So you have done your research and have been cutting back on bread or carbohydrates and you even are in love with some new foods you haven’t tried before. You feel ready for the next step.
Set guidelines. I know you feel you’re ready but you need to make sure you know how you’re going to eat so when you break your own guidelines it doesn’t become a slippery slope. Are you going to allow Dairy products or not? Are you going to only eat foods with five ingredients or less? Are you going to count carbohydrates, and if so, how many per day (hint: make it a range)? What will you do if you eat a meal that breaks your guidelines (e.g. has bread, corn syrup, etc)?
See, I have a confession. When eating at home with Paleo on the mind, I was easily able to resist temptation. But one day when my husband picked up lunch at a local burger place (Culvers), I got home and immediately started eating the burger like I had before–with the bun still on! I got half-way through the burger before I realized my mistake! I was so upset with myself for forgetting! But I took the bun off and finished the burger as I was supposed to. I made sure to be ever more vigilant when it came to eating out or getting take-out.
Set a start date. Once you have set guidelines for what you are allowing or not, it is a good idea to set a start date to make sure you don’t keep putting it off. I might recommend a weekend, so you’re not under added stress to start it on a Monday or other weekday. Give yourself a full day to prepare meals and things, especially in advance for the week ahead.
I don’t know about your house, but we didn’t throw out all the non-paleo things we had lying around. Our reasoning was, “if it doesn’t work for us, why get rid of it all?” Instead, I moved stuff around in our kitchen, so everything that we would have gotten rid of was put away in a place where we wouldn’t really look for it or in my case, reach it!
Set weekly challenges. This is just an idea and not necessarily something you have to do. But your first week, the challenge will likely be giving up your favorite non-paleo food. For me it was bread. And it seemed like bread was everywhere! The second week was a little easier, but then I wanted sweets (donuts, cookies, cupcakes, etc) which are just as bad if not worse. So sometimes setting some weekly challenges can help you get through your cravings. Just remember to give yourself a small reward. Currently, I love semi-thawed/semi-frozen red raspberries, so I might let myself pig out on a couple servings (about 2 cups) instead of sticking to a half a serving or one serving. Or maybe reward yourself with some paleo-friendly cookies.
Alternatively, another weekly challenge could include cooking with a new ingredient or trying new recipes. Or if you have mastered some of the primal allowances, to go a bit more hard-core paleo!
Ok, last point. Don’t feel defeated if you don’t eat perfectly paleo. As I have found with this change in my life, I only really fail if I give up. And I have given up time and time again with other diets and efforts that just seemed to fail me. It was one vicious cycle of hating my body, trying a new diet, failing to see results, and then trying to be okay with my body the way it was. But in the end there is still something wrong with my body–it was unhealthy! It wasn’t just about being overweight, it was also about the asthma that I didn’t have a problem with as a child. It was also about the horrible eczema and other strange aches and pains I would get. And now that I am pregnant, I feel more sensitive to these things. I am also, admittedly, more aware of how I feel than I was before.
Ok, one final thing. You can do this. If you find yourself cheating too much, try adjusting your guidelines and try again. You can always use weekly challenges to gradually meet the Paleo guidelines. But as someone who never thought I could give up bread, I know you can do this.
Ready. Set. Paleo!