Are you doing Paleo and feeling frustrated that you aren’t achieving the results you want? Struggling to stick to the diet? While the basic Paleo diet guidelines are simple, putting them into practise can be a little more complex. Some followers have an extremist attitude and feel disheartened when they fail to stick to it 100%. Others are committed but make some basic mistakes and find that it doesn’t work for them and they give up.
Here are 3 big mistakes that prevent beginners from getting their best results.
1. Trying to be perfect
There are many conflicting views out there of exactly what is and what isn’t Paleo. There isn’t really a definitive one-size-fits-all Paleo diet. The most important thing is to make it work for you otherwise you are more likely find it too restrictive and give up. Many devotees are 80/20, meaning they follow strictly 80% and are a little more relaxed about it the remaining 20%. Whether you choose to be a strict follower and not eat any grains, refined sugar or dairy or whether you take a more laid-back approach and are mostly Paleo, or like the majority of followers, somewhere in between, simply eliminating processed foods, added sugars, bad fats and grains from your diet will go a long way to helping you achieve a better state of health.
2. Too much meat and not enough vegetables
Eating meat is an important element of the Paleo diet but this is not the whole story. Along with some high quality protein it is vital to include plenty of vegetables with each meal to provide essential vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. Eggs are also a great source of protein and can provide a meat-free meal. The rule of thumb is that no more than one-third of your plate should be protein. The remaining two-thirds should be vegetables with a small serve of healthy fat such as avocado, nuts and seeds. If you’re not eating vegetables in this quantity you’re not doing Paleo right. It is important to eat dark leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts as these are also good sources of calcium.
3. Too many treats
Just because something is Paleo doesn’t necessarily make it a health food especially if overindulged. Sweet Paleo treats can be problematic, as can overindulging on nuts and dried fruit. Don’t try to replace a diet of low-nutritional value processed and baked foods with their Paleo equivalent. For example, Paleo muffins are healthier than the regular version however they are not for everyday eating. Maple syrup and honey are delicious but still contain a lot of sugar and so are to be used sparingly. The key here is to consume sufficient protein, fat and vegetables and leave the snacks and sweets for occasional use only.
Everyone makes mistakes and as you experience the journey you’ll have ups and downs, good days and not so good days. Paleo is about more than diet, it advocates a lifestyle where stress is managed. It’s important to be kind to yourself and move on when you get it wrong. At its simplest, Paleo is about eating real food. If you follow the basic principle of eating minimally processed foods in appropriate quantities and proportions you will be on the right path to achieving your optimum health outcome.
If you’re looking for some guidance to help you avoid the mistakes, a great resource to get you started is the Paleo Hacks cookbook. Check it out here.