Many people struggle getting started with Paleo. I’m asked all the time for advice on transitioning to a healthy Paleo diet. I have some ideas on what it takes, but I decided to reach out to 13 Paleo Diet experts and ask them the following:
What is the #1 tip that you would give to Paleo beginners?
The insight gained from these 13 juggernauts was nothing short of amazing. Keep reading and see for yourself.
I offer some of my own insight at the end of the article. So, let’s get started.
Melissa Joulwan, Meljoulwan.com
Author of the Paleo/Whole30 cookbooks Well Fed & Well Fed 2
Keep it simple at first.
There are (obviously) tons of wonderful paleo cookbooks out there, but in
the beginning, I recommend you keep it simple. Focus on really great
protein, veggies and fruits you love, and a variety of luscious fats.
I have a friend—let’s call her Shirley—who decided to give paleo a try.
She’s the kind of person who does everything with 100% commitment, so she
researched recipes for her first week. Twenty-one recipes: 3 meals a day
for 7 days. Then she made a massive grocery list to buy all the
ingredients, made an epic grocery store run to multiple stores, put
everything away into her kitchen… and collapsed in the fetal position on
the couch. It was all too overwhelming, and she was very, tearfully,
So keep it simple in the beginning. Make a stir-fry with a sauce made from
coconut aminos, served on cauliflower rice. Grill chicken with a roasted
sweet potato and salad on the side. Cook an omelet stuffed with veggies and
meat. Get your feet under you and relax into the new habits before trying
to turn yourself a paleo gourmet.
Reminder: Even in this world of Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and more, no
one can see your food if you don’t show them, so if you want to eat a can
of tuna, a hard-boiled egg, a tablespoon of almond butter, and an apple for
dinner, go for it. There are no Paleo Police, and no one really cares what
you eat for dinner.Follow @@meljoulwan
Tina Turbin, Paleomazing.com
Author of Paleo vs GF Diet & Improve Stamina
The first things I always suggest is to get prepared so you can really start, see and feel for yourself the beneficial changes. By getting prepared I simply mean this: REALLY clean out your kitchen of all grains, dairy, sugar and legumes so you are not tempted, then go shop for a week’s worth of ingredients for easy meals or healthy snacks you can take on the go. At this point do not go overboard and get into all the other ramifications, rules and descriptions of Paleo. Keep it simple. If you do this for a week ( or better yet two) you can feel and see for yourself what the Paleo “basics” do for you. This is a terrific starting point.
May Ly, Loveurbelly.com
Foodie and Recipe Blogger
Well for me I found it easiest to replace one meal at a time. So I chose breakfast and I only had to worry about making sure my breakfast was paleo friendly. This made it easier to stick to and less stressful for the whole family to switch over including my 2 kids who were 4 & 8 at the time. Once I had a good collection of breakfast recipes and
choices I then focused on lunch and dinner. We often had breakfast meals anytime of the day also if we got stuck. I did have to clean out the pantry and fridge of prepackaged and processed foods too!
CLICK TO TWEET
Mariel Lewis, Amazingpaleo.com
Author of Paleo Smoothies: 150 Smoothie Recipes for Ultimate Health
Starting the Paleo Diet can be intimidating. Trust me, I get it. There was a time when I didn’t eat the Paleo way, so believe me when I say that I know what you’re going through and that you’re not alone.Depending on how your diet has been in the past, going Paleo can be a 180 degree change to the way that you are used to eating or on the ingredients your body is used to receiving. But don’t fret; the body can get used to anything! Yes, it takes time…but it gets there, and it accommodates to your new ways.
Going Paleo means embracing the principle of eating the way our ancestors used to eat more than 10,000 years ago (by hunting and gathering). Us, Paleo followers, consider this the most beneficial way of eating and we encourage all to go away from the modern day diet (full of processed foods) to a new diet where clean proteins, vegetables and fruits are the norm. Now, we don’t suggesting that you do just like our ancestors did and hunt your own game and gather your own berries. Nope. Not at all. However, we do suggest that you start consuming whole, all natural, organic foods if you want to see the benefits the Paleo Diet can offer you. These foods being: lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and natural spices and sweeteners. These foods don’t cause inflammation to your body, are easily digested and are extremely nourishing. If you switch from modern day eating to caveman style eating (aka the Paleo Diet), I guarantee that you’re going to see incredible changes in your body — from how you feel to how you look.
One of the things that I struggled with the most when I first became Paleo was craving non-Paleo foods. I wanted to snack so badly on some cheese and crackers, have a little French bread with my salad, or indulge on a few bites of a NY style cheesecake. These cravings were present for about 2-3 weeks. And it was tough. I dare to say that craving non-Paleo foods is easily one of the hardest things for people who are just starting out with the Paleo Diet. It’s important to note that it takes the body about 21 days to adapt to change, so keep this in mind if you experience cravings yourself.
