I recently read a “30 Tips” post on Rubies and Radishes that had some great suggestions to make eating Paleo easier.*
But… compulsive editor that I am, I edited it down to what I thought were the best tips for eating Paleo, and add a few helpful items and notes of my own. Here you go!
• When you’re just starting, plan out meals and snacks several days in advance. This keeps you from caving in on busy days. Once you get the hang of cooking and eating Paleo, it will be easier to throw together meals from your well-stocked kitchen.
• If planning all your meals seems overwhelming, try it in phases. Most people don’t need a lot of variety in breakfast, so find one or two Paleo-friendly breakfasts that work for you and get those nailed down. Then find a few lunches that work for you. Then move on to planning dinners.
• Cook meat in bulk; save in easy-to-thaw portions in the freezer. Hamburger, pulled pork, chicken, and your favorite kinds of sausage are all handy to have ready to deploy. You can also cook bacon in big batches and keep it in the fridge. Have you tried cooking it in the oven?
• Dedicate time to prep ingredients every week. Or, if it works better for you, every evening after dinner, prep what you’ll need for tomorrow’s meal(s). Thaw anything that’s frozen. Chop up ingredients. Pre-mix seasonings or sauces.
• Paleo eating and meal planning takes time to adjust to. Give yourself time and grace. Keep at it — it will get easier! It’s only hard until it’s routine.
• Read labels. Learn to recognize sugar in all its disguises. Yeah, it’s overwhelming and kind of depressing at first, but it’s a necessary education.
• Don’t spend too much time trying to figure out how to substitute or recreate the non-Paleo food you once ate. Instead of mourning the loss of food that makes you feel yucky, celebrate new food discoveries that make you feel great! As you stick with this, your taste buds will change and junk food will become less and less appealing.
• Explore Paleo blogs and books. The more Paleo knowledge you have, the easier it is to stick with your new lifestyle!
• When you make dinner, make extra. Enjoy it for breakfast (yes, you can!) or lunch the next day, or pack it in the freezer for an easy future meal.
• One of the hardest things about eating Paleo is the social pressure to eat junk. Always have a plan before going to social gatherings. And focus on how that food is going to make you feel tomorrow! Tell yourself, “When I eat crap, I feel like crap.”
• Eat a satisfying meal before you go to parties so you won’t be tempted by unhealthy choices. Drink plenty of water while you’re there. Focus on enjoying the people, not the food.
• If it’s a pot luck, bring your own Paleo dish (or two), because that might be your only healthy choice!
• Likewise, have a plan for how you’ll eat when meeting friends at restaurants.
• Remember to get the sleep you need every night, and drink plenty of water. And several times a week, if not every day, try to get a little sunshine and gentle exercise.
You may be eating all the good stuff, but you’re eating too much of it. Take the time to read the serving size indications and stick to it by measuring out your portions or using an at-home food scale. Don’t trust yourself to guess what a cup of spaghetti looks like or you’ll be putting in all the effort of dieting without reaping any benefits. A study of overweight people found that 38 percent of those who practiced only portion control lost weight.
It can be tempting to throw in the towel when you slip up. You may be thinking that if you’ve already ruined your diet you might as well stuff your face and start fresh tomorrow. This way of thinking will get you nowhere fast. It’s natural to overeat once in a while or indulge in that chocolate cake you know you should skip, but don’t let one mistake throw you off balance.
If you want to lose weight quickly and efficiently it is best to pair your diet with a regular exercise routine. Spend at least 30 minutes a day doing moderate-intensity activity at least five days a week. Whether that is a long morning walk, a bike ride, a yoga class, or an evening at the gym, make sure you don’t leave out the fitness component to your new healthy lifestyle.
You may think if you skip breakfast you can save those calories for lunch, snack, or dinner time, but by the time you get to lunchtime you’ll be starving and will have a tendency to overeat. Those “saved” morning calories won’t last long. According to the Mayo Clinic, eating a good breakfast helps keep you on track for healthy eating the rest of the day and refuels your body with energy to start the day.
If you’re focusing on eating smaller portions and fewer snacks, but aren’t consuming enough protein you’ll constantly be hungry. Protein keeps your metabolism running, your energy up, and keeps you full longer as it is harder to digest than most carbohydrates. Include a lean protein in every meal and snack on items that are high in both fiber and protein like nuts, dried fruit, or hummus and veggies.
When you’re trying to lose weight you should be focused on drinking water. Not only does water make you feel full, but it is a pure, calorie free drink that is great for your skin and digestion. If you regularly consume a morning cappuccino, a soda with lunch, and a few beers with dinner you’re consuming a few extra hundred liquid calories a day.
Many people use food as a reward for completing a long day at work or completing a rigorous workout, but using food as a reward can be a dangerous pitfall when dieting. Emotional eating will sabotage your diet and leave you feeling worse off in the end. Studies show that 78 percent of American consumers are more likely to eat dessert as a treat to reward themselves. Rather than using food as a reward, give yourself an evening in with your favorite show or a new pair of running shoes.