Transitioning from a standard American diet over to a much healthier Paleo diet can be a pretty big change, and mistakes are going to happen. Maybe you have friends who have switched and you haven’t lost weight as quickly, or you don’t have the same energy levels they do. Before you give up completely and return to old habits, have a look at what you’re eating and make the right changes to ensure your success.
Not Enough Carbs
While Paleo does not allow grains, you still need carbs and this is probably the most common newbie mistake. Paleo is a low carb diet, but there are “safe starches” like sweet potatoes and various types of squash that don’t spike insulin levels. They also are high in Vitamin A and other antioxidants. Our Paleo ancestors did eat root vegetables, and research has shown that some carbs can help break through weight loss plateaus.
Too Much of a Good Thing
Paleo doesn’t focus on portion control or counting calories, but if weight loss is part of your goals it won’t be achieved by eating 2 pounds of bacon every day. Calories still count and portions sizes do matter. It is not just too much bacon but watch the fruit and nuts as well. A handful of walnuts or almonds are great afternoon snacks and a good source of protein, energy and fiber but grazing on nuts all day long will not help with weight loss.
Not Enough Planning
Waking up one morning and deciding you’re going to start your Paleo diet that day, then scrambling a couple of eggs for breakfast and thinking you’ll find something for lunch somewhere that you can eat is pretty much a recipe for failure.
Like anything, Paleo takes some planning. So plan your meals, plan your grocery lists and make sure you’re prepared with the right kinds of snacks on hand for those times you have the munchies. The best way to stick to anything including Paleo is to make it as easy on yourself as possible, and the key to that is planning and preparation.
“Low Fat” Thinking
You need fat to carry nutrients to cells, for brain function and hormone production, just to name a few. The last 20 years of conditioning that fat is bad is a hard habit to break. Coconut oils, avocadoes, nuts and nut butters are all healthy fats and should be a part of your diet.
Meat is Not the Be All and End All
There is no doubt that meat is central to the Paleo diet but it is not the only food group within Paleo. You can’t live on steak and bacon alone. Vegetables are integral to your health and that’s where a good portion of essential nutrients come from. Vegetables should be part of every meal and as wide a variety of them as you can manage. The base of the Paleo food pyramid is not meat but veggies, so make sure you are getting plenty.
If you find the Paleo diet challenging or you’re not seeing the results you are expecting, and then keep a food diary for a week or so. See what you’re missing or what you are having too much of, you can always make adjustments to put yourself on the right track.