Thursday, November 15, 2012

Self-Evolution with Primal Eating

In the two weeks I’ve experimented with Primal eating, my body shifted. It was a slow shift, mind you, but a shift it was. And with two more weeks to go, I wanted to share my experience.

It’s not as difficult as you think it is. The people who know of my eating habits (gluten, soy, and cane sugar free) were concerned with the additional “restrictions” I was putting upon my diet, particularly with my past disordered eating in the forms of orthorexia and anorexia.
“But you need legumes, Morri!” one lamented.

“What can you eat then?” asked many in exasperation.

 “A lot more than you think I can,” I replied.

For one thing, there is a difference between “Paleo” and “Primal” eating, though both lifestyles stem on similar evolutionary science. Mainly the difference lies with saturated fats, and how primal eating is all about enjoying grass-fed humanely raised meats and products (butter, eggs, full-fat milk and yogurt). Grains and sugars are limited (if not removed completely) as the consumption of vegetables and protein increases. Fruit is eaten in moderation, and dairy is promoted by some while discouraged by others. There’s also a fundamental difference in the two dietary lifestyles with the role of diet sodas and artificial sweeteners. But I agree with Mark (from Mark’s Daily Apple) when he says: “If you aren’t getting anything positive from the meal or drink, you shouldn’t be taking the risk of the artificial sweetener.” Finally, what drew me to going Primal instead of Paleo was treating it “as a broad, holistic approach to living and not simply a list for eating.” 

The list for eating is quite delicious, however... 

There will be some among both the Primal and Paleo community that do not eat what I eat and vice versa. For instance, I loved the food list on Mark’s site as well as the following food pyramid and decided to create a hybrid. I do use honey on occasion, and I eat quinoa, wild rice, and tuber vegetables throughout the week. I’m fairly successful at eating protein and vegetables at every meal, though I have noticed cravings for more servings of fruit. I don’t miss rice, nor any other gluten free grain. For the most part I’ve been dairy free also with the exception of some cheese or kefir, but after receiving raw milk (among other dairy delights), my body was so happy to have the nutrition.


Being Primal also means a different food/fitness culture for everyone. As my ancestry is almost exclusively from the British Isles, my body will respond better or worse to certain foods and exercise regimens than someone from the Amazon or Pakistan. Perhaps someone from China can eat more grains with some protein and vegetables and excels at martial arts while I can eat more protein and vegetables with some grains and excel at leg-oriented sports or climbing. Maybe fish calls to you over chicken, or fermented vegetables over stewed or roasted. Maybe you can eat fruit at every meal or none at all to feel your best. Maybe nuts and non-animal derived fats/oils keep hunger at bay when it makes someone else famished thirty minutes later. It’s all about what works for you, experimenting by adding and/or diminishing foods as you go. 

In the first week of going Primal, I was literally hungry all the time. As I, like many, used fiber in the sense to be *ahem* regular, there were days it felt like my IBS had reared its not too pretty head in the form of constipation, lethargy, tenderness, and irritability. By the second week, the hunger subsided and the symptoms lessoned. And now, entering to week three, regularity is still to be desired and I’m practically never hungry. I’m tired all morning, but I think that’s something else entirely.

Primal eating and food substitutions aren’t as daunting as I thought they’d be. Instead of spaghetti with meat sauce, try cooked spaghetti squash or sautéed julienned zucchini and carrots with meat sauce. Instead of fajitas, try making fajita bowls with your favorite meat and vegetable combinations. Substitute rice for quinoa or wild rice, or white potato for sweet potato or a winter squash. Eat humongous salads with whatever Primal foods you happen to have on hand in your pantry or fridge. If you are hankering for bread or something of that nature, there’s plenty of almond/coconut pancake, quick bread, dessert recipes out there for you to try. It’s all about substitutions, people, and you’ll feel like Primal gods once you get the hang of it.

We all know how much I love chili, right? There’s something about that delicious, meaty stewp (I still don’t know if chili is a soup, a stew, or a combination of the two) that I can’t get enough of. Highly adaptable with the potential of never being made the same twice, I wondered what happened if I went the Texan way. You know, without beans. Legumes are a no-no on the Primal eating list, so I thought of possible substitutions for it that would make sense. Potatoes? Nah. More meat? Nah. Vegetables? Sure, but which one?

The beauty of going Primal in November was the inspiration to use winter squash with my turkey chili. And let’s just say, it’s now a dinner table favorite.

Autumn Pumpkin Turkey Chili

1.25 lb Ground Turkey
560 g Butternut squash, cubed
410 g Diced tomatoes (from 1 can, or by hand)
425 g (1 can) Pumpkin puree
1 Red onion, coarsely chopped
1 Green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
200 g Kale, finely chopped (fresh or frozen)
3 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp. Chili powder
1 tsp. Sea salt
1 tsp. Ground ginger
1/4 tsp. Powdered sage
1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
1/8 tsp. Paprika (Spanish smoked)
1/8 tsp. Chipotle

Place a large pot or pressure cooker on medium to medium-high heat, grease the bottom with your preferred cooking oil (coconut oil or ghee is mine).
Once it has reached its smoking point, drop in the ground meat and, with a wooden spoon, stir and break apart the meat until completely cooked and separated.
Add the spices to the meat until thoroughly mixed, and then add the remaining ingredients.
Cover the pot and let sit over medium heat for at least an hour.*
Garnish each bowl with your choice of sour cream, cheese, diced onion, avocado, or all of the above.

Makes 6 – 8 servings.

*I like using the pressure cooker, as it cuts the time for chili in half. If you are cooking with a regular pot (or even a slow cooker), it will take longer for the smoky flavor to sink it. It will be good regardless.

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to be making this chili just without the garlic. This is a thing that will be happening.