The Purge

A lot of people wonder about what they should do as the first step to adopting a paleo lifestyle. For us, it was plain and simple: get rid of anything and everything that we shouldn’t be eating. That doesn’t mean throw out the loaf of bread in the bread box, but keep that stash of Oreos in the back of the pantry. Honesty is the only thing that is going to make this change a success. If you have temptations close at hand, the chances of you indulging grow exponentially. Do yourself and those in need a favor: grab some boxes and donate it all.

When I began this task, I didn’t realize how eye-opening the undertaking would be in terms of our current eating habits. I thought I would throw out a few perishable items, box up some canned goods to take to the local food bank, and then I’d spend some time at Whole Foods restocking a few proteins and vegetables.

Instead, my refrigerator ended up looking like this:

Step One: get rid of anything that you shouldn't be eating. Easy? No. Necessary? Definitely.
Step One: get rid of anything that you shouldn’t be eating. Easy? No. Necessary? Definitely.

The only products in my fridge worth keeping were eggs, raw garlic, and a half-eaten bone that Molly (our little beagle) had devoured the night before. Were our eating habits really that bad? Coming to terms with the dangerous choices we continually made was difficult. It isn’t easy to admit that even though you know something is turning your intestines inside out, or adding fat to your waistline, or even increasing your already high risk of diabetes and heart disease, you decide to put it into your body anyway. What kind of rational, educated, well-meaning person does this? We did. We have done it our entire lives, under the guise that it wasn’t really that harmful, or that we’d start eating healthier tomorrow. Tomorrow never came, until that day.

The Purge wasn’t easy, but it was necessary. Our lack of self-control was part of the reason we are in our current state. When hunger strikes and you go to the pantry to grab a snack, it’s pretty difficult to put back a sleeve of Thin Mints if they aren’t there.

We did go to Whole Foods that day, and we did restock a few proteins and vegetables. But we also made sure that we had good snack choices (nuts, baby carrots, celery and almond butter, as well as a few others) available so that when the urge hit to inhale a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, there were better options available. It was empowering to stock our shelves with foods that I knew were starting us on the path to better health – I was taking the first step in truly taking care of my family. Would we miss pumpkin spice lattes? Yes. Would I crave the satisfaction that it seemed only Jif peanut butter could give? Of course. But at that moment, I knew that no corn syrup-filled, starch heavy, anti-nutrient food would beat the pure feeling of happiness in knowing that we were taking control of our future and making the right choices to ensure our success.