I was recently asked “how do you find time to do this?” I’ve also seen this used as an excuse for not eating healthy in general. “I don’t have time to cook meals”. “Fast food/frozen food/junk food is so much easier”. I suppose it’s true. It certainly is much quicker to swing through McDonalds and order a Big Mac and a couple of happy meals for the kids, and eat them on the way home, than to go home and cook a meal. What it comes down to is priorities. Like the quote above says! I feel that feeding my family the way I do promotes optimal health for us, which in turn enables us to live life to the fullest. For me, this is a priority.
Did this change, and my ability to find time to do all of this, happen overnight? NO! Of course not, and actually it’s still developing and evolving as I learn more and more.
Here are some tips for those of you who are interested in paleo but not sure where to start or are hesitant to start and worried about time constraints:
1. Educate yourself. I started my “paleo journey” by reading EVERYTHING I could get my hands on. Books, blogs, websites, medical journals….you name it, I read it! For me, nothing empowers me more to make a change than knowledge. If I’m going to do something I need to know, understand, and agree with everything it’s about. Paleo resonated with me, it just made sense. (Book and blog recommendations at the bottom)
2. So, you’ve done all sorts of reading and you think paleo sounds awesome! 👍. But where do you start? Should you throw away everything in your pantry that contains grains, legumes, seed oils, dairy, GMOs, MSG, and sugar? Well, you may want to and that’s totally cool. But I would think thats not terribly practical for most people. Especially if you also have kids. Throwing away everything they’ve known and loved to eat and snack on for however many years could be a little traumatic. What I did, was start slowly. I took the knowledge I gained from reading all those books and blogs and I decided what I wanted to change first. I felt it was most important to improve our cooking oils first. From there I removed grains. And so on.
3. You don’t know how to cook? Ha! Neither do I, and I’m still no expert. Creating meals from scratch is not my fortay, but I can follow a recipe like nobodies business!! There are so many excellent paleo cookbooks out there, and there are even more FREE recipes on paleo blogs all over the Internet! For those of you like myself, who work full time, cooking full on home made meals may not be practical each and every night. Trust me! I do not cook big fancy meals each night. On my days off I play around with either a new meal or a tried and true favorite, maybe some new snack recipes. On days that I work I throw protein and nutrient dense carbs (veggies) cooked in healthy fat on our plates and call it a night. And never underestimate the friend you will find in your crockpot! We are totally besties 😉
4. Planning ahead is essential when it comes to paleo. Especially in the beginning. Meal planning, grocery shopping, food prepping, batch cooking. Making sure you have the week planned out and healthy whole food snacks on hand is key and will keep you from reaching for readily available processed garbage when hunger strikes. Many people use Sunday as their food prep day, but if you work Sunday pick another day. Use that day to pre cook meals that can be pre cooked. You can batch cook things like casseroles for work lunches and breakfast muffins to grab on the go on busy mornings. You can portion out snacks like home made nut mixes, granolas, beef jerky, and ingredients for smoothies.
5. The way you eat now is a no brainier because you’ve been doing it your whole life, you have your grocery shopping routines, standard meals on weekly rotation, and your cabinets filled with your favorite snacks. Eating healthy nutrient dense whole food can be the same way! In the beginning it took me slightly more time, effort, and thought to make sure I had everything I needed for meals and snacks. Now, it’s habit! That extra effort paid off. I know what to keep on hand to throw together meals, what kind of snacks I like to have around, and I have a new set of meals on weekly rotation. I try something new each week and if it’s a win then we add it in to rotation for a while to keep things interesting. Practice makes perfect 🙂
6. Probably the most important – your mindset. “Paleo” is NOT a quick fix diet plan. It’s a lifestyle. It’s about changing your eating habits for the better by feeding your body the nutrient dense whole foods it needs to function at full potential. I feel like the fact that it’s out there in the media lately labeled as “the paleo diet” gives people the wrong impression. We’ve been conditioned all our lives to associate the word “diet” with calorie counting, food restrictions, low fat/highcarb…that is not what paleo is about. While there’s probably a good chance that you will lose some weight on paleo as your body begins to function optimally without all the hormone confusing, nutrient poor, chemical laden processed foods in it, the real reward is in how good you will feel. But, checking the years of diet dogma at the door when starting a whole foods journey, is a must.
So, does eating paleo take a lot of time? In the beginning, sure. But the same applies to any change you decide to put in place in your life. A new workout routine, a new job, a new hobby, a new relationship. All changes require a little more effort at first as you learn and feel things out, and then, they become routine.
My 3 very favorite books in the order you should read them –
Practical Paleo-by Diane Sanfilippo (pretty much the paleo bible). Excellent breakdown and use of easy to understand analogies for the science of processed food vs. real foods and the effects in the body. Also accompanied by many excellent recipes and a meal plan.
It Starts With Food-by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. Again a great breakdown of the science of food in your body accompanied by their tough love humor. What I really love about this book is the fantastic way they breakdown how much you should be eating of protein, carb, and healthy fat.
Eat the Yolks-by Liz Wolfe. Once you really have a grasp on the science behind the paleo diet, this book is super funny yet very informative with many paleo tidbits beyond just the food aspect of the lifestyle.
My go to websites for FREE recipes:
Those are just my top 3….there are SO many that I use and love!!