This article assumes that you are already familiar with the Paleo diet and now want to adopt it for yourself. The “Paleo diet” has an obscure sounding name and lots of seemingly bizarre rules: no bread or beans? Despite the list of dos and don’ts, the theory is the easy part, the doing it is the hard part.
Eat only what the earliest humans ate.
It’s that simple. What isn’t so simple is keeping your commitment. If you’re like me, or most humans really, goal setting easy. How many New Year’s Resolutions have you made? How many have you fulfilled? So before you jump into the Paleo diet only to abandon it a few days in, set yourself up for success.
Make a Paleo diet meal plan
My least favorite part about adopting a new healthy eating regiment is that invariably the cookbooks will list out recipes which require ingredients I don’t have. Since you can’t buy 1 tablespoon of paprica, I end up buying a whole bottle… and more than I need of countless other ingredients. Meal plans are tedious, boring, and rigid. “I’ll just go with the flow,” I tell myself. The problem is that going with the flow requires a mastery which I do not yet posses. I need a Paleo diet meal plan because if I don’t have one, I’ll end up eating unseasoned chicken breast and apples for every meal of every day. That is not sustainable.
You can make a plan yourself or find one online but you need a plan. A goal without a plan is only a fantasy. Map out what you’ll eat for the next 1 – 4 weeks. You don’t need an exact meal by meal “I have to eat this Tuesday for lunch” but you should have enough meals to get you through. You should also make sure you have enough breakfasts, enough lunches, enough dinners, and enough snacks. Never underestimate snacking. If you don’t plan for snacks, you’ll either ditch your Paleo diet meal plan immediately and opt for a non-Paleo snack or you’ll be so hungry when meal time comes around that you don’t stick to the Paleo diet meal plan. You don’t want that. Include a variety of foods in case you’re just not in the mood for something and make sure you, at least in the beginning, stick with what you know. If you can’t prepare, or don’t really like, the food you’re eating, you won’t stick to your Paleo diet meal plan.
Evolve: if humans did it, so can you.
Start with foods you know and like but don’t stay there. Gradually introduce new foods into your Paleo diet meal plan over time. Your first week should be only foods you know and love. Your second week, try to eat something new once per day. After that, try to incorporate something new and unusual into every meal. A key component to the Paleo diet is variety. Hunter-Gatherers didn’t have the luxury of a grocery store, or even a Paleo diet meal plan; they ate what was available. You need to intentionally branch out in the beginning because we have been conditioned to only eat certain types of food (cereal, bacon, eggs, and toast for breakfast; a turkey sandwich for lunch, pasta or casserole for dinner).
Ultimately, a written meal plan and specific commitment are crucial for your success in converting to a Paleo diet. Hey, if humans could do it before the invention of indoor plumbing, I think you can handle it too.