Sometimes you gotta shake it up to wake it up and…waking it up can mean a whole new level of energy and health!
Imagine…waking up, filled with energy, feeling great in your own skin!
At first glance, making the transition to a Paleo lifestyle can seem challenging and expensive. Afterall, anytime you chuck out an existing habit and replace it with something new, there is bound to be a little shake up! But, as they say, sometimes you gotta shake it up to wake it up! And in the case of Paleo – waking it up can mean a whole new level of energy and health. That’s good news, right?
But I’m not going to lie to you, getting there can be a challenge…if you go into it blind. Following these 4 steps for converting to a Paleo diet will help cut the costs and ensure you never feel deprived or go hungry. Some Paleo-converts have reported, with doctor supervision and approval, they were able to reduce or eliminate some medications. This may or may not be true for you, but if you’re like many others, you will feel better than you ever have!
How does that sound? Great…let’s go!
Step 1- Clean House
Paleo is colorful!…
Preparing your home to make the transition is the hardest step of the whole process. Like a writer who has to “kill her darlings” you will have to make a few sacrifices in order to achieve optimum health.
First thing is to raid the refrigerator and pantry. This doesn’t meaning a midnight binge! This does mean that it’s time to toss everything that comes in a bag or a box. No processed foods allowed.
During the first phase, (the paleo gurus say it takes 21 days for your body to get used to the new way of eating), you will have limited sugars or sweeteners, and then, only approved ones like stevia, raw honey and 100% maple syrup.
Don’t want to throw things out because it’s wasteful? Find a church or food bank to take your contributions and get rid of all breads, pasta, cereals, chips, table sugar (you know, the white stuff!), vegetable oils, and anything with wheat in the ingredients. Don’t worry, I’ll give you a list of what to buy in step 3.
So what can you keep? All fruits, veggies, meat and eggs. Nuts are ok except for peanuts. Get rid of all the fake butter and margarine as well. Butter is good for you and you’ll want to splurge on quality such as grass fed butter by Kerryold®.
Why do you have to omit wheat?
Not everyone agrees with this; however, there is a lot of research suggesting wheat is bad for your gut. For whatever reason, some people just cannot properly digest the stuff. And while the research is ongoing, and we are sure to hear more about any wheat and health connections, popular books on the subject like Grain Brain by David Perlmutter and Wheat Belly William Davis, a cardiologist and health crusader, discuss how wheat is making America sick and how we can get healthy by making simple changes like adopting a whole foods diet.
The good news is there are plenty of ways to work around wheat, and you’ll come to appreciate how great you feel when you do.
One of the most popular Paleo gurus, the original grok, Mark Sisson of marksdailyapple.com, also discusses these issues and also why you need to switch to healthy oils such as olive and coconut oil. More on that later.
Step 2- Clean Your Body
Cleansing your body starts from the inside…
Many doctors and nutritionists say that it’s beneficial to start any new diet with a cleanse. This can help you rid your body of collected waste sitting in your colon and flush all the stored toxins out of your system. You start fresh and enjoy optimum benefits of your new dietary changes.
It’s a good idea to start by visiting your health practitioner and get his or her advice on which cleanse is best for you. That is the safest way to do it. In some cases, like mine, I also had to rid my body of candida, a systematic overgrowth of yeast, caused by too many years of bad habits and eating sugar.
There are many helpful websites that advise how to do this plus simple home tests to find out if you have candida in the first place. thecandidadiet.com by Lisa Richards outlines the causes, symptoms and and treatments of candida and provides a list of foods to keep you ahead of this fungal overgrowth. Another of my go-to websites for all things candida related is thewholejourney.com by Christina Orrechio. I followed her protocol and advice the most to get myself rid of the yeasty beasties.
Step 3- Go Shopping
Whole foods, close to the original source, are the delight of a Paleo lifestyle…
Now for the fun part!
Go to the grocery store and purchase the staples to feed your body the best way possible. Stick to the perimeter of the store where all the fresh produce and meat counters are. Stay out of the aisles as much as possible, save for the ones with your healthy oils like olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil.
If you must use sugars, use them sparingly and only buy pure stevia (you may have to go to a whole food store or order online), raw local honey, and 100% maple syrup. Get your grass-fed butter, this will be a minor expense, but totally worth it.
Stock up on salad fixings, lettuce (romaine), tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, avocados and black olives. Salads are an easy meal with the addition of a lean meat and/or some seeds for texture. Sunflower seeds add crunch and are high in potassium.
