Monday, September 12, 2011

Lets Talk: Paleo Nutrition

I can't help notice that quite a few of our ladies have become paleo converts, or are at least toying with the idea of converting. I was one of those who toyed with the idea, until my next carb craving hit! Quite honestly, I think the concepts behind paleo could be worth pursuing, but I'm not sure I'd ever have the willpower to follow through with a diet that demands complete abstinence from the foods I've grown to love. One day maybe? But for those of you who think you might have more willpower than me, and would like to learn a little more about paleo, Sarah Pevehouse has kindly agreed to tell us about her transition from a regular "anything-allowed" diet, to a strictly paleo diet. Sarah's story impressed me, as I'm sure it will you too.
Jannine Myers

Post contributed by Sarah Pevehouse:

In January of this year I embarked on a self-motivated (New Years Resolution) challenge to train for and then complete my very first Marathon. I started with high hopes and tons of Runner’s World paraphernalia. I hired the amazing Jeanne Goodes to be my trainer, running coach, and mentor. Within a few months I realized that all of my goals were within reach but I just wasn’t seeing the physical gains (muscle definition, etc.) that I had hoped for.

I was combing the pages of Runner’s World magazines and reading the Athlete’s Palate for recipes on a daily basis. Trying to perfect my nutritional intake to balance out my physical output. It didn’t take long for me to just feel like a bloated up mess all the time due to the high intake of pasta, bread and grains that were being suggested. I started mentioning this to Jeanne and asking for advice. She suggested a few options and books or websites to checkout on Paleo. After some Internet searches I decided this seemed to resonate with my tree-hugger side more than anything else I was finding.
Sarah with fitness trainer Jeanne Goodes
The basic premise of Paleo Nutrition is that it is not a diet – it is a lifestyle. There are several books, websites, blogs and cookbooks out there that can give you the science behind it all. The best summary I could find was from Loren Cordain’s book, The Paleo Diet Cookbook, “It is extremely simple; you just eat fresh fruits, fresh veggies, lean meats, and seafood” (as much as you want). “Stick to the outside aisles of your supermarket and away from the center aisles (as much as possible), and you will be 85 percent of the way there.”

I started a strict Paleo regiment on April 12th, 2011. I cleaned out my pantry – getting rid of all my processed foods, grains, flours, starches, sugary snacks, etc. Then I cleaned out my refrigerator and tossed all the sauces, jelly, milk, and cheese, packaged and processed foods. I felt like Old Mother Hubbard – my cupboards were very bare! The first two weeks are the hardest because your craving all the stuff you used to eat.

This is what a paleo pantry looks like
I purchased Robb Wolf’s book, The Paleo Solution and read it cover to cover immediately so I could better understand what all that food (I just tossed out) was doing to my body. All I can say now is that the proof is in the pudding! If you like the geek stuff (science) behind why we should eat these ways then get his book. Robb breaks all the science down in an easy to follow and understandable way. He provides on his website (downloadable pdf’s) 30-day meal plan, shopping lists, etc.

I started with his menus and have since branched way out to blogs and other books for recipes. I like to know the “full-circle” reason why I am doing something and reading his book made it that much easier for me to know that I was making the right choice.

If you are looking for a lifestyle change for your nutrition and just want to be told – eat this, buy this, do it like this! Then I suggest getting Sarah Fragoso’s book, Everyday Paleo. She has a 30-day meal plan plus workouts, shopping lists, kids snack ideas and school lunch ideas too. She is straight to the point, a mother of 3 and a great (creative) cook. I have also done her 30-day meal plan as well. I found her food to be a bit spicy for my taste so I just scan the recipes first and adjust to suite my taste. Check out my book review for more info.
I used to think that I always needed a “starch or carbohydrate” and meat – vegetables were optional and often canned. Now, I shop more frequently and cook with mainly fresh (sometimes frozen) foods from the commissary or markets out in town. Cooking has become simplified really.

Sarah Fragoso points out a good rule of thumb, “If it grew in the ground, it’s a carbohydrate.” So all you athlete’s out there – when you see “carb loading” advice keep this in mind. It does not mean you need to eat a big pasta bowl the night before a race – you can indulge in some yummy yams or sweat potatoes fixed the way you like and get all your carbohydrate needs right there.

Meat, veggies, and fruit – preseason your meat (or not) toss in a pan and sauté with some fresh sliced onions and minced garlic – this works for all meat and seafood. Then steam your veggies and then season lightly with sea-salt. After dinner slice up an apple and dip in almond butter and honey mixed together (or whatever you like) – sometimes I just nibble on some baker’s chocolate.
It’s strange how once you cut out all the processed sugars and starches your taste buds sort of wake up! They’ve been in a sugary coma for years and now for the first time your tasting food that is really good! I used to think that unsweetened applesauce was so bitter and now I love it! I just add some cinnamon and protein powder and I have a great pre-workout meal.
The book that I have learned the most from and suggest to all athletes is the “Paleo for Athlete’s” book – this will forever change your idea of performance nutrition. It is through this book that I was able to go from my bloated 131lbs, 17% body fat to the lean 126lbs and 12% body fat that I am now. The transition is tough – to change the way you have looked at food your entire life – but it is well worth it. My performance is way better, recovery time from hard training is so fast and my belly is never bloated.

If nothing else – check out some of the tested recipes on my blog and just try a few!

I hope this at least sparks an interest for you to think outside of the box with food and to try something new. I am the Queen of one-dish meals – If I can cook this way, anyone can!


  1. You make it look so easy Sarah - kudos to you!

  2. I'm so sorry that most of the links I provided are broken. I just switched my blog from wordpress to a self hosted site and it messed all that up. If you would like to learn more from my blog please check my page out at

    Thx - Sarah

  3. I've updated the post and the links should work now :)