Here are some things I've learned/realized this semester:
1. Many non-Paleo/Primal people are going to think you're insane or just plain weird for avoiding grains, legumes, sugar, processed food, [dairy], etc., and will probably make obnoxious comments to you. However, people can also be super understanding and accommodating.
Most new people I meet think I'm out of my mind when I turn down desserts, pizza, or rice with my Indian food. I've heard comments like, "Wow, I could never do that! That must be so hard/boring!" and "No bread?? How can you not eat bread??" and "Oh, come on, just have a bite!" I don't make comments about other people's food choices, so why should they question mine? However, my friends are absolutely fantastic-- if we go out to eat, they'll make sure I can eat something on the menu, and my roommates will make sure not to use non-Paleo ingredients if we're cooking in our room. My GA (like an RA, but a grad student) has also been great-- when he realized I don't eat grains, gluten, or anything processed, he started bringing fruit to floor events so I can eat something too! So for every obnoxious person, there's an equally wonderful and supportive person!
2. The Paleo/Primal community is awesome... and members actually exist in real life!
As I mentioned a few months ago, I had the amazing opportunity of attending a Paleo nutrition seminar with Diane from Balanced Bites (where I met Kristin from FastPaleo and Stacy from Paleo Parents as well!). It was my first time meeting people who also follow this lifestyle, and it was such an incredible experience to bond with others that share my interest in evolutionary nutrition. Paleo/Primal people do, in fact, exist outside of the internet, and I look forward to meeting many more of you!
3. It has been a Paleo/Primal/evolutionary nutrition-literature-filled semester!
In the last few months, many books and cookbooks have been released that are relevant to this lifestyle. Here's a list, and I highly recommend checking them all out!
4. Being Paleo/Primal boosts the immune system and helps you stay healthy (when everyone else around you is sick).
Thanks to this lifestyle, I have an immune system of steel. When it seemed like everyone around me was sick, I remained healthy! Yes, it's cold and flu season, but eating and sleeping well will keep sickness away due to a strengthened immune system. Staying healthy has also allowed me to be more productive in my studies-- my work never suffered from feeling sick, and I never had to miss class or rehearsal due to sickness either. Eat well, sleep well, stay well!
5. Paleo has helped me stay focused.
Because my blood sugar stays relatively stable due to evolutionary nutrition, I never get "food comas" or become ravenously hungry just a few hours after eating due to sugar spikes/crashes. Thus my studies were never interrupted due to a need for a post-lunch nap or snacking throughout the day/night-- I was able to stay focused on work or studying without making those mid-afternoon junk food runs or the midnight trips to Wawa.
6. Paleo has helped me manage stress.
Penn was recently named the #4 Most Stressful College, but there has never been a point during this semester (or any semester since going Paleo, for that matter) when I felt completely stressed out or overwhelmed. There were certainly plenty of times when I thought the amount of work was going to make me go insane, but I found myself pretty calm about everything. This lifestyle has helped me manage stress better, since my mind and body are working together thanks to proper nutrition and sleep. Those ginormous term papers and scary finals really don't stress me out anymore, whereas my first semester of college (which was pre-Paleo) had me stressing out about every little assignment or exam.
7. Churrascarias = Paleo/Primal heaven.
I had my first experience at a churrascaria this past Friday, when I went to the Fogo de Chao here in Philly. A churrascaria is a Brazilian steakhouse in which so many different types of meat are brought to your table and cut up right there-- you control the amount of meat you eat during your meal due to a nifty little red and green card that signifies when you want the meat to start or stop coming. Fogo de Chao also had the greatest salad bar I've ever seen (and this is apparently quite common of churrascarias)... so coupled with the unlimited meat, it's Paleo/Primal heaven.
I've had such a great semester at Penn, and I look forward to sharing my Paleo/Primal experiences while studying abroad at the University of Edinburgh next semester!
Quote of the Day:
"It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver." -Gandhi