Practical Paleo Testimonial: Former vegan finds health

Anthony DiSarro Lifestyle & Mindset, Testimonial 4 Comments

Let me introduce myself. My name is Dolores. I’m a 35 year old female that lives outside of Dallas with my furbaby (pictured) and my boyfriend (not pictured). I look pretty content in my picture, right? Well, there was a time I was nowhere near the level of contentment I am today. Let me take you back to PPP (Pre Practical Paleo)…

formerVeganSQI come from a family with health issues: high cholesterol, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart palpitations… you name it.

I didn’t want to go down that road. So, when at 31 my doctor told me that my cholesterol of 248 was too high and had to go on meds to lower, I decided I needed a change.

Enter the whole grain, low fat vegan movement…they seemed to be saying all of the right things. So, I soaked my own beans and cooked my grains from scratch. I even made my own homemade seitan (meat substitute made from vital wheat gluten). I abstained from all meat, dairy, and dietary fat with the exception of some nuts or olive oil spray.

I did this for over 3 years.

Sounds healthy, right?

Well, with each passing blood work I had with my doctor, my cholesterol not only increased, but my triglycerides eventually were triple the recommended high, my HDL went down, my LDL went up, and my vitamin D was nonexistent.

Acid reflux came on daily and nightly; sleep was not possible without prescription medication; and I was exhausted ALL the time. When I state all the time, I mean I could not function without a triple shot large soy latte in the morning, another in the afternoon, and an energy drink to help me stay awake for my drive home from work!

Upon arrival to the house, I would crash and sleep until dinner. Doctors continued to push statins for my cholesterol , prescription vitamin D to get my levels up, anti-depressants for energy, and to take double the max dose of Nexium for my acid reflux (because that all sounds safe, right?). I heard how harmful statins can be for you. So, I refused to take those, but opted to attempt to “clean” my vegan diet more. Eventually, I caved and starting taking the vitamin D script, the anti-depressants, along with double dose the Nexium.

Did I get better? Nope.

My energy was still rock bottom, but the anti-depressants gave me some really fun side effects (excessive sweating, anyone?). Plus, my hunger never seemed to cease.  I was constantly hungry, and it didn’t matter if I finished a meal minutes prior.  Eventually, my “clean vegan diet” gave me a cholesterol number of almost 300, and my vitamin D continued to drop.  I was at my wits end and gaining weight to boot.  This is how your 30’s are supposed to be?

Picture it… Costco… Sunday afternoon… my boyfriend and I were doing our regular Costco stock up shopping.

We decide to browse the book section to see what all was available. My boyfriend was the first to notice this very colorful cookbook that stood out called Practical Paleo. I had never heard of Paleo before, and I was immediately intrigued.

I saw that there were a lot of recipes, and I saw there was A LOT of information about health and diet’s role in your body.  This was more than your average cookbook.

When I flipped to the “Poop Pageant” and digestion section, I was sold.

When I got home, I opened the book and read and read and read. When I was done, I started from the beginning again.  This was so unlike anything I’ve ever heard, and I wanted to make sure I was reading everything correctly.

Pastured meats, coconut oil, and butter to help your health? Abstain from all grains, especially gluten? Fat is good?

This goes against everything that the FDA and the vegan police have been telling me all these years.

From there I went to the Balanced Bites website and read up on the blog posts, and I even bought The 21-Day Sugar Detox and read that as well. After my full day (and night) of research, I absorbed everything about this Paleo diet that I could and felt I had a solid understanding.

I was worried that it would be hard, but I figured at this point I had nothing to lose.

So, my boyfriend and I decided that we would give this a shot. I decided that in December of 2012, I was going to go full Paleo for 30 days. I would follow the principles and meal plan of Practical Paleo and even some of 21DSD for a full 30 days and then get my blood work retested to see where it was.

Why December, you ask? Well, if I could stand the hardest month of the year being Paleo with all the temptations of cookies, parties, etc., then this could be a sustainable lifestyle change.  I didn’t want a quick fix; I wanted to be on the healthy path once and for all.

To prepare, we bought all sorts of local pastured beef, chicken, pork, and even eggs (Eggs, how I missed you!). I saved the pastured bacon fat and used it to cook with, made bone broth, and drank kombucha. Heck, I even took her recommended supplements like FCLO/BO blend in lieu of my prescription vitamin D!  Slowly, I found myself more and more confident with preparing the recipes in the meal plans to the point of where I was actually looking forward to cooking again.

I noticed a lot of changes those first 30 days.

My stomach seemed to lose bloat; I no longer needed my acid reflux medication; I could fall asleep and stay asleep without sleep meds; and I had energy throughout the day without the use of coffee or energy drinks. Also, my anti-depressants were no longer needed.  I even lost weight! Life was starting to feel good to me again, like the sun coming out after a storm.

The key would be my blood work.

