Hi Old Friends!!!!!

Just a note to say I’m coming back and that this site will be moving to shortly.

As I am an English professor – and not an awesome techgirl – this will be a sloppy and ungraceful transition.  Have patience!

Back to Work!

Since it seems so many Paleo parents are SAHM-based, I thought it might be nice to hear from a working mom.  And I’m not even a part-time, piecemeal and/or freelancing mom (although I wish I were)!  I’m an honest to god 40+-hour (plus a 3 hour commute 3-4 days) a week working mom.  And my husband (CaveDad) freelances, but he’s also working anywhere from 30-50 hours a week.  

In the late stages of my pregnancy, we decided two things:  1) That we would avoid outside childcare if possible (although we’ve had two grandma-grandpa provided date nights); and 2) That the baby would exclusively drink breast milk for 6 months and that s/he would continue to drink breast milk as a major food group for a minimum of 1-2 years.  

These strike some people as ambitious goals – especially since I commute over an hour each way to work in a major city and my husband works as well – but we decided to commit to them.  

And we are surviving!  Barely!

I went back to work 6 weeks ago.  Though our situation is intense, we are meeting our goals.  But I don’t know if we could do it without Paleo, for the following reasons:

1) Baby sleeps every night through the night (like 10-12 hours) – and has since 1.5 months – and is pretty happy and curious all day. Maybe its related to a calm and nourished body, maybe its luck.

2) None of us get sick – EVER!!!  There was one close call: When I went back to work, ate some crappy food a few times and starting pumping a lot in lieu of bf-ing those days –  I ALMOST got mastitis.  The pediatrician was sure I had it and though she’s naturopathic by inclination, she advised me to go on antibiotics.  I gave myself two days of very low carb, lots of fluid, hot compresses and rest and it disappeared.  

3) Our moods are stable.  This was one of the first things we noticed when we went paleo, and it pays off now.  We both live under enormous amounts of time-stress, work-stress and bickering-over-household-labor-distribution stress.  Two years ago, it would have been impossible to bear so much stress without constant crying, fighting, freak-outs, angry outbursts, anxiety and other assorted meltdowns.

However, there has been some fallout:

Weight Gain (his) and Stability (hers)

Choco-paleo? There have been WAY TOO MANY “treats” – from dark chocolate to extra cups of coffee to too many sweet potatoes.  My husband started regaining some weight.  Even though I’m breast feeding, I haven’t lost another pound since 3-wks postpartum. Though I was happy to lose all the preg weight (plus 3 bonus pounds), I was hoping to continue losing during the entire breastfeeding period.  

Excercise – Something had to give…this was it.  

So I’m hoping to add a few new commitments for the spring:

1) Drink lots more water

2) Only 1 c. coffee day (and one c. black tea for ‘weaning’ purposes)

3) Walk lots everyday with baby

4) Add back some “body weight” resistance work (planks, push ups, squats, sit ups) for now.

5) Keeps carbs between 50-75g.  No more “junk”or side treats of wither the paleo pr non-paleo kind.

I will update here in one month!

Paleo/Primal Pregnancy Wrap Up

Paleo/Primal Pregnancy Wrap Up

Well, Jack William is now 5 weeks old and his momma (yours truly) actually has 15 minutes to give a full account.

First off, I’d like to acknowledge that my pregnancy diet was not the strictest version of paleo. I ate nightshades, dairy (mostly organic/grass-fed and often raw heavy cream, cheese, yogurt and a little milk) and drank coffee. I tried to keep it low-moderate carb, since sugar is the devil. And I occasionally went totally off the wagon. When I had morning sickness and all I could stomach was white rice, I ate white rice. When it was my birthday, I had ice cream. Etc. I’d guess I was 90% primal/paleo. I also broke a lot of the conventional “rules” : I ate Sushi, raw cheese and pate. I just always made sure they were of the highest and freshest quality. I took Cod Liver Oil every day, balanced A and D, magnesium and a “raw” prenatal vitamin.

