Making lasting change is tough. Especially when it comes to your health and well-being. The paleo diet is no different. The diet is high in protein and natural vegetables and eliminates highly processed foods and foods that are high in refined sugar. The Paleo diet also excludes alcoholic beverages, coffee, and dairy products. That means you have to cut ties with many of your favorite foods right off the bat, which can be difficult and stressful. If you’re struggling, you are not alone! Unfortunately, many people struggle with maintaining the guidelines of this diet, at least at first. To assist you with overcoming these common pitfalls, I have listed 5 ways to overcome common paleo diet struggles.
1. ELIMINATING PROCESSED FOODS
One of the most common struggles with this diet is cutting out convenience foods. Pre-packaged food items are easy to turn to when we’re busy and overloaded with everyday demands on our time and resources.
I have two tips to help you avoid giving in to the temptation of those shiny packages and glistening drive-thrus.
MAKE A SHOPPING LIST AND STICK TO IT
Shopping lists are super important, don’t shop without your list! You’ll be beckoned to walk down the cookie aisle as those end-cap Oreo displays look at you with their come hither double-stuffed packaging. If you have a list prepared and you focus on sticking to it then you can survive the siren call of the Oreo.
Your focus needs more focus…make your list a little grasshopper.
DON’T SHOP WHEN YOU’RE HUNGRY
Never ever go grocery shopping when you’re hungry! Nope, don’t you dare!
Shopping when you are hungry is the easiest way to shake your willpower and will lead to you buying foods that don’t meet the requirements of your diet. Your list won’t be able to help you if you shop when you’re hungry. You’ll be a goner and those Oreos will getcha.
The biggest thing that’s helped me stay on track and avoid processed convenient options is to plan ahead. I prep food options each Sunday so that I have options to reach for in a pinch.
I’m terrible at getting sucked into projects at work or things around the house and before I know it I’m starving! If I don’t have emergency protein and other grab-and-go items ready to eat I’ll never be successful.
2. EATING OUT
Another temptation will come when you are invited out to a restaurant by your friends and family. You can still enjoy dining out while living the paleo lifestyle but you have to be strategic about it.
AVOID GLUTEN-HEAVY AND LOW-QUALITY RESTAURANTS
A way that you can avoid cheating your diet is to avoid restaurants with low-quality food or food that is high in bread or pasta-based products (such as an Italian restaurant).
RESEARCH MENU’S AHEAD OF TIME
The other way to avoid this is to check the available menu for the restaurant before you depart, this will allow you to be sure that the dining establishment can cater to your needs.
3. BOREDOM WITH FOOD CHOICES
A third struggle faced by participants in the Paleo diet is monotony in available food choices. Folks who are new to the paleo lifestyle often find a handful of options that are ‘paleo approved’ and stick very closely to those options to stay on track. This leads to serious boredom with food choices.
RESEARCH AND TEST PALEO RECIPES
You need to keep variety in your diet and there’s plenty of it in the Paleo diet community! Do a quick Google search and you’ll find plenty of paleo recipe blogs just waiting for you to try their recipes. A few of my favorites include Nom Nom Paleo, Balanced Bites, and Paleo Parents.
EXPERIMENT WITH NEW FOODS
Break out of your comfort zone and try new foods! Does the thought of offal make you nervous? Find a recipe and give it a try, it’s good for you! Seek out new and different protein options like Kangaroo, Venison, and Quail or new veggies like fennel, or eggplant.
Experiment with different cooking techniques, try grilling or roasting. Try new herbs and spices. Just experiment and try new things, there are so many options!
4. CUTTING OUT
A fourth common problem that people have with this diet is cutting out the daily dose of caffeine that you get from your morning cup of coffee. The only way to alleviate this problem is to start weaning yourself off of caffeine before you start your diet. This will make your split from caffeine much easier than quitting cold turkey, and improving the odds that you will be able to stick to the diet.
5. CUTTING OUT ALCOHOL
One of the biggest paleo diet struggles is cutting out alcoholic beverages. When your friends invite you out for a night hanging out at your local bar, it can be very awkward and straining to your relationship, to inform them that you won’t be drinking that night, because no one wants to be dragging around a party pooper. A way to deal with this is to make yourself the nightly designated driver. This will mean that you will have a very good reason not to drink and cheat on your diet, and it will also help maintain the relationships you have with your friends.
You can do this, stick with it. Hopefully, these tips help those of you who are struggling to get used to things. If you have additional tips and tricks to stay the course I’d love to hear about them. Please share in the comments!