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Girl Smarts 'My husband and I went paleo — And we've never slept better'

But in December 2015, Mike was diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus, a disorder in which the tissue in the esophagus is replaced by tissue similar to the intestinal lining.

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'My husband and I went paleo—and we've never slept better' play

'My husband and I went paleo—and we've never slept better'

(COURTESY OF JULIE FOX)

I've always been a woman-on-the-go. In between my work as a speech pathologist, I loved Pilates, running, and golfing with my husband, Mike. 

But in December 2015, Mike was diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus, a disorder in which the tissue in the esophagus is replaced by tissue similar to the intestinal lining.

This gave Mike frequent acid reflux and other problems with his esophagus that sometimes made it hard to swallow. Scariest of all: the disease is linked to an increased risk of developing esophageal cancer.

Mike’s doctor wanted to prescribe medicine that he would take daily for the rest of his life. But the side effects-like weakened bones and a compromised immune system-made both of us hesitant. Mike was only 38, which is fairly young to be diagnosed. There had to be another way to stop his condition from progressing to cancer, and we were determined to find it.

'We've always been a team-so we went paleo together.'

 

When he got home from the doctor’s office, we sat on the couch, each of us researching Barrett’s esophagus and options for treating it. The same remedy kept popping up in articles we read: the paleo diet.

There’s a reason the paleo diet is popular, especially for people with esophageal conditions. It’s widely believed that a diet low in carbohydrates and refined sugar can help stomach acid production become more efficient. Small studies have shown that low-carb diets can be successful for improving symptoms of conditions like Mike’s (such as GERD).

We'd always eaten what we considered to be a "healthy" diet of lean protein, grains, and fruits and veggies. But we decided to give the diet a try together.

It wasn’t my nature to say “good luck” and continue my normal diet while he made these big changes alone. If Mike was going paleo, so was I.

'We embraced the diet cold turkey.'

We cut out grains, refined sugar, dairy, legumes, potatoes, salt, and processed foods from our diets. We bagged up the cereal and protein bars we used to love and gave them away. The next day, we went to the grocery store and filled our cart with paleo-friendly foods (grass-fed meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds, and oils).

 

And surprisingly, we’ve found that the day-to-day paleo diet is so much easier than we thought it would be. Here's what I generally eat in a day:

  • For breakfast, I eat a dairy-free coconut yogurt with fruit and paleo granola.

  • For lunch and dinner, I love to make roasted vegetables, cauliflower rice with sautéed mushrooms, or fish tacos on lettuce wraps with pineapple salsa.

We still go to restaurants, but we often order off the menu and ask for grilled fish or steak with steamed vegetables. There’s almost always a way to order a paleo meal. All you have to do is ask.

Of course, I think it’s been much easier to stick with our paleo diet because we’re doing it together. I never cheat, even just for a quick snack, because I know that this diet is the best both for improving Mike’s condition and giving my own body what it needs.

'This is so good-you should sell it!'

The weekend after we started the diet, I decided to make something sweet for us. Just because we cut out refined sugar doesn't mean we couldn't have dessert, right? I looked at the paleo ingredients in our pantry and fridge, on a mission to make something that we could savor while sticking to our new program.

After some experimenting, I came up with an almond butter and a cashew butter that were rich, smooth, and, most importantly, sweet. They were so delicious, and made with all paleo ingredients-no dairy, processed foods, or refined sugar necessary. Just almonds or cashews, honey, and coconut oil.

After a few bites of the almond and cashew butters, Mike told me I should sell them. I had been thinking the same thing-they were that good!

play (COURTESY OF JULIE'S REAL)

 

That’s when our company, Julie’s Real, was born. After some more experimenting, I came up with recipes for a variety of almond butters, like cinnamon vanilla bean and cacao espresso. Soon after, I developed recipes for grain-free granola so that people could have a paleo snack on-the-go.

As I got the company off the ground, they started selling more than I ever imagined. Now, our butters and granolas are sold in hundreds of grocery stores around the country. And of course, creating the company has ensured that Mike and I have never had to go far for a delicious snack.

'We've never felt better.'

 

Both of us have experienced life-changing results since going paleo. We both used to be restless sleepers, and we would wake up frequently in the middle of the night. Within a week of starting the paleo diet, both of us had more restful sleep, and we woke up feeling ready for the day.

We’ve both started to think of food as fuel, and our energy levels have really improved because of it. There are no more peaks or valleys of bursts of energy and exhaustion. Instead, we both feel steadily energized all day. We’ll golf for five or six hours, grabbing some granola throughout, and play some of our best holes.

And best of all, Mike’s digestive system has never been better. He says it actually feels “clean” for the first time. He doesn’t ever have acidity problems like the heartburn or acid reflux he used to experience.

'Treat your body with the care it deserves.'

 

Since starting the paleo diet more than two years ago, I’ve never looked back. If you’re thinking about going paleo, my advice is to go cold turkey. After just a few days of completely sticking to our plan, we didn’t have any urges to eat foods that we knew would make us feel tired or bloated. We loved the feeling of treating our bodies with the care they deserved.

People think that if they go paleo, they’ll have to cook and meal-prep constantly, but we have found that to be a huge misconception. If you love to cook, like I do, you can and will find endless recipes for great meals to make in the kitchen. But if you need something convenient, tasty, and paleo, there are tons of options to grab in the grocery store. Whichever the case, you’ll feel great about what you’re putting in your body.

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