Thursday, March 24, 2011

How to "Go Paleo"

After having two different friends ask for some tips on going paleo, I figured I might as well do a post on it! I am by no means an expert on the subject, and this post won't go into the scientific reasons why to go paleo. Although I have read a couple of books and variety of different websites on that aspect of it, I'm much more of a practical girl. Forget the ideology, give me practicals! How do I implement this into my life? How do I "be paleo"? So this will cover some of the practical stuff that I've figured out this past month.

First of all, I did some research. Although I'm practical, I still wanted to know why. There are a number of books out right now about paleo--if you google it, you'll get pages and pages of information. But I started with "The Paleo Diet for Athletes: A Nutritional Formula for Peak Athletic Performance" by Cordain & Friel. That was awfully scientific and dry but it sparked my interest. So then I read "The Paleo Solution" by Robb Wolf, which was much more down to earth although it did have the scientific background as well.

After I had my why figured out, I made a plan. I set aside a day that I would officially start eating paleo. That way I had time to plan a menu, because to be successful I think you need to be prepared. I realized that most of my go-to recipes were not paleo and so I started some research to find some new recipes. I went to my favorite resource for new recipes, Google!

I plugged in "paleo recipes" and found a ton of websites with great ideas. Everyone has their own tastes, but the ones I found most helpful were:

Everyday Paleo
The Food Lover's Primal Palate
The CaveWoman's Kitchen

And as I started browsing the websites, I saved recipes in a special folder. Once I had a ton of them, I started the process of printing them off or writing them down. Then I had a whole pile of recipes to sort through and figure out what I had ingredients for and what I needed. So I plotted out a menu for the week, created a grocery list of what I needed and stocked my frig and pantry with all things paleo before my official "start day".  I am still doing this, too. Each week I find new recipes and plan ahead--the work on the front end makes it much easier throughout the week

Some tips on the actual eating:
1. Plan on making at least a double recipe of whatever your dinner is. You'll want leftovers for lunches, and even breakfasts. Leftovers are good!
2. Pack your lunch as you are putting away leftovers after dinner so that it's ready in the morning.
3. Spend some time on Sunday (or whatever day ends your weekend) preparing for the week, especially if you work outside of the home:

  • Make some egg muffins, they are a quick and tasty way to get protein at breakfast without having to always fry an egg. 
  • Wash and prep your veggies. I like to have carrot & celery sticks ready, also fruit for the girls and usually some lettuce.
  • Stock your purse/car/office with paleo snacks like nuts, coconut flakes, dried fruit, jerky, etc. (Larabars are my newest find for portable snacks). I also froze some grapes which I store in a ziplock baggie and grab on my way out the door when I take the girls to gymnastics.

4. When Planning out the weeks menu, don't forget breakfast and lunch:

  • Have ideas for what to eat/pack if you run out of leftovers. Need some ideas? Check out the blogs I listed above, there are a ton!
  • Explore the non-egg options for breakfasts: nitrate-free bacon, sausage (both pork & chicken), berries and nuts in coconut milk, fruit smoothies with some greens thrown in, or even leftover dinner!
5. Make sure you're eating lean protein, veggies & some healthy fats at every meal. I found that I was least hungry between meals when I had that balanced. For example, if I have some avocado with my eggs in the morning, I'm good til lunch, but if I don't I get hungry quickly.
6. Try new veggies and new recipes--it helps keep it fun and exciting.
7. But also have some go-to quick/easy meals that you can do on the crazy days, i.e. taco's but only with lettuce cups as "shells" or as a salad. It's easy to pull ground beef out of the freezer and have it browned up and seasoned in 30 minutes or less. Or "Spaghetti" again the ground beef, and prepared sauce (that's without the junk) served over spaghetti squash. 

I think those ideas will help get you started on a successful paleo journey, I know they helped me. Being prepared, planning ahead and then reading a ton of blogs on the subject really helped me get off on the right foot. Let me know if this helps you or if you have any question I didn't address here. I'd love to help! :-)

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