So, you’ve decided you want to make a change with your diet; possibly even start eating Paleo?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone; there are tons of people every day that try new diets and, unfortunately, fail because they see this task as too daunting. They try to change everything at once because the protocol says to do X, Y, and Z, and to leave out A, B, and C.
Well, I’m here to help you get started and stay on course to start eating Paleo.
Eating Paleo For The Average Person
I bet most of you reading this are not super athletes that have been eating in the Paleo style for awhile now; am I right?
Like I said, you’re probably looking to make a change and that’s great! That’s actually the first step needed; you have to identify WHAT you want before you can determine the process to achieve it.
So, you’re probably choosing Paleo because you want to do one, or more, of the following:
- Lose weight (from fat)
- Become healthier
- Look better
- Feel better
Again, you’re definitely not alone, as most of us want these, but many do not take the action to achieve them.
There’s something you must realize before you begin the “diet” and that it that you cannot think of it as a program or anything else that has a start and end date.
The people that are the most successful are those that treat changing the foods they eat as a new way of living with new positive habits that they continue throughout their life.
It is certainly a lifestyle choice, not a program to stop as soon as you’ve completed your goal. So, be sure to think about this before beginning because, if you do think of it as some quick fix that you will do away with after X amount of time or a specific event, you will surely be unsuccessful. Sorry, it’s just the truth of the matter.
Ok, so now that we got some of the psychological logistics out of the way, let’s get to the physical logistics of how to start eating paleo.
5 Steps to Successfully Start Eating Paleo
#1 – Change no more than 2 things at a time
One of the biggest mistakes people make when changing a habit, yes, what you eat is a habit, is making too many changes at once.
“Starting tomorrow, I’m eating strictly Paleo and nothing else.”
That might work for a short time, but then everything comes crashing down when they make one mistake because they think “well, I’m off the diet because I ate this, so I might as well keep eating more things that aren’t on the diet.”
It’s much easier to begin seeing the physical changes you want by starting small and staying consistent in those small changes.
An example would be cutting out all sugar-containing beverages like pop (or soda, whichever you call it).
Once those 1 or 2 changes become a habit where you don’t need to think much about doing them, then you can make more changes.
#2 – Stay consistent in the changes you do make
Habits are made by consistently doing the same behavior over time.
Most people think that it’s 2-3 weeks of consistent behavior in order to ingrain it, but recent research says it may actually be upwards of 254 days, depending on the person and the specific habit!
With that knowledge, it’s easier to see why people fail in trying to make multiple habits stick. Can you imagine trying to completely change the way you eat and make it stick for that long?!
Again, that’s why it’s easier to change 1-2 things at any given time, so that there is more focus on those specific changes.
Related – How Are You Doing On Your Goals?
#3 – Focus on the biggest “bang-for-your-buck” first
Many would say to choose the lowest hanging fruit first, but that may not keep you motivated enough to continue your progress toward positive change.
Instead, begin with a change that you know will make a huge impact on your goals.
I’ll use the pop example again; empty sugar calories run amuck on the average person’s health every day. Whether it’s eating desserts, drinking pop or tea full of sugar, or even eating some fruits, it’s a disastrous little bugger that creates huge detriments to our health.
In fact, I bet some of you still think having fat in your diet is bad because it “causes heart disease.” Well, think again – that is a myth and totally bogus. It’s actually sugar and excess carbohydrates that are the culprit!
This is actually one of the main reasons, in my opinion, that eating a Paleo-esque diet is so beneficial; it helps control blood sugar levels and maintain healthy insulin function (a big issue in today’s population).
Of course, there are many other benefits, but that is a huge one and one that can make almost immediate impact on the way you look and feel.
#4 – Track your food
In this digital age, we have apps for everything, so it’s no wonder that there are many to keep track of the food we eat.
I use My Fitness Pal; it’s easy to use and, if you have an iPhone, it actually links to Apple’s Health app, as well as many other 3rd party apps.
It’s very beneficial to see your progress on the screen and keep track of what you’re eating daily. You can lose track pretty quickly if you’re not careful.
#5 – Find a buddy!
It’s always easier to stay on track with the habits needed to reach your goals when you have someone alongside you through the process.
Ask a friend, spouse, partner, or anyone close to you that you see daily to do this with you. Explain the benefits of eating this way and what it will do for them.
To get a little “skin in the game,” you can even make bets with them and put something on the line if one of you goes off the tracks. That makes it more fun, too. Some competition!
Meet up once a week and compare each other’s food journals (or apps) to see how you’re doing.
BONUS #6 – Enjoy your life
This is one that people miss a lot. It’s understandable; you’ve started this new way of life and are very focused on your goals.
However, don’t “miss the forest for the trees.” What I mean is that you can work towards your goals and still enjoy some food (and drink) that are not included in your new plan.
There will be times when you need to celebrate certain things like a friend’s birthday, promotion, etc. Don’t miss out on being a part of their moment and congratulating them because you have to eat “another chicken breast.” Follow me?
This is actually a strategy to stay the course. Even professional bodybuilders, whose job it is to be “jacked,” have a cheat day usually once a week. Believe me, it keeps the sanity.
Most people use an 80/20 or 90/10 approach, where they’re “good” for most of their meals each week, but allow themselves to enjoy a treat every once in awhile. It keeps them satisfied; they’ve had their reward and now it’s time to get back to work on their plan.
What Can You Do Right Now?
Like I said, I would start with no more than 2 things to change from what you’re currently doing. One of those should be something that will make an immediate impact that you can see or feel to keep you motivated.
Cutting excess sugar out should probably be your first change
This won’t be easy and may have to also be slow; you can start with cutting one type of sugar source, if you usually consume multiple, and work from there.
Again, maybe you stop drinking pop and switch to water, as that’s actually two changes in one (decreasing sugar consumption and increasing water consumption).
The second change may be including more fresh vegetables with your meals
This is another change that impacts multiple habits.
When you eat more vegetables, especially those higher in fiber, they make you feel full faster, which decreases the volume of food you can eat and indirectly decreases calorie consumption.
The big thing is that you’re only making small changes and sticking to them, while still being able to enjoy some other things that you normally do. This way you won’t completely hate switching your habits when you start eating Paleo to be more healthy.
Let me know in the comments below how you’re doing as you start making changes!
What Paleo tips for beginners can you share?
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