A little over a year ago, after a fair bit of research, I decided to give "Going Paleo" a try. If you follow me on instagram you may have seen me post my meals and feelings about it each day. For me, it was a fairly simple transition in my daily mealplan (since I was already gluten free) and after the first week I fell into a pretty good rhythm with it. Recently, after feeling some of the symptoms of my auto-immune coming back due to inflamation I decdied to go for another round of paleo living! Since then I've had a lot of people ask me for tips on "going paleo" so I thought I'd put together a big blog post for you in case you are one of those people! Let's dig right in! Starting with "What is Paleo?" Paleo is taken from the word "Paleolithic" referring to the period of time before the development of agriculture. This was a time when ancient humans were believed to live on what they could hunt or gather. So it is believed that these ancient humans lived on fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and the meat and fish they hunted. From this, we get the modern "Paleolithic Diet" or "Paleo Diet".
But I don't like to call it a diet. Because that implies that we are doing it for a limited time with the sole purpose of losing weight. While that might be some people's motivation, mine was more of a lifestyle shift with the purpose of feeling better and being healthier overall. So for the purpose of explaining what I do, I'm going to call it the "Paleo Template" ;)
A common misconception about eating Paleo is that all you eat is meat all day every day. It's easy to be confused. You see lots of meat-heavy dishes if you search for Paleo on Pinterest or google and this nutritional template is very popular among men who like the idea of a "meat and potatoes" type of mealplan. (Except white potatoes, aren't paleo... sorry dudes.) But the key to the success (and nutritional benefits) of eating Paleo is like anything else: balance and moderation. Hunter/Gatherers didn't live on bacon and french fries, and neither should you.
To make sure that I ate in a balanced way when I went Paleo, and how I suggest others begin their Paleo journey, I decided to enlist the help of the 21 Day Fix Mealplan that I've always loved so much! (It's also available from Beachbody under the name The Portion Fix now and comes with most Challenge Packs!) This plan gives you colored containers for each food group. You are allotted a certain number of servings of each container a day (based on your height/weight/activity/goals) and you just fill up the container and eat what fits. It's so easy that I think every single person needs to abide by it! I digress...
I followed the color coded mealplan guidelines and TWEAKED them to work with Paleo guidelines! This helps me to step down into the paleo mealplan in a way that is super balanced making sure I still get enough veggies, fruits, carbs, and not too much protein or fats! What are those guidelines? Put very simply, you eat what you could hunt or gather back in the Paleolithic day. So... lean meats, fish, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits. What is not accepted as Paleo?
FOODS TO AVOID ON THE PALEO TEMPLATE:
Refined Sugars & Artificial Sweeteners
Processed Foods (including Junk Food)
Hydrogenated Oils/Vegetable Oils
Pseudograins (like buckwheat or quinoa)
Okay, let's talk about these for a minute. Obviously, paleolithic man didn't have sugar or sugar substitutes so those are easy to understand. Grains came with agriculture so those are out too. Legumes came with agriculture too so you'll have to pass on the beans and peanuts. Processed foods weren't around so count them out, same with vegetable and hydrogenated oils (if it says anything like "buttery spread" just don't even touch it) and alcohol came later too. Now there are a few foods I like to call "fringe foods" which means that they are debated among Paleo participants. These are dairy, cashews, white potatoes, and pseudograins.
Why did I include Shakeology in the fringe foods? Well it's because regular Shakeology contains whey protein. Which is technically a dairy derivative. Vegan Shakeology contains oat protein which is technically a grain derivative. In my opinion, either one is still waaaaaayyyyyy better for you than anything else you could do so the positives outweigh the fringe technicalities. I have stayed on it and still seen INCREDIBLE results since going paleo.
