10 Tips to Help You Make It Through Your First Few Weeks of Being Paleo
First, let's break down the Paleo diet, also known as the "caveman diet." The Paleo diet is based on the idea of eating whole foods similar to the ones the hunter-gatherers consumed. It's protein-heavy, with foods like red meat, chicken, and fish, and you won't find a single fruit or veggie that's off-limits. However, you'll have to say good-bye toallgrains (everything from wheat to barley), dairy products, processed sugars (natural sweeteners, like honey, are okay), corn (because your body can't digest it), and legumes (peas, beans, and even peanuts).
In other words, if a caveman didn't eat it, you're not going to either.
1. Do your research.
Before deciding to commit to going Paleo, know what you're getting into. It's a very restrictive diet and there are more limitations that you might think. Foods that you think are healthy, like peanut butter (a legume), hummus (also made from legumes), and even brown rice (a grain), are total no-nos.
2. Clean out your kitchen.
Say buh-bye to everything that's not gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, and corn-free. Scary,I know. But if it's there you'll be tempted to cheat.
3. Read labels.
Even if you're buying organic, check labels. More often than not, there's an ingredient listed that isn't Paleo-friendly. For example, I'm a big baker and have reached for several gluten-free flours that aren't Paleo-friendly, because some are made from brown rice flour, which is a grain. The best solution to this is nut flour, like almond or hazelnut.
4. Prep your meals.
Stock up on key ingredients like fruits, veggies, and protein. Having everything available and easily accessible will make dinnertime a cinch. It'll alleviate the last-minute takeout call, and you'll wind up saving yourself a couple bucks, too!
5. …And make extra for tomorrow.
Always make more food than you think you need. You'll be happy when you can grab leftovers for weekday lunches—one of the hardest meals to figure out while being Paleo (there are only so many salads a girl can eat!).
6. Have snacks handy at all times.
Keep a stash of snacks at your desk for work cravings, or near the front of your pantry at home. Munching on raw almonds or carrot sticks throughout the day will help you avoid eyeing that bag of chips in the vending machine (okay, maybe you'll eye it, but you won't buy it!).
7. Invite friends over for dinner.
Instead of a girls' night out, plan a girls' night in! Cooking for your friends will keep your diet on track, and it will give you an opportunity to test new recipes.
8. …But going out is okay too!
If a salad has cheese on top, ask for it without and load it up with protein like grilled chicken, salmon, or shrimp. If mashed potatoes are a side, ask for a sweet potato instead. Your diet is restrictive, but that doesn't mean your lifestyle has to be… there are always options.
9. It's not the end of the world if you slip up.
If you're sticking to the plan 70 percent of the time, know that you're on the right track. The first few days are the hardest, so if you accidentally eat something with sugar, it's okay! Get back on track at your next meal.
10. Most importantly, know that the cravings will eventually go away.
After a while, you'll stop thinking about everything you can't eat (so long Reese's Peanut Butter Cups) and you'll be satisfied with everything you can eat (apple slices and almond butter, yes, please!). It takes time, but I promise you'll feel (and see!) a positive difference.
In addition to being REDBOOK's assistant fashion editor, Marla is the owner of Molly's Fresh Baked, a gluten- and dairy-free bakery based in Hoboken, NJ.
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