By Marilyn Napoli
How many options is too many options? A burning question to be asked when it comes to the world of health and wellness. With a plethora of dietary options and information, it’s sometimes hard to solely focus on just one topic and filter through all the “fluff”. That’s why I caught up with Sarah Dewar, a popular content creator who specializes in the paleo lifestyle. Sarah’s digital content is centered around this historical way of living and provides her viewers with easy, fun, and nutritional recipes.
Tell us about yourself and how you got involved in the fitness/health & wellness industry?
I got into the fitness/health & wellness industry back when I was a child. I started recreational gymnastics when I was three, which turned into Provincial gymnastics, and I ended up staying with the sport until I was 16 years old. For about a year after I retired I felt lost, as I’d been training for 13 years straight, with some weeks up to 24 hours of training per week, to then nothing at all. It took me about a year to get back into going to the gym, but once I went back I never left. I now look forward to working out, trying out different fitness classes in the city and just being active!
What is the Paleo diet?
Instead of labelling things as a “diet”, I like to consider it a “lifestyle”. Meaning, something that is sustainable, can be kept up long term, and something that doesn’t feel like a chore or a quick fix. The Paleo lifestyle is also referred to as the “caveman” diet, meaning only eating whole foods that they would’ve been able to find back then (fruits, veggies, meats/proteins, etc.). Currently, the Paleo lifestyle is more so referred to as a “whole food” based lifestyle (dairy free, gluten free, and refined sugar free with minimally processed foods). There are so many companies out there that sell Paleo products such as bagels, breads, crackers, and other items that help to make the whole foods lifestyle much more sustainable, without feeling like you’re missing out on your favourite foods.
Tell us about your Instagram page @paleofoodiee and why you decided to start it?
I started paleofoodiee back in 2020 during quarantine. I lost my job in March of 2020 and was beside myself, and as a person who is always on the go this was tough for me as I no longer had a daily routine. At the same time, I suffered from severe bloating, stomach pains as well as facial acne. The stomach pains and bloating had been happening for a few years, but the acne developed in March of 2020. I had an appointment to see a dermatologist for my acne in April, but all appointments were cancelled due to COVID.
I was so uncomfortable in my own skin I wanted to do what I could with my down time and take matters into my own hands. I wanted to try and help my skin as naturally as possible. I did so much research on stomach bloating and facial acne and the one lifestyle that always popped back up in my research was the Paleo lifestyle.
At that moment, I decided to see if it was something that was sustainable, so I spent a lot of time in the kitchen cooking for my boyfriend’s family while I quarantined with them, and started to mess around with different recipes using paleo ingredients. I was so proud of some of the meals and desserts that I was creating, I would take photos and send them to my parents and friends. Once I moved back home with my parents, I decided to post a recipe photo on my personal Instagram of one of my creations. My friend’s hyped me up, and from there my best friend gave me the final push I needed to start my own foodie Instagram page and I’ve kept up with it ever since!
With a variety of different dietary options out there, why paleo? What drew you to this type of diet?
One of the things I have always struggled with and noticed about my body is when I would eat large amounts of processed wheat, such as pizza, pasta, breads and especially bagels, I would have a hard time digesting them. I originally thought about going gluten free, however I leaned more towards paleo to help to clear my acne and focused on consuming more whole foods. I led a strict paleo lifestyle for about five months and after that I felt like a completely different person – more energy, no stomach bloating, and my skin was glowing. After five months, I started to integrate some grains back into my meals like rice, gluten free oats, etc., and my body was able to tolerate them again.
As someone who is constantly producing content within the health & wellness sector what is one piece of advice you can give to someone who also wants to take a similar path as yourself?
I would say to stick to what you love, and people will find you! Once you start producing content because you “think” that’s what people want to see, it becomes inauthentic and will quickly feel like a burden or chore. Post something because you are passionate about it and try not to care about what other people think!
What types of advantages/disadvantages have you experienced since switching to a paleo lifestyle?
At first, I was nervous because I thought I would be restricting myself and missing out on all my favourite foods. To prevent this, I did so much research on how to bake, cook and even find different products that fit my lifestyle before I switched over, in order to set myself up for success. Since I did so much research and tried what feels like every paleo product out there, I wanted to share that on my page to hopefully make other people’s lives easier who are looking to lead a more “whole foods” based lifestyle. I would say that finding really good substitutes was the trickiest part, but now that I’ve found them, it feels amazing and I’m happy to share with others.
The advantage to leading a whole foods-based lifestyle is how you feel and the effects it has on your body. It’s a bit hard to explain the feeling but nourishing your body with the food it needs is the best way to set yourself up for success. No two people are the same, so what one person’s paleo lifestyle may look like might be completely different from another. It’s a lot of trial and error and listening to your body, but once you figure it out and get into the swing of things it’s a great feeling. I like to tell people to leverage my page as a guide to set them up for success. I feature all sorts of breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and snack recipes on my page. It’s like a little menu to select from and use as inspiration!
What is your favourite paleo recipe, and can you share it with us?
This is always such a tricky one to answer because I love them all so much, but the recipe that I’ve seen recreated the most was my Almond Flour Banana Bread, Ultimate Fried Chicken, Coconut Flour Brownies, and my Sweet Pineapple Chicken Teriyaki.
Make sure to check out Sarah’s Instagram page @paleofoodiee for quick tips, recipes and more!
Disclaimer* Sarah is not a certified nutritionist or health coach, She is just sharing her findings and what personally worked for her.