At the time (early 80s) the diet-doctrine of the day was counting calories and cutting fat. I'd take tomato soup and air-pooped popcorn to school for lunches- skip breakfast, strip the skin from my chicken and eat my salads without dressing. Yuck. At the time I was pretty active- I was on the track team. But I was tired... a lot.
When I graduated high school I began going to diet centers like NutriSystem, Physician's Weight Loss and Weight Watchers. I was probably 10 lbs heavier then. I tried the Stillman Diet, Slim Fast and several others that I don't recall now. I would brown my ground beef, simmer it in water, strain the water out, chill it, skim the fat and them put in back and cook it down again. I had SO many ways of cutting fat it wasn't funny. In my early 20s, I gained weight slowly but rather steadily. By the time my husband and I were ready to start a family I was fat and infertile. We used modern medicine to take care of the fertility but we didn't know the underlying cause at the time.
After our third son was born, I weighed more than ever- 235lbs, I had the most terrible acne, I was exhausted all the time... I'd discovered a few vegan communities online and I decided to give whole-food veganism a whirl. Initially I lost 20 lbs... but over the course of two years, I'd gained it back plus 65 more to top out at 300lbs exactly. I had a dietician and my own doctor guiding me, but I just got fatter and sicker. Besides the weight-gain, my cholesterol skyrocketed, I had severe GERD, metabolic syndrome, PCOS, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Depression and chronic fatigue. I stayed with it longer than I should have, because there can be an undercurrent of shame (from the community) in failing to thrive on a vegan diet- and certainly no lack of folks willing to beat you half to death with the guilt stick.
Anyway- a visit with an endocrinologist turned the tide for me- I sat crying in his office, and he said, "Your diet is killing you." and suggested I start eating meat again and stop eating "white foods" (grains, pastas, sugar, etc) After several weeks of research I started with The Zone, then Atkins, and I lost weight-- but I didn't feel all that great. In doing more research and discovering papers by Loren Cordain and Michael Eades, I finally settled on primitive low-carb. Even though I use the "paleo" moniker, I don't follow Cordain's low-fat advice as my research has led me to believe that primitive diets were quite high in fat.
In the first couple of months, I lost a pound a day. Folks kept telling me it was "water weight" and I'd laugh and say, "I'm down 45lbs, how much water can I possibly shed?!" What was miraculous though was that I was medication free in the first month. The GERD, PCOS, metabolic syndrome, etc were nowhere to be found. My cholesterol came down 200 points, inflammation markers disappeared, my skin cleared up for the first time since pre-adolescence and I had ENERGY. Before the change, I believed my low energy was a natural part of aging, even in my early 20s, and I couldn't believe how good I felt. I stopped getting seasonal colds, the keratosis pilaris I'd lived with all my life was practically gone. My hair and fingernails were stronger and healthier than ever. It was life-changing in so many more ways than simple weight loss.
My diet looks like this:
I eat naturally raised animal foods, pastured chicken/eggs, grass-fed beef, some fish. I eat ALL the non-starchy veggies I want- and a very few starchy foods like tubers (no white potatoes) and squashes. I limit fruit in the same way I limit starches- keeping in mind that they wouldn't have been available to primitive man very often. I eat berries, nuts and some seeds. The only added oils in my diet are olive oil (for cold foods) and coconut oil (for cooking). I also cook in the fats rendered from the meats I'm using.
My only real non-primitive allowance is some raw dairy in the form of cream and cheese. Both are low in carbohydrate and from natural sources- cows/sheep/goats fed their natural diets. I also have a 'free' day once a week, but if there's nothing I'm really craving, I skip it.
The new Laurie.
Learning to pre-plan because it can be hard to find paleo-friendly foods while out and about- and finding affordable sources of naturally raised animal foods.
Check out Michael Eades advice for starting or restarting low-carb. Understanding why the "paleo flu" happens when you get started, and addressing those issues makes a world of difference.