My name is Savanna Stanhope and I am a food blogger and passionate nutrition nerd. Formerly this blog went by the name of "The MicroVore Diet," but earlier this year I decided to focus on creating recipes in line with the Paleo diet because I discovered how amazing this diet is for my digestive health issues! And thus I have changed the name of this blog to "My Paleo Plate".
Since early childhood I have dealt with a wide array of digestive issues that compromised my health and weighed heavily on my happiness. I could not seem to digest food normally like everyone else could! After several endoscopies, colonoscopies, and even a camera pill I had to swallow (so much fun…) my gastroenterologist still did not know what was causing my digestive issues. I was given the diagnosis of “Irritable Bowel Syndrome."
During this time of terrible IBS symptoms I also was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Celiac is an autoimmune disease that causes my immune cells to attack my small intestine when I am exposed to gluten, a protein in wheat, barley, and rye. My body sees these proteins and thinks they’re foreign invaders. They wage war and PEW! PEW! PEW! -- my small intestine gets caught in the crossfire. Since the small intestine is responsible for breaking down food molecules and absorbing them into the bloodstream, this damage can be devastating. At age 18 I was at the peak of my mysterious digestive illness and weighed a measly 90 pounds at my high school graduation.
Desperate for answers, I stumbled across a vegan diet online and spent 5 years trying that with some success. Heck, I even started a YouTube channel and wanted to become a plant-based nutritionist! Although some of my symptoms became more manageable, I still dealt with daily stomach aches, bloating, and constipation. I was eating enormous amounts of grains, beans, and fiber-rich vegetables believing that these foods were healthy for my gut. Yet I was beginning to dread eating. Bloating and a sensation of glass in my stomach would follow every meal. This is when I began to question what was really causing these symptoms. I didn’t want to believe that my vegan diet was making my illness worse, but after 5 years, I was ready to try something completely different in hopes that I would get better. I had been aware of the so-called “Paleo diet” for some time, but it still took a lot of courage to even consider eating meat, fish, and eggs again. Many vegans will argue that animal foods are the worst possible thing you can put in your body. How could they possibly heal digestive issues?
Origins of the Paleo Diet
The idea of a Paleolithic diet can be traced back to 1975 when gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin proposed that returning to the diet of our ancestors could sharply reduce incidences of digestive illness, autoimmune disease, diabetes, obesity, among other ailments. His ideas were expanded upon by Stanley Boyd Eaton and Melvin Konner, and popularized by Loren Cordain’s book “The Paleo Diet.” The rationale behind the Paleo diet is scientifically strong. Research of our DNA has shown that the human genome has changed very little in the 2.6 million years humans have been living on earth. Most modern diseases like cancer, obesity, diabetes and heart disease have emerged while we have experienced a huge change in our diet.
Before 10 thousand years ago, humans ate little to no grains, beans, milk, processed sugar or salt. They did not drink milk because it was impossible to milk wild animals! There was no refined sugar in nature, except possibly honey when it could be found. Wild animals and seafood were the main source of protein and fat. Carbohydrates came from fruits and root vegetables. The modern diet is completely different from what humans evolved on for the overwhelming amount of our time on this planet. I had been avoiding gluten for years after my Celiac disease diagnosis, but I started to learn that other modern foods like grains, beans, and dairy can also cause gut issues, autoimmune
responses, and a wide array of health problems.
With these facts in mind, I did the only thing I could do to see if the Paleo diet really worked. I tried it! I started with scrambled eggs for breakfast one morning, a food I had not eaten in years. To my surprise, I didn’t experience any stomach pain after this meal. In fact, I felt extremely satiated and calm, a feeling that was missing for 5 years on a plant-based diet. Feeling hopeful, I went to the grocery store later that morning and bought wild caught salmon and ate that for lunch with some salad. I had a very similar experience of fullness without bloating. For dinner I made my husband and I zucchini noodles with ground beef. Once again I felt amazing after the meal, rather than tired and bloated after a big meal based around beans or grains. And just like that, I had finished a whole day of paleo eating, without a single stomach ache!
I wish I could say that this positive experience made me jump right into the paleo diet without hesitation. But unfortunately veganism still had a tight hold on my mindset and I wasn’t ready to leave it behind just yet. I spent the next year flip flopping between a vegan diet for as long as I could stand the digestive issues, and then escaping to paleo foods for relief of them for a few weeks at a time. What can I say? I wanted a vegan diet to work because at the time it felt more ethical. But I was sacrificing my health in doing so and lying to myself about how I truly felt. Whenever I avoided grains, beans, soy, and dairy, I felt so much better! I could go to the bathroom normally, and wasn’t stricken with constant stomach pain. It took a whole year to finally reach the point of not wanting to consume those foods anymore, and to start eating animal foods on a regular basis. Meat, fish, and eggs were also doing wonders for more than my digestive issues. My acneridden and chronically dry skin began to change rapidly. It glowed with health and stayed moisturized for longer. My energy levels were more stable, and I no longer felt like I was riding a blood-sugar rollercoaster. I “came out” as an ex-vegan on my YouTube channel. I tried my best to handle the hate and was grateful for others who understood my struggles
I Was Finally Ready To Try Something Different
The Gut Is The Gateway To A Healthy Body
It turns out many people now following the paleo diet, had also tried a vegan diet at some point and experienced a lot of health issues. For most people, consuming an ancestral diet and cutting out modern processed foods was the only solution. I do still believe that some people can do well on a plant-based diet with diligent supplementation. But for many people, even “healthy” whole grains, beans, and dairy can trigger immune responses and lead to leaky gut. Leaky gut results from eating foods that cause damage to the gut lining. This allows harmful molecules into the bloodstream that cause inflammation. Inflammation is a major contributor to all types of disease. This is why I strongly believe that the advice and foods discussed in this meal plan can do more than just fix digestive issues. Taking care of our gut is the first line of defense against illness of all kind. What is good for the gut is good for whole body! I am a testimony to this fact as a paleo did so much more good than simply heal my digestion. I took a chance to try something radically different, and it transformed my gut, overall health, and ability to live life to the fullest! My hope is that what worked for me will also help others who struggle with similar symptoms. A paleo diet can help people reach an optimal body weight and feel real vibrant health. Not only can this dietary plan do wonders for IBS, leaky gut, and food sensitivities, but it also can benefit many other illnesses that have roots in the gut like autoimmune disease, acne, arthritis, and more.
I truly hope that you find the information and recipes on this blog to be helpful in your own health journey. If you have any questions or suggestions of meals I can create for you, please don't hesitate to reach out!