I recently read a “30 Tips” post on Rubies and Radishes that had some great suggestions to make eating Paleo easier.* Most of them will apply to any real-food diet. Just substitute the name of your diet wherever you see the word “Paleo.”
But… compulsive editor that I am, I edited it down to what I thought were the best 15 tips for eating Paleo/real food, and add a few helpful items and notes of my own. Here you go!
1. When you’re just starting, plan out meals and snacks several days in advance. This keeps you from caving in on busy days. Once you get the hang of cooking and eating this new way, it will be easier to throw together meals from your well-stocked kitchen. (You might want to read about how I stock my kitchen for easy meals.)
2. If planning all your meals seems overwhelming, try it in phases. Most people don’t need a lot of variety in breakfast, so find one or two healthy breakfasts that work for you and get those nailed down. Figure out how to prep your breakfast so it’s a no-brainer in the morning. (Here are some no-brainer breakfast options.) Then find a few lunches that work for you. (If you eat out for lunch, check out my Eating Paleo/Whole30 When Eating Out post.) Then move on to planning dinners.
3. For encouragement and inspiration, join Paleo Facebook pages. Here are a few:
Also, if you’re on Instagram, follow me at @jana.realfood: I often post easy lunches and dinners there, as well as Paleo-friendly restaurant dishes.
For example, here’s a tip from my Instagram pages: a breadless BLT kit using romaine leaves as a wrap makes an easy summer lunch!
4. Cook meat in bulk, but don’t freeze it in a huge chub: portion it out into easy-to-thaw portions before putting it in the freezer. Hamburger, pulled pork, chicken, and your favorite kinds of sausage are all handy to have ready to deploy. You can also cook bacon in big batches and keep it in the fridge or freezer. Have you tried cooking it in the oven? So easy!
5. Dedicate time to prep ingredients every week. Or, if it works better for you, every evening after dinner, prep what you’ll need for tomorrow’s meal(s). Thaw anything that’s frozen. Chop up ingredients. Pre-mix seasonings or sauces. I’ve collected a few tips on ingredient prep, too.
6. Paleo eating and meal planning takes time to adjust to. Give yourself time and grace. Keep at it — it will get easier! It’s only hard until it’s routine.
7. Read labels. Learn to recognize sugar in all its disguises. Yeah, it’s overwhelming and kind of depressing at first, but it’s a necessary education.
8. Don’t spend too much time trying to figure out how to substitute or recreate the unhealthy food you once ate. Instead of mourning the loss of food that makes you feel yucky, celebrate new food discoveries that make you feel great! As you stick with this, your taste buds will change and junk food will become less and less appealing.
9. Explore Paleo blogs and books. The more Paleo knowledge you have, the easier it is to stick with your new lifestyle! (Check out my books page.)
10. When you make dinner, make extra. Enjoy it for breakfast (yes, you can!) or lunch the next day, or pack it in the freezer for an easy future meal.
11. One of the hardest things about eating Paleo (or your personal version of it) is the social pressure to eat junk. Always have a plan before going to social gatherings. And focus on how that food is going to make you feel tomorrow! Tell yourself, “When I eat crap, I feel like crap.”
12. Eat a satisfying meal before you go to parties so you won’t be tempted by unhealthy choices. Drink plenty of water while you’re there. Focus on enjoying the people, not the food.
13. If it’s a pot luck, bring your own Paleo dish (or two), because that might be your only healthy choice!
14. Likewise, have a plan for how you’ll eat when meeting friends at restaurants. Study up on tips for Eating Paleo/Whole30 When Eating Out.
15. Remember to get the sleep you need every night, and drink plenty of water. And several times a week, if not every day, try to get a little sunshine and gentle exercise.
BONUS TIP: Expect ups and downs! Give yourself grace if you slip up. As Melissa Hartwig says in Food Freedom Forever, “Insulting yourself over your food choices is perhaps the most damaging behavior of all.”
* (Read the original Rubies and Radishes post here, if you have a few minutes.)
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