My Tips on Sticking to the Plan and Loving It
It was two months ago when I dived into the Paleo diet with full force, well Paleo(-ish) I should say. And by full force I mean the point when I became ready to give up cow milk in my coffee, the one non-paleo thing I held on to until the very end of my Paleo warm up. Not to say that it's been easy or that there hasn't been any slips. But there have been rewards – feeling more alert, more energized and capable every time I do stay committed. So here's a quick run down of 6 easy things that helped me stay on track and in love with the Paleo diet.
A Few Easy Tips to Keep You Going and Happy
Start slowly and progress into it
When I mentioned Paleo warm up above, I meant it. I warmed myself into it by eliminating food items slowly, starting with the ones I knew I could do well without. Hey, there's a lot to be said about feeling capable. The longer I could go without a food item I had eliminated (say cheese), the more determined I was to eliminate the next one (my other downfall bread), and so I went all the way until I was finally drinking almond milk cappuccinos. By then I was feeling more than capable, Do I love it? No. But I can get used to it. The good thing about warming up is that you get a sense for just how difficult it will be for you and how much determination you will need to gather.
Know why you are eliminating certain foods
There is nothing worse than doing something just because someone somewhere said it would be good for you. For me personally, understanding why I am doing something and why it makes sense gives me that extra punch of commitment. So every time I think of grabbing that piece of bread I can give myself a plausible explanation as to why I shouldn't as opposed to a sad No, you can't! Once you can't do something that's when you want to do more of it. So know that you can, but why you don't want to.
Plan ahead and count on left overs
Eating like our ancestors did (or as close as our modern selves could, really) means that you are no longer relying on pre-made foods, (think all the way from fast food to salad dressings). So you will be making a lot of things from scratch, which is quite fun and delicious, too. But do plan out your meals so that you have plenty of left overs that you can quickly turn into new meals the next day. Staying organized will save a lot of your time and your will to keep going. For instance, the veggies from tonight's dinner will be great in tomorrow's omelette for breakfast. Remember, there's no more toast, so you have to veggie up which leads me to...
Fall in love with veggies, nuts and eggs
Just because you are eating (supposedly) more healthily than before, it doesn't mean that you should be increasing your portions. You will however be eating less food types than you were before, so your plate might look a little emptier. So fill the void with veggies where you would normally have foods like potato, rice or a toast. Starches such as bread, rice and potatoes are great fillers and add texture, so you might be deceived into thinking that you are still hungry or should be hungry even though you just had a complete meal. That is of course as long as you are indeed getting your carbohydrates and fiber from vegetables and fruit. Especially in the beginning, count on healthy snacks such as a small handful of nuts or a fresh fruit in between meals to keep your mind going and your portions reasonable.
Substitute only what you must
It's challenging to give up foods we have been eating since forever, especially the ones we've been all believing to be good for us. So it's common that you will have to substitute a few things here and there, as in almond milk for cow milk and maybe even get into cauliflower rice and Paleo breads to replace their original versions. But there are few things to keep in mind:
- Don't buy into Pale fast food
Watch that you are not replacing regular processed food with processed Paleo food, as in replacing potato chips with store-bought carrot chips, for example.
- Beware of the dangers of nostalgia
These new items may just remind you of how much you miss the real thing, which is why I decided to stay away from most of them on the long run, substituting only those food items I really can't live without.
Stay only as strict as you can sustain
There are different schools of Paleo and different levels of commitment. At least as I see it, there is nothing wrong with going almost all the way, keeping one certain item that you really, really won't do well without and gain the benefits from cutting all of the other stuff out. It's still bonus if you think about it. In my case, I set my weekends free which allow me to enjoy (not binge on) a certain item or another if I really feel like it, and I may not want to after all. And often enough, I notice that I don't crave anything else other than some good old bread and butter (and fine, some cheese here and there). But that's enough to keep me going strong on most days. So in my personal school of thought, why not? Maybe one day I will advance all day through weekends – maybe not. In my opinion, sustainability is key.
Should you even try the Paleo diet?
Through the next couple of weeks I will be posting more on my personal experience with the Paleo diet and sharing my findings on why you might want to try it as well as why you might want to stay away from it.
Until then, share your thoughts and let us know if this is a challenge you would be up to.