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Why not learn from those that came before you? As I continue to educate the curious about what a Paleo/Primal diet and lifestyle is, many are interested in trying it. However many do this without really understanding the what and why of what they are doing. I always recommend they educate themselves first but most just want to be told what to do. That always tells me, that like every other diet they have tried in the past, this will be just that, yet another diet. It will work until they decide they don’t need to be on it anymore, then of course they will toss it in the junk pile like all the others, gain that weight they lost back and suffer from the poor digestive problems, headaches and (insert chronic health problem here.) Sigh…..those of us who live this life can only do some much for the curious. The curious have to become the converted in order to really get the lifelong benefits. So how do you increase your odds of being one of the converted rather than just the curious? Here are some dos and don’ts.

 

Do: enter into this looking to improve your life forever.

Don’t: enter into this as a temporary diet. Diets don’t work long-term and can do more damage than good.

Do: be prepared. Keep the right foods around you rather than the wrong ones. Toss the crap still lingering in your house to remove temptation. Toss processed foods, sauces, dressings, sugar and artificial sweeteners, and otherwise non-Paleo foods you will have a tough time avoiding if they are near by.

Don’t: just wing it. Don’t expect this big of a change to be a total breeze and assume it will be easy to find healthy Paleo snacks and meals around every corner. It’s that mindset that got this country in this health crisis in the first place. Stock up on Paleo foods you love and/or do as I do and go to the farm stand or store a couple of times a week to ensure freshness.

Do: eat when you’re hungry and eat enough to feel satisfied. Make sure you don’t feel hungry or deprived. This is NOT a diet so you should never have to feel hungry, at least not unless you are doing some intermittent fasting. Feeling hungry is different than a craving. You know it is a craving if you aren’t “hungry” enough to eat grilled fish and veggies but chocolate ice cream will do the trick! See my post recipe for chocolate coconut milk ice cream if you just need a treat.

Don’t: bother counting calories, fat or carbs, if you’re following the core principles of Paleo, this is unnecessary. Worry more about the quality of your food and it’s nutrient density. If you eat great whole nutritious food, your body will tell you it has had enough. (See my post about the calories in/calories out paradigm)

Do: eat enough quality fats. They help you feel fuller longer and control your blood glucose levels. (See my post “In Defense of Fat)

Don’t: bother eating anything labeled low-fat, unless nature has made it a low-fat food.  Ex. Apples are supposed to low in fat, not milk cheese or yogurt.

Do: cook! If you’re not a wiz in the kitchen, that’s ok. It doesn’t need to be complicated at all. As a matter of fact the simpler a recipe is the better, less room for error and sketchy ingredients.

Don’t: cook with bottled sauces or boxed foods if you can avoid it. Remember if you have to read the ingredients list, you probably shouldn’t be eating it.

Do: supplement your diet with a few nuts and seeds.

Don’t: consume too many nuts and seeds. A little bit is good, too much is bad. Nuts do indeed have fat, fiber and protein, but they also contain some starchy carbs, and an unfavorable Omega-3 to Omega 6 ratio. Not all nuts are created equally. A peanut is not a nut it’s a legume. See why Macadamia nuts are my favorite.

Do: find a few Paleo friendly treats that you can enjoy once in a while. Keeps you on track when you are craving something naughty. See my post about some of my favorite Paleo treats.

Don’t: Eat Paleo treats as a major part of your diet. Paleo blueberry muffins are yummy and a great alternative when you just can’t eat another egg for breakfast. But I would not eat a Paleo blueberry muffin everyday.

Do: eat local organic fruits as a snack or as dessert after dinner a few days a week.

Don’t: eat a lot of conventional fruit as a major part of your everyday diet unless you are a very active person. Fruit, while a natural food (depending on where you get it) contains a lot of fructose and too much fructose can cause insulin resistance and weight gain or hinder weight loss if that is one of your goals.

Do:  your own research. There are books, websites, cook books, etc that will explain the finer details like why grains are not a health food, why lard is a better cooking fat that oil, why dairy is typically not a Paleo food, but why others still eat it. (See my right hand side bar for many examples.)

Don’t: go through this process blindly because some friend of yours told you about it and you have no real direction other than eat meat, eggs and veggies. There is bit more to it than that.

Do: play with which Paleo foods work best for you. Some people don’t tolerate nuts while others have no problem. Some just don’t like beef while others can’t stand the smell of fish.

Don’t: continue to eat food that does not agree with you just because it is Paleo. Nuts are a great example of this.

Do: limit your sugar intake. Keep it natural and in small quantities. Be aware of hidden sources of sugar. Since you’re avoiding processed food, this should be easier than you think

Don’t: ever use artificial sweeteners! They are horrible for you, disrupt your endocrine system and confuse your body. Stick with small quantities of raw honey, pure maple syrup, or stevia. Use sparingly.

Do: make the best possible choice available to you at the time. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where our food choices are sketchy at best. Don’t panic just make the best choice possible.  Ex. A hamburger with tomato, lettuce, onion, mustard and no bun is better than the pizza with all that grainy crust and cheese.  A glass of wine or clear liquor like vodka or tequila with a sugar-free mixer like club soda is much better than beer, or a sugary mixed drink.

Don’t: feel like you can’t go out and enjoy yourself. No one wants to maintain a lifestyle they can’t have fun with. Go have fun and refer to the “Do” above.

Do: treat your body with respect If it’s tired, let it sleep. If you haven’t really broken a sweat in a while, go get your body moving.

Don’t: abuse your body. Never use exercise as a punishment for what you ate the day before. Use exercise as a tool to build strength, stamina and cardio health because you love your body. Or because you just love running or playing basketball or whatever.

Do: love you, love your body and treat it with the respect it deserves! It deserves:

 

  • To be fueled by the best quality food you can find based on your location and your budget.
  • To not be bombarded with environmental, pharmaceutical and dietary toxins all day every day.
  • To be truly rested. Get enough sleep.
  • To be used like the wonderful bio-mechanical machine it is. Move it!
  • To see the sun. Soak it all up.
  • To just chill rather than be stressed beyond its limits with every day demands it wasn’t meant to endure. Sometimes you just gotta chill.

 

Ok, I could really keep going but at this point my eyes are going blurry. These are just a few friendly words of advice, caution and encouragement to my curious friends who have expressed a desire to really give this a try. This lifestyle is really the easiest, and most sustainable I have found. Once you get rolling, it is easy. Once you feel the wonderful changes happening in your body, many of which you won’t even know to expect, it is not only easy, it is yours. It’s your Paleo.

 

Until Next Time,

~ Laura, MGP

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2 Responses to “The Dos and Don’ts of Starting Paleo.”

  1. TJ says:

    Just wanted to let you know that I found your website earlier today and appreciate the clarity and pragmatic advice. I have been thinking about Paleo for a couple of months, but have honestly been overwhelmed with the sheer volume of information that is out there. Now that I have started a Crossfit program I might as well go all in. Not crazy about pitching the food in my pantry and refrigerator, but better to avoid the temptation.

    • Momgonepaleo says:

      Hi TJ! I am so glad you like it. I just wrote a page called Paleo According to Laura – Six Paleo Principles. Hopefully this will prove helpful for those getting started. I know what you mean about pitching the crap in the cupboard, but it really needs to go. And good for you in joining Crossfit. Get strong! 🙂

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