Whether you made a resolution to follow a clean eating plan this year, or if you have been following a Paleo diet for years, we all need a little reset now and then. Below are a few steps you can take to help you start fresh and ensure you stay on track.
Toss the junk food – The first step to any new diet or eating plan is to rid your pantry of any and all foods that you should not be eating. Out of sight out of mind, right? Go through your cabinets and refrigerator and toss all of the over processed, unhealthy foods you have hiding in the back corners. Maybe you have gotten lazy and saved old Halloween candy or caved and bought a bag of potato chips. Toss them. If you have non-perishable items and canned good box them up and donate them so that they don’t go to waste. It may seem daunting at first, but remember you are going to be replacing them with healthy delicious foods and ingredients that will help you live a happier and healthier life.
Stock up on the good stuff – Go shopping and stock up on whole, clean and unprocessed foods. Fill you pantry with ingredients that are common in Paleo cooking and won’t go bad. I suggest starting with the “must haves” and “spices” on this list and then basing the rest of your grocery list on your weekly meal plans.
Plan your meals – Although this may seem easy in theory, planning you meals is one of the quickest things to fall off the to do list each week. Instead of letting it fall to the wayside, make it a priority. Pick a day each week to plan out your meals and make a list of all of the ingredients you will need. Cross check the list with what you already have on hand and you will have a grocery list ready to go! We like to plan our meals on Saturday and then do a big shop on Sunday to prepare for the week ahead. If you are feeling really ambitious you can dice and chop your meat and veggies in advance so that they are ready to cook. A little planning and prep goes a long way to save time, money and stress down the road.
Take one day at a time – Making a lifestyle change is always exciting but it can also be a bit overwhelming. Instead of thinking about your dietary change over a long period of time, break it down. Commit to a month and plan each week at a time. Focus on where you are at on a given day and take each day at a time. Keep healthy snack options close by and know what meals you are going to eat each day. Breaking it down will help you focus on what is important each day.
Learn what works and what doesn’t – As you become a Paleo veteran and are more attuned to your body you will begin to notice what works and what doesn’t work for you. Listen to your body and personalize your Paleo meal plan based on what fuels your body. Perhaps you body can easily process legumes like peanuts and beans but you have difficulty with nightshades like sweet potatoes and eggplants. Don’t eat something just because it is “Paleo approved,” eat what works best with your body. Paleo is a lifestyle and the key is to find the whole, clean foods that work best for you!
Find new recipes – Cooking the same meals day in and day out can get boring. Splurge on a new cookbook or spend some time scouring the internet for new recipes that excite you. You will be much more apt to make healthy decisions if they excite you. Just be sure to read through all of the ingredients in a recipe as you would in a food label to ensure that the recipe falls in line with the way you eat as everyone’s version of Paleo is slightly different.
Live well – Last but not least live will! That means be active, be happy and have fun. Switch up your exercise routine and get moving in a way that you enjoy. Surround yourself with good people and do things that make you happy!
*If you are new to the Paleo diet I highly encourage you to seek out a formal plan to follow for the first month of your new lifestyle. Get your hands on a copy of It Starts With Food, check out the Whole30 website or take the Whole Life Challenge. Seek out resources to help you along the way and commit to a month of strict, clean eating. Set a date and get started.