I’ve been asked a lot of questions about paleo tips from readers who have been following me since before I went paleo, usually something along the lines of “What are the first steps to going paleo?” “What sites/resources do you recommend for going paleo?”
This info should help anyone who is thinking of going paleo find their way. These tips are short, concise, and will help you figure out what your first steps should be. Without further ado, I give you my Top 10 Tips for Going Paleo:
10. Start Small
If the thought of giving up processed foods, grains, dairy, sugar, legumes, and refined vegetable oils all at the same time scares you, start removing them one at a time.
Start with the baby step of removing processed foods. Feel better without all the packaged, unpronounceable ingredients
? Start removing grains next (thereby removing gluten, a big irritant for a lot of people). Remove each component for a minimum of one week before moving to the next one. You’ll start to feel amazing after the first two weeks, I promise.
9. Commit and Plan
Get rid of all the non-paleo junk in your house that may tempt you as you slowly ease into the lifestyle. Look for hidden sugars, grains, unrecognizable ingredients, and especially refined oils. Donate unopened packages to food banks if you can, or to food drives at your children’s school.
I sometimes have a hard time donating food that I wouldn’t eat myself, but I know most people aren’t as critical of their food as I am, so donate away! Plan out your week of meals each Sunday so you can shop and prep in advance if you need to.
Knowing what every meal will entail and what you’ll need for packing lunches makes life a breeze compared to “winging it.” Failing to plan means you are planning to fail.
8. Remember, This Is Not a “Diet”
Committing to the paleo diet means not considering it a “diet.” If you are serious about it after the first experimental weeks, commit to it and welcome it as the way of life you plan on continuing for as long as it works for you. Looking at it as a diet is asking for failure.
Don’t look at foods as things you can’t have but as things you won’t or shouldn’t have. Look at it as a choice you are making to feel and look better. Once you’re in, paleo becomes a lifestyle. You see everything as being “paleo,” from foods to hair products to the way you renovate your house.
The word paleo is merely a way for people in the community to recognize others of the same mindset. For most of us, it is less about what our ancestors ate and more a way to eat better, live better, and be better. Paleo is a movement.
7. Transition Your Kids as Slowly as You Are and They Might Not Even Notice
Kids want to eat what they have access to. As a parent, you can steer your child in any direction right from his or her first meal. Will it be mushy rice-based cereal or will it be a fresh, ripe, and gorgeously green avocado? My kids each started differently, one the normal cereal-based route but with all homemade baby foods and breastmilk until 22 months, while the other started on organic veggies and avocado plus breastmilk.
They both LOVE eating paleo and will go so far as to ask if something they are about to eat has gluten or sugar in it. That being said, they have a lot of wiggle room in their diets as we don’t want to be too restrictive or pushy. We give them the guidelines and only offer paleo foods at home (with the occasional treat) and they know when they are out at school, parties, or relatives’ houses that they can eat what is offered (within reason). They have never complained and see paleo as their normal.
6. Get Recipes from Blogs
Blogs, recipe sites, online booksellers, bookstores, friends—all these places offer recipes, tips, guidelines, advice, and more on the lifestyle and the various offshoots of it. Blogs like mine are filled to the brim with free recipes and advice, and they are all over the Internet.
A lot of the top paleo tips and blogs will link to other top paleo tips and blogs, which can lead you to the best of the very best in terms of recipes, advice, and more. See my resources list for some suggestions.
5. Stock Up
Keep your house stocked with paleo foods for your fridge, freezer, and pantry and cook more than you need for a meal so that you always have something quick to eat that isn’t processed foods or nuts.
Nuts are great but they should not be a regular snack as they contain as much or more phytic acid as grains and they are extremely calorie dense, making them a poor choice for people looking to stay slim or achieve a healthy weight.
Keep fruit, coconut, dried meat, cut vegetables, hard boiled eggs, olives, leftover meals, etc., in the fridge for easy pickins.
Buy large quantities of fruits and vegetables when they are on sale. Dry, vacuum seal, freeze, or can to keep produce fresh as long as possible. Make sure there is always something at hand for kids and adults alike or you’ll be scrambling for something quick and easy or skipping meals, neither of which is a good option.
4. Make Friends in the Paleo Community
Find people who eat like you do. Tell everyone you are going paleo and see what other people are saying. As soon as we went paleo, so did a good portion of our families and friends, or they at least gave it a try.
