Two whole weeks — day 14 of the Paleo Diet Challenge. I’m almost halfway through the challenge, and thought it would be a good time to reflect on the good and no-so-good parts so far. First, the good news.
- I’m not hungry at all between meals. I’ve noticed that, in particular, my breakfasts (either eggs and ham, a bowl of fresh fruit, a couple mini Paleo muffins or a few slices of Paleo banana bread) are satisfying and keep me going for hours. And although the lunches I’m eating seem light (as in salad greens with some chicken or tuna), they’re substantial enough to stave off my usual mid-afternoon craving for something sweet. I’ll still maybe have a cup of tea in the late afternoon, but no cookies to go with it. What, no cookies?
- I’m sleeping slightly better, and feeling better rested. This is with a regular 3:30am wake-up call from my cat, who likes to start his day outside once the birds start chirping. These days, I’m able to fall right back asleep after letting him out, and when I wake up a few hours later, I feel refreshed instead of my groggy can’t-I-have-just-another-half-hour-in-bed? state.
- I feel a little healthier. This is a little more difficult to describe. Perhaps it’s feeling less puffy or bloated, which is probably from the lack of bread in my system. But the skeptic in me is wondering whether this all springs from a confirmation bias — as in, I believe eating a Paleo diet will make me feel healthier, so I feel healthier. Is this all just psychological? Maybe. My weight is exactly the same as it was on day 1. And I haven’t noticed a real change in symptoms of Hashimoto’s that I’m on the lookout for, like increased energy or less sensitivity to cold. My energy is about the same and my feet are still cold. Hmm.
For the most difficult aspects of the challenge, a couple things come to mind:
- First, undoubtedly, is thinking constantly about what foods are in- or out-of-bounds. I am getting a better handle on this, but still finding it takes a lot of mental energy to figure out what I’m going to do for dinner so that we forget all about bread, potatoes and pasta.
- The next most challenging thing is incorporating protein into every meal, especially when that protein can’t be cheese. It feels like I’m shopping much more often just to keep the house stocked with enough meat and fish.
- Finally, eating out can be a drag. It’s striking how pervasive breads and grains are in restaurant menus and avoiding them takes some creativity, especially if you don’t want to have a salad, again.
I love fruit salsas with grilled fish, chicken or pork. It adds a punch of color and flavor to your plate, and it's super simple to make.
- 1 pork tenderloin (1 to 1-1/2 pounds)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon sea salt (we use Maldon salt)
- 2 ripe mangoes, chopped
- 1 orange or red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
- 2 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped
- juice of 1 lime
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- First, make the salsa: Place mango, bell pepper, garlic (if using), and onion in a medium bowl and mix well to combine. Squeeze the lime juice in, then the olive oil and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Can be made a few hours ahead of time -- keep covered in the refrigerator.
- Preheat your barbecue to high, around 500F.
- In a shallow dish, rub the tenderloin with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then sprinkle with the salt. Let this stand while you make the salsa.
- Place the tenderloin on the grill and sear the first side (about 4-5 minutes), then turn it over and sear the other side (another 3-4 minutes). Move the tenderloin to the top rack (or turn off the burner directly under the tenderloin), close the lid and let it continue cooking with the indirect heat for about 10 minutes.
- When the tenderloin is done, remove it from the barbecue, wrap in foil, and let it sit for another 5-8 minutes. Slice crosswise and serve with a few tablespoons of the salsa.