In the modern world it can be a hefty challenge to eat real, nourishing food that makes you feel great. With poor education, too much information and misinformation, most folks are clueless as where to begin. Many give up which is unfortunate. Luckily, with the internet, the game is changing at a rapid pace. Many of us have discovered that animal fat is actually good for us and that whole grains from the supermarket is not the holy grail of all food groups but instead a huge money driver.
If you have an interest in eating real food but are struggling more than you would like then the following tips can certainly help. My tip to you is to pick your ONE favorite that resonates with you and then run with it. Once it becomes a habit in your life, then choose another tip and run with it.
Where did these tips come from? They are taken from the comments in the first Epic Giveaway that I did in late 2012. I have no idea why I let them go for so long without sharing them in blog posts of their own. There are hundreds of tips in the comments. The following 44 (plus dozens more that I will share later), are my favorites. Where I have bolded text is where you will read my favorites of my favorites.
If reading these tips have made you think of some yourself then please share in the comments below. Let’s spread the good word on real, nourishing food!
1. Don’t force or restrict yourself – at least not at first. There’s time later to tweak your diet. Just worry about eating the good stuff and avoiding the bad. Weight loss is secondary at this point.
2. Plan ahead so you don’t get caught without options. Lunches for work, grab-n-go breakfasts, quickie dinners – know what your possible hangups are, and prepare for them ahead of time. As the saying goes, those who fail to plan, plan to fail… or something like that.
3. Buy the best quality you can afford, but do it wisely. Grass-fed meat is a good investment. Organic squash not really so much. You don’t need to pay extra money for organic or things you will be peeling. It’s really just not worth it, save your money for the things that really matter, be they food, housing, and etc.
4. Paleo/primal/wapf/whatever does NOT mean low Carb. Try it out, but know that it isn’t the only option.
5. Don’t care about what other people think of you when you tell them you don’t eat something or order something funny at a restaurant, this is YOUR choice and OWN IT!
6. Grassfed and locally/sustainably sourced meat and vegetables are wonderful and beautiful. We should all buy them whenever we can and I would never argue that point. To that end, however, when you’re first starting out? Don’t let it be something that intimidates you. If you can’t get it locally or cannot afford it, it does not mean you should throw in the towel!
7. Get rid of all the nasty food in your house. Period. Get it out. If it’s there, you’ll eat it. I went Paleo as the only person in my house to do so, and the willpower it took was too much at times (because all the bad food was NOT out of the house).
8. Remember bacon is your friend. Embrace it with arms wide open.
9. Locate your local farmers market and shop there often.
10. Learn to plan ahead when eating out and know the menu before you go. Don’t be afraid to ask friends to meet at a different place if there is nothing on the menu that you can eat.
11. Experiment. If you doubt that going on a sugar cleanse will change your mindset and bodyset, go ahead and try it. Learn things through experience.
12. Before you eat something always ask ” what benefit this food will have in my body and lifestyle”.
13. Leftover dinner is great for breakfast or lunch!
14. Variety is the spice of life, and the force behind staying Paleo. If you get into a routine of only a few veggies and entrees, you will get bored (or your family will). Keep finding new things to keep your tongue guessing and tummy happy!
15. Buy a Paleo cookbook and just go from there. It really isn’t as hard or limiting as it seems.
16. When you cut out processed carbs – don’t resort to only lean meats like chicken and white fish- make sure you get enough fat or YOU WILL BE HUNGRY. ALWAYS!
17. Find snacks that work for you (if you need to snack) I love jerky and fruit together – it is a great combo!
18. Enjoy the simplicity of “real food” meals.
19. Clean out your kitchen (if you haven’t already done so!). When we get rid of our old reliable foods (that are also detrimental) we don’t have them to fall back on. It really helps to prevent slips!
20. Plan your meals ahead. As the saying goes, we don’t plan to fail, we simply fail to plan. If you’re just starting out, it will be hard to throw meals together on the fly. Take the time to plan out meals even a day or two at a time, that way you know what you’re eating and you don’t have to think about it.
