I get asked quite a bit where to begin with paleo.
It can be hard to figure out where to start sometimes.
There’s so much information out there, a ton of books, so many different blogs and articles, and a lot of controversy. I also believe paleo to be a highly personalized form of eating, and that can take a little work to figure out.
I try to keep it to the basics.
The yes foods:
Good protein. Lots of vegetable. Some fruits. The right fats, and a fair amount of them. A little bit of nuts. And for me, health boosting ancestral probiotic foods like kombucha and sauerkraut.
The no foods:
Little to no dairy (and whole fat and at least organic on what I do eat. No funky oils (vegetable oils). No legumes. No grains. No refined sugar.
The best places to go for general information and recipes?
- Paleo Parents
- The Food Lovers
- Mark’s Daily Apple
- Robb Wolf
- Nom Nom Paleo
- Civilized Caveman
There are a lot of places out there, but for the two years that I’ve followed a paleo diet, these have consistently been the best and most trust-worth. Most of those authors have books available also and they’re all solid.
If you’re just starting out, I cannot recommend doing a Whole30 highly enough, and be sure to include the reintroduction phase the first time. A completed Whole30 gives you a perfect platform to begin to experiment from and learn what your personal version of paleo is.
When you’re starting out, it’s important to stay consistent. It takes at least two weeks to clear the gluten from your body if you’ve been eating it. And even though paleo doesn’t have to be low carb, it’s most likely going to be lower than pretty much any style of diet you’ve been eating except for maybe Atkins or South Beach. There’s a transition that your body goes through from being a carb burner to a fat burner, and it can lead to some headaches, exhaustion and crankiness that you just have to get through.
After that don’t hold yourself to a standard of perfection (unless you’re doing that Whole30). You’re going to mess up and burn yourself out. It’s okay, as long as you learn from it and move on. I shoot for the 80/20% paradigm – if I’m solid 80% of the time, I can do some paleo baked goods or other “treat” foods 20% of the time.
One more tip when you’re making the change to paleo: plan it out. Plan your meals, plan your snacks, plan your groceries and plan to have something on hand like coconut butter if you’re having cravings. There’s a reason they say failure to plan is the same as planning to fail! I’ve written a lot about planning in the past, and here are a few of my favorites. They’re mostly written about the Whole30, but they work for just about any dietary changes:
- 5 for Friday: planning for a successful Whole30 – my personal favorite tips ever
- 5 Things Friday: keys to a successful Whole30 – some of these are repeats from the post above…that means they’re really important
- Whole30: when life gets hard – life doesn’t stop just because you’re doing an eating challenge or trying to change your ways
And if you’re looking for recipes or meal plans:
- Whole30 pinboard of recipes – my general board, but if you click through to my account, I have many others separated by category
- Whole30 Menu Plans
Any questions? Any other resources you think are great for beginners?