Please note that I am not a licensed nutritionist. I am simply sharing what I’ve researched, learned, and personally experienced. Please consult with your doctor before starting any new diet.
Last week I talked a little bit about the basics of paleo and why I decided to give it a try. Now I thought I’d tell you how I incorporated the diet into my life and offer a few tips on how to make paleo work.
tip 1: it doesn’t have to be all or nothing
Unless you’re under strict dietary guidelines or have very specific goals in mind, paleo doesn’t have to be all or nothing. In the beginning, I followed the plan diligently for the first month, which helped me eliminate a few bad habits, particularly reducing the amount of sugar in my diet. Since then I’ve come up with a lifestyle that’s mostly paleo.
What does mostly paleo mean? For me, it means I still enjoy nights out with friends and family, and occasionally indulge in non-paleo meals. I’m definitely more selective and try to minimize what I can, but I’m also okay with ordering dessert or an extra cocktail without feeling guilty. So yes, while this is a life long journey of healthy eating, I’ve found the right balance that works for me.
tip 2: the grocery list
Although it might seem like the paleo diet is really restrictive, the list of items on a paleo grocery list is quite long. In the beginning, I found it useful to carry the list with me to the store. Here’s a list to get you started.
Don’t forget to read the ingredients on everything in the beginning. Lots of times things might seem paleo from the packaging, but really have added sugar or oils. Ketchups and tomato sauces, for example, often have lots of sugar in them.
tip 3: my go-to recipe list
Dinners in my house generally consist of meat and veg, or meat piled on top of a veggie salad. But for breakfasts, lunches, and weekend dinners I have a list of go-to recipes that I can always make when I want. Here are a few of mine:
turkey and spinach stuffed sweet potatoes – I substitute chicken
pork chops with apples and onions – I use chicken broth
coconut curry shrimp – served with cauliflower rice
almond flour coconut waffles – we make these every other weekend
the best chocolate chip cookies – a must!
Having a go-to list is a great way to ensure you’re seldom left wondering what to make. Once you’ve compiled a list of your favorite recipes, keep the ingredients in the house always, and you’ll never have a problem getting food on the table.
tip 4: meal plan
Meal planning can be as simple as identifying meals for the days of the week, or as organized as making meals ahead of time (like on Sundays) for the following week. My favorite kind of meal planning is to make meals that last a couple of days. This lasagna recipe is a great example of that. Cook it up on Monday and enjoy it again on Tuesday. Crockpot recipes are also fantastic for this kind of meal planning.
tip 5: get others involved
I’m the cook in the family, so really my family had no choice but to follow what I ate. Luckily, there were very few complaints. My husband is probably the least picky eater I know. Whether I’ve burned a recipe or created something that’s looked questionable, he’s never complained. He’s a nice guy like that;) And my daughter was two when I introduced paleo to her, so really she doesn’t know any different. Having both of them on board in this healthy eating journey has made it that much easier to stick with.
So if you’re just starting out, try to get your family onboard, but maybe start out slowly. Never mention what’s in something (lots of veggies), or what’s been left out (wheat, sugar, etc), and see if they notice a difference or dislike what you’ve made. After they’ve gobbled up your delicious wheat-free brownies, then you can share your little secret=)
What tips have helped you keep healthy eating a part of your life?