Your First 30 Days
As you make the decision to transition to a paleo lifestyle, the first month will most likely be the hardest. Your friends and family think you’re crazy for giving up all processed grains and sugar, you’re also eating fat again which most don’t understand, you’re forced to plan your weekly meals to make sure you’re not tempted to cheat, and you’re honestly a little unsure if you can do it long term. This is normal, and you will be able to do it long term.
It took me about two weeks to get through the “low carb flu.” If you’ve been eating a standard American diet, your body is used to using glucose for energy because it’s the easiest and cheapest for your body. When you cut out refined sugars and grains, your body will be forced to utilize fat for energy, and it takes some time to do this efficiently again. For some people it’s a few days, others a few weeks. You may feel tired, foggy or lethargic and this is normal. Stick with it! Once this passes, you’ll feel amazing and will start to understand why people who make this change often make it a permanent one.
Because it takes some time for your body to adjust, I recommend following the dietary guidelines very strictly during the first 6 weeks. Why? Your body is adjusting to using fat for energy and “cheating” might make it harder to fully adjust lengthening the duration of a low carb flu (just my theory here). Part of my Paleosophy is keeping things in perspective and not stressing out about eating a perfect diet, but I think during the initial transition, it’s important. After that, give yourself some freedom to cheat once or twice a week if you really want to. I’ve found that because I feel so good being fairly strict with my diet, I have no desire to cheat, but each person is different. You have to find what works for you!
A few tips after going through it fairly recently-
- Take time to plan your meals and shop when it’s convenient. Look up some great paleo recipes and experiment on a Sunday afternoon so you’re ready for the week. The hardest part about eating a paleo diet is being prepared, especially if you work outside the home or have long hours. Chop up some fresh veggies to throw in a scramble for breakfast, grill a few chicken breasts or steaks to use in salads for lunch, and stock your kitchen to make good meals for dinner. Keep some nuts and fruit around in case you need a snack. Being prepared each week will make it so much easier to stick with it, even when you might not be feeling great (yet!!).
- Another piece of advice, shop frequently. Fresh fruits and vegetables will go bad quickly, so stock up on meat in the freezer and run to the store often for fresh produce. It will save you money in the long run (how many times do you throw out moldy vegetables because you didn’t get to them?). I also always have frozen vegetables in the freezer for when I’m in a bind, and definitely start experimenting with things you usually don’t make. As I began cooking meals for my boyfriend and I, I figured out quickly that I would lose support for this new lifestyle if I only served a grilled protein and steamed veggies every night. Experiment with different types of meat, veggies and cooking styles, herbs and spices. Paleo meals are anything but boring-take time to look at some blogs for fresh ideas and have fun with it!
- Try not to let negative comments get to you, because you will hear them. When you tell people what you’re doing, they might not understand it, or might just be jealous, but you may get a negative reaction- and that’s okay. There is a great paleo community online (you’re here, right?!?) and every day, more and more people start adopting this lifestyle as they start to see the results in others. The proof is in the pudding. Stick with it and before you know it, those negative people will most likely be considering it themselves and asking your advice.
One last bit of advice for people new to a paleo lifestyle- do it for at least two months. Why? Well the first three weeks you may be foggy so you’re not 100% convinced this could work for you. Once you’re through that, you need a few more weeks to get used to your new lifestyle and to feel the benefits. By committing to two months, you’ll get through the flu and have a good 4-6 weeks to evaluate if this is right for you long- term.
Of course you’ll lose weight, but once you experience the energy, mental clarity and great overall feeling you get from this lifestyle, the health benefits will become more important to you than the weight loss and it will be easy for you. You’ll feel great, look great and enjoy amazing food! Awesome, right?!?