Paleo is a dietary lifestyle designed to mimic the eating habits of paleolithic hunter-gatherers as closely as possible. The guiding principle is to eat whole foods (meat, eggs, fruit, vegetables) and avoid anything processed or refined (wheat, rice, corn, sugar). While that seems pretty straightforward on the surface, it quickly becomes a challenge when you realize that many staples of our modern diet don’t make the cut without some modification: sandwiches, pasta, bagels, pizza, breaded chicken, tacos...you get the idea.
So what’s a bread-lover to do? If you’re looking for a better-for-you diet, paleo is absolutely an option, even if you’re used to eating PB&J every day at lunch. Here are five easy tips to get you started.
1. Focus on new recipes, not on foods you’re giving up.
When you’re switching to a new dietary lifestyle like paleo, it can be hard not to think about all your favorite comfort foods (i.e. grilled cheese) that don’t meet the criteria. But instead of focusing on what you’ll miss, turn your attention to all the new recipes and foods you’ll have an opportunity to try. Have you been hearing about cauliflower pizza crust for ages but haven’t gotten around to making it? Now’s the time! Embrace the chance to experiment in the kitchen and shop for foods that wouldn’t normally make it onto your grocery list.
2. Fill up on proteins.
You’re more likely to reach for a side of bread and butter when you’re still feeling peckish after a meal. Stifle carb cravings by piling your plate with paleo-approved proteins. These include high-quality meats like pasture-raised beef, pork and poultry and wild meats like bison and boar. Rotate in eggs, fish and nuts and you’ll never go unsatisfied.
3. Get familiar with root vegetables.
With bread and pasta off your grocery list, you’re going to have to find a new go-to carb. Humans need some carbs for energy—the trick is to choose the right sources. Paleo-approved carbs are unrefined (so no wheat) and high in fiber, like root vegetables. Sweet potatoes, turnips and rutabaga are all versatile options. You can roast or mash them, turn them into soup or even toast . Winter squash like acorn and butternut are great options as well.
4. Learn to love alternative flours.
Just because all-purpose flour is a no-go for paleo doesn’t mean you can never bake cookies or bread again. Grain-free flours like almond, cassava and coconut do the job deliciously. To keep things simple you can even buy a paleo flour mix like Bob’s Red Mill Paleo Baking Flour, which is made with a combo of almond flour, arrowroot starch, organic coconut flour and tapioca flour.
5. Keep paleo-friendly snacks in the kitchen.
Moments of weakness typically come when you’re already hungry and searching for a quick fix. By keeping paleo-friendly snacks in your kitchen (and your car and office), you can curtail the temptation to give into pretzels from the vending machine or a bagel from the coffee shop. At home, try keeping carrot or celery sticks with paleo cauliflower hummus in the fridge. Small packs of almonds make a great emergency stash for your bag or desk drawer.