Part of me felt like I was being overly ambitious when I decided that I would give the paleo diet a shot in order to “reboot” my body after the holiday season. Could I seriously not consume dairy, sugar, carbs, or alcohol for a month? Well, there was only one way to find out.
THE SHOPPING TRIP THAT PUT THINGS INTO PERSPECTIVE.
Obviously, a huge overall of my current pantry/ refrigerator needed to happen. My go-to breakfast of English Muffins was no longer going to cut it. I ventured to two places: Whole Foods (because, I figured I had to— isn’t WF the destination for all things wholesome? No. But I am a sucker and I received a gift certificate over the holidays) and BJ’s (now, I was really skeptical about venturing into a wholesale club for paleo products…). Here’s the thing, I always thought I was a good eater. I truly felt like I typically didn’t eat processed foods before agreeing to this whole thing, but as I walked down the aisles, now limited by what I could/couldn’t eat— suddenly, I felt like I wanted to go down those aisles (filled with bad-for-you foods). Perhaps, the first realization I had to come to face was the fact that perhaps my eating habits were not as good as I thought they were. Learnings: WF is expensive but they are already geared up for paleo-seekers with lots of easy-to-find foods and products. Surprisingly, their 365 brand of frozen vegetables and fruits was both reasonable and they had a great selection of choices. BJ’s: check out the organic vegetable section, you can stock up on carrots, spinach, kale, peppers, etc. for a fraction of the cost! Also, if you’re into ground chicken/turkey, they have it in bulk here which makes it far more affordable than the $5 per pound you’re faced with at the store!
GO IN WITH A PLAN.
If you can’t create a game plan as to what your meals will consist of (we’re talking 5-6 days worth) when you’re physically in the store, do your research beforehand and come with a list. The worst thing you can do for yourself is to walk aimlessly around and not buy half the things you need. With paleo, the first lesson I learned is that it requires planning. You must plan out each meal, in order to have all the ingredients that you will need. Also, if you were the person who bought lunch/breakfast a few times a week, this might be a big adjustment for you. Paleo can be convenient if you plan things out ahead of time for yourself.
TRY NEW THINGS.
Personally, I can’t stand raw kale. It tastes like roughage and it’s physically uncomfortable going down. But, everyone is still obsessed with it and it does have numerous health benefits. So, do as I do— sauté it! On the paleo diet, you can still use extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil— so you can still make delicious meals/ side dishes. Chop up a fair amount of garlic (3-4 cloves), throw it in the sauté pan with some EVOO and pile on that kale. After about 15-20 minutes of sautéing, it’s actually delicious.
CRAVE… AND THEN ADJUST.
Last night, I made my famous turkey meatballs and sautéed kale and spinach with garlic. Unfortunately, my meatballs lacked bread crumbs and grated parmesan cheese— so to me, they weren’t all that great. But, that got me wondering— there has to be delicious alternatives to the things that I like to eat. For example, I love ice cream. I could have easily driven to the store to purchase a non-dairy ice cream, but it was both far too cold and too late to do that. So, I blended frozen blueberries with almond milk together and made a delicious paleo-approved milkshake. If there’s a will, there’s a way, and there’s always the internet.
THE FIRST FEW DAYS WILL TAKE SOME ADJUSTING TO.
I asked the other brave souls that are doing this with me how they felt after Day 1 of paleo and I received the same one-word answer: hungry. To be honest, I felt hungry too. But, the real question is, am I hungrier than I am usually or am I hyper aware of my diet, which is making me think I am hungrier? The truth was that I was eating more than I typically did, but this time around I was eating whole foods— not my favorite Greek yogurt (that has added sugar), or my usual English Muffin and over-easy egg. The real discovery will be seeing how I feel when I am not so focused on the fact that I am on a diet.
Getting into a diet or a new healthy lifestyle requires motivation. You need to be excited about it as it’s impacting you. One way to do this is to create a mini support system where you can share your successes and little victories— trust me, it makes a difference. Also, having this group also makes you accountable.
REMEMBER THE ULTIMATE TRUTH.
The ultimate lesson in life is that nothing that comes easily is worth having. Getting in shape, losing those last 10lbs, getting ready for your high school reunion, or wedding— requires hard work! I am sorry to say, but we’re not that young anymore and it takes a lot more effort to get results. Keep going. Set little milestones. Remember, this is for you— so give it your all.