Wellness Wednesday #10: Tips for Success!
Are you ready to cut out those nutrient-deficient, processed frankenfoods and start eating real food? Here are some tips as you are getting started:
- Expect it to suck for a while.
This isn’t going to be easy. When you change your diet, your body has to adjust. Expect several days or several weeks to start feeling great. Also, getting used to cooking everyday can be difficult if you aren’t used to it. It does get easier! Remember, it’s all going to be worth it!
- Stay away from temptations!
For the first few months of your new way of eating, avoid going to work lunches, parties, restaurants, dinners at your parent’s house, and anything else that will be too tempting for you. After a while, you’ll be able to pass on the unhealthy stuff. At the beginning, though, it can be hard. If you don’t think you have the willpower to say no, skip the event! It’s okay. You have to take care of yourself.
- Find support.
When I first started the Paleo diet, I was doing it alongside my husband and a whole lot of other people at our Crossfit gym. I felt accountable to my husband, my coach, and our friends that were in the challenge with us. It wasn’t just the accountability that helped, it was the support. We shared recipe ideas. We vented to each other about missing certain foods. We could compare how we were feeling with each other (Was it just me feeling like an emotional rollercoaster that first week?). If one of us was about to eat a giant piece of birthday cake, the rest of us could talk him out of it.
Some people in your life are going to laugh at you. They are going to tell you that what you’re doing is stupid. “We’re all going to die someday” is something you’re going to hear A LOT. When these naysayers are getting in your business, telling you that your new healthy lifestyle is pointless and miserable, it’s nice to have some supportive people to remind you that you’re doing a great thing. I personally think some of these doubters are worried that you will try to convert them or judge them. If you explain to them what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, and you convince them that you aren’t judging them or trying to convert them, you might find them to be more pleasant.
If you can’t find support in family and friends, find some strangers. There are lots of Facebook groups out there. If you are following the Autoimmune Protocol and you live in Central Texas, ask to join our Central Texas Autoimmune Paleo group! We would love to have you!
- Don’t let yourself get hungry! Be prepared!
When you’re hungry, it’s a lot more difficult to avoid temptation. You’ll grab anything to feel better. Bring snacks with you and eat them BEFORE you get hungry. If you are out running errands, bring some good food with you. You might not end up eating it, but you need to have it with you. If you don’t and you get hungry, you’re probably going to eat something you shouldn’t.
- Set goals!
Write down what you’re doing and for how long you’re doing it. Be clear on what you are eliminating and what you want to add for better nutrition and health. Set a date and stick to the plan until that date. Once you’ve reached your goals, hopefully you’ll be feeling better than ever and want to continue!
- Set an end date.
You’ve decided you want to cut our processed foods and eat real food. Great decision! Now, you need to decide how long you are going to stick with this experimental new way of living. Do you want to do it for one month? Two months? Six months? A year? Forever? If you don’t have a goal for how long you will be true to this way of eating, it’s a lot easier to just end it when you feel like it. Set a date and rise to the challenge!
- Don’t cheat!!!
You’ve set goals and you’ve set a time frame. Do not cheat!!! Once you cheat, it’s an uphill battle. You’ll tell yourself, “Well, I already cheated and ruined the challenge, so I might as well just cheat again.” You will keep doing that over and over again. Stay strict until you reach your goal (and beyond!).
- Take it slow if you need to.
Some people can handle going cold turkey. Some can’t. If you aren’t ready to take the plunge, it’s okay to move slowly. Maybe you start by removing gluten from your diet. Get comfortable with that, and then add on to it. I went cold turkey when I started paleo. It was hard for the first few weeks, but it got easier. When I decided to do the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), I think it really helped that I went paleo first. Eliminating everything on AIP at once can be really overwhelming, especially if you’re coming from a typical American diet. I got really good at paleo for about three months, and then I did the extra eliminations for AIP.
- Find substitutes!
If you feel like there is no way that you can give up bread, find something to replace it. Maybe you find a recipe for paleo bread, or maybe you make a sweet potato for some comforting starch, or maybe you make some plantain crackers. If sweet tea is your addiction (Brent, I ‘m talking to you!), find another drink. Try some iced herbal tea. Drink some flavored mineral water. You could wean yourself off slowly by mixing your sweet tea with regular tea. Reduce the amount of sweet tea over a few weeks until you’re ready to ditch the sugar altogether. You won’t love your substitutions at first, but they can get you through the difficult times. Eventually, you won’t need the substitutes anymore at all.
- Remember why you’re doing this.
Make a list of what you hope to change. Are you trying to lose weight? Reverse an autoimmune disease? Get your allergies under control? Write down why you’re changing your diet and remind yourself often. Post your list on your mirror in your bathroom. Read it every morning!
- Make it a family affair.
Your immediate family needs to know what you’re doing. Get the family together and explain what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Explain to them that you need their support and encouragement. Let them know how it will benefit them. Maybe your kids will be excited to have a mom with more patience and energy. Maybe they want you to get off of your prescription drugs that make you sick. Maybe they want you to feel happier with your weight. Whatever it is, talk to them about it so they understand that it’s important to you. Let them know what they can do to help you.
- Keep it simple!
You get home from work at 6 p.m. You’ve just started this new diet, and you’re feeling tired, shaky, and hungry. Are you really going to have the energy to spend an hour making “breaded” chicken strips and preparing a homemade dipping sauce? No, of course not! Don’t set yourself up for failure. In the beginning especially, stick with quick and easy meals. Make some hamburger patties, grill some chicken, eat a pre-prepared casserole, use your slow cooker. Ground beef is always quick and easy. Throw some sweet potatoes in the oven for an hour. Salad is quick, and so are sautéed or steamed veggies. Keep it simple!
- Don’t apologize!
You are doing this for you. You want to feel better, have more energy, and be happier. Don’t apologize for “eating weird.” You have made a good choice to be healthier, and you should own it! Be proud and be confident! Besides, we aren’t the ones eating weird. What’s weirder: a steak and some veggies, or food out of a box that contains chemically-altered fats, bleached and deodorized oils, grains that have been stripped of nutrients and extruded into little shapes, food coloring, artificial flavors, and all kinds of other things you can’t even pronounce?