So. You’ve been doing paleo for a while.
You’ve done your research and you know what foods to eat and you know why you should eat them.
But do you know how to eat them?
I don’t mean the putting-it-in-your-mouth-and-chewing-thing. I assume you got that down some time ago. I mean strategies to enable you to avoid and resist non-paleo foods and zone in on the foods you want to be eating.
Or are you still in thrall to the little voice that says ‘just one bite.’ Or ‘it can’t hurt.’ These little voices are a menace. And we need strategies to keep them quiet.
Because metaphorical duct tape doesn’t work. We’ve all tried that.
I’ve listed 46 of my favorite tips below for your perusal, delectation and application. I’ve organized these tips to include meal prep and home organization as well as eating and drinking because preparedness is your biggest asset.
The emphasis is on simplification and systematization because for women especially, our involvement with food is messy and complicated but if we deal with the basics and put things on autopilot, our relationship with food will reap dividends.
Here’s the list:
1. Use a meal planner with favorite dishes listed by protein type. Write it up before you go shopping. Base your shopping list on your meal plan. And, of course, shop to the list.
2. Never go shopping hungry.
3. Never go shopping with hungry kids.
4. If you have young kids, organize your time so you can shop alone. You will make much better decisions.
5. When they are old enough, have kids help you gather grocery items in the store. Have them assist you in getting 6 lemons or 40 brussels sprouts, that kind of thing. You’re teaching them about many things when you do this.
6. Shop the perimeter of the store. Meat counter, dairy (if you eat it,) produce. Bonus: it takes much less time.
7. Get to know your butcher. Ask him questions. Where’d the meat come from? Does he sell offal? What do those ratings mean that they display so proudly?
8. Enter a store via the produce department, if possible.
9. If not possible, keep your eyes on the back wall and do not linger in the bakery. Try not to breathe and smell the bread fragrance they pump out! Head straight for the meat.
10. Buy at least one different type of vegetable for each day of the week.
11. Prepare your favorite meals without the non-paleo aspects – steak and kidney pie without the pie, quiche without the crust.
12. Avoid stores on chocolate sale days – the days after Halloween, Christmas, Valentines and Easter. Just don’t go there. Do not be tempted by cheap chocolate.
13. Don’t walk down the candy aisle. I’m serious, don’t do it! If you are shopping the perimeter of the store, this won’t be difficult, but if you are going up and down those aisles, beware.
15. Prepare food early in the day when your blood sugar is stable. It also cuts down on the need to think about food during the day and gives you an emotional boost knowing that a large part of your daily chore is done.
16. Choose one meal to paleo-ize at a time. I started with dinner.
17. Do what you can with what you have. If you can’t afford grass-fed beef, eat corn-fed. Nothing organic available? Eat the fruit anyway. Just scrub it well first.
18. Batch cook where possible.
19. Make vegetable soups and store them in the freezer. Make sure you always have some ready to go in your fridge.
20. Make chicken stock (in your slow cooker?) from chicken leftovers and bones.
21. Buy a thermos, warm it with hot water, warm your leftovers, toss the water, and drop in your food. There’s lunch.
22. Store leftovers in one portion sizes. I use one cup size food containers with screw on lids. Great for quick and easy lunches.
23. If you’re not fascinated by cooking, make only one new recipe a week at first. Try one new vegetable. Get used to trying new things.
24. Eat healthily before you cook. Don’t cook hungry.
25. Keep food in the kitchen only. Do not have it spread around the house especially in places where you are inactive – next to the sofa, your desk drawer, your car. There is one exception to this rule. See storage of non-paleo food below.
26. Organize your fridges shelves by paleo and non-paleo food items. Train yourself to laser in on the shelves you can eat from and ignore the rest.
27. Tuck non-paleo food out of sight so you don’t see it every time you open a cupboard or enter the pantry.
28. Make non-paleo food difficult to get to – high on a shelf, in a place difficult to get to, away from highly trafficked areas of your home. Mine are in the garage freezer, the top shelf of my pantry, a drawer in my bedroom.
29. Work out the paleo skeleton of your day. What will you do and eat in accordance with the lifestyle? Do those things first if you can.
30. Keep a stack of index cards on top of your fridge along with a pen, or if you’re not tall enough, one of these magnetic pen and note holders to the door of your fridge. Every time you notice yourself doing something right around food or wrong around food, write it down. Use these cards as reminders and to strategize solutions to negative food behaviors.
31. Plan your day the night before. Allow your subconscious to work on it overnight. I learned this on a time management course in 1985. Probably the best piece of advice I ever received.
Eating & Drinking
32. Watch your caffeine intake and observe how it affects you. For example, I can’t moderate my consumption and it causes me to be impulsive around food so I avoid it.
33. Make it a rule to not drink sugary drinks. Even ones with artificial sweetener or supposedly healthy stevia. They mess with your head. Get used to drinking plain water instead.
34. Use sports top water bottles and carry them with you always. They are the easiest to transport and drink from.
35. Swig water at stop lights.
36. Patronize a small number of restaurants to eat at. Get to know the menu, the staff and their willingness to adapt to your paleo diet.
37. Avoid places with menu’s that take twenty minutes to read.
38. Read menus ahead of time and decide what you’re going to eat.
39. Ask for substitutions. A request for extra vegetables is rarely turned down.
40. Try going longer between meals. Just a little longer. Work on being in control of food rather than sitting in the passenger seat being driven by it.
41. Enjoy eating leftovers for breakfast, and lunch.
42. Eat salads in the summer, soups in the winter. If you eat in a restaurant, make sure you always order one of these.
43. Transition your family from carb-laden desserts to fruit, then to no dessert at all. Take it slowly, gradually increasing the instances of fruit and occasionally dropping in no dessert at all.
44. Have someone else clean the kid’s plates if you eat their leftovers.
45. If you struggle to limit your choices, eat separately from your family. Sit at the table with them (or be in the kitchen cleaning up) but eat before they do.
46. Take fish oil – capsules, on a spoon or just eat the fish. Make it a priority.
As you go about your life, keep looking for those pitfalls. Be observant. Notice when you paleo fail. Analyze it and reverse-engineer a solution.
Like our ancestors, keep an eye out for danger. Except the danger isn’t lions and tigers anymore. It’s modern day food.
Use these tips to help.
What tips have helped you stay on the paleo path? Let us know in the comments.
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