If you’re looking to get into a healthy new routine, then the ultra-popular Paleo diet may seem like a great option! A chance to get back to basics while cutting out modern processing, additives, and other nasties that we all know are bad for us.
Based on things that our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have presumably eaten way back in the day, the Paleo diet involves adhering as closely as possible to what our diets would have looked like before the advent of farming. This diet’s packed with things that could have either been hunted or gathered including meat, fish, nuts, veggies, and some fruit. It also does away with the modern staples of grains, processed foods, sugar, and usually dairy as well.
While going Paleo can be a healthy lifestyle change for some, the truth is that the benefits will vary greatly depending upon your individual approach and how well this diet suits your body and lifestyle.
If you’re considering Paleo and wondering if you could reap the benefits of this diet then you’ll want to ensure that you’re doing it in a healthy and manageable way!
Fire up the grill! Here’s what you should know about going Paleo and five mistakes you’ll want to avoid along the way!
- Not Replacing Nutrients
Perhaps the biggest controversy surrounding Paleo is the fact that it involves giving up some very prominent food groups, particularly dairy and grains. While there’s much debate about the importance of these foods in your diet what isn’t open for discussion is the necessity of the nutrients found in these groups. If you’re cutting out these food groups, make sure you replace them with others to ensure that you’ll still be getting the nutrients! A good way to get started with Paleo is by easing into it. Start by eating more veggies to maintain your fiber intake. Stock up on nutritional powerhouses like dark, leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, and look to get vitamin D from egg yolks and mushrooms.
- Failing to Plan
As with anything in life, failing to plan is, well, planning to fail! With the Paleo diet, this is certainly the case. You can’t simply eliminate grains and dairy and expect great results. In fact, many of the benefits of Paleo are due to eating more nutrient-dense foods rather than just cutting things out. Finding success with Paleo starts with careful planning. This includes making a meal plan, buying ingredients, and ensuring that you’re getting enough variety to make this diet beneficial and sustainable.
- Not Being a Careful Shopper
Don’t fall for the packaged foods! Just because a box says it is “gluten free” doesn’t mean it’s Paleo-friendly. In most cases, it’s best to avoid processed foods altogether and choose whole foods like grass-fed meat, poultry, fish, and cage-free eggs. Stock up on a variety of veggies, some fresh fruits, and avocados. Look for healthy oils such as olive and coconut. Buy some nuts and purchase sweet potatoes and yams. This will give you a good variety of ingredients to work with, and lots of healthy options for making some delicious and nutritionally dense meals. Loaded omelets, chicken salads, and freshly grilled meat with a side of sweet potatoes, asparagus, and avocado are just a few amazing Paleo meal ideas.
- Going All or Nothing With Food Quality
One thing that often holds people back from going Paleo is the cost. However, while it’s true that the best Paleo diet involves grass-fed beef and organic produce, you don’t have to break the bank to experience the benefits of this diet. If you can’t afford to stock your fridge with grass-fed meat, opting for grain-fed beef is still a better option than throwing in the towel and having pizza every night! Avoid processed food and instead try to focus on whole food alternatives like meat, eggs, nuts, fruits, and veggies. Try to shop at farmers markets. They’re often a lot more affordable than the store. You can experience many of the benefits of Paleo without spending a fortune.
- Giving Up Portion Control
Paleo, when done correctly, will leave you feeling satisfied. Still, this doesn’t mean that you should throw portion sizes out the window! If you’re looking to lose weight with Paleo, remember that an ounce of nuts is still an ounce of nuts. It’s important to get a balance of protein, carbs, and nutrients; and to keep portion size in mind as well. Loading up on the wrong foods, neglecting veggies, and failing to get enough exercise can all lead to weight gain; even with Paleo.
Paleo-style eating offers a number of great qualities including a focus on whole foods, lean protein, veggies, and healthy fats. However, it’s not a silver bullet that’s designed to ensure health and success. Your best option may be to begin by embracing the best points of Paleo and slowly working them into your diet. See how you feel and how your body reacts. Learn what works for you. The best meal plan is one that will give you energy, strength, and health. Whether that’s Paleo or a different diet altogether is something that you’ll want to discover for yourself!
Thinking of going Paleo? What’s holding you back?