MosaicThe Good: My sodium intake is at an all-time low. Like, crazy low. I’m wondering if I’m going to get a goiter. Other than that, I’m having a hard time with this one because I’m just starting to hit my stride. Since recovering from my “low carb flu,” I haven’t felt any different than I felt pre-paleo.

The Bad: By the end of the week, I started to resent my food. Like, really despise it. It kinda grossed me out. I did not look forward to eating – I ate because my body required it. Consuming food became completely mechanical and utilitarian. The thought of chewing and swallowing one more boring hunk of animal carcass was just about more than I could bear. I called on a few of my paleo-ite friends for support and they set me straight. The problems I was having with severe food boredom were not “paleo’s fault.” They were, in reality, my fault for choosing the meal plan that I did. When I picked the meal plan that I followed this past week, I did not take into account the fact that the plan called for a piece of meat and/or eggs and a pile of sauteed vegetables. For. Every. Meal. Though paleo allows fruit, this meal plan only included it three times all week, leaving me with basically nil as far as carbohydrate intake. Since, I have escaped the clutches of the meal plan from you-know-where and explored the myriad of paleo recipes out there. Some of them even include such novelties as (Heaven’s to Betsy!) sauces and mixed dishes…and I’m pretty excited about it! In fact, today for lunch I had some crock pot Thai chicken curry and it was deeee-lish!

The ugly: Despite the drastic decrease in my sodium intake, my blood pressure has increased big time. I usually run about 117/75, but today it measured in at 139/95 (and I took it twice)! I couldn’t understand it, so I started looking into other nutrients that affect blood pressure. As it turns out, potassium, magnesium, and calcium can all help in lowering blood pressure. The food diary app I use tracks calcium and potassium, and it indicates that I have been eating about 35% and 50% of the daily recommendations of these important minerals, respectively. I suspect this may be why my BP is so dang high. My mission this week is to actively target these nutrients and hopefully improve my numbers.

Paleo Week 1 Summary







Side note: This diet is definitely more spendy than my standard way of eating. Groceries cost me $50 last week (and most of the meat I already had in my freezer).

Paleo Diet

Feeling BadThe paleo diet in and of itself is not a “high-fat, low-carbohydrate” diet; however, many people utilize paleo thinking as a method of achieving a low-carbohydrate way of eating. The paleo meal plan I’m currently using is based on that method. One of the premises of high-fat, low-carbohydrate is that your body enters into a state of ketosis. That means that your body is switching fuels from using primarily carbohydrate to mainly fat.

Remember in this post when I talked about how your body breaks down carbohydrates to use for energy? Well, here begins chapter 2: After your body turns the carbohydrates into glucose and your cells pick up the glucose, a bunch of active little proteins called enzymes start changing the glucose by adding and taking away chemical bonds. At the end, the glucose is converted to something called Acetyl CoA which then goes on into another process known as the TCA cycle (or Kreb’s cycle, or citric acid cycle, but that’s neither here nor there). This nifty little pathway is the major energy factory in your body. In fact, my metabolism textbook* says that “over 90% of the energy released from food is estimated to occur as a result of TCA cycle oxidation.” Basically, it’s where carbs, fats, and proteins all go to die. They are broken down until there is just water, carbon dioxide, and energy left. Pretty cool, huh?

Since Paleo is considered a high-fat diet, I’ll start with fat. After making its way into the cells, the fatty acids undergo a conversion to (guess what?) acetyl CoA. That molecule then has two possible destinations: it can either go through the TCA cycle just like the former glucose molecules do, or in the presence of extra acetyl CoA the liver can convert it into something called ketones. Ketones can then travel throughout the body to other tissues where they are actually converted back into acetyl CoA and used for energy there.

Starting Wednesday morning (paleo day #3), I started having hot flashes, brain fog, nausea, lightheadedness, and a mild headache. All of these are symptoms described by paleo-diet promoters as the “low-carb flu”. Others complain of such maladies as muscle soreness, extreme fatigue, poor sleep, and digestive disturbances. Doesn’t that just sound like a barrel of monkeys?