My tip for Paleo beginners is to give yourself grace and to acknowledge that non-Paleo food cravings are going to be a reality when you first start out. It is normal, but stay strong! Don’t give in. Keep reminding yourself that on average, you’ll need those 3 weeks to get used to all the changes you’re bringing to your body. Something you can do to help yourself during these 21 days is to get rid of all the non-Paleo foods you have in your pantry and refrigerator…and to stop buying non-Paleo foods and ingredients at the store. Instead, go grocery shopping for all of the Paleo approved ingredients that you and your family would eat in a week, and then when you get home, prepare one week’s worth of Paleo meals and Paleo snacks ahead of time, so you can have these handy in your fridge for whenever you get hungry. This will avoid a lot of cravings. Also, don’t forget to drink water. I have noticed that sometimes when I get “hungry” and my body gets restless, it’s just because of my lack of hydration. So make sure you meal prep and that you drink lots of fluids. BEST OF LUCK to you! I am confident you’re going to love the Paleo journey.
Helen Sanders, Healthambition.com
Chief Editor, HealthAmbition.com
At the start, be sure to plan your meals in advance. This way you never end up in the situation where you are very hungry and have nothing around to make a paleo meal. Even if you do end up straying from the diet from time to time, this doesn’t mean you should give up. It’s better to follow the Paleo diet 80% of the time for the rest of your life, than do it 100% of the time for 2 weeks and then give up.
Nik Hawkes, Paleotreats.com
Best Paleo Desserts In The World
The Paleo Treats #1 tip for Paleo beginners is this: Know what your goal is when you start. Most people have a ton of different goals when they come to Paleo (weight loss, performance, feeling better, better sleep, curing an illness, etc), and in chasing all of them waste a lot of energy.
For the first month, don’t dive into the minutia of whether or not a food is Paleo. If there’s any doubt, there is no doubt. Stay strict, eat clean, focus on your goal. Focus your efforts on achieving one thing at a time, stay super simple in implementation, talk at least one friend into doing it with you, and enjoy the ride.
Once you’re a month in and you’ve learned what it feels like to “eat clean”, start experimenting with the rest of the Seven Pillars of Paleo (you can Google that) and you’ll be on your way to the healthiest way we’ve yet found of living.
Please don’t get sucked in to how you can manipulate Paleo to be a reflection of your current life, that’s not the way it works. If you want big changes (massive weight loss, huge performance gains, curing an illness) you’re going to need to make big changes, and it’ll be hard. That’s OK. Stay focused on your goals, stay the course and you’ll get exactly what you want. Good luck!
Tricia Lewis, Gourmaleo.com
Owner, Dallas, TX Paleo Meal Delivery Service
My biggest tip is always this: don’t start everything at once. A paleo lifestyle change that is sustainable happens with more success when you eliminate one ingredient at a time. Eliminate sugar first, then move on to grains and then dairy. Getting rid of everything at once usually ends up with frustration over all the things you “can’t eat.” Then once you’re eating fully paleo you can focus on grass fed, pastured and wild caught proteins as well.
Gourmaleo is always here to make eating paleo more convenient, whether we’re your main source of meals or just a supplement to what your’e already cooking. Please feel free to check out our FAQ’s page on www.gourmaleo.com for more info.
Stacy Toth & Matthew McCarry, Paleoparents.com
Author of Paleo Cookbooks
Be prepared, plan ahead! Both in and out of the house cravings will strike. If your freezer and pantry is stocked (link to post) and you know what to order when out or what restaurants are most accommodating, you’ll be better set-up for success!
Tony Federico, Fitnessinanevolutionarydirection.com
Author of Paleo Grilling
My #1 tip for Paleo Beginners is to “Know yourself before you try to change yourself.”
Are you someone who tends to be “all or nothing” or do you embrace “shades
of grey”. Are you the kind of person that likes structure and planning, or do you enjoy freedom and creativity? Have you struggled with your diet in the past, or are you a health and fitness veteran looking for the next evolution in your approach?
How you answered these questions determines how you should approach Paleo. For the “all or nothing” type person a Whole 30 might be the best fit, but if you’re more of a “shades of grey” type, you might do better with a progressive approach that slowly adds in Paleo friendly foods while cutting back on sugar, gluten, and the other usual suspects. For those who like structure, there are Paleo meal planning services and nutrition coaches that can give you a very specific plan, but if you like creativity, you might just want to read a couple Paleo cookbooks and follow a few Paleo blogs to get your daily dose of inspiration. For the roller-coaster dieter, you might want to focus on implementing the Paleo lifestyle instead of the Paleo “diet”, working towards better sleep, less stress, and more movement in addition to things like shopping at farmers markets, cooking more at home, and making time to play. The fitness veteran on the other hand, might take to diets like a fish takes to water, so going full speed ahead might be old hat.
