Paleo Habits that Work for Me

It’s March 1 which means I’ve officially been on this paleo diet for two months now. And I’ve lost a total of 14 lbs! To me, it’s not all about the number on the scale (though let’s be honest, it feels pretty good to see). It’s more about the way I’m feeling. I’m more confident in my body, like I’m finally bouncing back to my pre-baby bod. I’m able to wear some of my favorite clothes again, they fit better and my energy level is up. There’s definitely something to be said for adopting a clean eating lifestyle — and it’s really encouraging to see the results of my healthy, smart food choices. Several people have recently asked about what it takes to go paleo, so I thought I’d share a brain dump of the paleo habits that have worked for me so far. So if you’re considering a paleo diet (or some variation of your own), I hope you find today’s post helpful.

I’ve tried dieting in the past… I’ve done the low-carb diet and even tried paleo once before. But it’s very different this go around. In the past, I was VERY strict. I cut out all the bad stuff and didn’t give myself any wiggle room to reward my good choices and behaviors. And eventually, I’d hit a wall and end up giving in more and more until I’d pretty much given up the diet entirely. This time, I’m being strict but realistic in my approach, recognizing that I can’t deprive myself of EVERYTHING or else I will 100% fail. For me, having that mentality from the get-go has really helped to see success. The key is not thinking of this as a “diet” but instead, as a lifestyle change.

In a nutshell: My diet now consists of no refined carbs, no sugar and no dairy. Sounds insane; it’s not. Sounds really hard; it is. But only at the beginning. It helps that Dr. P is also totally on board with this new lifestyle. He’s watching the weight fly off too and I’m so proud of him!

Weekly approach: To me, meal planning and stocking up on plenty of easy, healthy snacks are a must. I didn’t purchase the Whole30 cookbook (gasp!) but instead have done some research along with trial and error in the kitchen, trying out new recipes and substitutes that work for us.

We plan our weekly menu on Sundays, make a grocery run, and if we can, prep some things ahead of time on Sunday evening (ie, making egg cups, a meatloaf that we can portion out for lunches, cutting up veggies for snacks, etc.). In a typical week, our plan includes eating homecooked meals for dinner on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We generally have weekend plans on Friday and Saturday and ONE of our meals on those days is a cheat meal. Keyword: meal. Not a weekend of offtrack eating. One meal. For me, that reward gives me the motivation to stay strong and committed during the week. This was especially crucial for the first 6-8 weeks when sticking to paleo requires the most amount of focus. I have started to become a little more lenient but still very mindful for the rest of the weekend. If I have a healthier choice, I make it. But that one cheat meal is my golden ticket to this whole paleo lifestyle.

So what CAN you have? In my world, all the fruits, vegetables and meat that your little heart desires! Early on, we emptied the pantry and fridge of any/all sugar-filled, carb-loaded and dairy items (with the exception of anything for the kiddo). It was pretty eyeopening! Until we went through this overhaul, I didn’t realize just HOW MUCH SUGAR is in all of the dressings and sauces and snacks we consumed on a regular basis. Yuck.

– Breakfast usually includes some combination of these things — hard boiled eggs, sliced tomatoes, avocado, bacon or sausage, fruit, and egg cups or frittatas using leftover veggies.

– For lunch I’ll have salads packed with protein like tuna or chicken, a green juice with lots of leafy green veggies, leftovers from dinner the night before, or a colorful veggie plate with cold turkey slices and my favorite spicy brown mustard.

– Dinner varies but we have our go-to favorites. We try to incorporate 1-2 Crockpot meals because let’s be honest, my CROCKPOT IS LIFE. Don’t worry, I got you — meal ideas are down below!

Products I love: Here are the substitutes, dressings, sauces and staples that we use day in and day out!

– Ghee
– Jarred coconut oil
– Spray coconut oil
– Sunflower butter (SunButter is my FAVORITE and tastes wayyyy better than almond butter.)
– Califia Farms unsweetened almond milk creamer with coconut
– Nuts and jerky (no sugar, no peanuts) *Note: I actually don’t like nuts but I’m learning to!
– Walden Farms dressings and sauces (We like the ketchup and some salad dressings. The BBQ sauce is a little funky…) *Note: I’m not sure these are 100% paleo but if not, they are pretty darn close.
– Coconut aminos *Note: This doesn’t have a very strong Asian flavor but isn’t a horrible option.
EPIC bars *Note: Dr. P and I actually don’t like these at all… but a lot of people do, so give them a try.
– Salsa! Lots and lots of salsa! (no sugar)
– Frank’s RedHot (We put this on EVERYTHING.)
– LOTS of berries, bananas and other fresh fruit
– LOTS of avocados, tomatoes, onion, cucumber, spinach, cilantro, basil and other greens
– Plenty of protein, cooked and uncooked (rotisserie chicken, deli turkey, paleo bacon, plenty of meat for dinners)
– Sparkling water (lots of La Croix, duh)
– Ice cube trays (I use mine to add citrus and fresh mint to my water!)