Anyway, these ailments are due mostly to chemical shifts in my body (that are super complicated) and the adjustment from using well-oiled glucose burning machinery to my dusty, rusty fat/ketone users. Most of my symptoms have gone away by now, but I now have a bad taste in my mouth (all the time) and occasional hot flashes. My next quest is to investigate the long-term implications of this way of eating and how it affects the body over time. Here goes nothing!

*Gropper, Smith, and Groff. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. 2009. 5th edition. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning. Belmont, CA.

UPDATE (3/1/14): A friend of mine made a good point that prompted me to edit the original post. I had originally referred to the paleo diet as a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet, but paleo in and of itself is not “high-anything” or “low-anything.” If one wanted to not eat a low carbohydrate diet and still be paleo, he or she could eat loads of fruit, for example. In my case, the meal plan I chose only included fruit 3 times in the first week, so I have ended up on a high, fat low carbohydrate diet though paleo would not necessarily require that. I updated the post above to reflect this.

How Your Body Works Paleo Diet

The first time I ever heard about the “Paleo diet” I thought it was ridiculous. We are not cavemen anymore. We drive cars, we sleep in heated houses, and most of us had our first slice of Wonder Bread at age 4. We don’t exactly do the hunting and gathering that the hunter-gatherers did either…so why on earth should we eat like them? It doesn’t make sense. I chalked it up as another fad.

I’m opening my mind and looking into it now, and generally, the Paleo diet is a pretty healthful way to go. It cuts out processed foods entirely – including refined grains and sugar – as well as salt, and definitely reins in the excessive carbohydrate intake of a good chunk of the population. I don’t think that really anyone could argue that those are bad changes to make. My first concern with Paleo, however, is that two food groups have been eliminated entirely – grains and dairy. Food groups that have been eaten by successfully healthy humans for quite some time and have nutritional offerings of their own. My other concern is the high amount of saturated fat I’m eating by cooking with coconut oil and eating so much red meat. Each of those concerns touch on hot-button topics in nutrition right now. First, gluten intakes and avoidance of grains. Second, processed vs. raw. vs. low fat vs. no fat vs. full fat dairy. Third, whether or not saturated fats even increase your risk for heart disease. I’d have to know all these answers to be able to fully evaluate this diet.

I’ll be honest – I have opinions, but I do not yet know the answers. In fact, I’m not sure that really anybody actually knows, knows all of those answers. We do the best we can with what we have. These were all reasons I wanted to start this blog – I get asked about these topics all the time, and I need to be the informed expert. So I’ll work through them (or slog through them, depending on how interesting they are) and let you know what I find. I can’t promise to find the answers or research each topic even in it’s full detail, which is why I’m recruiting you all to help me.

I want to know what you’ve heard about these issues, what questions you have, and what other topics might be good for me to look into. My best sources of “up and coming” diet info are usually not my dietitian peers, but my friends and family who ask me about something they saw on Dr. Oz. or some juice their best friend started. So commence to comment in 5, 4, 3, 2…

Paleo Diet

After grocery shopping yesterday I was a little worried – the pile was far smaller than that from my first week of MyPlate meals.

GroceriesThe theory is, though, that the food is nutritionally dense enough that you don’t need to eat as much. And I have to say, I have found that to be the case today. I have only eaten 1300 calories today and I have hardly felt hungry.

paleo dinnerAfter this I’m going out to a comedy show with my ladies. I’ll have to see if there’s anything out there that I am allowed to have. Wish me luck!

Paleo Diet

The common cold has fogged my brain (or sapped my motivation) enough that I haven’t done much research in the last few days. I have a couple of MyPlate recipes stocked up that I had not yet posted, so I thought I’d grace you with one today. I present to you a fiance favorite: The Spinach Lasagna Roll-Up.



