How do I do it?
Switching over to a Paleo Lifestyle can be hard and daunting. While the Paleo diet is a lot of fun and a great template to eat from, it’s a pretty drastic change from your standard, everyday Western fare. Switching to a Paleo way of eating is a major adjustment, and one that many people aren’t willing to jump into headfirst. Here are a few steps that anyone can take that aren’t drastic, or terribly inconvenient, but are big steps towards eating better. Think of this as the first steps in easing into an Paleo diet at your own pace.
Start out slow
The things that may be tough to give up are sugar and unhealthy fats. Eating vegetables without them is just so foreign to our over-stimulated taste buds that we might initially think that they are tasteless. It is like someone who drinks coffee all day. The caffeine doesn’t give them a buzz anymore. Cut down to one cup a day and suddenly they can feel it. The second reason that it is difficult to cut these sorts of things out is that they are genuinely addictive in the same way as drugs. If you stop eating sugar from one day to the next, you will get withdrawal symptoms. Expect headaches and irritability.
So what do you do? Think transition. Most smart advocates of the Paleo diet are encouraging people to ease into things. Don’t go from one extreme to another. Gradually reduce poor food choices one at a time whilst replacing them with a healthy Paleo alternative. This needs to be done over a period of weeks and not just days.
The first thing to reduce is sugar. Just dropping sugar is hard especially cause it is everything or at least that is what it feels like at first. The easier path is replacing it. However, don’t reach for artificial sweeteners. You are just replacing one set of problems with another. The natural alternative to sugar is raw honey. Use this when you crave sweetness, but even here it is important to reduce quantities. Eventually, you get to a point where you will really appreciate the sweetness of organic fruit and won’t need the sugar hit that has become a drug.
Swap out your oils. Seed-derived oils are ridiculously bad for you (here is a good post that breaks down why most of them are bad). The solution? We use four main oils at the house: grass-fed butter (or clarified butter, also known as ghee), coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, and avocado oil. I use coconut oil and avocado oil, butter for sautéing or browning foods, and olive oil for salads or low-temperature sautés and some roasting. There are two kinds of coconut oil out there – virgin and refined. Virgin coconut oil has a slight coconut taste to it, which is excellent with chicken and seafood dishes. Chances are you won’t notice the coconut taste in most dishes, or grow to like it like my family did. In a nutshell, swapping out your oils for these four staples is one of the easiest transitions you can make, and it will go a long way towards improving your Omega-6/Omega-3 fatty acid ratio (which will in turn help curb inflammation and other bad stuff).
Transitioning slowly into the Paleo diet is a sure-fire way of getting it to work. Just think, you have spent years or even decades eating badly, putting on weight and losing your sense of taste. Can you really expect it to change back overnight? The sheer pleasure that you can get from food once you have been weaned off sugar and chemicals makes it all worthwhile.
One meal at a Time
Go ahead and commit to one meal per day initially.
1. I suggest committing to having a very low-sugar Paleo breakfast daily to start with. I find this makes a huge difference to my way of thinking, my energy levels, as well as how hungry I am throughout the day. Try out my Loaded Sweet Potato Hash to get you started.
2. After a few weeks of eating Paleo breakfasts daily, add in Paleo dinners, and then a few weeks later, add in Paleo lunches, and then Paleo snacks.
Success long term
Remember that you’re doing a Paleo diet because you want to live a healthier life (no one is forcing you!). Also when making food choices, stick to meats, vegetables, healthy fats, and fruits as much as possible. One of the biggest thing in finding success is cooking more and eating out less. You are in control what oils are used when cooking or what is in the marinade of your meats. Keep a food dairy and record what you ate and how you felt a few hours after eating each meal. Over time you’ll make correlations between what foods make you feel worse and you’ll naturally want to avoid those foods.
Paleo has become a lifestyle, and that’s the key to success.
No matter which diet you choose it has to be a diet that would fit within your lifestyle, and it has to be something that you can do basically forever” for it to truly work. You can do a strict calorie-restriction diet, and that’ll work in the short term. But it’s not sustainable in the long run. You have to find something that’s right for you, and paleo just happened to be right for me.
Don’t Forget These Are Also Part Of the Paleo Lifestyle
You probably already know this, but I just want to make sure it doesn’t get forgotten! Sleep, destressing, and some exercising are all part of a Paleo lifestyle too! It’s not just about food. As I am taking my own Paleo journey destressing is probably one of the key ingredients that I am learning to do to help find balance in my life along with the food that I am eating.