Doing it with other people is the safest way to go. Not only can you support each other with your choices or when you are feeling like giving up, but you can also share awesome resources you’ve discovered in your community and even have dinner together once or twice a month to really share that community spirit.
There’s just something special about sharing this lifestyle, and it’s amazing when you all feel great about your food choices together.
3. Eat Non-Paleo at Least Once a Week
Although paleo is a great way to eat, it’s also fun to have a treat here and there. There is a lot of disagreement within the community about what constitutes a paleo “cheat,” but I think it’s something each person has to decide for him-or herself. I feel terribly when I eat gluten, so I just avoid it altogether.
If I’m going to a movie, do I skip the giant bag of buttery popcorn? Hell no, that’s a treat. At Christmas, there will be chocolate and lots of it. Some of our friends go all out, hamburgers with buns, real cake made with flour. Judge not, lest ye be judged, I say …
Experiment: have some sugar, or pastured heavy cream, or cake, or popcorn, or grass-fed butter or whey protein after exercising.
Do what makes you happy and then forget about it. Do NOT feel guilty when you cheat. There is no wagon, you haven’t stepped off of it when you eat something non-paleo and you shouldn’t punish yourself with excessive exercise.
Feel good about the other 90 percent of the time and feel good when you cheat that 10 percent of the time (or 20 percent …).
2. Make Farmers Your Friends
Go in on a quarter of a cow, pig, or lamb, or buy chickens in bulk from your local farmers. Get to know them, introduce yourself, visit their land and see what the animals do all day. Ask about what the animals eat—GMO or non-GMO feed?
Are they pastured, free-range, organic? How much do you have to buy to get the lowest price? Is cutting, wrapping, and delivery all included? Were the animals “finished” on something other than their normal fare? Are hormones or antibiotics used and, if so, what are the farm’s policies regarding them? How far in advance do you need to order?
Do they operate all year long or are they small scale (usually selling only in spring and fall)? Then ask yourself some questions: Can four of your friends go in on a cow together? Do you have enough freezer space? These are all very important questions to ask. Go to farmers’ markets, ask questions at local butcher shops and retail stores.
Find Facebook pages and like them. Get yourself into your local food scene.
Not everyone can eat a strict paleo diet. Some do low carb, some do autoimmune, some cheat with gluten-filled pastries, some won’t touch the stuff even on cheat days. Some can eat like a horse and not gain weight, and some start packing on the pounds with all the dense foods.
After the initial 30 to 90 days of eating paleo, start adding foods back in to see if you tolerate them. If you tolerate dairy, add some back in. If you tolerate legumes, have hummus once in a while. Do what works for you, but just stick to the main principles for the majority of the time to reap the full benefits that paleo has to offer.
A good rule of thumb is: 100 percent paleo, 80 percent of the time. Some things you can do to maximize your lifestyle: Add good quality Himalayan pink salt to your morning water; add supplements you think you might be missing (I take calcium, magnesium, and Vitamin D); add protein shakes and extra carbohydrates if you work out heavily; research ways to make yourself feel as well as possible. Some of us have been eating such crap for so long we have no idea what it feels like to feel good.
So there it is in a nutshell. The paleo diet is fantastic and I will never eat any other way, it’s really that good. It’s not a fad, it’s not a “Hollywood” diet, and it’s not going anywhere. Do yourself a favor and try it out for a month to see the difference your food can make to your well-being.
There are many amazing sources of information on the ever-evolving nature of the Paleo diet out there. Here are a few of my favorites.
- Against All Grain by Danielle Walker Victory Belt Publishing, 2013
- Everyday Paleo by Sarah Fragoso Victory Belt Publishing, 2012
- Gather, the Art of Paleo Entertaining by Bill Staley and Hayley Mason Victory Belt Publishing, 2013
- Make It Paleo by Bill Staley and Hayley Mason Victory Belt Publishing, 2011
- The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010
- The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf Victory Belt Publishing, 2010
- Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo Victory Belt Publishing, 2012
- The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson Primal Nutrition, Inc., 2012
- Primal Cravings by Brandon and Megan Keatley Primal Nutrition, Inc., 2013
- Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan Smudge Publishing, 2012
Originally posted 2021-01-07 08:59:38.