Conception: After one easy conception and almost immediate miscarriage in April 2010 (when I had become gluten/say-free and we had gotten into ‘Real Food,’ but ours was not a paleo household yet), it took my husband (45) and I (37) another 8 months to conceive. It could be a coincidence, but we hit the jackpot within a month of my adoption of the paleo diet.

Early pregnancy: I had some strong food aversions and a little nausea. I think I threw up once. I had to dial back workouts and I ate a less than ideally-primal diet on bad days. Otherwise, I felt fine.

Middle pregnancy: This was golden! No problems or “symptoms” at all.

Late pregnancy: Here is where I became convinced of the power of paleo pregnancy.

I had absolutely NONE of the following:
hemerroids (sp?) , edema, bloating, gas, constipation, stretch marks, spider veins, freaky cravings, back pain, headaches, swollen/bleeding gums, varicose veins, nasal congestion or shortness of breath

There were a few mild changes, such as breast swelling (mild), increased urination at the very end, very occasional heartburn and leg cramps (to cure these, I included magnesium as a supplement).

I slept like a champ throughout and my skin/hair was in the best shape ever.

In total I gained 26 pounds and it was “all belly.”

Childbirth: We planned on an unmedicated, home waterbirth with a midwife. The experience was incredible (and the pain so doable – especially with the tub and relaxed home environment). We went for 27 hours of labor (12 at full dilation – ouch) before realizing that Jack’s head was never going to fit. Then I had a C-section and got stuck in a hospital (gross – not a fan) for 3 days and loaded up with drugs. However, at least I never had to worry that the procedure was a result of a “cascade of interventions” – this was in the small percentile of unavoidable C-sections (and thank god they exist for times like this)!

Baby: I know I’m his mom, and biased, but Jack is incredible. He is a big solid kid. When he came out at 9.5 lbs., all I thought was “thank god I wasn’t eating sugar or he’d be a MONSTER.” He was not at all “chubby” – he is super lean, long and muscular. He held his head up right away. No problems. He eats like a champ – all breast milk, of course – and sleeps like one too: he only wakes us up once a night! In fact, last night he slept 7 hours in a row ☺

Body: I was back to pre-pregnancy weight in 2.5 weeks. At 3 weeks, I was 3 lbs under. I recovered from the C-section fast and at 5 weeks, I have packed up all pregnancy clothes and look better than before. I have a little belly pouch, but the skin is almost back to its old elasticity and it hardly shows under any clothes. And I have 32F breasts, which are a kind of camouflage/distraction anyway! I still have 15 lbs I want to lose (weight I gained a few years back when I was simultaneously under intense stress and experimenting with veganism), but I’m sure paleo will knock that off in no time!

So, there it is! What are your stories?

This week in food

Its been SUPER HOT this week (here in NY and in many parts of the US), so – other than breakfast – we’ve been eating cold or grilling!

In heavy rotation this week

Breakfast every day:

Raw milk and pastured eggs (delivered by and pastured pork bacon (

Lunch – garden-sourced salads (lettuce is over for awhile, so we’re using lots of swiss chard and collard green as a base) or roll ups (in collard green leaves) with meat, raw cheese, homemade lacto-fermented pickles, avocado etc.

We love this recipe – its been a 2x week hit.

Other meals: muscles in tomato/wine/basil over zucchini “pasta”, hamburgers… nothing too fancy

25 Weeks – Update

Hello Campers!

Its summer here on lovely Long Island – a true double pleasure for this sun-sea-heat-loving cavegirl because a) the weather is perfect (at least for always 96 degree me, with respect to all normally-thermo-regulated Northeasterners for whom the the 90-100 degree crazy going on right now is not ‘perfect’) and b) I’m not teaching over the summer – so, while I’m not “off work” (I’m writing 1-2 long scholarly articles on Victorian science fiction), this work is significantly more pleasant and requires no commute. In fact, for most of June it meant sitting on the beach reading trashy 1890s novels about mesmerism, vampires and Bacchanalia. #winning.

