It all started one fine day when I decided I needed some major lifestyle modifications. Now let me tell you something about myself. I am an indecisive, eccentric, impressionable 21 year old who is low-key obsessed with the Kardashians (no hate). Being on instagram and YouTube all day, I was super impressed with how healthy some people are leading their lives. From different diets to workouts, there is great healthy world out there for me to discover. It was during one of my istagramming hours that I discovered something known as a paleo diet.
Paleo or Paleolithic diet is quintessentially the diet of the ‘cave men’. In the Stone Age when fire was the only cooking tool and grunting was the only form of conversation, people were hunter gatherers. There was no concept of farming or agriculture. Picking off food that fell from trees or hunting easy prey like goats or chickens were the major source of food. It is not too long along when holistic methods made a ‘come back’ so to say, that the idea of paleo diet became popular. Now, developed countries manufacture a whole array of paleo dietary products that make transition from normal food to paleo diet easy. Basically, a person on this diet can only eat vegetables, fruits, nuts, grass-fed eat and avoid foods like dairy products, sugar, legumes, grains, processed oils, salt, and alcohol or coffee. This diet is much simpler than a gluten free or vegan diet where restrictions are made on some very basic foods.
Being a Pakistani Muslim my diet mostly consisted of grass- fed meats and not things like alcohol. Since I don’t drink coffee and milk, I thought this was the perfect diet for me. I hate keeping a track of my calorie intake and this didn’t require me to, so I decided to try it out for a month. I stalked my fridge with steaks and lean meat, got a big bottle of the most organic olive oil I could find, gave strict orders to my cooks to never ever serve me daal roti, got a big pot of honey and I was good to go.
One thing I realized after my month was over is that changing your diet is not an easy thing to do when you don’t cook your own food. Sometimes my cooks would add the wrong oil or add extra sugar or salt to my dishes leaving my extremely agitated. Besides all the mix ups and ‘cheat days’ I tried my best to stick to the diet. I replaced my roti with lettuce and rice with couscous. Since I did this over the summers, I was very happy with variety of fruits and vegetables at my disposal. Every day I would Google a new recipe and recreate my own version. I sort of fell in a pattern and was quite happy with my new routine. On average I would take 3 meals and a snack in the middle, daily. Somedays I would just increase my portions and cut back on the snack. A daily meal plan included a huge plate full of any garden type variety of fruits and vegetables in form of a salad, lots of egg for breakfast, 2-3 small portions of animal protein cooked in olive or coconut oil and starchy vegetables and nuts.
Over the course of the month, some days were much harder than others. Some days I would crave a milkshake or ice creams and on others I would have to physically stop myself from reaching for some junk food. The first week was the easiest by far. I had only started a new interesting chapter in my life and I was motivated like never before. Even my family was quite supportive. As the weeks went on however, I realized that my intake of food had increased. Nothing ever seemed filling enough. By the third week I was having five meals a day. However, I was notably more energetic. My mother was convinced my complexion had become fairer and my skin glowed. I also noticed that issues such as constipation and stomach aches were a thing of the past. Even my period cramps didn’t hurt that bad. Although I lost no weight, my friends swore I looked noticeably leaner.
Now I won’t go as far to say that I will turn paleo for life. I have neither the patience nor the ability to give up on my beloved junk food. I will however admit that I am now more conscious about what I put in my body. Giving up on processed food and fizzy drinks shouldn’t just be a part of an experiment, it should be something we should all do to lead a healthier life.
I’m going to share a few recipes that I came to love during this one month and would frequently make.
Baked Sweet Potato Wedges
This is the easiest and yummiest recipe that I still make often. All you need are two large sweet potatoes cut up into wedges. Lightly grease a pan with olive oil and lay the wedges on top. Add chilli flakes, salt and pepper and bake for 10-15 minutes. This is can used as a side line with the main meal or as a separate meal if you’re not too hungry.
Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Marinate chicken in lemon, salt, pepper, garlic and thyme for 20-25 minutes. I would use black olives, tomatoes, onions and corn as filling for the wraps. Grill the chicken and cup it up into cubes. Lay it all on a lettuce wrap and enjoy.
Grape Fruit Salad
This was my go to breakfast salad. I don’t like having a heavy breakfast and don’t like eggs too much. I would take green beans, iceberg lettuce, apples, some mint leaves, baby tomatoes, cucumber and a hand full of walnuts. Mix it all with some grape fruit wedges and low and behold the best salad you’ve ever had in your life. It is extremely rejuvenating and fresh. I would make up a big batch of this minus the grape fruit, and store it in a zip lock back for everyday use and add fresh grapefruit slices.