So you’ve heard of this diet called paleo and learned enough about it that you think you want to try it out. Now you are asking the simple question,
“How do I get started?
” How to answer this question depends greatly upon you, and your goals. If you are suffering with obesity, or any number of health conditions, how you go about adopting a paleo nutrition plan could be very different from those that are generally in good health, with better than average levels of fitness.
One of the problems with jumping on the paleo bandwagon is the many varied interpretations of what paleo nutrition really is. There seems to be nearly as many versions of paleo as there are chili recipes. But just like a good chili recipe there are some basic components to paleo that must be present. Here are some things to consider as you start your paleo journey.
It starts with food.
This may sound trite, and it’s also the title of a , but this is true. The place you start your paleo journey is with the food. Keep things simple, plants, animals, and some fruits, nuts, and seeds. Ask yourself if you could imagine it growing in your garden , on a tree, or grazing in a pasture? If not, it probably is not paleo.
Planning helps everyone. For some, this may mean simply planning meals. Others may feel like they need to plan everything before ever starting. Whichever camp you fall into, having a game plan helps.
Some people do better to ease into their new lifestyle a bit at a time. I have seen many people who choose to start by eliminating grains, or even just wheat. Others may start with sugar and/or processed foods. Then, in a few days to a week, they will eliminate another thing from their diet. This might work best for you.
Go cold turkey.
While some people do best by taking their approach slowly, others do best by removing everything at once, kind of like ripping off a bandaid.
Try it for 30 days. Most people feel like they can do anything for 30 days. Once you have done it for 30 days, it becomes much easier to continue.
Know your reasons.
Why are you trying a paleo diet? What are your goals? Keep these in mind as you approach every meal or snack time. It is easy to lose perspective after you start and things get tough. Reminding yourself of your goals and why you started in the first place will help you when temptation comes.
Remove the temptation in your home. Getting rid of food that isn’t “on plan” will help you be more successful. If you don’t have easy access to it, then you are less likely to cheat.
Having an adventurous attitude toward trying new foods can help you as well. Try a new vegetable or fruit. You might want to try a new cuisine. Who knows? Some of those new foods may end up becoming a new favorite!
Don’t try to replace everything with “paleo-approved” versions.
Many of the paleofied versions of our old favorites can lead to the same disordered relationship with food. In addition, these tend to lean heavily on nuts and seeds, which are best had in moderation due to excess phytic acid and other antinutrient content.
It’s okay to prioritize food into good-better-best.
Everybody would agree that locally sourced, organic produce and pastured or grassfed meats and eggs are the ideal. However, this is not always feasible, especially if you are trying to keep to a budget. Know the good-better-best options to prioritize your grocery budget – things like the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15 produce lists, healthiest fats , and how to prioritize your meat purchases.
Forgive yourself. You aren’t going to be able to be perfectly paleo.
Nor should you try to. If you slip up, forgive yourself and make a better choice the next time. Or, if you knowingly chose to indulge in a non-paleo treat, don’t beat yourself up and just enjoy that treat for what it is. Don’t let guilt over not being able to implement the diet 100% of the time cause you to derail.
These tips are by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully will give you food for thought. If you have questions please feel free to leave them in the comments below (they might be added to the Paleo FAQ ) or ask
Photo Credits – https://www.flickr.com/photos/confemadera_habitat/9200159254