Our family is starting week 18 on the diet and we are feeling great. I’ve lost ~20 lbs and I threw away my heartburn medicine, which was my primary motivation. My headaches are less frequent and it is crazy how I no longer crave sweets or chips. I’m not really snacking, my grocery bills are down, and we are eating a lot less meat. My daughter is happy and healthy and doesn’t feel yucky after eating anymore. My son lost a little weight when he stopped eating cereal and ice cream, but feels strong and is sleeping great. My husband is so supportive and self-disciplined, that it makes it easier on the rest of us to not deviate because we know it won’t be worth it if we do. I’m so grateful we tried this diet as a family and didn’t give up hope in resolving our health issues.
I think there are a few reasons why it is working so well for us:
At the 8 week mark we started adding back some foods with pretty good success – for us that means no digestive or skin issues. I tested Phase 3 foods in the following order:
I had been so anxious to add foods, but I was surprised by how little variety we really needed once we tested them. I now feel like I have the option of adding cukes to a salad or grilling zucchini. And mentally I needed to feel free to do that, especially when eating out. A part of me needed to know that I could handle it too – this felt like physical proof of my healing gut. But honestly, these foods haven’t become a regular part of our diet (except the rice for our kids every couple of weeks or when we have company).
I didn’t do this to lose weight, though I was hopeful it would happen. Weight loss has been a natural byproduct of the diet for me, and it feels more effortless than other diets I’ve tried. The Phase 1 fast was killer for me because I was so damn hungry. Now I understand I was converting from a sugar burning metabolism to a fat burning one. Reducing the amount of protein and increasing my healthy fat intake is helping me to continue to lose weight, something that didn’t happen for me on the paleo diet.
I did hypnotherapy right before discovering the diet. I knew that my meds were causing various health conditions and I wasn’t willing to live with them for the rest of my life. I wanted to choose a different story of aging and retirement – one filled with vitality and avoiding disease if possible. I knew that my heartburn was a symptom hinting at a deeper problem, but hadn’t had success curing it in the past. A part of me always held out hope that this was possible for me, despite trying for 20 years to fix this issue with various doctors and healers.
I worked with Lacy Grevious on healing my digestion and trying to understand why my body was holding onto weight. We explored some of the memories and stories I was living out of, and we worked through some of the issues that came up so that I could choose a different story to live out of now. It was a serious brain-training opportunity for me, and I highly recommend it for someone who feels stuck in a behavioral pattern. I had also read the book Women, Food, and God by Geneen Roth and that helped shift my mindset. I really believe that the combination of these things set me up to be successful and made it easy to stick with this diet.
As we transitioned into Phase 3, we moved from thinking about the diet as a temporary fix or something to power through. We started wondering how we could make this work for the rest of our life. Our whole family is having less digestive distress and feeling more energized, so we knew it would be worth it.
This means that we make exceptions when it makes sense. Allowing ourselves to try things and see how it feels. Using our bodies as guides and knowing that things change over time. Here are a couple of examples:
I listened to the Lazy Genius podcast on building a salad and it helped me get excited about eating a salad for lunch or dinner. For me that means including 4 elements:
My husband is doubling down with the keto program to juice even more benefits from the diet. I am sticking to Phase 2 and dabbling with keto and fasting to continue to lose weight without trying very hard. Without a gall bladder, I have trouble digesting a ton of fat. So, I’m paying attention and adding a digestive enzyme if I feel like I need it. We will continue to reduce the amount of animal protein to 4 oz or less each day, switching mostly to seafood since we’ve worked our way through the meat in our freezer.
I’m ready to up my exercise game and see if my B-vitamin deficiency is resolved so I can recover from workouts better. (Many people on long term PPIs have B-vitamin deficiency.) I also want to take advantage of the summer sunshine! It feels like a small window of good weather in the PNW to build a habit – but I know being in nature alone makes me feel more like myself.
My kids are consuming more sugar than is reccomended in the diet, but it is so much less than they were that I’m not worried about it. I want them to listen to their bodies over my dogma – so that will continue to be our focus. I stock our pantry with good choices and just let them self-regulate at breakfast and lunch and between meals. We always sit down for dinner as a family (when we are hungry for it). But we haven’t really been that hungry – we are finding that a late breakfast of waffles and an early dinner with a coconut popsicle treat at the end of the day is enough. We will have a smoothie mid-day when we are hungry or if we need to eat dinner later.
My main concern at this point is that I’m worried that we will be even more sensitive to deviating from this diet than we were in the past. (e.g., Will my microbiome no longer be able to help me digest grains?) Also, when we are with other people, they often feel uncomfortable eating with us because our diet feels so limiting to them. (How can you not allow your kids to eat pizza? Don’t you go out for ice cream in the summer?) I really don’t understand why it is so important to them and would rather we talk about something else.
But when it is just our family, we make it work and enjoy ourselves. While this concern is real, it is so worth it. If this is what it takes to live a long and healthy life, sign me up. I’ll happily bring our own dishes to potlucks or take the time to choose a restaurant that will offer us a few options.
Another challenge I’m facing is that since I’m no longer thinking about food or craving specific things, I don’t feel like cooking. Thinking about and preparing food has been such a big part of my adult life (and identity), that I’m not quite sure what to do with myself. I stopped meal planning and am winging it with what I have each week. In a lot of ways this feels freeing, but I think my family is getting bored of tacos and salads. So I’d like to find a cookbook or blog to experiment with. Or maybe I’ll just setup a rotation of dinners and not have to think about it too much? I’m not making a story about it and am just going to go with the flow and see if I can find something that works for everyone. I’m finding it harder to make a meal plan in the summer when our schedules and appetites are all over the place. And that is okay.
I hope this summary of our experience with the Plant paradox diet has been helpful. I’m excited for how well this worked for us and plan to eat this way for a long time.