Sunday, July 8, 2012

Paleo Does Paris!




We got on the plane for Paris in the best weight since we had started the Paleo Diet, two years ago. I’ve lost now forty pounds. Adriana is fifteen pounds lighter than when we started. We are both very happy with our weight and we are not actively planning dramatically further weight loss. We are, of course, planning further progress at RedShed CrossFit, where we lift weights greater than we ever could have imagined two years ago.

Now, we had no intention of spending four days in Paris living strictly Paleo. But we’re pretty strict at home. In March, via a Paleo challenge at our Crossfit Box, we stopped eating any dairy products. Coming from Wisconsin, I never imagined I could give up milk and cheese, but I was amazed how little I missed them. The only thing we continue to consume that Paleo Purists would not allow is dry red wine, which is pretty low in carbs anyway.

So our plan in Paris was simple. We were going to indulge in carbs that we would never eat at home. But at the same time, we would load up on meat whenever possible to at least minimize how many carbs our stomachs might demand.

And so, after our arrival, we slept. Before the first day of exploration, we headed down to Le Petit Dejeuner, The Breakfast.

It’s so funny, when you’ve lived Paleo for two years you approach a bank of food with just a different set of eyes. Where other people see a pile of muffins, you see a horrid problem. And then, we saw it. Oh Glory! A platter of ham.

Now, I knew this was not the nitrate-free meats that we consume back in the States. But even so, this was better than eating a piece of bread.

And then we also spied hard boiled eggs. I’ve admitted that I wasn’t trying to stay strict. So I indulged in a single croissant, which I slathered with Nutella.

OMG!!!! It was helpful to me to remember just how seductive sugar can be. I enjoyed it, I’m not going to lie. But there’s no way I’m going back to the habits that made me fat.

Adriana was better than me. She had eaten several eggs and multiple slices of the ham, when she realized there were only two pieces left on the platter.

“Will you eat more ham?” she asks.

“Absolutely,” I answer.

And then we entered upon a cultural divide. We Americans, we Paleo-Americans, approached the wait staff to inform them that we wanted more ham. Now, we had the best of intentions. But here’s what happened next.

The attendant walked to the platter and then looked at us as if we were insane. “There’s still ham here!” she says bewildered.

What she had not understood is that we are Paleo-Americans. Yes, there’s still ham there. But not for long, Madame. What we were trying to prevent is exactly what happened next.

We took the last two pieces of ham. If there had been five pieces, we would have taken them all. So there’s now officially no ham on the platter. A new family comes down to Le Petit Dejeuner. They took what was available. They took no ham because, well, there was none on the platter. They looked at the empty platter. I saw them do it. They had eaten muffins and left when the attendants saw the empty ham platter and repopulated it. We loaded up for some more.

We headed into our day of exploration. I’m not going to lie. They’re not called French Fries for nothing. The French created Pomme Frites. I’ve eaten them in America, Egypt, Romania, Qatar, Turkey, the Czech Republic, Canada, even Iraq, and finally now France. It matters not, they’re simply awesome. And I know they are a big part of what once made me fat. So I eat them with fear and trembling. But I wasn’t going to leave France without eating them.

Now, at our second Petit Dejeuner, we also faced another cultural divide. Our first morning, we had arrived and an attendant asked us if we wanted coffee or tea. We asked for coffee and she brought it to us in a metal beaker.


This second morning, upon entering the room, no attendant was there. Now, Americans didn’t invent coffee. But I think we did invent the coffee addiction. I see several families sitting there, no coffee or tea on their tables because, well, the attendant was not there.

Well, sorry, I am simply not able to sit down in the morning and merely hope for coffee. I need my f*&^%ng coffee.

I went into the attendants’ area and saw the metal beakers. I took one and filled it from one of the full pots of coffee sitting right there.

As I sat down and poured myself and my wife a coffee, they all looked at me as if I had killed a man. Sorry, folks.  Several minutes later, as they all looked longingly upon my coffee, an attendant appeared and met their needs.

Now, if you thought this was going to be a post about how I carefully tried to negotiate my way through two more days in France while trying to stay Paleo, I am sorry to disappoint you. Far from attempting a Paleo Lifestyle, we utterly abandoned that diet. The following morning I had two croissants with Nutella. I ordered food off menus that I have not eaten for months or even now years.

But if you are Paleo you also know that all you have to do after such indulgences is just to get back on track. We’re in Romania now for two months. Tomorrow we go to the big market. We shop like typical Crossfitters/Paleo Enthusiasts. We go to the Produce Section. We go to the Meat Market. We check out. We’ll be back at our fighting weight soon, my friends…

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