Painting by Lizzie McCormick 2010

So – Paleo/Primal pregnancy progresses superlatively well. Of course, I offer the same caveat as always: I am a fellow explorer and not a perfect role model or expert. Here’s a quick run down.

I feel amazing! I’ve gained 15 pounds – all womb – and have (so far) been spared every complication for months. In fact – if you read my older post – I suspect my first trimester nausea and exhaustion was made so much worse by “self-soothing” with crap food. Worst offending substances: Gluten, sugar, vegetable oil, “gluten-free” items and rice.

Here’s a short list of things I have avoided that my other pregnant friends seem to be overwhelmed by – many that I even suffered from in pre-paleo/ pre-pregnant life. It might be luck, but I wager cavegirl living isn’t hurting: Swelling/Fluid retention (and I live on real salt); Acne; Stretch marks; sunburns/sun sensitivity; round ligament pain; any digestion or elimination issues (like constipation); mood swings and anxiety.

There’s so much I’d like to write about, but I can’t today. The list includes smart supplementation; our daily diets/recipes/food sourcing; links about vegetable oil; dairy and calcium dilemmas; homebirth preparation and prenatal exercise. Oh well, more posts to come I guess. For now, I’ll channel Keith Olbermann and give a rant about the “worst substance in the world”

Sugar is the devil. With baby showers and other well-meaning sugar pushers at every bend (“spoil yourself – you’re pregnant!”) its important to keep this critical fact in mind. It is not a benign ‘guilty pleasure’ but a seriously damaging one.

One of the reasons why people seem to do so well on Paleo, in my humble opinion, is that they cut down significantly on total carbohydrate intake. Sugar, like grain, is outrageously inflammatory and encourages all kinds of terrible in our bodies (not only insulin resistance, diabetes and weight gain, but also heart disease, dementia, cancer and inflammation issues like asthma). It also blocks endocrine system messaging (i.e. jams up hormone receptors) interfering with all reproductive functions from conception through breastfeeding.

We have a 0% sugar policy in our house and both feel amazing. If I violate it, as I did for my birthday last night (see also: not a role model) – I feel it immediately – my ankle tendons swell up painfully, I begin to wheeze and I’m exhausted. If you have carpo tunnel or arthritis – cut it out for a week and see what happens 🙂

Don’t take my word for it:

Gary Taubes wrote a major piece for the NYT Magazine on the topic that is required reading if you ask me.

Mark at Mark’s Daily Apple, as always, has also tackled this topic and has the links to back it up.

Nora Gedgaudas has a great book (new edition out: Primal Body, Primal Mind) that clearly and convincingly addresses all health issues related to sugar. The author’s professional work as both a nutritionist and Clinical Neurofeedback Specialist adds a great mental health element to the mix. Cheap option: Her excellent podcast (in iTunes) is free and really well done.

Dr. Cate Shanahan is a genius. If you haven’t read Deep Nutrition – which has the best chapter on sugar anywhere – buy it ASAP for 10 bucks on your kindle and read it carefully (other chapters will be referenced later, too). My husband and I have run through at least 5 copies, because we end up giving it away to doctors, relatives and friends. Tons of info on the effect of mother’s diet on baby!!! She has a great blog too 🙂

Yabba Dabba, cavemommies!

Is Blogging Paleo?

Because I have really enjoyed hanging out in the sun this summer instead of writing….try to post something soon. xox

Prodigal Paleo

Hello everyone,

I’m back!!!!!!!!! But I was humbled by the first trimester of pregnancy. My best laid plans for a perfect paleo diet and hardcore exercise program were no match for the twin furies of the first trimester: nausea and exhaustion.