21. Experiment. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Some recipes are winners, some are duds. Find the ones you like. Real food actually tastes real good! (sorry for bad grammar lol) All that other stuff really will be less appealing the more you stick with it.
22. Read your ingredients! The stuff you’re trying to avoid very frequently finds itself into all types of foods. Even those that appear to be real/whole foods.
23. Keep track of those foods that make you feel good, great, energized — and share them with your loved ones and friends.
24. Try new foods. You’ll be amazed at how tasty things are that you’ve previously avoided. For me, chicken with skin (especially thighs!), ground meat that isn’t completely dry and devoid of fat, and kombucha have become new favorites!
25. Start out by doing a couple things you can manage. If it’s cutting out wheat and sugar then awesome! Build a foundation there and then add in more/take stuff out/tweak until you’ve mastered the primal lifestyle!
26. If you are planning to reduce your carbohydrate intake (some do, some don’t), make sure to research about the “low carb flu”. There are some great tips to help blunt the symptoms, such as drinking plenty of liquids and replacing your salts and electrolytes which you lose quickly at the beginning as you shed water weight.
27. This approach to eating isn’t necessarily low-carb, it just seems that way for people who’ve spent their whole lives getting their carbs from grain-based starches. If you don’t do well on low-carb diets, that’s not a reason not to try this – you just have to learn how to cook more interesting carbs. Even that shouldn’t be any real handicap. Honestly – there are plenty of recipes out there, and tuber starches tend to be a lot more flavorful and satisfying than grains.
28. Have fun cooking!
29. Don’t eat anything that comes from a box. In general, though, rather than saying “Don’t do this! Don’t do that!,” I like to offer alternatives, such as: Rather than going out to eat, cook at home. Replace the grains on your plate with vegetables. Replace the vegetable oils you use in cooking with coconut oil or butter. Replace nightly family tv with walks around the neighborhood.
30. Learn to cook. I’m shocked at how many people say they can’t do paleo because they can’t cook. They’re either lazy or lying. Really, put meat & veggies in a pan, put it over some heat, add seasoning, move food around pan with a spoon. It’s not that hard people.
31. Try to keep food that doesn’t need much prep on hand. For me that means lots of leftovers that can easily be reheated, veggies I’ve already cut and washed, boiled eggs, etc.
32. Cook in advance and freeze so that food is readily available.
33. Scout out local CSA’s and meat providers so you know in advance where to find healthy foods.
34. Let yourself eat as much as you want. Do not portion control your food, at least for the first 30 days. This will help you stave off any cravings you might have.
35. Keep it simple in the kitchen. Find a few good recipes that you love and know how to cook well and rotate. Real food does NOT have to be fancy. This will keep you from obsessing over your food too much, and it will give you more time to relax and enjoy your new healthy lifestyle.
36. Eat mindfully so you can tell when you are really hungry and when you are full.
37. Eggs can be your BFF. They are cheap, nutritious, versatile, and you can even hard boil a bunch to take as a breakfast or snack on-the-go!
38. Don’t sweat it if you mess up. I’ve definitely been in the situation where I might eat a cookie someone offers and then go home and eat ice cream because the day was already non-paleo. Then the next day I might eat some more non-paleo food because I’ll just start again in a day or two. When you mess up, get over it and move on. Make the next day a challenge to yourself to eat paleo and if you succeed you get chocolate covered bacon or some other delicious paleo reward.
39. Give up fast food/restaurants. It saved me so much money I could buy quality food like grass-fed beef.
40. Switch from sodas. I personally used green tea to wean myself off of sodas.
41. Switch to real butter (no more margarine-barf!).
42. Do what you can. If you can’t afford all grass-fed pastured meat remind yourself you are still eating better than those following the Standard American Diet.
43. If you fall off the horse, just enjoy your doughnut and get back to the good stuff. You will find the doughnut just isn’t as good as you remember, and will possibly make you sick. That helps keep us honest.
44. Eat grass-fed/pastured/happy animals and don’t forget to include organ meats!
What tips do you have to add? Share in the comments below!