Getting Started Paleo, A Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Lifestyle. Boy, I hate to be cliché, but where to start? It seems like a mountain to climb – and you know what? It is. Luckily, we’ve been there and we’re here to help you get started with Paleo, change your diet and change your life. I can’t say that the same success will work for everyone, but this really worked for us and we’d like to share it with you. And if you have any comments or questions, we’re always around to help. You can find us here on the web, on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest!
It should go without saying that you all should be reading The Paleo Solution, by Robb Wolf. It not only helps you to understand the lifestyle, but WHY your body wants the things it wants. It also explains what happens to the body when you do eat crap, and I think it serves as a daily reminder of that while you are trying to get over the hump.
Tip 1: Clean out your pantry
You CANNOT do this diet with temptations in the house unless you are a rockstar…which many of you are, but if you’re like me, clean it out. Donate your extra boxes of pasta and dry goods to a local shelter; or start after you’ve eaten all that crap down. If you allow yourself to be around it, it will be harder to get past the first 30 days.
Tip 2: Go Cold Turkey
I know, sounds harder, but it’s not. Again, it is about ripping off that Band-Aid. If you continue to allow some grains or sugar in your system, you will crave it. That is what processed foods are designed to do – make you eat more. MSG? = chemical addictive. And yes, you read that correctly – it is intimately linked with addictive eating. And it isn’t the only one that’s keeping you coming back for more. It will be hard to go cold turkey, but the less of that crap you have in your system, the faster you will no longer crave it. Should take about 2-3 weeks, but I would say no cheating at all for the first 30 days and you will see results – in both health as well as your food behavior.
Tip 3: Start on a Thursday
I know this sounds weird, but start your journey on a Thursday or Friday. This may be a little graphic, but many people have quite the digestive transition when going to Paleo (us included). Without the gunk, your system will go through a cleanse. This can last up to 2 weeks, so don’t panic if your stomach feels wiggly and you have to use the restroom 50 times a day. This is why I say start on a Thursday. The first day, you’ll be OK, then next few will be worse and you’ll want to get used to it before you have to go to work and deal with it there. It is not pretty, but it’s a part of the process. After the first couple weeks, your system will go back to normal, if not more regular than before. Hang in there.
Tip 4: Prep Snacks
The part of going cold turkey that is hard for many is that they don’t have readily available foods that they can snack on when they are hungry; and processed, ready-made crap is easier to quickly eat. It has taken down some of the best of us. My suggestion is to prep snacks – cut up veggies (and make some of our Paleo Ranch dip to go with if you need it), cut up fruit, pre-cook lean proteins, make sure that you have PLENTY of water around you at all times. You will get hungry and you will not want the healthy stuff and that is normal. Feed yourself as often as you need, as long as it is only Paleo. You will eventually satiate your body with food, no longer be hungry and because you had it ready, you won’t have broken your new diet lifestyle. And after a while, you won’t crave the crap, I promise!
Tip 5: Did I mention Prep? Well, Prep, Prep, Prep!
Prepping will save your life. This is an add-on to Tip 3. Not only should you prep for snacks, but prep for life as a Paleo practitioner. Think about some of the meals you want to make for the week and prep. We buy a lot of food at the farmer’s market and the first thing we do is prep half of it. We cut up fruits and veggies – we keep some in the freezer for smoothies, soups, or stir-fry, we wash everything so we can eat it right out of the fridge. I even put some snackety snacks in Tupperware so if we’re on the run in the morning, we can grab and go. Or we’ll cook extra for dinner so we have leftovers the next day for breakfast or lunch. Sometimes, we’ll just cook extra protein, then add different veggies. Prepping is also nice for those days when you are hungry, but not in the mood to cook – you can grab some prepped veggies and toss them in a saucepan with some meat and you’re done. Oh, make sure you have thawed meat in the fridge…waiting for food to de-thaw when you are hungry really bites.
Tip 6: Tell Your Friends & Family…Don’t be Shy
For many reasons – tell your friends and family. Tell them for the support that they will give you, but also, so they understand. Let them know so they won’t be offended if you skip out on lunches out (which I HIGHLY recommend for the first 30 days…you’re under enough stress, don’t tempt yourself) or if you bring your own snacks/food to get-togethers. If you are transparent with your goals, they will accept it easier and you won’t be put in an awkward situation. Heck, it may even be a conversation starter for all you daters out there! Share our page via Facebook and tell the world!
Tip 7: Learn to Cook
Now, I’m not saying you need to go out and become a chef, but learn the basics. You won’t be able to eat out as much and it will be difficult if you do, so learn to make some of it on your own. You can eat some really interesting food if you are willing to put in the effort. We have guides for cooking meat, fish, chicken, eggs and veggies on this site, so start experimenting!
Tip 8: Ditch the Scale
I say this for many reasons. First, you need to be concentrating on your food habits, not your weight when you transition to Paleo. The first few weeks will be hard, if you are worrying about numbers, you’ll spend more time focusing on that than on making sure that you get good nutrition and do it up right. On top of that, many of you are probably starting physical activity at the same time. Keep in mind that muscle weighs more than fat. So as you burn through the fat and build healthy lean muscle, you’ll most likely GAIN weight before you lose it. This is normal, but having a scale around is going to freak you out if you are a traditional numbers watcher. Instead, focus on how you feel and how your clothes fit. First, they’ll feel tight, then they’ll slacken up and you’ll understand that your body IS thinning out, even though your weight may go up. Trust me, just put it away for at least the first 30 days – it will make this whole thing easier.
Tip 9: Its All About Hydration
Keep water at hand all of the time. It will keep you full when you can’t eat and is really great to cleanse your system of all that yucky gunk you’ve been eating. I suggest getting a Brita water bottle filter. It is portable, convenient and cheap.
Tip 10: Eat Economically
A lot of questions we get on the site are about economical ways to be Paleo. My suggestions are pretty easy. Eat seasonally – this means buy things at the store that are on sale. If you don’t know what is in season, check out our Eating Seasonally Guide. The food will taste better if it is in season and it will help reduce cost. Or if you have access, go to a local farmer’s market. It is better for them, it is better for you, you get to support your local economy and farmer and usually, the organic food is much cheaper and fresher. If you don’t have time for a garden, this is the next closest thing to it. And lastly, if you have access, get a Costco membership. It is totally worth the money and you can get all of your grassfed and wild caught protein there, in addition to a lot of produce in bulk that you can prep. I like to get nuts here for recipes and such, as it is cheaper by the pound too.
Remember, getting started is the hardest part, but we’re here to help. Asking questions is encouraged and we want you to succeed, so don’t hesitate to reach out. It may take us a couple days, but we do answer every email we get. Good luck on your journey and Keep it Paleo!