The theory behind the Paleo diet is one of substance. Essentially, our modern diets in all of their full fat, high carb, and processed glory are the culprits behind many common ailments and disease that run rampant today (Robb Wolf, 2014). I’m not denying that the validity of it stands true, while following the Paleo diet I felt my best, however, baby changed everything for me.
My Version of Paleo
I followed the Paleo diet for the most part. Dairy was tough for me. According to the diet plan, cow’s milk was not a natural form of nourishment for humans; therefore it would adversely affect overall health (Health with Real Food, 2012). Most forms of modern dairy include added hormones, caseins, and are highly processed resulting in a product that is not easily digested by humans (Health with Real Food, 2012). I tried the method of eliminating dairy for at least a month, but slowly it crept back in with organic milk, greek yogurt, and even the occasional scoop of ice cream. Even with the dairy, I still felt that my nutritional plan was beneficial for me. I felt strong, healthy, and energized.
Then Comes Baby
When my second son was born I was fortunate enough to produce breast milk even without him latching. I was pumping exclusively and feeding by bottle. In essence, my house was a round-the-clock baby feeding machine. I was exhausted but it was what was best for baby and I knew that it was only for the first year, so I trudged forward. Paleo is entirely doable while breastfeeding. Its nature, in fact, provides the perfect nutritional foundation to keep babies healthy and growing (The Paleo MaMa, 2014). However, for me, I was constantly lacking in calories and energy with pumping every 2-3 hours and feeding in between. It takes approximately 26 calories to create and excrete 1 ounce of breast milk, and that doesn’t include any calories involved with pumping mechanically (PhD in Parenting, 2014). At my peak, I was making 52 ounces of breast milk a day. That’s a whopping 1,352 calories a day being used at minimum and Paleo just did not suffice for me.
The End of Paleo
I needed to bulk my diet to keep up with my caloric demand. The best way to do this was by adding carbohydrates to help make more energy for my body. I started to incorporate whole grains, starches, and various beans. All of these were big no-no’s for the Paleo diet. Before I knew it, the Paleo diet was a distant memory replaced by rice, bran, and black beans (Robb Wolf, 2014).
I still feel healthy and my milk supply didn’t suffer. I was able to maintain enough energy to pump and still do everything else that needs to be done in a day. I think for some breast feeding mothers, especially those with babies that latch, the Paleo diet is perfectly safe and healthy. For me, it just wasn’t working. I think I’ve found a good balance between the Paleo diet and an overall healthy eating approach that I can feel good about. Adding grains, smart carbohydrates, and legumes has given me the energy that I need to provide for my child but still maintain a healthy nutritional foundation.
Wolf, Robb. “The Paleo Diet – Robb Wolf on Paleolithic Nutrition, Intermittent Fasting, and Fitness.” The Paleo Diet Robb Wolf on Paleolithic Nutrition Intermittent Fasting and Fitness RSS. Media Temple, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 05 Apr. 2014.
Guzzman, Michelle. “The Paleo Mama.” The Paleo Mama. N.p., 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 07 Apr. 2014.
Jacob, Agelee. “No Dairy on the Paleo Diet?” The Paleo Diet and Dairy Products. SBI!, 1 Jan. 2012. Web. 07 Apr. 2014.
NA, Annie. “The Calories and Breastfeeding rollercoaster – PhD in Parenting – PhD in Parenting.” The Calories and Breastfeeding rollercoaster – PhD in Parenting – PhD in Parenting. SquareSpace, 25 Nov. 2008. Web. 07 Apr. 2014.