I just did something that I never thought I would do—and something that my 20-year vegetarian self would have literally shuddered at. I had chicken liver paté for lunch—paté that I actually bought to eat at home.
Now a lot of people would not think this is a big deal. Lots of people love chicken livers. But although I’ve had them occasionally out at restaurants I’ve always been a bit squeamish about any sort of offal. As far as I’m concerned the mere thought of offal is, well, awful (something I think I’ve documented elsewhere on this blog). As someone who was a vegetarian for five years and who still does not eat a lot of meat and is grossed out by anything on a bone, liver has never been something I’m that keen on.
So why is someone like me buying chicken liver paté anyway?
Well, because I’m going paleo.
Never in a million years would I have thought I would be trying a paleo diet—which is appropriate number considering it’s basically a caveman diet, harkening back a couple million years ago. Nor did I think trying something like that would be an impetus for revisiting this poor blog, which has been lying dormant for the better part of a year, but here I am frosting pieces of baguette with liver for lunch and starting to eat like a caveman, or cavewoman as the case may be.
And why is someone who made a pilgrimage to Portland’s Voodoo Doughnut last year and who loves carbs in any form going paleo? So I can live longer.
In actuality, I’ll be doing an autoimmune paleo diet for at least a couple months—this is basically an elimination diet meant to help people with autoimmune disorders heal their leaky guts and manage their health. After I’ve been on it for a while, I’ll (hopefully) re-introduce things like cheese, wine and chocolate. And coffee. I’ll also figure out what foods I may be allergic too. (Like offal…)
Three years ago I was diagnosed with a mild rheumatoid disorder, something that runs in my family. One of the side effects of the disorder is acid reflux, something I’ve tried to manage myself because I feel like I’m too young to be taking Proton Pump Inhibitors for the rest of my life. Of course managing acid is not easy when some of your favorites food all happen to be highly acidic. Tomatoes. Lemons. Coffee. Wine. Chocolate. (You may sense a theme for my three favorite things…)
But even though I’ve been avoiding tomatoes and citrus and I’ve cut coffee down to 2-3 times a week, my gut just is not very happy overall. So it’s time to see if I can heal it. And since there’s increasing evidence that our guts rule our immune systems, that leaky gut leads to autoimmunity and that diets consisting of meat and vegetables can heal unhealthy guts, I’m down to try it.
As a food lover, I’d frankly much rather heal myself with good food than bet my life on the pharmaceutical industry. I watched my mother’s health decline steadily as she battled diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis and took about 15 pills a day to “manage” her health. Who knows what all those drug interactions were doing inside of her? I know I saw a distinct decline in her hearing after she started blood pressure meds. As she took more pills, I also felt her memory was less sharp—she could no longer remember details from our childhoods that she’d always told us about. And the NSAIDs and steroids she took made it difficult for her body to heal after what should have been a routine hysterectomy; the complications from that led to her death three years ago. Her doctors said her insides were literally brittle from the steroids she took.
Ostensibly I should have a lot of years left, but you never know. I’m middle aged but I’m starting to see friends diagnosed will illnesses, and I’ve already lost one parent and many of my aunts and uncles. This year alone we’ve lost many icons from my teen and college years, artists and performers, some of whom were not many years older than me that seem to have passed far too soon. David Bowie. Glenn Frey. Alan Rickman. Maurice White. And the one that’s really hit me last week—Prince, who has always been one of my all-time favorite musicians.
Not that I want to head too far down the maudlin path here, but seeing these things—and middle-age itself—can be a bit of a wake-up call. It’s a good time to re-evaluate and figure out what you want the rest of your life to be—because you’re finally old enough to realize that you have more control over that than you’ve probably been taught to believe. I’ve already made a career change and stopped doing jobs I hate. And although I don’t feel like I’m that unhealthy, I don’t want to take any chances of declining further.
So as weird as it will be for me to be putting more meat into my system than has passed my lips for the past 30 years, autoimmune paleo it will be! At least until I can figure out what foods I may have sensitivities or allergies to or that rev up my acid.
But as mentioned before, it’s also a chance to revive this fledgling blog! Since I won’t be able to eat out, I’ll be doing a lot more cooking. Since I’m going to have to eat meat and veggies morning, noon and night, I’ll have to come up with some recipes. I’ve already gotten some inspiration from some other sites and blogs, but as I usually do anyway, I’ll probably make up a lot of stuff myself, stuff that I can share here. I’ve already made my own breakfast sausage (another thing I never thought I’d do!), and I cooked steak for the first time in my life last week. I’ve also been prepping for this for a couple of weeks buying all sorts of new things at the store, like coconut milk and coconut oil and ghee and chicken liver paté, etc., since I will not be able to have sugar, gluten, grains, etc. I finished off the last egg in my house this morning, and I’m almost out of yogurt, cheese and gluten. The weaning is almost over, and the girl’s (almost) gone paleo.
And if, as The New York Times reported today, one of my favorite poets, Walt Whitman went paleo in the 1800s to fight “the great American evil—indigestion,” then so can I. How’s that for an endorsement? Thanks, Oh, Captain, my Captain! Maybe this paleo thing will restore my gut so I’ll be singing the body electric in no time!
More in the coming weeks—including some of my kitchen experiments!