My local gym is about to embark on a 6 week paleo challenge so I thought it would be an appropriate time to re-visit some how- to-get-started tips and tricks. The process does not always have to be “cold turkey,” but I’m going to focus on that strategy this time. Plus, I’m a very all or nothing type of person. If I have a purpose (a WHY!), clear instructions, and a plan, I am all over it. Hopefully this will help you wherever you are on your journey. No one’s perfect, I know I could use a little re-set to knock out the little things I’ve let creep back into my life.
1. Read, read, and read some more. For those of you know me well, I’m not a big read for pleasure kind of gal but the minute I opened Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint, I couldn’t put it down. The same thing happened when I started reading the Hartwig’s It Starts With Food. The key for me is knowing the science behind WHY eating a primal/paleo diet is beneficial and HOW it’s going to help me build lean muscle, burn fat, and fight silent but deadly inflammation throughout my body.
- Our many thoughts on nutrition
- How conventional wisdom disguises junk food
- Giving up junk food
- Mark Sisson’s Definitive Guide to Insulin, Blood Sugar and Type II Diabetes
2. Understand it, share it with your loved ones, and OWN it. Be able to explain to your loved ones and co-workers (in an excited, yet not overpowering or demeaning way!) why eating real foods will heal you from the inside out. Don’t pass it off as a trend or only do it because “CrossFit people are into it.” Own it for yourself and know how it will change your life.
3. Purge the pantry, fridge and freezer. Don’t let yourself be tempted by past vices. Start fresh and don’t give yourself the option to fail.
- processed, packaged, or preserved foods
- grains and grain products (pasta, rice, breads, frozen pancakes, flour)
- sugar and all artificial sweeteners
- chemically altered fats and certain oils (vegetable oil, margarine, anything that says hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated)
4. Donate non-perishables. A couple of years ago my local Salvation Army was readily accepting of my Costco stock pile of whole wheat pasta and Goldfish crackers.
5. Immediately (if not sooner!) stock up on staples. We updated and organized our shopping list staples just for you!
6. Develop meal plans to ease transition. Pick 6-7 meal ideas and make shopping lists for the week. Or, make ahead meals for busy nights and easy access.
7. Have no/minimal prep snacks readily available. Arm yourself so you don’t have the option to make bad choices.
- hardboiled eggs
- fresh fruit
- trail mix with unsweetened dried fruit
- nitrate free beef jerky
- nitrate free deli meat rolled up with some mustard inside
- cut up veggies/fruit-our dear friend Suzanne always has a big Tupperware type tray of pre-sliced veggies and fruits stocked in the fridge when the snack bug hits–brilliant!
- canned tuna and salmon
- egg cupcakes
8. Keep it simple. Stay away from the baked goods and desserts tab for now. Don’t immediately try to re-invent old favorites, start new habits first.
- Eat lots of meat and veggies first. Then, add some fruit, nuts, and seeds.
- It doesn’t always have to be fancy. Sauté a couple of pounds of ground meat, throw in some spices, and steam a huge bag of frozen veggies. Or, pick up a rotisserie chicken and serve it on a huge bed of spinach. Done.
- “Paleo” desserts and baked goods have their place for special occasions, but a muffin is always a muffin unless it’s made out of meat. While the almond flour and honey may not spike your insulin quite as much or cause inflammation from gluten, they are still calorically dense and will not help you if you have any weight loss or body composition goals.
- Pack your lunch, even if you’re not going anywhere. Make a big salad with lots of veggies and protein in a Tupperware and eat it at lunch time. Fuel your body when it’s not crying out for food, and you will always make better choices. It’s kind of like never going grocery shopping on an empty stomach!
- Think of food as fuel. Don’t get emotional with it. Let go of the need to use food to satisfy cravings, calm your stress, or fill some sort of void.
OK, enough information overload. Bookmark this post and refer back to it as you continue on your journey. I’ll leave you with a statement from It Starts with Food that I repeat to myself many times throughout the day…
“The food you eat either makes you more healthy or less healthy.
Those are your options.”