Confession #1 – I fell off the Paleo wagon by week 7 or 8!!! Suddenly many of my staple primal foods seemed disgusting to me – particularly cod liver oil!!! And the carbs I’d sworn off almost a year before seemed so perfectly wonderful in my queasy fantasy life. So my slide into craptopia started with “a little” this or that starchy/carby/shitty white foods to get through nausea (gluten-free crackers or white rice) and then I became comfortable eating crappy foods (especially on the run at work). And everyone who was paleo-negative loved plying (willing) me with the foods I’d usually refused. I still ate maybe 75% Paleo, but man that carb/sugar-treadmill (hungry all the time for JUNK) kicked in from the 25 %. I started re-developing the kinds of crummy health symptoms that had originally pushed me in the paleo direction.

Take away lesson for me: Prepare for it. If there were going to be a next First Trimester (which I doubt), I’d let myself eat more sweet potatoes and fruit, but stay far far away from non-paleo shit food. I really think the intensity of my cravings and nausea would have been avoided had I been more vigilant about which foods I re-introduced back into my diet.

But I’m back on the good foot for two weeks – back to fantastic health and feeling groovy!!!

Confession #2 P90X was not sustainable for me – After 10-12 hours out of the house at work (and commuting), I was too tired to move when I got home. My exercise regime went from pretty serious one (weights, intervals) to a far more mellow version (long walks, a little yoga) and become less frequent (from 6x week to 2x). Short of quitting my job to salvage time and energy to work out, this was really an unavoidable compromise for me.

However, now that I have more energy again (if not time), I’ve been upping the ante with intense hiking (up to 120-140 bpm) and 90 minute yoga sessions. I can’t believe how much weaker/stiffer/huffier I am, but I know I’ll be back in fighting shape asap 🙂

Other cool things

I’ve been reading a lot of great blogs and books to get motivated to switch back to Paleo like The Paleo Baby and The Primal Parent

Talk soon.

Ducky Breakfast!

Since I made duck a few days ago, I was able to make an awesome breakfast – Easy, nutritious and so yummy!

2 pasture-raised eggs (today: over-easy in duck fat)
slices of onion, tomato, cucumber
1 oz smoked wild salmon
a smidge of raw Point Reyes blue cheese
A smidge of duck pate (fried duck liver blended with salt, pepper, spices, grassfed butter and cream)

Holy Moly – Baby’s Eating well 🙂

Preggo Presses Play!

I missed a few P90X workouts last week. Understandable, sure. Finding out you’re pregnant and worrying about how to exercise can knock a few days out of wack. I substituted a few workouts with long walks, but those were half-measures compared to what I’ve been doing.

There were reasons (there always are): Some of it was exhaustion, some of it was unavoidable family crisis (my husbands grandfather is in the hospital). Mostly, though, I’ve been “excusing” myself.

What I don’t want to do, though, is to lose the momentum I’ve built over weeks of serious commitment. The bottom line is that I feel great and, other than the 140bpm heart rate, have no limits. In a few months, it will be another story, but for now…its time to BRING IT 🙂 So – I’ll do the hard 90 minute ashtanga-like Yoga X today, then get back on track for week 6 tomorrow.

As my helmet-haired and fearless p90x leader, Tony Horton, would advise, I must KEEP PRESSING PLAY!!!

Vegetable Oils – Be Very Afraid!!!

Want to avoid inflammation and disease? Of course!

Stay away from vegetable oils!!!! They are high in the Omega-6s we don’t need and they do nothing for us (except help us develop degenerative diseases, clogged arteries etc.)
The ones that are really problematic are recent oils (<100 years) like corn, soy, etc. In question: canola and sesame. Great oils for salads: Extra Virgin first cold pressed olive oil, walnut oil. For everything else, including cooking: coconut oil, grassfed organic butter, lard etc. You will feel like a million bucks (and NO you wont die of a heart attack 🙂

Here's a clip from the excellent excellent book Deep Nutrition by Cate Shanahan.