Transitioning to a Paleo Diet

Often times when I tell people that I follow a Paleo diet I almost always get the same responses:

“It’s too expensive”

“I don’t have time to cook every night”

“I could never give up _____(bread, cookies, pasta….)”

Well folks, I’m here to debunk all of those excuses today and to give you some tips to make eating Paleo easier.

Paleo isn’t cheap, but it is affordable

Yes, some aspects of Paleo can be somewhat pricey, especially when you’re initially stocking your pantry and fridge. Paleo flours (almond, coconut, arrowroot, tapioca, etc), cooking oils (avocado oil, coconut oil, ghee), and condiments (salad dressings, mayonnaise, coconut aminos) aren’t all cheap.

The good news is, most of these items will last for a while once you’ve got them on hand, and they’re not all “required” to eat Paleo. For example, Paleo baked goods made with almond or coconut flour are delicious but not something you should be enjoying every day, making those flours last much longer.

The bulk of your Paleo diet should come from high quality meats and seafood and produce. Most health food stores offer rotating sales on wild caught fish, grass-fed beef, and free range chicken. I find buying meat in bulk when it’s on sale and freezing it pays off in the long run. Don’t forget to take advantage of farmers markets, farm shares, and eating seasonally to save big on produce.

Cooking every night takes too much time.. So don’t cook every night!

Hey guess what, I don’t have time to cook every night either! Most of us have super busy days and when you get home from work/the gym/your kids after school activities, the last thing you want to do is make dinner. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy delicious, healthy meals during the week.

If there is one piece of advice I could give you to be successful in healthy eating it is to be prepared and to plan ahead. I spend a couple of hours every Sunday doing some batch cooking to make my life easier during the week. This often includes boiling eggs or making some sort of egg casserole for breakfasts, roasting potatoes or boiling rice, cooking meat, and cleaning/chopping veggies.

I also never make something that only makes enough food for one meal. Casseroles, slow cookers, and leftovers are your best friends.  Sometime’s it’s beneficial to double recipes so it feeds Mark and I for several days. You can even make big batches and freeze a portion of the recipe to pull out in a time of need.

Fail to plan, plan to fail. It’s cheesy but it’s true!

You don’t have to give up all your favorite foods

Bitches love their bread. I’m serious. I can’t tell you how many times people tell me they can’t eat Paleo because they would miss bread too much. Really? I mean don’t get me wrong, I like bread too, but I’ve been gluten-free for about 4 years now and the allure of bread wears off pretty quickly, especially when you realize how amazing you feel without it.

I’m not saying you have to give up bread (cookies, pasta, whatever) forever. But you shouldn’t be eating these non-Paleo foods on a daily basis. When you’re at a wedding and you want cake, eat the cake. When mom makes your favorite lasagna and garlic bread and it smells too good to ignore, eat the lasagna and garlic bread.

On the contrary, don’t be afraid to not eat those foods either. You should be empowered to eat the cookie because you want to, or not eat the cookie because you just don’t want to. Period. There will be more cookies. Don’t feel like you need to eat something just because it’s there or because it’s the weekend and you always get pizza on Friday nights. Eat with intention and pay attention to your body and what it needs.

Paleo isn’t about being restrictive, because that is definitely not a healthy relationship with food either. It’s about fueling your body with real, nutritious food. This is a lifestyle, not a crash diet. It has to be sustainable. For me that means giving in to my cravings when I really want something, but also knowing that I feel my best when I keep things mostly Paleo.

Keep it simple, stupid

My second most important piece of advice for being successful with Paleo (following being prepared and planning ahead) is to keep it simple. Your diet should be built around loads of vegetables, a little fruit, quality sources of meat and seafood, healthy fats, and some starchy carbs.

Keep this in mind when you’re building your meals. Where’s my protein? Veggie? Fat source? Carbohydrate?  Buy whatever is on sale (reference tip #1 to save money) and mix and match. Season with your favorite flavors and call it a day.

In summary, making the switch to Paleo isn’t so hard.

  1. Don’t buy fancy Paleo treats if you’re on a budget. Buy meat and produce that’s on sale and stock up when you can
  2. Plan ahead and prepare food in advance. Batch cooking, crock pots, and casseroles are your best friends
  3. Have a non-Paleo treat when you want it and don’t when you don’t want it. Either way, don’t feel pressured and listen to your body
  4. Keep your meals simple