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Friday, September 24, 2021

Paleo with a Purpose: You are your own diet experiment

With all the trending “diets” out there, do you have the same opinion as I once did?

“These people are nuts! One day everyone is on the gluten-free bandwagon, the next day it’s dairy-free. Make up your mind people. But why are they doing this? Don’t they love Girl Scout cookies? Or do they know something I don’t?”

A year ago, I was right there with you.

Let me begin by introducing myself. My name is Demsina Babazadeh. I am a third year, nutrition science, pre-med student who has surrendered to one of those trending “diets” by using my body as my own experiment.

The story goes like this: a little over a year ago, I decided a drastic change was needed to get my health back on track. I have lost over 50 pounds in the last year and can honestly say a complete overhaul was necessary to correct 20 years of bad eating habits. However, it wasn’t and still isn’t about the pounds or dress sizes. It’s about getting healthy, which means eating nutrient-dense food so your body can successfully carry out day-to-day functions.

I began by cutting things out of my diet. First things to go: grains, in all their gluten-y glory — white, wheat, sourdough, rye, “gluten-free” etc. Next off were legumes, which means no beans. I know what everyone’s thinking: “Beans have fiber and fiber is good for you!” Yes, you are correct. But so do vegetables — some even have more than that can of refried beans. Dairy was the last one I was willing to part with. I was holding on to my cheeses for dear life. Bye-bye delicious artisan gouda from Whole Foods.

In case this wasn’t blatantly stated earlier, I eat zero processed foods: ramen, mac n’ cheese, Oreos etc.

So what do I eat? Fresh vegetables are the focal point in all my meals, even breakfast. However, this category does exclude starches such as white and red potatoes. When my wallet permits, I usually try to eat wild, not-farmed protein with every meal. Occasionally, I indulge in fruits, seeds, nuts and their respective butters (homemade of course!). This, ladies and gentlemen, is what I call Paleo.

My fellow food enthusiasts! Follow me as I walk you through the Paleo lifestyle. We will cook favorites such as chocolate chip cookie dough, granola and chips while still giving your body the nutrients it is craving. I’m not suggesting anyone experiment with one of those crash diets where you eat only 200 calories a day — no need to experiment as that is not healthy and will not work or last. Paleo is different. You eat wholesome, delicious and fresh food, and that’s an experiment I’m willing to take part in. You only have one body in this life — what will you feed it?

DEMSINA BABAZADEH invites you to send your favorite recipes to undergo the Paleo treatment to dbabazadeh@ucdavis.edu

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