The bottom line is that how YOU go Paleo is going to be different than anyone else, and the key is to find what works best for your particular personality, physiology, and psychology. Feel free to experiment and don’t worry about “doing it wrong.” Try to think of Paleo as a journey rather than a destination and you’ll be on your way to a healthier, happier you.
Lauren Bragg, Simplypaleo.com
Foodie and Recipe Blogger
My biggest pieces of advice:
- Refine your habits! It’s the daily decisions that create lasting success
- Change the term “cheat meals” to “treat meals” for some positive psychology
- Everything in moderation, including moderation- also don’t beat yourself up (quiet that negative internal chatter!!)
- Set goals and find accountability
Danielle Gagnon, Thepaleovangelist.com
Foodie and Recipe Blogger
Be kind to yourself. While going cold turkey into a new lifestyle works for some, most people need to transition slowly when making a big change like starting a paleo diet. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and don’t be too hard on yourself if you do. The key is to remember that whether you make mistakes or not, you’re on your way to a healthier and happier you!
The Team, US Wellness Meats
Producer of Grassfed Meats
The first thing that comes to our minds after reading your question, “What is the #1 tip that you would give to Paleo beginners and people starting a Paleo diet?”, Paleo is not a diet, it is a lifestyle!
For some individuals only slight modifications to their current dietary and exercise practices may be needed while for others it will be a complete clearing of the mind-set, the pantry and the sofa!
Each individual has to determine what they strive to achieve and what they are willing to practice to achieve their personal goals.
We’re happy to share an article Rob Wolf wrote called the Seven Shades of Paleo. We think Mr. Wolf has likely touched on a “shade” to which each beginner or long-time Paleo community member can relate to and live happily healthy-ever-after with!
Regardless of the “shade” of Paleo one practices US Wellness Meats has great things to share in support of the journey and we look forward to the opportunity to do so!
Carol Lovett, Ditchthewheat.com
Author of INDULGE: 70+ GRAIN-FREE DESSERTS
My number 1 tip would be to learn how to make your favourite foods with a Paleo twist. For example, pizza, use an almond flour crust or a cauliflower crust.
Now, here we come with the eggshells of knowledge from our own Paleo experience.
In a world where the weight loss industry is worth billions of dollars, it is not uncommon to find a new fad, trick, pill, magic move, or “plan” each time we search the net for diet advise. The “diet business” is a good, cash-quick business. Why? Because we still want to believe that losing weight is about playing tricks with our bodies.
The problem with the “diet businesses?” All plans fail. All that money, is wasted money. Let’s stop dieting and start eating normally.
Here are top 5 tips:
1.Paleo is not a plan.
The Paleo lifestyle is exactly that: a choice to eat the way our ancestors of the Stone Age period did. This means eating real food that our body is designed genetically to process for energy. This means not spending years stuffing your body with preservatives, which are indigestible and may lead to disease.
2. Meat, vegetables, fruits, and natural oils….and no fees for “joining!”
If you can navigate your local farmer’s market, you can do Paleo for cheap. In this lifestyle, there are no meetings, no club fees, no weigh-ins, and no need to purchase anything special; just real food. This means ANY meat, leafy and crunchy veggies (no starches nor roots), all fruits, olive, and coconut oil. Sea-salt and raw honey for seasoning are allowed, as well as all other herbs. We have desserts, too!
So, get your carrots, cucumbers, celery, tomatoes and avocados and pair them up with chicken, steaks, wings, ribs, beef, and pork chops. That’s it! Get your body to eat real protein and real, complex carbohydrates.
3. Swaps are everything
There are thousands of websites and blogs dedicated to Paleo swaps. Did you know that cauliflower, the 25-calorie and less than 5 net carb per cup wonder, can be made into the likeness of rice, potatoes, bread, pasta, and even
pudding? This is without tasting like cauliflower at all! This is just one example of how natural foods can mimic one another. It is the beauty of eating real things.
4. No counting carbs, calories, or fat grams
So, how do you lose any weight? Ample research shows that carbs, calories and fats are NOT the causes of weight gain. The body is meant to use carbs, calories and fats. It is the only way it can operate. The problem is this: When we put the WRONG carbs, calories and fats in the body, it is no different than putting the wrong type of gasoline in a good car. Anything that does not go where it should, will just hang around as fat, as a potential carcinogen, or as empty calories. This is what is causing obesity. We are eating too little of what we need, and too much of what we do not need.
5. Start by finding ways to switch simple carbs to complex carbs.
Best way to Paleo-start is to create your list of substitutions. Just start determining replacements for breads, sweeteners, ice cream, candy, and any other things that you may find hard to get rid of.
It is all about swaps and substitution. As you build your substitution list, move on to the actual meals and recipes. Then, build a schedule for you to spend your time wisely preparing and storing meals and snacks. You will be on your way to Paleo really soon.
I hope this long testimony serves a good purpose in making you the best caveman or cavegirl you can be!
HUGE thanks to everyone who contributed to this mammoth post! Please share if you think it was useful!.