Going Paleo is appealing for a lot of reasons. For starters, it's a diet that's not a diet. Instead of just counting calories you're embracing an entirely new lifestyle.
You feel more energetic and healthy as well as losing weight thanks to the nutritious benefits.
There's just one problem – when you're first starting it can be intimidating.
Understanding it is one problem and sticking to it is a whole different challenge.
If you stick at it then the rewards are miraculous and I promise you you'll feel and look healthier than you have done in years.
To help you at the start of your journey then, here are 10 tips that every beginner should keep in mind…
10 Tips for Real Paleo Newbies
1. Transition Slowly
Consider this: it's better to have a so-so diet plan that you stick to than an amazing diet plan that you ignore.
It's not a case of 'you're paleo or you're not' but rather it's small intentional changes in your eating habits that create big results. A slow transition won't shock your system and cause you to relapse later on.
This means you don't have to leap in head first but can instead ease yourself in gently by just cutting a few aspects out of your diet and introducing a few others.
You could start by cutting back on bread and soda – that's easy enough to understand and not to taxing – and then a week later move on to removing pasta and eating more fish.
2. Make a Meal Plan
It can sometimes feel like you're out of your depth when you're in the grocery store trying to think on your feet to come up with paleo meals that are affordable and tasty. Likewise, if you don't have a plan, you might find yourself with lots of leftover food going to waste.
To avoid these little pitfalls, come up with a paleo meal plan at the beginning of each week and you'll be able to simply execute that plan in order to eat healthily. You can recycle week plans that you've written previously too, so it isn't a huge time investment.
Sit down for 20 minutes once a week, and go through different Paleo recipes you've found online or in a recipe book, and create an easy meal plan. It can be as simple as a few pieces of fruit, a quick breakfast smoothie, or just come bacon and eggs. Or even just leftovers from the night before.
And since we're on the topic of leftovers...
Exercising makes everything better but that goes double for sticking to a diet like the paleo diet. Why? Because when you exercise, this will accelerate the results you see. That in turn will then mean that you more quickly have something to keep working towards and you feel more motivated.
What's more, when you work out the last thing you'll want to do is to 'undo' all that good work by binging on chips.
Research shows that regular exercise improves your will power. This means that just doing a little bit of training a few times a week can make all the difference in your diet.
And finally, exercise gives you more energy. And with more energy (and will power), you have more inclination to cook, less desire for 'comfort food' and more motivation. Often falling back on old habits is simply a side effect of coming home from work tired and stressed. Exercise is the perfect medicine…
Ultimately, any diet change should be part of a larger overall 'lifestyle' overhaul. When you take this approach, you'll find you are building on much sturdier foundations.
4. Make Big Portions and Freeze Leftovers
If the thought of cooking paleo everyday has you worried, then remember you can always cook extra and then freeze what's leftover. This way, you'll have a big supply of frozen food you can draw on whenever you want a quick meal.
Chili, stew, meats, and veggies all freeze beautifully. Sauces and dressings should be frozen separately, then defrosted and added to your meal when you're hungry.
5. Keep Your Kitchen Clean and Organized
You could almost say this tip is more about setting yourself up to win.
Sticking to a diet is all about making it easy for yourself. Set yourself up for success by making it easy to follow through.
How? Keep your kitchen clean and organized. It sounds like a small thing, but you're infinitely more likely to cook when you have space in the kitchen to do it in.
A good start is to get rid of things you don't need – if you have huge amounts of pots and pan that are constantly piling up in the sink then you may find just cutting back goes a long way. That way you'll be forced to wash up more often which means you'll enjoy cooking more. Sometimes the devil is in the details…
6. Find Places to Get Affordable Food
If you try and get all your paleo meals from your usual grocery store you might find that things get a little expensive and it can be easy to get disheartened. Instead then, look for local stores where you can get food at a good price that will fit into your new diet.
A good example is to find a local butcher's. Not only will you get higher quality fresh meat there at a great price but if you speak nicely with the owner you may find you can get what doesn't sell for a discounted rate at the end of the day. The same goes for fruit and veggies at nearby farmers markets.
Try buying meat in bulk from either the butcher or a wholesalers like Costco. This is great if you have a deep freeze. And if you can find a salad bar near your office for lunch then you're golden!
7. Have a Backup Plan
When things go wrong and you don't have time to prepare a meal at home you might need to call in backup. If you followed Tip #4 then you'll have a few meals ready in the freezer for warming up, things like Paleo Chili or Stew freeze beautifully for very long periods of time.
Try keeping some snacks ready, like Paleo energy bars, or even just some vegi's and jerky to eat and run.
Lastly, there might be a few Paleo-friendly options available at some nearby restaurants. Do a little research, and don't be afraid to customize your order a bit to fit your diet.
8. Don't Beat Yourself Up
There are a lot of ups and downs on the road to health, and sometimes you'll end up eating more than a few pieces of cake and spiral into a pit of self-loathing.
But don't. The worst thing you can actually do if you hiccup on your path to paleo is to beat yourself up about it.
You haven't 'failed' because you've eaten one thing you weren't supposed to, it's just a minor set-back. Even if you only ever manage to go 50% paleo you're still doing better than 99.999% of the population. So keep at it and stay positive, you'll get there in the end.
9. Stay Strong
And just to reiterate that point, remember that the first few weeks are likely to be the hardest. That's because change is hard. But remember that it takes 21 days to form a new habit.
After this point, it will start to seem weird not to eat paleo. What's more, you'll have way more energy at this point which will give you the resolve to avoid further mistakes. One day you'll wake up and realize you've been sticking at the diet for months on end without question.
So hang in there and stay positive. There's light at the end of the tunnel!
10. Read the Free Paleo Handbook
We spent months creating our free guide to Paleo, for beginners and Paleo veterans alike. There is 50+ pages of awesome tips.
We cover all the basics, then go into time-saving, saving money, meal plans, snack ideas, and more. And it comes with 8 of our best time-saving Paleo recipes.
I know, I'm kind of self promoting here. But I spent a ton of time to make sure this was the best resource to help you, and it's totally free. So give it a shot and tell me what you think.
Did you find these tips helpful? What tips do you have for beginners? Tell us your story in the comments below!