A few other things to note:

– We rarely make anything like paleo pancakes or muffins. Why? Because I don’t want to trick my body into wanting or craving those things. So I stay away from them if I can.

– Many people on paleo eat and cook with sweet potatoes. We don’t. Why? Because let’s be honest, I can’t have just one sweet potato fry.

– No soy. No edamame. No tofu. No soy milk.

– Homemade pico and guacamole, y’all.

– No beans. No chick peas. No corn.

– I haven’t given up Splenda in my morning coffee. I know what you’re thinking: OMG WHAT? SHE SAID SHE TOOK OUT ALL THE SUGAR! LIAR! Guys, I tried the black coffee thing, the no coffee thing, and at one point many moons ago, I even tried the butter in your coffee thing. In my opinion, it’s all horrible and my coffee is just something I can’t give up. So I still have Splenda in my coffee with my fave almond milk creamer, of course.

– Spaghetti squash or zoodles with my homemade paleo pasta sauce!

– Roasted cauliflower and broccoli with olive oil, coarse sea salt and pepper. YUM.

– Snack idea: large steamed artichoke with olive oil and garlic salt. You’re welcome.

– Larabars! Check the labels for ingredients, as not all are created equal, but many of them are paleo friendly.

Recipes to bookmark: Below are a few recipes we’ve tried and really enjoy! These are in our dinner rotation and are not only paleo but they are really easy, too. No fuss for this mama, please!

Slow-cooker buffalo chicken chili
Carrot and parsnip soup
Slow-cooker balsamic short ribs
Slow-cooker Proven├žal lemon and olive chicken
Crockpot paleo chicken tortilla soup
– Dying to try this one! Crispy and spicy oven-baked chicken wings

If you made it to the bottom of this post, thank you, I know it’s much lengthier than usual. The truth is, this isn’t rocket science. It’s about making healthy, wholesome choices that give your body the fuel you need while eliminating all the sugary, carb-filled foods that we are so often used to today. Adopting this paleo lifestyle has taught me to always read labels, know what I’m putting into my body, and if I have a choice, make a healthy one.

I hope you found some info here to help you get started, continue your paleo journey, feel more motivated, or to contribute to your meal planning. Let’s get one thing straight: I am no paleo expert. And I don’t pretend to be! I still have so much to learn and welcome any/all suggestions, recipe ideas and input. Let’s do this together!

  • Jessica I

    Thanks so much for sharing this! It’s super helpful and inspiring! I wanted to try Paelo but didn’t know where to start!

    • So glad you found this helpful, Jessica! You can TOTALLY do this. Let me know if you have any questions along the way. xo

  • Jamie

    ugghhh–you made it seem so easy so now I am out of excuses! I gotta start somewhere.

    • I’m so glad this motivated you to get started! Let me know if you have any questions along the way. xo

  • you’re the second person who talked about califa almond creamer in the last 4 blog posts i’ve read! i definitely need to try that out. i’ve been slowly cutting out extra sugar and normally do a good job. this week hasn’t been the best with being sick, but i’m hoping to be back on it asap and keeping it up through the time i’m home! speaking of which — let’s have a date!! xo

    • It’s really SO good. I am usually not a fan of almond milk but this creamer is very tasty. Give yourself a break when you’re sick — I did too! I wanted nothing but saltines and soup. Can’t wait to see you!

  • I loved reading this post!! Although I am not completely eating paleo, I am trying to be healthier and I love a few of these tips, especially the salsa. I am also not a big fan of the Epic bars either, but I think the Tanka bars are fabulous. They are similar that they are buffalo meat, but I like the flavors a lot more.

    • Thanks Emily! Salsa has totally saved my life when it comes to paleo. There are lots of options that have sugar, so you have to read the labels, but many are totally fine and I usually load up on them! I’ll have to check out those Tanka bars. Thanks for the rec. xo