You will have to make your own decision regarding these items. People who subscribe to a paleo diet but eat dairy are called "Primal" if you want to do some research. The reason dairy is left out is because while animals were around, Paleolithic humans did not have the tools or capacity to be making anything like butter or cheeses or creams. White potatoes are a plant so why can't you eat them? You can, obviously, no one is forcing you to do anything. But the reason they aren't considered paleo is because of the labor involved in harvesting them. They are more likely a crop then something that Paleolithic humans stumbled upon. Also, if nothing else, they don't have a lot of nutritional benefits so it's worth it to avoid them. Cashews are a nut right? So why are they a problem? Technically, cashews are a legume (like peanuts) so to a strict Paleo person they'd be out. Make your own decision on this one. And lastly, pseudograins like quinoa and buckwheat. These are technically not grains, but they behave like them inside your body. So the choice is yours.
"What's left?!" You might be thinking. What can I eat? A LOT actually! Here's some of my meals...
Okay, so maybe you're thinking about giving this whole Paleo thing a try. But you're so confused. Where do you start? How do you figure out what to eat? And how do stay balanced and avoid living on bacon, avocado, and steak alone? Don't worry friends, I've got you covered! Here is a sample week's mealplan using the Portion Fix plan as a guide. These are all meals I have eaten since going Paleo so you know they are actually good! This is based on my serving allowances in the Portion Fix. If you're in a higher bracket and have more servings you would just either eat bigger meals or add in more food in your day. I wrote out each meal's ingredients in the color container they would correspond to so you can easily see VISUALLY how to combine your containers into a day's worth of amazing meals!
It is super simple to tweak the containers to work with a Paleo mealplan. All you have to do is replace your YELLOW container with something Paleo-friendly. The containers' colors each correspond to a food group, yellow is your carbs/grains. So to make an easy swap what I did is to replace 1 serving of yellow a day with sweet potatoes or other starchy vegetable (yams or yuca fries are fun too!). And my 2nd serving of yellow with the almond milk in my shakeology. See how delicious and amazing your week can be? And you can see here that a day in the Paleo life is not all meat all the time. In fact, it's actually a LOT of vegetables! I even included a few Chipotle runs to show you that you can make this work and not be chained to your kitchen! Here are the recipes needed for the mealplan above:
PALEO PANCAKES (just substitute almond meal/flour for cashew meal if you like)
DRESSING 1: combine 3 parts olive oil to 1 part balsamic vinegar
DRESSING 2: combine 3 parts olive oil to 1 part champagne vinegar, add in diced shallots, and pepper
DRESSING 3: combine 3 parts olive oil to 1 part champagne vinegar, add in some dill if you like
Now to make things even EASIER for you, I put together a grocery shopping list for you based off this mealplan (who loves ya?!) Just print it out and take it with you to the store. Now here's the secret. Don't feel chained to this. If you don't like something I listed (like spinach) swap it out for something you do like (like spring mix). Make it work for YOU and your tastes.
I know, this still might seem overwhelming. And maybe you have questions? Have no fear! I'll be hosting a live, free webinar digging more into my personal story with going paleo. I'll be sharing my struggles with auto-immune, how paleo helped, and how EXACTLY I use this mealplan to do it in a balanced way. I'll also be sharing how I fit physical activity into this and keep my energy levels up! I'll even give you my TOP THREE TIPS for success in this process! I'd love to have you join me! The webinar is scheduled for Sunday, February 26th at 7:30PM EST. But if you can't make it, it will be recorded and left up for a few days so you can watch after. If you do hop on live though, you'll have the chance to ask me questions as I go! Click the banner below to head to the event and RSVP so you get a reminder on the day of!
Want to do this with my help, with the full color coded mealplan, my super weapon: shakeology, and a year's access to EVERY workout program Beachbody has ever made? Let me hook you up with an All Access Pack in my March Challenge Group which will have a paleo focus! We'll all be going through it together, sharing mealplans, recipes, etc to make it so much easier to make this transition and make it stick! Choose from workouts like the 21 Day Fix, Piyo, Core De Force, or even yoga if you wanna keep it light! Daily motivation and accountability, and the opportunity to ask me questions as you go? You're in luck! Click here to email me and let me know you want your name on the list! I'll send you all the details!
If you already have a Beachbody coach that you are currently working with, or if you are already a coach outside of our team, The Arrow Tribe, you are unfortunately not eligible to join my March challenge group. But please feel free to connect with me here, on Instagram, and on FB for more paleo fix inspiration!