Starting out on your Paleo journey may seem a little intimidating at first, but the benefits of adopting a more nourishing diet far outweigh the initial longing you might feel for a bowl of pasta or slice of bread. Here are a few tips that will help kick off your Paleo journey and ease your transition to eating primal.
1. Try new things
When you start your Paleo journey, it’s easy to end up focusing on the foods you can’t have. But instead of thinking of Paleo as something restrictive, why not embrace it as an opportunity to open up your relationship with food and try something new? Start small – buy a fruit or vegetable you’ve always been curious about but never tried. Try eating a cut of meat you’d normally shy away from. And when you’re starting to feel a little more adventurous, try some foods you never liked as a child like offal or brussel sprouts. Eating Paleo also opens up your diet to a whole new world of delicious, nourishing foods you may have never heard of, so why not experiment with new ingredients like chia seeds, kale or coconut oil? Anecdotal evidence suggests peoples’ individual tastes change when they begin to embrace a more primal diet, so be more adventurous as your journey progresses. Don’t shy away from strong flavours like dark chocolate or sauerkraut – just experiment and be prepared to not love everything the first time you try it!
2. Do some reading
You don’t have to look very far to realise the internet is full of information about embracing a primal lifestyle. A google search for “Paleo” returns countless blogs, books, journal articles, forums and message boards that can be a wealth of knowledge about embracing a primal lifestyle. It’s important not to believe every little thing you read, so pay particular attention to prominent, knowledgeable figures like Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple, nutrition experts like Chris Kresser, Robb Wolf & Nora Gedgaudas and Australia’s own Paleo-crusader, Pete Evans. Start by doing some background reading on the fundamentals of Paleo – flick through a few Paleo food lists and read a couple of articles that explain the rationale behind adopting a more primal attitude towards nutrition. Paleo favours a fundamentally different approach to food and nutrition, so it’s important to understand why certain food groups are emphasised or excluded in a more primal diet. A little background reading will go a long way to ease your transition into eating primal and will prove invaluable in the early stages of your Paleo journey.
3. Don’t think of Paleo as a diet
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when you’re beginning your Paleo journey is maintaining a “diet” mindset. There’s no point thinking about Paleo like some sort of diet that will eventually end. Paleo isn’t about restricting yourself from eating certain foods for a specified period of time with the goal of losing weight. Likewise, Paleo isn’t a rigid, structured diet with strict, arbitrary rules that are to be blindly followed. Paleo is about dropping the processed, nutrient-poor junk foods from your diet and eating plenty of delicious, nourishing whole foods like meat, fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats. Prominent figures in the ancestral eating community like Robb Wolf and Chris Kresser advocate for viewing Paleo as more of a ‘blueprint’ or ‘template’ – that is, a more flexible and individualised approach to eating. Use Paleo as a way to build the foundations of your unique, personal diet based on foods that make you feel good.
4. Don’t be afraid of the kitchen
Plenty of people are afraid of cooking – why else would supermarket shelves be packed with ultra- consumable, ultra processed snack foods and pseudo-homemade ready meals? The standard
Australian diet is overrun with meals that come out of sachets and boxes and therein lies a big problem: these sorts of foods typically have pretty lacklustre nutritional profiles and are usually loaded with preservatives, artificial ingredients and added sugar. Processed, ready-to-eat junk has no place in a primal diet, which is why an important step in your Paleo journey is shifting your mindset when it comes to food preparation. Yes, you might spend an extra 10-15 minutes of your day preparing your dinner, maybe more if you want to try something new and interesting, but it will be worth it. Learning to make your own burger patties, prep your own vegetables and season by taste will be easy and rewarding! Eating Paleo is a chance to feel good about playing chef – it’s an excuse to buy a few cooks books, get in the kitchen and start experimenting with food!
5. Primalise your pantry
An important step in your Paleo journey will be to get rid of all of the processed, non-Paleo junk you’ve been holding on to and replace it with nourishing, primal staples. It tends to take people a little while to feel comfortable doing a full kitchen clean out, but it’s probably one of the best things you can do to help you along your Paleo journey. The pasta you have tucked away in the pantry? The apple pie in the freezer you’ve been holding on to? Get rid of it all! Throw out all of the foods you no longer eat, or donate them to someone less fortunate. If you’ve decided to take your Paleo journey seriously, you need to toss out every thing that might tempt you to return to your old ways. Once you’ve purged your pantry of all the wrong foods, it’s time to start filling it with the right ones. Stock your pantry with things like nuts, nut flours, dried fruits, fermented vegetables, healthy fats, spices and Paleo-friendly canned goods. Buy fresh fruits and vegetables regularly. Opt for grass- fed beef, free range egg and pasture-raised pork, lamb and chicken – and try buying offal once and a while! Removing all of the non-Paleo temptations from your kitchen and replacing them with nourishing, nutrient-rich foods will make your Paleo journey easier than you ever thought it could be.