The 30 day Paleo Detox Challenge – Intro

Whole30 paleo detox challenge

A paleo detox you say? Sounds good. For 30 days? Sounds like a challenge! And I do like a nice challenge, especially one of these 30 day ones – so yeah, let’s do it!

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Day 1 of the challenge >>

Index of all posts in the 30 Day Paleo Detox Challenge

When?

The challenge starts December 30th 2013 – no alcofrolic New Year partying for me this year then! Why did I agree to start it then? No idea, just seemed like fun!

Why?

Fun and science. As I’ve said, I like a nice challenge, to see what I can do with this physical and mental body, but also I’m always looking for ways to improve. Can I have more energy, be more productive, more efficient, feel fitter and healthier, have a better experience of life? What impact does the food I’m eating have on my day-to-day experience?

I discovered years ago, long before Paleo became popular, that I feel much better on a low carb, high fat, high protein diet. Carbs just slow me down, I feel sluggish and tired too much of the time when I’m running on carbohydrates. Sugar spikes and crashes lead to a never-ending rollercoaster of coffee and chocolate consumption in an attempt to maintain a workable energy level.

I’ve experimented with ultra low-carb diets, raw foods and juicing, sometimes starting with a week or 10 day fast to get a clean start. All these have produced good results for me, in terms of increased energy and vitality, and they often have a major drawback – usually the time it takes. Raw foods and juicing, in particular, seem like a lifestyle choice rather than just a way of eating. Maybe I was doing it wrong, but I seemed to be forever preparing or eating food, or feeling hungry!

My current standard diet, which I describe as Not A Million Miles From Paleo (I’m considering trademarking that, what do you think?) works well for me, but I think it could be better – that’s what I’m trying to find out here. Can I get some serious improvements in energy and vitality without losing the speed convenience of how I currently eat?

Here’s a brief outline of my current eating:

Breakfast (if any, as sometimes I just don’t feel the need to eat before lunchtime or later)
Cheese and butter wrapped in ham, or with salami
Olives and tomatoes
Olive oil (couple of spoonfuls)
– or –
Smoothie with Kefir, banana, berries, spirulina, coconut milk

Lunch
Big bowl of salad with cheese, ham, salami dressed with lots of olive oil
– or –
Big bowl of soup preferably a home-made veggie soup

Dinner – typically something like…
Chicken curry with rice and yoghurt
Fish or meat with lots of veggies (but no carbs)
Puddings – tiramisu, icecream, chocolate

Supper – and sometimes other snacks, usually…
Cheese, ham, butter and olives
Dried fruit and nuts, seeds with yoghurt
Chocolate

Drinks
Kefir – lots of this as I just started making it
Water by the pint
Coffee – usually black unless out, in which case I might go with latte or mocha
Beer – not always, but a couple of pints in the evening feels right!

So what am I trying to achieve here?

Knowledge!

I’ve known for long enough that too much carbs, especially wheat and potato, really don’t do me any good, although I seem to cope much better with refined sugars, in moderation at least. I also know some fairly obvious stuff, such as too much coffee being bad and any amount of smoking being bad.

What I don’t know is what effect some of the other food groups have on me; that and the cocktail of sugars and other more interesting chemicals found in most processed foods.

The one thing that became very obvious  to me when writing this is the amount of dairy I consume, and I really don’t know what effect that has on me. Have to say I hope it’s not a bad one because I really don’t want to be giving it up, not for any more than the 30 days – but let’s see what the science says.

The question is: What gains are there to be made? Can I realise significant improvements in sleep quality, energy levels, health and vitality by removing certain foodstuffs from my plate? Or moderating my intake of some food groups, such as dairy, where I’m probably unwilling to give them up entirely!

And how does it work?

A process of elimination really – simply eliminate everything known to be harmful, or potentially troublesome from your diet for 30 consecutive days and then notice how awesome you feel. Then, perhaps, reintroduce certain foods gradually, one at a time, and notice what effect they have on you.

Reintroduction isn’t usually a problem, except where you find that one of your favorite foods is poisoning you! Of course, having given them up, you might just want to be more careful about what you get addicted to this time round – that seems to be how it goes for me.

This particular challenge was inspired by the Whole30 program promoted by Dallas and Melissa over at Whole9. The one place I differ with them is the area of coffee. I know from past N=1 experimenting that coffee can have a major effect on my mood, sleep patterns and energy levels. I also know that I can get some pretty bad withdraw symptoms if I quit drinking coffee. All this tells me that, for me at least, the morning latte is pretty toxic and so if this is to be a proper detox then the caffeine has to go.

So, with the addition of coffee, the foods to avoid are:

All grains of any kind in any quantity (read the labels)
Added sugar of any kind, including honey, maple syrup etc
Legumes – most kinds of pea or bean, including soy in any form
Potatoes of any color other than sweet potato
Any Dairy (read the labels) except ghee (clarified butter)
Any MSG, carageenan or sulphites (learn to read labels, MSG has many names!)
Any alcohol or tobacco

Or to put it more positively, perhaps, as stated at Whole9:

Eat real food – meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re totally natural and unprocessed.

There are plentiful instructions, explanations and support to be found at Whole9 if you’re thinking of giving this a go – just watch out for the bit where they tell you it’s okay to drink coffee while you’re detoxing, er….. No! That’s just dumb! Coffee’s great, yes, and I know you can’t possibly live without it, but if you’re detoxing – and this is a detoxing diet – then coffee is a toxin, and it has to go, at least for 30 days. And who knows, you might feel quite differently about it when you can tell what it’s really doing to you!

So there it is. I’d encourage you to explore further, especially if you’re considering your own challenge. You’ll find the full list of posts on this page – The 30 day Paleo Detox Challenge – updated daily.

Meanwhile, I believe a banana and coconut milk smoothie is calling me…

Cheers!
IanB

Day 1 of the challenge >>

Index of all posts in the 30 Day Paleo Detox Challenge

Need a guide to the Paleo Diet? Try this...

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