10.06.12 Wellness

Getting Down and Dirty with the Paleo Diet

Getting Down and Dirty with the Paleo Diet

BY Hannah Brencher

WWCD. What would a caveman do?

That’s the tough question I ask myself these mornings as I stretch and yawn, place hands on hips and dig deep into the fridge.

I’m Paleo. It’s a buzz word right now— popping up in Tweets, showing up on the covers of healthy living magazines and making headlines with its bold challenge: to learn to be a hunger and gatherer kind of eater in an overly-processed food industry.

So what is Paleo? 

It’s short for Paleolithic and, in a nutshell (Paleo pun intended), it is a diet made up of lean proteins, fruits and veggies, healthy nuts, seeds, oils and grass-fed meats. It’s all about taking back the basic building blocks of food from our ancestors that existed before processed sugars, starches and syrups came along to drape the world in colored plastics and containers.

Will I be Paleo forever? Not likely, but I can vouch for the fact that I feel leaner, lighter, healthier and happier than I have in a long time. The diet has energized me, fueled me for more powerful workouts and has helped me understand food from a healthy and whole standpoint.

So you’ve got it in your bones to be savvy huntress? I’ve assembled some stealthy tips below to help you bedrock the Flintstones meal plan and reap the benefits of the Paleo lifestyle:

Think Of Grandpa
This is the rule of thumb and the number one thing to remember when you are emerging onto the Paleo scene: if Grandpa never ate it, you probably shouldn’t either.

Nothing processed. Nothing refined. Stick to the kinds of foods that cavemen had at their fingertips: meats, berries, veggies, oils, fruits and nuts.

Paleo Must-Haves
Heading to the grocery store to stock up on your new Paleo pantry? Make sure you check these products off your list to ensure starting your diet off smart: coconut oil, coconut milk, unsalted nuts, free range eggs and almond flour. You’ll use the coconut milk especially as a substitute for daily and the almond flour to make some delicious Paleo treats… pancakes anyone?

Keep Your Friends Close And Pinterest Closer
It’s a fact: Paleo has invaded Pinterest and it’s all kinds of wonderful for the beginner Paleo-ite.

Simply search “Paleo” and prepare to devour miles of pinboards dedicated to awesome recipes, savory treats and a diverse range of breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the diet.

Be A Planner
This tip has been invaluable to me while adjusting to the Paleo diet. You’re going to want to plan out your meals, as structured and stiff as that may sound. You’ll cheat less and know sooner what to stock up on at the grocery store.

As with most things— without a game plan, Paleo can seem overwhelming. You’ll be scrounging the backyard for nuts and berries if you don’t plan ahead. Dig into Paleo food blogs. Get advice from other Paleo pals. Make a legitimate grocery list and charge through the food aisles with a victory march. Stick to the plan and delight in how quickly you see the results.

Roll With The Punches
You are a newbie, so don’t break yourself over perfection. Paleo is not an easy adjustment. It requires a lot of sacrifice to the normal diet you’ve probably consumed for years.

You’ll fail. Over and over again, you’ll fail because it isn’t easy and it takes time to get it right. But don’t be hard on yourself and don’t feel like you need to eliminate all grains and all dairy in the swipe of one food plan. Progress into it. Have a cheat meal or two throughout the week. Start with Paleo breakfasts; then conquer Paleo snacks.

You set the pace and you determine how far you want to go. Paleo is not about being perfect, it’s about eating better, feeling better and giving your body the natural goodness it deserves.

I’m curious to hear your tips and tricks. Have you ever tried the Paleo Diet? What helpful advice could you go to someone trying it out?

Hannah Brencher pins her passion to creating social campaigns that bring the human touch back into the digital age. An expert in millennial communications and award-winning blogger, Hannah launched The World Needs More Love Letters in August 2011. A global organization turned social movement, More Love Letters utilizes social media to write and mail love letters to individuals in need all over the world. Hannah is a contributor for Positively Positive and a global finalist forTED2013. She’s been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Oprah.com, Glamour, The White House Blog and the Daily Candy. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Comments

  • would you recommend this for college students on a budget?

    • Jen

      Farmer’s Markets are a college student’s best friend. I’m able to eat healthy by buying local, and a lot of farmer’s markets will sell cheap and in bulk. Plus, you can trade and barter- who doesn’t love that? It’s SO easy to eat horribly in college, since the quick and no-need-to-cook snacks are the ones that are awful for you. Once you find that groove, though, there’s no looking back. When the rest of your dorm is holding their stomachs from that pizza and ice cream social, you’ll be flying high. It may cost a little extra up front from the grocery store, but the long-term benefits of a healthy body will keep your wallet happy in the end.

  • Alex

    I have been “Paleo” for 3 1/2 years now, and it becomes easier with time. The best way to try it is to test it for 30 days and then reintroduce foods to see which are problematic for you. Having emergency food in your bag or fridge will save you when you get home starving and are feeling lazy (eg: good quality jerky, fresh and dried fruit, carrot sticks, nuts, boiled eggs, tinned tuna).

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