Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Mine was everything it should be with delicious food, great people, and much gratitude. However, I do love being back to the warm weather (Cleveland was snowy and COLD!) and reunited with the dogs.
Back from the turkey coma, today I want to discuss one of the questions I get asked frequently when I tell people I’m Paleo which is, “How do you do it?” I also get comments like, “I want to try it but it seems really difficult,” or “I tried it once and it didn’t work out.” It’s completely understandable. Changing your diet to something completely different than what you know may seem overwhelming and even impossible. However, it can be a positive life-changing experience once you start this journey, and you probably won’t want to turn back once you start seeing increase in your energy, clearer skin, and improvement in your overall well-being.
If you want to start a Paleo lifestyle but not sure how to go about it, here are some steps you can implement to make the process easier so you can stick to it for real!
1. Do a kitchen overhaul. Get rid of everything in your kitchen that isn’t Paleo friendly. You can give them away to those in need or to your friends. The hardest process in going Paleo will be resisting the temptation to go back to the things that were part of your everyday diet like breads and sweets. If you have them at your arm’s reach in your pantry or fridge, it’ll be impossible to let them go. Instead, restock your kitchen with delicious real foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and healthy oils.
2. Start out slow and with what you love. Don’t worry about the quality of your food at first. It’s already a HUGE progress that you have decided to make this healthy change in your life. Stressing yourself out in the beginning with organic/non-organic, grass-fed, and pastured will overwhelm you even more, which may make you unable to keep up with the new diet. Instead, just focus on eating real food. As you get used to eating this way, you can start learning and incorporating better quality produce and meats as you see necessary. Along with this, it’s important that you enjoy the transition and the food you eat. If you hate sardines, liver, and kale, and can’t stand the sight of them, you will not see the optimal nutritional benefits from them by forcing them down your throat. Explore what you love to eat within the Paleo template and you’ll see that there are so many options when it comes to what you can eat.
3. Incorporate fat! Although the Paleo diet isn’t necessary a low carb diet, you will find that once you start eating real food, you eat a lot less carbs than before. Many people experience a withdrawal phase through this, where their body isn’t used the lower intake of sugar and they become ravenous. It is so very important that you eat plenty of good quality fats during this time and on so you stay full. It is a complete misconception that fat makes you fat. You NEED fat to keep you focused, satiated, and happy. After all, 60% of your brain is fat and you need to continuously fuel it to keep it working properly. After a few weeks of going Paleo, your glucose level will stabilize so you stop craving sweets, bread, and pasta. No longer will you experience the light-headed feeling of your blood sugar dropping we all know so well when you feel like you can eat everything in your sight. Healthy fats that I eat often include butter, animal fat, coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil (uncooked), and ghee.
4. Concentrate on what you CAN eat, and not what you can’t. The way you look at the new changes you incorporate will make a world of a difference on your success rate. Stop reminding yourself that you can’t eat pizza, bagels, and pasta. Instead, see a whole new world open up to you. All your life, you have been reminded to count calories and eat low fat. Isn’t it awesome that butter, bacon, and steak are good for you? These high fat foods taste amazing because nature intended them to, and you feel great after eating them! You can also try making Paleo treats like Paleo cookies and pancakes to make the transition easier. I don’t recommend this for a long time because these substitute treats can trigger your sugar cravings and defeat the purpose of going Paleo, but it can be extremely helpful during your transition when you are feeling down about what you can’t eat.
5. Find someone you can share the experience with. Going through a huge change in your life, especially with something so personal like food, can be very difficult alone. You’ll find that people who are the closest to you, like your friends or family, are the least accepting towards this huge step you are making towards your health. To them, it’s almost like you are changing your identity. It is during this time that you will need the most support from another person or a group if you can find one. After I first moved to California, I found a Paleo group on Meetup.com and it’s been a huge help for me in finding people I can relate to and talk to about food and other lifestyle aspects of Paleo. We meet about once a month and I always leave feeling rejuvenated and happy to have talked to the most understanding people in the world. If not in person, you will find a ton of online groups and forums through Facebook and Reddit, and I highly recommend you try them out, especially when you are trying Paleo for the first time. If you still need help, please contact me for a health coaching session and I’m happy to give you all the support you need.
6. Let go of perfectionism Don’t forget that there will be times you’ll slip up. I do it still. Don’t beat yourself over it. There’s no such thing as perfection, especially in this stressful environment we live in full of processed foods and hidden ingredients everywhere when we go out to eat. It’s okay to enjoy a pasta dish at a potluck you were invited to, or have a slice or two of cake at a wedding because it was calling your name. The more you get used this lifestyle, you will find out the less your body will agree with you when you go back to eating things like bread or ice cream, and the better you’ll get at resisting these kinds of foods. Find out what works for you and make sure you are doing what counts for your health most of the time.
7. Remember that it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. While cleaning up your diet is an important part of the Paleo lifestyle, you are doing it wrong if you aren’t getting enough sleep, you are sedentary, and you aren’t managing your stress levels. Your health has to do with so much more than your diet. When you are simultaneously working on all these aspects of your life, you’ll find out they affect each other like a domino effect and it’ll get easier and easier to manage them better. For example, getting better quality sleep gives you energy and lowers your stress levels, and helps you make better food choices while motivating you to go for a hike. Ultimately, everything needs to work together so your health can improve as a whole.
Do you need more support in starting a Paleo lifestyle or want to make lasting changes in your life to increase your energy? Feel free to contact me for a free initial consultation! I’d be happy to talk to you about ways I can work with you so you can improve your health with personalized methods that work best for your needs.