Recently, I’ve read quite a few articles hating on paleo diet, saying that it is too restrictive, extreme, complicated, pricey and based on a man living in paleolithic era rather than real life.
I would like to disagree. 🙂
First and foremost, for me, paleo is absolutely not about eating what our prehistoric man would eat but about eating nutritions and real food. It is also not a strictly carnivore diet.
The biggest part of your nutrition when eating paleo is composed of vegetables, then food high in protein (meat, eggs and fish), some fruit and healthy fats (and nuts and seeds). What is controversial and extreme about that?
Moreover, the biggest reason that I went paleo was the fact it is a template that I can tailor to me specifically. After your Whole30, you can test out all the different kinds of food and observe what reaction YOUR body has to them. Pretty damn cool, I think.
Some people might feel overwhelmed by all the rules and afraid that they will not able to stick to paleo. Therefore, I would like to present you with some tips that work for me to keep on track in the long term.
Have a plan
Weekly Grocery Shopping
It is much easier to stay on track when you have the right ingredients in the house. After a few months of eating paleo, you will be able to predict how much sweet potatoes / avocados / chicken / almond milk you need for a week and then it makes all the shopping easier.
I personally do an online grocery shopping every week composed of a significant amount of protein sources, carb dense vegetables, greens, salad vegetables, some healthy fats and a few snack options. And then, because I have everything at home, I always have so many options available.
This way I am bound to have a big variety and balanced diet because my weekly orders are.
Apart from my weekly online grocery shopping, I go to a local shop only once or twice a week in order to buy fresh meat or veggies.
I think that all the wrong food choices happen when you come home super hungry. You don’t have the patience to spend an hour in the kitchen before you can eat and you grab whatever you see instead.
The answer is to have a few emergency or quick options ready all the time. I always make sure I have a lot of eggs or some canned fish or smoked mackerel at home. These are super fast and fulfilling.
TIP: In order to have a ready portion of carb dense vegetables (that usually take quite a while in the oven), last week, I have roasted a big mix of carb dense vegetables in advance and used them throughout a week. The meal bellow took me like 3 minutes to prepare. A lifesaver!
Carb dense veggie mix (6-7 portions) – 3 sweet potatoes, 1/2 butternut squash, 2 carrots, 2 parsnip, coconut oil and your favourite spices
Keep it simple
Remember that you don’t have to have a well thought out, complicated and picture perfect meal every day. I know that in real life there are situations when you don’t have the energy or mood for cooking. Remember that having leftovers or random veggies with some eggs IS good enough. It doesn’t have to be complicated as long as it is nutritious.
Don’t be afraid to experiment
I think that the key thing in order to come to terms with living paleo, is to try it out on yourself. It is true that you can hear it a million times from someone else but until you actually try it out and realize it yourself, you don’t fully believe it.
Chris Kresser in his Personal Paleo Diet is a big advocate of individual paleo and I completely agree with him. If, after your whole30, you really feel like you want to add something back into your diet, try it out. From my experience, I can say that I had a period of time when I really wanted to add diary products back but soon enough and after a few experiments with different kinds of diary I found that I feel soo much better without it and it is completely not worth it.
On the other hand, rice doesn’t seem to have much negative impact on me, and I sometimes (maybe once a month) have rice when I go to a Thai Restaurant.
I also like to experiment with some organic bio vegan products as long as they have no sugar and are full of real ingredients.
Again, as long as you can keep it balanced, don’t be afraid to experiment.
Similarly, really try to listen to your body and determine for yourself the amount and timing of carb dense veggies and fruit you need to feel good. Try different options and carefully observe what effects they have on your body.
Choose ‘the less bad option’
I think that in a long-term, it is only natural that you will not be always strictly paleo. There are some moments in the real life when you don’t really have strictly paleo option available or you just reaaally want to have something. I think it’s always better when you choose wisely around the paleo guidelines rather than going completely off track.
For example, when being stuck at the airport for the next three hours and having a chicken, avocado and quinoa salad (instead of a pizza). Or when you really want to treat yourself with something sweet, having a gluten and diary free pecan pie (instead of a tub of Ben & Jerry’s).
Sure, it isn’t completely paleo but if you think that it is worth it, you have no other option and can keep it balanced, I say, go for it.
Look for the right inspiration
I think that there are so many possibilities and options when cooking paleo but it is important that you are being inspired and exposed to other people’s paleo creations online. Pictures of paleo food often motivate me to cook something as well.
Don’t think that you are restricted
It’s important that you focus on the things that you CAN eat instead of complaining about the stuff you cannot eat. And soon enough you’ll find out that there is always an option to create a paleo friendly alternative for most of your favourite dishes. It’s crucial to break off those bad habits and focus on creating the new ones.
Obviously you cannot recreate a bag of Skittles but if you really really feel like eggs benedict you can easily recreate an English muffin and I’ll tell you that you will like it more than the traditional one at the end.
Be wise about the treats
Of course, you can find so many paleo-approved recipes for treats and these are always a better option than the traditional treats full of sugar and flour but eating a whole tray of paleo brownies in one sitting isn’t ideal and completely guilt-free either. 😀 I would encourage you to make these treats once in a while but try to fit them into your diet wisely so you don’t end up sabotaging yourself and having cookies for dinner.
Keep it to yourself
After a while, when you are truly in balance with your nutrition, you don’t feel the need to tell everyone. You get used to paleo way of eating and absolutely don’t perceive it as a diet. You have your paleo meals, you are full of energy and order a chicken salad or a naked burger when you are going out with friends. I find that when you don’t talk about it, it is actually easier to stick to it. Other people don’t feel the need to tease you for it, temp you with non paleo food and don’t feel intimidated by your way of eating. Everyone is happy.
Comments will be appreciated both in English as well as po slovensky.
Life is Good,