This is what I’m basing this all on, right?

In 30 days, my cholesterol lowered from around 300 back to 250, triglycerides were perfect, vitamin D levels were normal, LDL lowered, HDL raised, my blood pressure was perfect, and I could go hours between meals without snacking.

I was eating real butter, whole eggs, pastured bacon, grassfed meats, vegetables, avocados, etc. every day – basically everything Diane states to do in Practical Paleo – and I was getting, dare I say it, healthy!

I feel like a new person, like a veil has been lifted from my eyes.

Practical Paleo has changed our lives for the better and opened us up to a new way of living and eating.  We are living proof that this is a practical lifestyle that one’s health can benefit from immensely.  We believe it so much that we’ve even bought copies for multiple family members and friends.

We continue this lifestyle to this day, and I continue to learn more through the Balanced Bites podcast and website.  While I am still on my journey to healing the damage left behind from my vegan diet, I now see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I am on my way to being the healthier and more confident version of myself.  For that, I thank Practical Paleo and Balanced Bites.

Comments 4

  1. That is great! I was vegan for a year and a half and started to hear about the paleo diet and it made a lot of sense. I thought I felt fine while I was vegan. Within 20 minutes of re-introducing eggs into my diet I felt a cloud lift from my brain. I was foggy and lacked focus and didn’t even know it until I realized what it felt like to actually feel normal again.
    I have been following a paleo template since late March and I feel great!

  2. That is great! I was vegan for a year and a half and started to hear about the paleo diet and it made a lot of sense. I thought I felt fine while I was vegan. Within 20 minutes of re-introducing eggs into my diet I felt a cloud lift from my brain. I was foggy and lacked focus and didn’t even know it until I realized what it felt like to actually feel normal again.
    I have been following a paleo template since late March and I feel great!

  3. Thanks for sharing your story. I was Vegan for about 6 months and vegetarian for about a year and a half after that. I chose to follow those lifestyles because I wanted to improve my health. However, everything seemed to go in the opposite direction. I felt lethargic, bloated all the time, and would find myself coming home and snacking like crazy on things like pita chips (but they were vegan!). I felt my hair was frail, my skin was not as nourished and I just didn’t feel right. I joined crossfit about 8 months or so being vegetarian. I could do all the movements there (being an athlete and dancer growing up) and while I was getting a little stronger I could not notice a bit of difference aesthetically. Then in April of 2013 my crossfit gym was hosting a paleo challenge. I knew a few people there who already partook on this type of lifestyle but I would shut them down quickly with “I don’t eat meat”. But finally I listened and after a bit of convincing from my coaches, I decided I’d try it for 30 days. The first few weeks were a bit rough, with headaches and being really tired. Then it was like a switch flicked inside of me. I just felt BETTER overall. Sleeping came with ease. My skin cleared up. My hair had a luscious shine. People were constantly telling me “you’re glowing!” I had energy. The bloat (and gas!) was pretty much non-existent. My performance in the gym skyrocketed. I had more stamina and started to lift more. Muscle definition soon followed. When I went to the doctor in July of 2013 compared to July of 2012 my blood sugar level had dropped as well.
    For me, the best part though is having others asking me for nutrition advice, asking me to write them out meal plans. Switching to a Paleo type lifestyle changed me inside and out. And it’s pretty damn tasty, too!

  4. Thanks for sharing your story. I was Vegan for about 6 months and vegetarian for about a year and a half after that. I chose to follow those lifestyles because I wanted to improve my health. However, everything seemed to go in the opposite direction. I felt lethargic, bloated all the time, and would find myself coming home and snacking like crazy on things like pita chips (but they were vegan!). I felt my hair was frail, my skin was not as nourished and I just didn’t feel right. I joined crossfit about 8 months or so being vegetarian. I could do all the movements there (being an athlete and dancer growing up) and while I was getting a little stronger I could not notice a bit of difference aesthetically. Then in April of 2013 my crossfit gym was hosting a paleo challenge. I knew a few people there who already partook on this type of lifestyle but I would shut them down quickly with “I don’t eat meat”. But finally I listened and after a bit of convincing from my coaches, I decided I’d try it for 30 days. The first few weeks were a bit rough, with headaches and being really tired. Then it was like a switch flicked inside of me. I just felt BETTER overall. Sleeping came with ease. My skin cleared up. My hair had a luscious shine. People were constantly telling me “you’re glowing!” I had energy. The bloat (and gas!) was pretty much non-existent. My performance in the gym skyrocketed. I had more stamina and started to lift more. Muscle definition soon followed. When I went to the doctor in July of 2013 compared to July of 2012 my blood sugar level had dropped as well.
    For me, the best part though is having others asking me for nutrition advice, asking me to write them out meal plans. Switching to a Paleo type lifestyle changed me inside and out. And it’s pretty damn tasty, too!

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