ list.

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15.March.2016

Steve cooks like my husband. Grease splatters end up on every surface in our house! We eat Paleo as well and since we started, I’ve become overly aware of the sugar content in foods. Sometimes I just want to go to town on ice cream without thinking of how unhealthy it is. Ignorance is bliss. :)

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