10-12 lasagna noodles (you’ll only use 8 but you want to have extra in case some tear)

1/2 pound lean ground beef

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 medium onion, chopped

8-10 mushrooms, sliced

1 cup spinach

3/4 cup fat free sour cream

1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella

1 (15-oz) can no salt added tomato sauce

1/2 teaspoon dried or 1 teaspoon minced fresh basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  1. Cook and drain the lasagna noodles according to the package directions, minus about 2 minutes (you want the noodles to hang together well for the roll-ups).cooked noodles
  2. While the noodles are cooking, brown the ground beef over medium heat and drain the fat (if you prefer a vegetarian option, these are deliciously mushroom-y without the beef too). Add in the olive oil, onions, and mushrooms and saute until soft.mushrooms and meat
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add in spinach, fat free sour cream, and 1/2 cup of the shredded mozzarella. Cook until cheese is melted and spinach is slightly wilted.spinach and meat and sauce
  4. Lay the lasagna noodles out on a plate. Spread a thin layer of the beef and mushroom mixture on each noodle. Roll the noodles up and place in a 9×13 baking dish.rolling
  5. In a bowl, stir together tomato sauce, basil, oregano, and garlic powder. Pour on top of lasagna roll-ups. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese.sauce and cheese
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve two roll-ups with a side of veggies and some fruit for a complete MyPlate meal. Oh, and try not to splash sauce all over the edge of the plate like I did. =)plate

Two roll-ups count for 1/2 cup vegetables, 2 ounces grains, 2 ounces meat, and 1/2 cup dairy. They contain 457 calories, 58 g carbohydrates, 31 g protein, 13 g fat, and 280 g sodium.

MyPlate Guidelines Recipes

Alright, that title was a bit much. Sorry.

The Paleo (or Paleolithic) diet is really trendy right now. It is based on the idea that eating the kinds of foods eaten by our ancestors from the Paleolithic era will help to prevent common chronic diseases that have sprung up in our populations over time. Ultimately, the diet ends up including meats, seafood, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and oils. The diet eliminates two of the food groups: dairy and grains. Which, if you recall, are major sources of the carbohydrate we eat. It is starting to look as though our study of carbohydrate intake shall continue. The official Paleo diet website touts that this eating pattern will increase fiber, fat, protein, vitamin, and mineral intakes while decreasing dietary carbohydrate and sodium. The website builds in an 85:15 rule, allowing for three non-Paleo meals to be eaten each week.



Grass-Fed Meats



Nuts and Seeds






Refined Sugar



Vegetable Oils


I will be spending this coming week prepping to start my 3 weeks on the Paleo diet (start date February 24th). In the meantime, I will have to eat up all of the pasta, bread, and dairy I have lying around. Excuse me, I think there are some tortilla chips calling my name…

Paleo Diet

Well, this is it! 21 days of MyPlate completed. Here are the stats for the whole project:

Weight changes: -1 pound

Waist changes: 0 inches

Average calorie intake: 1984

Number of days MyPlate food group guidelines were met: 13

Average cost of groceries per week: $33

Pros: The MyPlate diet is pretty easy to follow because you can quickly check just by looking at your plate. It promotes intakes of a wide variety of foods and as such is a good way to encourage balanced nutrition, control portion size, and get all of your vitamins and minerals.

Cons: As I mentioned in previous posts, not everyone agrees with the Guidelines. Some say they are too carb-y, some say too fatty, some say too loosey-goosey with restrictions on substances like sodium and saturated fat. Honestly, I can’t say I’ve read enough to develop my stance on those specific issues yet, but I’ll continue to research these topics as I move through the diets.

Observations: The diet was not drastically different from my normal way of eating, so I never really felt much different because of the foods I was eating. I covered a lot of the things I learned in my last post, but overall I gained an appreciation for the experience of tracking food and calories. It was pretty interesting to me to learn about the Guidelines, where they came from, and the controversies surrounding them.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t get to research as much in those 21 days as I had hoped. There is so much information to read and only so much time. One of the great things about studying nutrition is that everything really is connected. As I move into my next diets I will come across concepts I started researching last month. And on and on. Please send me a message through the Contact page about any specific nutrition questions you might have. I’d love to learn more about what my readers what to know!


Keep checking back! Readers voted and chose the Paleolithic (or Paleo) diet for me to follow next. Send me a message through the Contact page if you have any specific Paleo questions you would like me to answer!

MyPlate Guidelines