So how many of you are here because you read my feature in Prevention and heard I was doing a 30-day paleo challenge starting September 1st? (I'm going to pretend I can see you raising your hands). Cool! It's going to be fun, transformative, and only a little sucky in the beginning--okay, it might feel pretty freakin' awful at first. But I promise, that's just your body adjusting to your healthier eating habits. Weaning yourself off of all those refined carbs and sugars is serious stuff. Don't worry, after a couple weeks, you'll stop dreaming about donuts ;)
Anyway, this is a pretty relaxed challenge in the sense that it's self-guided and you don't have to pay anything (!!). BUT you do get the perks of following along with my experience on my blog, as well as getting inspiration for paleo meals and snacks via my Instagram (which I'll also share on Twitter). My goal is to post pics of most of my meals to Instagram and then recap everything into a blog post here at the end of each day. And of course, feel free to tag your own paleo food pics with the hashtag #PVNPaleo and #PVNPaleoDay1, #PVNPaleoDay2, etc, so we can build a healthy little community that shares tips and recipes.
Need a refresher on what exactly you should be eating for these next thirty days? The challenge can be broken down into the following two steps.
Step 1: Go Big or Go Home
Many experts advocate eating strictly Paleo for 30 days, then gradually reincorporating some of the foods you've eliminated so you can see how they make you feel. This challenge is very similar to a program called The Whole30 and some others. Of course, not everyone agrees on what's allowed during that first month. But here are some basic guidelines on what to eat and avoid.
- Pastured, organic, or grass-fed meats (High quality meat is the goal, but conventional is okay from time to time.)
- Non-starchy vegetables
- Squashes and sweet potatoes (Starchier veggies like these are higher in carbs and great for very active people.)
- Nuts and seeds
- Raw fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and kimchi (These are a great source of probiotics)
- Olive, coconut, ghee, and avocado oils (These are generally healthier and less processed than many industrial seed oils.)
- Coconut milk
- Almond milk
- Herbs, spices, vinegars
- Legumes (This includes peanuts and chickpeas.)
- Refined, processed sugars
- Artificial sweeteners
- Refined vegetable and seed oils (corn oil, soybean oil)
- Most processed foods containing the above ingredients
- Potentially other foods if you have an autoimmune condition. A great resource for learning about the Autoimmune Protocol version of Paleo is The Paleo Mom.
Consider Cutting Back on These:
- Alcohol (Many choose to cut this out completely for the first month, others simply cut back. You should, however, eliminate grain-based alcoholic beverages like beer. From time to time, I'll have a glass of wine or a low-sugar hard cider.)
- Coffee (Full disclosure: I will NOT be giving this up. But I'll cut back and probably stick to two 8 oz cups daily.)
- White potatoes
- Natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup (Now, you don't have to cut these out completely, but some people like to for the first 30 days to reset their palate and reduce sugar cravings.)
*Still confused about whether something’s off limits or allowed? Just ask! If I don't know the answer, I'll try to point you in the right direction.
Step 2: Reintroduce (optional)
Once you're finished with your first 30 days, feel free to reintroduce some "off-limits" foods. The general rule: Introduce one new food (not an entire food group) every 3 days, and take note of how you feel. Your reactions may vary—you might feel sick or just blah immediately, within a few hours, or even the next day; or you may feel perfectly fine. Then decide if it's worth adding back into your diet or if you're better off without it.
My Favorite Paleo Resources
General Paleo diet info: These are some of my go-to websites when I have questions regarding why certain foods are off-limits or allowed, or if I simply want to keep up to speed on the latest Paleo research and trends.
Paleo recipe blogs: These blogs feature some truly mouthwatering dishes, all free of grains, legumes, dairy, and processed junk.
And that’s about all the info you need to get started. Stay tuned for daily blog posts featuring meal and snack ideas, tips on making the diet work for you, and lots of random fun nutrition facts. And don’t forget to follow along for culinary inspiration on Instagram.
Peace, Love & Nitrate-Free Bacon,
Important Note! While I’m passionate about Paleo and its potential health perks, I’m not a doctor and the information I share is never meant to take the place of professional medical advice. I’ll be sharing some interesting and helpful stuff here, but just be sure to take into account your personal health and medical history before you incorporate anything into your lifestyle.