Unless you’ve been lying under a pile of bumper plates, you’ve heard the benefits of the Paleo Diet. So many of us want to ‘Go Paleo’, but there are many apprehensions when it comes to starting. Do I have to cook all the time? Do I have to jump in cold turkey? Do I have to give up my precious alcohol? Will I become socially awkward? All of these are valid questions many of us ask ourselves, because let’s face it, we live in the 21st century.
Ever heard of the phrase “you must crawl before you walk?” Well, I believe this works with Paleo as well. When people jump into anything cold turkey, they may be the first to fall off the wagon. One of the main reasons being sugar cravings. Sugar becomes an addiction and when that addiction isn’t fed, you may start to develop headaches, become lethargic and have no desire to continue being Paleo. Here are a few tips to help you ‘Go Paleo’ without really trying.
Practice Eating Paleo when Dining Out
This is where it’s easiest to fail because you might feel there aren’t any ‘Paleo-friendly’ meals on the menu. Remember your server wants to make you happy, after all it could mean more money in their pocket. They’ll do just about anything to ensure a great experience at their restaurant. Ask your server to hold the bread, rice, and/or fries and ask them to add some veggies instead. It’s no surprise how many restaurants cater to their patron’s needs. Some restaurants even offer gluten free menus, but don’t always promote them. If you know the restaurant serves tortilla chips or bread, kindly ask your server to not bring them. It could save the restaurant a few bucks and it keeps you from having processed grains or refined sugars.
Before all this eating happens, you may probably spend some time at the bar chatting with friends. Usually, this could mean multiple alcoholic beverages that will more than likely be mixed with some sugary mixer. Though alcohol falls into a Paleo gray area, let’s review the three types of alcoholic beverages: beers, wines, and spirits. If beer is a must, try gluten free beer. Though still made with grains, gluten-free beer helps ward off some of the inflammatory side effects. Within the spirits category, opt for anything clear, with your best options being vodka or tequila. Wine is also a great option for its many health benefits as is drinking earlier in the day followed by a meal made up of some good protein and fat. Drinking later in the day has been found to block growth hormone release, leading to poor sleep and the inability to burn body fat.
Pack in the Veggies
One of the most important strategies to going and staying Paleo is to incorporate veggies into your diet. Have trouble eating those crunchy greens? Try making your own fresh cut salsa or guacamole, and add in a few extras like cucumbers, cilantro, or celery. Get accustomed to the tastes and textures of different veggies. Use your veggie concoction as a condiment for your salads or protein sources. Ever had guacamole on a juicy steak? You’re welcome. A protein stir fry is an easy way to add veggies. Using cauliflower as a substitute for rice or mashed ‘potatoes’ is amazing. Finally, grilling or baking your veggies will allow you to be creative and find ways to mix it up in the kitchen.
Are you a huge fan of dairy? Consider alternatives that will help you feel like you’re not missing out. Opt for almond or coconut milk in your morning coffee. Are you a cheese lover? Consider how many times you eat cheese and cut it by half. After living without those extra servings here or there, you’ll realize you don’t miss it. It can take just ten days for people to start noticing the benefits of a non-dairy diet. Benefits include better sleep, increased energy levels, and increased weight loss.
What about the beans?
Oh the holy beans! So many of us love our beans. If the gassy feeling you get after having beans hasn’t made you realize it yet, let me be the one to tell you that beans don’t digest very well. Beans and all legumes contain lectins and phytates. In short, lectins are sugar-binding proteins. They help the seeds or beans ‘survive’ by causing diarrhea, bloating and vomiting to prevent you from eating more. Yet we still do! Phytates prevent your body from absorbing minerals such as zinc, magnesium, calcium and iron.
Bring on the Fat
Eat fat! This is by far the easiest way to get into Paleo because everything is so darn delicious! Start by incorporating things like avocado, coconut oil, nuts and seeds into your diet. Bacon lovers rejoice because you don’t have to let it go! Just make sure the bacon you consume doesn’t have nitrites, or nitrates, added. Be careful about eating too much fat if you haven’t yet dropped the grains and refined sugars. Fat and sugar in high quantities are a recipe for disaster.
Consider Private Label Brands
Going Paleo doesn’t have to be expensive. Start saving on your groceries by opting for private label brands found at your local grocer. Private label brands are usually less expensive, and when compared to name brands, include much, if not all, of the same ingredients. Staples such as salt, spices and even some produce are great ways to go generic. Grocery stores are also starting to see the need for whole, rich, organic foods and are generating their own generic brands of which some may even be cheaper than their conventional, non-organic counterparts.