I’m often asked what I would recommend for people starting out on a Paleo diet. True, it can be daunting to make such drastic changes all at once. No soy? No gluten? No grains? How is that even possible?
I hate referring to Paleo as a “diet,” because that implies it’s a temporary quick-fix for weight loss. Paleo is not a pill. It’s not temporary or instantaneous at all–and to be honest, it may not solve all of your health concerns, even with long-term commitment. But overall, the benefits are profound.
Paleo is something to strive for, for the rest of your life.
If that sounds depressing to you, take a second to examine why.
Are you afraid you’re going to miss bread?
Are you afraid of never again eating the things you used to (or currently) love?
Do you hate the thought of cooking more?
Again, realize that this is a process, not a snap of the fingers. I once read something like this: “You didn’t get sick overnight, so don’t expect to heal overnight.”
Perfection simply isn’t possible 100% of the time. Nor is it necessary. Giving yourself permission to slip up once in a while, then let it go and move on, is a powerful skill to develop.
This couldn’t be more true for any long-term change.
As I survey my own journey with this whole Paleo thing, I realize it’s been just that: a journey. Changing my habits took many steps over many years. And my habits continue to evolve.
Paleo doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing lifestyle.
You don’t have to count yourself as a failure and revert to your old habits if you have a couple of slip-ups, or if you choose to keep eating dairy but not grains.
I did miss certain foods at the start of this journey. And I still do miss them sometimes. But the longer I stick with Paleo, the more my taste buds change, and the less I want most of the foods I used to crave. Now I don’t even want the junk I see on the shelves of most regular grocery stores.
3 things that might help
If you’re struggling to stick with Paleo–however that looks for you–try the following:
Focus on what you CAN eat. It’s easy to look at a list of foods to avoid and think you’ll have to subsist on celery for the rest of your life. Eat foods you enjoy that also happen to be Paleo-compliant.
Explore the grocery store. Find an unusual ingredient or vegetable the next time you go grocery shopping, then look up a recipe to use it with. Or use the abundance of Paleo blogs out there to find new recipes. Even better, take a private cooking class to learn how to use different ingredients!
Double recipes so you have leftovers to eat later. Even if you only have time to cook dinner twice a week, make a bunch extra, then box up the rest and throw it in the fridge for quick meals in the days following.