New Year’s Eve is has passed now, and with the new year comes all those new resolutions you’ve been meaning to make. One of the biggest resolutions every year is weight loss and health improvement. It is also one of the hardest ones to keep. John Norcross, author of Changing for Good: A Revolutionary Six-Stage Program for Overcoming Bad Habits and Moving Your Life Positively Forward, points out that New Year’s resolutions typically are about the hardest habits to break: “These habits and behaviors are very difficult to change, and when you don’t have a well-thought-out plan on how you are going to make sustainable changes that fit into your lifestyle, it leads to failure.”
One of the best ways to succeed in your health goals is to go in with a good plan. For many people, Paleolithic (or “Paleo”) eating is the best way to start off the new year. The Paleo diet is similar to the Atkins in that meat can be a large majority of it. Besides this, it’s different to any other plan in that derives from the diet of ancient humans. This ancestral approach to eating stems from the idea that modern diseases correspond with the increase in wheat, sugar, chemically processed vegetable and seed oils, along with other modern foods in our diet. Therefore, this diet mandates cutting dairy, grains, legumes, processed oils, and refined sugars from your life. That means no creamer or sugar in your coffee, no bread for your sandwich, and no french fries. For many people, the thought of these restrictions seems impossible. Which is why the biggest benefit to this diet is that there isn’t just one fit-all Paleo diet plan. Rather, there are habits and general rules that people pick and choose with their Paleo diets. There are Paleo eaters who cannot live without their dairy products, or others that have to include some starchy veggies. Most people follow the Paleo ideas of eating whole, unprocessed foods.
You eat unprocessed, real food
Paleo and primal diets consist of (mostly) real, whole foods. You can eliminate many preservatives, hidden sugars, sodium, additives, colouring, artificial flavouring and who knows what else. This is why this diet is so big for people who want to know what kind of food they are ingesting.
Sustained weight loss
Similar to the Atkins diet, most people experience weight loss and muscle growth while eating a paleo diet and keeping an active lifestyle.
Stable blood sugar levels
The drop in blood sugar can lead some people to be hangry. Hangry is a combination of hungry+angry, which is a common symptom for many people suffering from acute or chronic hyperglycemia. The person gets a rapid onset of hunger accompanied by irritability, fatigue, disorientation, and a foggy mind. Meals consisting of protein and fat are very satiating. The energy your body gets from fat and protein is released slowly and evenly throughout the day. As a result, the blood sugar levels stay stable and hunger develops gradually without the crazy mood swings.
People following the Paleo diet say they experience many of these benefits:
- Increased and more stable energy levels
- Improved sleep
- Clearer skin and healthier looking hair
- Mental clarity
- Improved mood and attitude
- Improvements in those suffering depression or anxieties
- Less or no bloating, decreased gas
- Reduced allergies
With the benefits of this diet, you can improve your health and lose weight. To get the most of the Paleo diet, try following this guide in the New Year.
A Guide to Eating on the Paleo Diet
Compile Good Recipes
There’s a lot of Paleo diet cookbooks now (a lot), so find one or two books and figure out what recipes sound tasty. It’ll be a lot easier to stick to this diet if you have some staple recipes you can depend on. And just because these recipes don’t include grains or sugars doesn’t mean they aren’t delicious. Look at what a Paleo diet can look like!
Know Your Quick Fix Snacks
One of the easiest ways to fall off a diet is to give yourself a little, then a little more, then decide to call it a lost day and indulge in anything. That’s why you need to know what you can get ahead of time when you need a quick fix. Imagine you forgot your lunch at home and you need to run out to get something from the store during work. Think you can keep to one specific lunch while you’re in there? For a lot of people, the temptation is too much. That’s why you need to know ahead of time what you can grab quickly to get out. This gets a lot easier if you know what stores you can go to ahead of time to get your Paleo fix. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods alway carry a large amount of Paleo-friendly snacks such as trail mix, prepared salads, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Make Sure Your Friends and Family Know About Your Diet
This isn’t to get them on it or anything. It is harder to stick to a plan when all the people in your life don’t do the same. Let your friends and family know that your eating a different way now and why you are doing it (whether that be for an illness or weight loss or for energy). When you do this, it is easier to accommodate yourself within their non-Paleo life. If your best friends are going out to eat to celebrate a birthday, just let them know you’ll be sticking to your diet in the restaurant. As good as splitting a dessert may look, giving in “just this one time” never really works out well when someone wants you to do it every day.
Know Why You Want It
Fad diets don’t work because they fall of out of popularity. Knowing why you are starting the Paleo diet is the key to success. This diet is hard. Our culture revolves around quick, starchy foods that we can get anywhere. Paleo completely goes against that idea, and it is a big change to undertake. When you decide to start, consider why you want to change your eating habits, and cement those reasons in your mind. If you’re looking to lose weight from this diet, research how Paleo aids weight loss and read others’ success stories. Talk to people online and ask why they started and why they continue eating this way. This research and those conversations will stick with you throughout this process and can be used during difficult times to remind you why you wanted this.
It’s the New Year, and that means a chance for a new start on something in your life. If you decided that Paleo is for you, consider these tips to keep you on track from the start. Additionally, follow any of these resources below for advice and recipes on the Paleo diet.
Best Paleo Diet Cookbooks
Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle: This book is amazing. It’s a #1 seller on Amazon and with good reason. The book gives you various breakdowns of the benefits of the Paleo diet as well as customized meal plans for specific dietary needs. There are plans for weight loss, post-chemotherapy life, blood pressure control, etc. When you see the pictures in this book, you won’t worry about tasty eating on the Paleo diet.
Well Fed: Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat: This book is packed with recipes for food that you can eat every day! It also has easy tips to make sure it takes as little time as possible to get healthy, delicious food that fits in the Paleo lifestyle.
It Starts With Food: This book details the plan and recipes of the Whole30 diet, one of the initial Paleo diets. The book details not only the “how” of the Whole30 but also the “why,” summarizing the science in a simple, accessible manner.