Get a carton of eggs and don’t skimp on the bacon. Yes…I said bacon! Paleo gurus tell you to buy grass-fed beef, however, to if you want to reduce costs, buy cheaper, lean cuts of beef, purchase some chicken breasts, wild caught salmon or tuna, and pork chops. You can eat potatoes, but think color. Go for purple, red and orange rather than the staple whites. You won’t even miss pasta when you add in rice and substituting zucchini and other squashes for your pasta as well.
Trust me when I tell you, you have to try zoodles (pasta made with zucchini) before you knock it! I made the switch and love them so much, I don’t miss spaghetti at all. Get yourself a spiralizer and go to town. Even spaghetti squash makes delicious “pasta” for sauces and marinara.
Buy nuts in their raw form, almonds and walnuts are preferred because of their usefulness and nutrient content. Once through the first phase of the conversion, you can start introducing breads made from coconut and almond flours. However, stick to the basics in the beginning and concentrate on more healthy breakfast choices like bacon and eggs with some fruit, lunch like a nice salad with some meat and dinner choices like a meat of your choosing, a side vegetable (I could live on sweet potatoes) and a salad.
Snacks can be as simple as a handful of nuts or a piece of low glycemic fruits such as an apple or a pear.
If you enjoy coffee as your first beverage in the morning, you’re in for a treat! Try the rage among all Paleo enthusiasts, bulletproof coffee. I learned this lifesaving tip from Mark Sisson as well and have never gone back to regular coffee. It incorporates all of your healthy fats and keeps you satisfied and full all morning long, with only one cup!
Start with a brewed cup of coffee, add a Tbsp of coconut oil, a Tbsp of Kerrygold butter, a dash of Ceylon cinnamon and your sweetener (mine is stevia). Blend it up in a blender, Ninja or bullet and you have yourself a cup of heavenly goodness. No need for creamer. That’s what the butter is for! The blender mixes the coconut oil in so there is no film on top and it provides the essential nutrients needed as well as the medium chain fatty acids.
Believe it or not, this is good for your heart!
If you bought only this much and ate this way 80% of the time, you will reap the benefits and start to see positive changes, including weight loss, improved digestion, better mood, and stabilized hormones.
Give yourself a full three weeks to get adjusted to this way of eating and then you can start playing around with more ingredients and new recipes including approved sweets, breads and “comfort” foods like chocolate.
Now, speaking of chocolate…
One tip for enjoying that particular goody is to buy the highest cacao content (at least 72% cacao). The higher the better. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants and is heart healthy in small amounts.
One last thing about food; spice it up! You can toss the salt shaker by simply using various herbs and spices for flavor. If you already use a lot of salt, you might need a few days for your pallet to adjust to a non or low-salt meal; however, once that’s done you’re going to enjoy real flavor!
And, if you ever do eat something with a “normal” amount of salt, like they prepare in a restaurant, you’ll discover how salty it is. All salt; no flavor; and you’ll be craving real food again, seasoned the way Nature intended.
Your food will taste delicious!
Step 4- Incorporate Essential Oils
Essential oils can make the transition to a Paleo lifestyle easier…
One of the best things I did to help me transition to a Paleo way of eating was to start using essential oils like Frankincense and Lemon.
Found on almost every paleo website are ads and articles touting the many uses and benefits of these oils and when I did my research, I found by incorporating them into my routine, they helped me gain energy (which made me want to exercise more), improved my moods, and balanced my hormones.
I start each day with a glass of water with a drop of frankincense and a drop of lemon. Other oils can be used for flavoring foods as well. Peppermint and oregano add flavor to stews, soups, desserts and drinks. This could cover a whole article on its own. Just be sure to check with your doctor or nutritionist before starting out because sometimes, even natural herbs can interfere with any prescribed medicine your taking. Your doc should be a part of your health team…be sure they know what you’re doing!
Finally, buy from a reputable company selling pure, organic, quality oils which are naturally sourced.
Now, doesn’t that make going Paleo sound a little bit easier? Are you motivated? I hope so!
One you have a “health experience” you’ll wonder why you waited so long! I hope you try this new way of eating. Your health may improve and if you’re lucky, like me, you may even be able to get off some of your medications. (with your doctor’s approval of course).
Imagine what your life could look like when issues like irritable bowel syndrome, blood pressure and diabetes improve. Many things are possible.
Note: Find grocery lists and more at paleohacks.com and stupideasypaleo.com, two of my favorite sites for everything paleo related.