Embarking on the Paleo Journey: Tips and Tricks

If you decide that you want to really give the Paleo Diet a try, read my tips and tricks for staying on track:

1. SAFEGUARD YOUR KITCHEN! It is much easier to succeed at staying Paleo if you are not surrounded by foods that are restricted on the diet. The healthier the foods are that are laying around you, the more likely you will be to eat them. If you are surrounded by foods that are not paleo-friendly, in a vulnerable moment, you just may eat them. So, if you live alone, or are living with others trying this out, I highly recommend safe guarding the kitchen from items that are not Paleo-friendly. Go through the acceptable foods list and toss anything in the refrigerator or pantry that you shouldn’t be eating/drinking on the Paleo Diet.

 

2. STAY FOCUSED AND STRICT FOR THE FIRST MONTH

At the very start of any lifestyle change, it is all too easy to cheat, or even give up. However, if you make a strict routine for 30 days, you are more likely to form a habit. So, if you make a habit of cheating and not being focused on eating Paleo, then it is much less likely to stick.

 

3. PLAN AHEAD

As I have mentioned before, lifestyle changes are hard, especially in the beginning. If you work ahead by grocery shopping early, planning meals in advance, and even preparing foods at the beginning of the week, it will be much easier to stay on track.

 

4. DON’T STARVE YOURSELF!

The paleo diet isn’t about counting calories or grams of fat, so stop! It is important to let yourself eat until you are satisfied. If you leave yourself hungry, you are more likely to have cravings which can lead to binging, cheating, and getting off track.

 

And finally…

 

5. LET YOURSELF HAVE SWEET TREATS!

This tip was extremely important for me. I have a raging sweet tooth, and depriving myself of that leaves me hangry (hungry + angry) for treats. When that happens I become an animal and will literally cheat and eat anything sweet, which often times is candy or chocolate, or anything a roommate leaves around for me to attack.  Yes, attack, that is what happens. There are PLENTY of sweets that can be consumed on the Paleo Diet both in their natural states (fruit, honey, almond butter, coconut, etc.) and from simple recipes. If you’re anything like me then trust me– you should make some “dessert” food at the beginning of the week or make sure to have fruit or other sweets available, or you’ll go crazy.

 

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Why Paleo is Not Just Another “Diet”

In case you’ve somehow missed it, “Paleo on Principle” is the title of my blog. In the spirit of that, let’s take a minute to discuss the principles behind the Paleo Diet.

The basic idea is that we are genetically adapted to this diet, and therefore it is ideal for our bodies. I actually don’t like to use the phrase “Paleo Diet”, because it isn’t really a “diet” in the common use of the word.  Yes, it’s a way of eating and living, and requires change, but most “diets” rely on restricting intake and/or counting calories.  The Paleo Diet on the other hand, allows you to eat unlimited amounts of food without worrying about calories, carbohydrates, or fat.  As long as you mostly follow the guidelines and the foods that are restricted, you will feel better, look better, and not be left still feeling hungry. I know this all sounds like a gimmick, but the truth is, it isn’t! Trust me, I REALLY like to eat.

When you replace processed foods with whole, real foods, you leave your body with reduced sodium and increased potassium. This balance helps to prevent high blood pressure, osteoporosis, asthma, and other chronic diseases that are typical with the American diet. The Paleo Diet provides a crazy-high amount of nutrients, many that most other diets fail to provide such as: vitamins b12 and b6, iron, zinc, omega 3 fats, among others. It also provides a very high-fiber diet, which promotes heart health by lowering cholesterol, and promotes weight maintenance by normalizing bowels.

Personally, I think the most important factor of the Paleo Diet is the high amount of protein it provides, promoting weight loss by reducing appetite and increasing metabolism.  If you don’t care about all of the health details, that’s fine. I can tell you from experience though, that following the Paleo Diet in whatever variety you choose (and you SHOULD personalize it to what works for you), will improve your health and leave you feeling and looking better.

The Basics of Eating Paleo

Alright, blog post #1! Here we go! Since you’re taking the time to read my blog,(did I really just start a blog? I guess so…) I’ll start out by being honest with you! 🙂 Everyone and their mom talks about the Paleo Diet these days. You probably think it sounds awful because why, after all, would you choose to restrict yourself from eating whatever you want, whenever you want? Well, I’m not asking you to follow Paleo, or to stop eating what you want to. But c’mon, let’s learn about what the diet actually entails so that you can, at the very least, know what people are talking about. Fair?  Good.

The basics of the Paleo Diet include lots of lean meats, fresh fruits, and vegetables.  In modern times the diet incorporates nuts and healthy oils. With so many people now eating Paleo, there are variations of the diet, some more strict than others. For me, it is less about eating LITERALLY what cavemen ate, and more about eating to optimize health.  The general guidelines that I follow look a little something like this:

  1. Eliminate dairy, grains, processed foods, potatoes, refined sugar, and legumes (yes, this includes peanuts and peanut butter but you’ll get past this, I promise).
  2. Eat high amounts of unadulterated, grass-fed meats, and seafood.
  3. Load up on non-starchy vegetables and fruits (fruits are the main source of carbohydrates in the diet and still, this should provide much less carbohydrates than the typical American diet).
  4. Eat a moderate amount of fat monounsaturated/polyunsaturated rather than saturated and trans-fats, and include a relatively equal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats (good sources are nuts/seeds/healthy oils).
  5. Eat foods low in sodium but high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Probably the best part of eating Paleo is that calorie restriction, fat restriction, and carbohydrate restriction are all unnecessary (yay!).  If you follow the basic guidelines there is no need to “count” anything. To me, that is a very freeing thought because let’s be real here, no one likes worrying about that crap. Initially this may seem very hard to follow, and really annoying- I get it. But once you get used to making replacements for things that you are accustomed to, it’s actually relatively easy. I’m sure you don’t trust me, so don’t take my word for it- try it for yourself!