Contributed by Coach Karen
What will you eat for breakfast when the EAD / CFAH Winter 2013 30 Day Paleo Challenge concludes in less than 175 hours?
Will you join more than one-third of Americans who drop anchor with the Cap’N and pour a bowl of cold cereal? Are you more likely to grab a bagel, toast, muffin or pastry? Maybe you’ll go back to skipping breakfast. Or – dare I suggest? – your first post-Challenge forkful February 6 is no different than the thoroughly planned and carefully considered choices you’ve made since January 7?
Thirty days of eating clean and green is a great start, but it’s not really enough. Consider how long you’ve unconsciously consumed calories, with little regard to how the food was chemically treated, processed and handled before it hit your plate. For most of us, we’ve lived far longer with mindless versus mindful eating, which is why I encourage you to continue to build meals and snacks brimming with nutrient-dense and energy-enriching foods to fuel your performance-based lifestyle.
Wednesday, Feb. 6 – the first post-challenge day – will be no different than the previous 30 for many EAD / CFAH athletes; they will remain steadfast Paleo eaters. The very thought of adding grains & legumes, dairy, starchy veg, sugars and processed foods invokes an involuntary shudder, and perhaps a bit of bile for these folks. Some participants will jump off the Paleo wagon with abandon and chalk up the past 30 days to another life experience. Some will opt to eat Paleo 80 percent of the time, and reserve 20 percent for planned, mindful variety. And yet others will devise some variation of all of the above. There is no right answer for everyone, but you owe it to yourself to take time to make a conscious choice about how you will eat going forward. I strongly encourage you to maintain the key elements you learned, practiced, and (perhaps) perfected over the past 30 days, including:
- Avoid diet sodas; non-nutritive / artificial sweeteners; high-fructose corn syrup; foods with added sugars; partially or fully hydrogenated fats & oils; refined grains; processed foods; drive through / fast foods; ground & composite meats (like sausage) made from unknown / factory sources; packaged foods with ingredients you can’t pronounce or have no idea of their purpose; artificial preservatives & colors; glutamates
- Eat a hearty and well-rounded breakfast
- Fuel training with appropriately timed pre- and post-WOD food choices
- Select grass-fed beef, free-range poultry, wild caught seafood
- Shop the perimeter or the grocery store
- Choose nutrient-dense, dark leafy greens, and nutritional multi-taskers
- Judiciously read labels
- Research nutritional information when you eat out, and boldly call off less-desireable ingredients at restaurants
- Plan meals with vigor & intent
- Ban “clutch & crutch” foods – the ones that may fill a temporary emotional need or satisfy a habit but make you feel icky – from your pantry
- Consider what you eat, eats –pay attention to what you put in your body, and how your body responds.
Next Steps, Part 1.
Over the next few days, take stock of what feels different after eating clean and green since January 7. Grab a piece of paper and a pen, take five minutes and write down everything that comes to mind:
- How you feel overall
- Changes you’ve noticed in your relationship with food — how you sleep, how you shop, how your body responds to food, and more
- The absence of symptoms that you previously accepted as “normal”
- Comments people have made about the changes they’ve seen in you
- What was easy, what was challenging, what surprised you
- Compliments you’ve received, and more.
Then take another five minutes and really read the list. Aloud. Let it wash over you. Celebrate what you’ve accomplished. And then plan your next steps.
As tempting as it may be, don’t hit the breakfast or lunch buffet February 6. Many of you have shared with me near miraculous health improvements since eating Paleo. If you load up your plate with grains, legumes, dairy, sugars & processed foods, you’ll never know which foods — if any — trigger your body’s inflammation cycle, complete with aches & pains, belly bloat, sinus congestion, embarrassing gas attacks, constipation, diarrhea, headaches, “brain fog”, mean streaks / mood swings, and more. Instead, consider the following food re-introduction process:
- Introduce each of the known inflammation-provoking foods – grains / gluten, eggs, diary, nightshades – one at a time, and in that order.
- For four consecutive days, add one meal that includes the potentially-offending food; then for three days remove the food. If you have any reaction (The Inflammation Cycle), you’ll know that food group is one you should continue to avoid.
- For the seven-day cycle, pay close attention to how your body — and those around you — react. Did you need to unbutton your pants after eating the plate of pasta? Is your nose stuffy after drinking coffee with cream? Did anyone suggest you were a bit moody? Is your sleep suddenly restless? Do you feel sluggish during training? These are signs that the food may not be your friend.
- Do not overlap the food groups – re-introduce only one food per week. Food sensitivities or intolerance may rear up immediately, or it may take a few days for you to notice.
- If you’re eating Paleo to combat an auto-immune issue, you may want to stick with it for an additional 30 days.
Next Steps, Part 2.
Be sure to take time to complete the Post-Paleo Challenge Questionnaire, break out the scale for the first time in 30 days (as if I needed to remind you to do that!), take your measurements, and snap the post-challege photo.If you completed the Paleo Baseline WOD, be sure to repeat the WOD Tuesday, Feb. 5.
Please submit your Pre- & Post-Paleo Challenge Questionnaire so I can complete an analysis of the changes experienced by folks who committed to the challenge. Didn’t make it the full 30 days? That’s okay … submit the paperwork anyway, along with a note as to why you opted out. Everyone who completes and turns in the pre- & post-Challenge Questionnaire will be entered in a drawing for three classes added to their account.
Keep Me Posted.
If you opt to continue eating Paleo in any form, check in regularly with me, and feel free to continue to ask questions — how you fuel has a direct impact on how you perform during training and throughout your day.