Paleo Diet – Tips to Keep Going and Make it Work

Posted by on May 9, 2012 in CrossFit Community, Events, Nutrition | 0 comments

Many of you have embarked on the 60 Day Nutrition Challenge and most of you are using the Paleo Diet as your method. You’ve probably already run into some snags, found yourself asking lots of questions, and maybe even wondered if this is possible for another 6 weeks. We’ve put together some tips and advice from our own experiences with the Paleo diet and things we’ve learned from others. Hopefully this helps you feel more comfortable and confident that you can make this work and reap the benefits of this lifestyle change.

1. You might feel like crap at first.
If you are making a major shift in your diet, especially if that involves cutting out sugar, grains, soda, or other addictive foods, you might suffer withdrawal symptoms: lack of energy, headaches, irritability, maybe even digestive issues. This is very common when your body is used to these things – it has to adjust it’s mechanisms. Especially with sugar/carbs – your metabolism is learning how to use your bodyfat for energy instead of the carbohydrates it used to use. And, a lot of the crap you were eating before actually has addictive qualities, just like drugs, alcohol, and nicotine. Advice: Stick it out, and please make sure you are eating enough! You shouldn’t be hungry on the Paleo diet if you are consuming enough protein and fat. Don’t just cut the calories of the junk you were eating before – be sure you are replacing it with high quality foods that fill you up. Unless of course, you were a glutton before. Eat to live, don’t live to eat!

2. You are constantly craving [insert bad food choice here]. Goes with the addiction mentioned before – it’s natural. And if you don’t give in, it WILL go away. Once you give in, you have to start all over with fighting the cravings. My best advice is to find something healthy that you LOVE and make sure it’s available so you can enjoy it at a time when you are fighting a craving. For me, avocados are my go-to rescue for cheese cravings, and a small square of 85% dark chocolate takes care of my sweets cravings. A couple other ideas for battling the sweet tooth (it’s the most common craving) – Coconut Manna is a pure coconut product. It’s thick, creamy and sweet. You can eat a spoonful or melt it and dip fruit in it. If you are taking Whey Protein shakes (not Paleo but some still use it to supplement protein in a pinch), blend it with some pure coconut milk and half a banana. Sweet, creamy, liquid dessert!

3. Are cheat meals allowed? Well, it really depends. If you want to get the most out of this challenge, being as strict as possible on the first 30 days will give you the best experience and results to truly evaluate the effects of paleo on your health. It’s said that gluten (the bad stuff in grains if you haven’t yet read the Paleo Solution) takes two weeks for which your body to repair itself. If you have a cheat meal every weekend that involves gluten or other toxins, you’re never really experiencing life without it. After the first 30 days, treat yourself to something you’ve eliminated, but evaluate how it makes you feel. That’s part of the process – you may find that you have uncomfortable sensitivities to foods you used to eat, and that experience may help you decide to continue life without it. If you’ve already been eating really clean for awhile and know how your body reacts to certain “cheat” foods, then go ahead and indulge once in awhile if it helps you stay on track the other 90% of the time. You can still get great results in your body and health following the 90/10 rule. But the advice is to plan ahead on your cheats. Make sure your cheat meal is something you are really excited about so you can savor it and quench your craving. Don’t let your cheat meal be the stale, day-old donut left in the office breakroom. That will do nothing for you, mentally or physically!

4. You’re bored with plain old meat and veggies. Guess what, you don’t have to be! It might be easiest to crunch on raw carrots, celery, and broccoli along with your simple baked chicken, but that’s going to get old real fast. Have fun with the foods you eat – make it a goal to try one new recipe a week. Yes, you might have to cook. I learned to cook when starting to eat paleo, and it’s the best thing I could’ve done! I now enjoy cooking, get excited to try new things, and it makes it much more enjoyable than feeling limited to eating only the basics. If you don’t already have one, buy yourself a wok to experiment with stir-fries, or maybe a food processor to make salsa’s, salad dressings, and other sauces easier and quick. Also, a good set of knives. Nothing is more frustrating than slicing meat or veggies with a dull knife. Get a crockpot! That is the easiest, most delicious way to cook up a week’s worth of meals. Try to pick one new veggie a week to try so you don’t get bored. Also, plan ahead! Prep, cook, and freeze a bunch of stuff for the week, all in a matter of hours on your weekend.

Ultimately, being successful in this challenge and enjoying the benefits is going to take CHANGE. It won’t just happen naturally, but if you really want it, you will make the changes you need to make to get the results. It might mean getting out of your comfort zone, rearranging your schedule, or relearning everything you thought you knew about nutrition. But, if you’ve signed up for the challenge, give it your all, and do what you have to do. Everyone’s journey might look a little different, but anyone can do this and see positive results! Allow yourself to embrace change, and enjoy the rewarding feeling of health and awesome results. It might change your life!

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