First let me tell you a little about my last two days. Monday night I went out and had Thai food for dinner. I drank a cocktail, and later I ate some chocolate and drank some wine. Mind you, these days I don't eat the delicious German milk chocolate anymore. I eat dark, organic, fair trade chocolate.
I will admit that my dinner wasn't entirely paleo, although eating Thai generally makes it easier to opt for paleo meals. Well, my dinner consisted of mostly meat and vegetables, and a little bit of gluten... and corn. My drink, I'm sure, had plenty of sugar in it. It was delicious though. I had a blast Monday night. It was all around a wonderful evening.
And then Tuesday came around. And I was still doing just fine... until about 4:30 in the afternoon. That's when I started feeling sick to my stomach. I was nauseous, could barely eat my very healthy dinner, and spent the rest of the evening in bed. Needless to say, I'm feeling just fine today, after using the restroom about 5 times this morning. Food poisoning? Or gluten poisoning? I guess I can't be 100% sure that this had anything to do with what I ate 24 hours earlier... but it sure seems like it could be the case.
Soooo... how to get started on this paleo lifestyle? First and foremost, ask yourself the question, "Do I really want to do this? Am I ready?" If you find a bunch of excuses for why you can't stick with it, then maybe it's not time for you quite yet. Or maybe you need a step by step approach... starting with cutting out the grains (CUT THE GRAINS, I'M SERIOUS!), then the sugars, the starches, the legumes. But, if you feel you're ready, this is how you can proceed:
1) Is your family on board with this? Then clean out the pantry. Get rid of it all! All the things you no longer need, why keep them around?
If the family is not on board, well, explain to them why you're going paleo (and who can argue with a happier, healthier parent and spouse!), and that you need them to support you. This means, they eat what you cook. If they choose to fill their bodies with things you can no longer eat, have them NOT bother YOU with it. They're perfectly capable of eating crackers and cookies without your help. ;)
In my case, my family is not really on board with me. Well, my husband is. My daughter is kinda sorta... but my son really dislikes this lifestyle. That's perfectly fine by me. My take on it is, I'm doing this for me right now. I'm leading by example, and I know that the good example I'm setting will eventually rub off on them. I know in my gut, that all of them will eventually understand and appreciate this lifestyle and will join me.
2) Remember the 80/20 rule? Okay, people... let this not be misunderstood. I'm not talking 80/20 each day. I'm talking 80/20 forever. If you eat well 80% of the day, and then stuff your faces with junk at night, you are going to boycott yourselves. Don't do it. My single, most important piece of advice I have for you is to go cold turkey and stay that way for at least one month. You will eliminate cravings! You will no longer feel like you must have that sugary pastry, that bag of chips, or whatever it is that is "dangerous" to you! After your first months, after you've created good habits, that's when you can allow yourself that occasional treat.
3) Surround yourselves with people who think alike. If you don't have those people around you, join an online forum, or well, read my blog and leave comments, and ask for advice. I'll be happy to answer your questions if I can. Doing it completely on your own can be tough. But with a support system in place it will be much easier. You'll feel good about yourself.
4) Read! The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson is a great book, so is Robb Wolf's The Paleo Solution. Check out Mark's Daily Apple every day for a new blog post. His posts are down to earth, sane, well researched and easy to read. And there is an entire section with success stories for those days when you just need to read about someone who did it. The Before and After pictures are spectacular in some cases.
5) Be prepared for snack time. This is what I found the most difficult, when I started this lifestyle. No more pretzels, no candy, no chips, no sandwiches, no crackers. Yikes!! How will you survive? Well, it's really not that difficult. A handful of almonds (choose raw almonds and soak them!), a celery stick with a teaspoon full of almond butter... Heck, have a couple of strips of bacon, some fruit, some vegetables. Just make sure to always have some protein with your snack. You will feel more filled and last longer until your next meal. But also, if you eat a big enough meal for lunch with food that truly satisfies your hunger, you may not even need that snack.
6) When it comes to preparedness, a shopping list for the entire week can be really helpful. Make a list of meals you'll prepare throughout the week. Remember breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Shop accordingly. You can also cook in advance. If you cook a bunch of chicken breasts and refrigerate them, all you need to do is make a salad, warm up the chicken, et voila, a delicious lunch is served. The same goes for burgers. Why make burgers for just one meal? Make enough for three meals. Then have one for breakfast, together with a cup of broccoli or cooked spinach or salad.
7) Must have treats? You can! Paleo people are incredibly resourceful! :) Banana bread muffins (made of almond meal, bananas, honey, baking powder, baking soda... and you can add dark chocolate chips or walnuts to the mix) are a decadent treat and will be sure to satisfy your craving. Almond balls with figs and coconut flakes... yum! I will post recipes for these treats tomorrow. Now, remember! This is a treat!! Don't let this turn into a habit, especially if you're trying to lose weight.
8) Limit your fruit intake. Don't get me wrong. Fruit is delicious, and you should have some every day, preferably as berries. Blueberries are especially good. But don't overdo it with the fruit. It's full of fructose. And you don't want too much of that in your diet. Go for the vegetables whenever you can.
The Paleo Diet is not a diet. It's not a fad. It's a lifestyle. You're making this change for good. You don't have to do it for just a little while and then go back to your old habits, only to realize that it's not working, and then you'll go on yet another diet. It's not necessary. :)
Have you seen the light yet? ;-)
Tomorrow's post will include some yummy recipes for you.