The Paleo Diet has seen quite a jump in popularity over the past decade. Numerous websites are devoted to the topic and scores of books, reports and cookbooks can be easily found. Yet many that choose to try this diet struggle with some common problems-this includes cutting the grains out of your diet. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome this problem and a lot of support to be found in the virtual paleo community.
The Paleo Diet excludes a lot of foods that most of us have grown up eating. These include grains, dairy, beans/legumes, potatoes, and refined sugars and oils. Now there are some different schools of practice on how exactly to break down your food intake on the diet (this percentage of protein, this percentage of fat, etc.), but I won’t get into that here. One thing is for sure-grains are not paleo.
For most of us, grains have been at the base of our food pyramid for as long as we can remember. They are typically a big part in many of our favorite dishes and recipes and often provide the basis of our snack food items.
There are a couple of ways to help you exclude grains from your diet. First, learn some paleo recipes. Whether you find them on the internet, buy a paleo cookbook, create your own or steal your friends’, you need to know some recipes that fit the diet. I would suggest you acquire a variety of recipes too, because another common problem is boredom with the same old dishes.
Being successful in cutting out grains means getting all of them out of your house and wherever else you eat a lot-likely work. If you’re used to eating grain based snacks, find some new ones. Fortunately little fresh veggies, fruits and nuts make great snacks (keep a salt free, mixed bag of nuts in your car, your purse and your house). You should also investigate restaurants that have paleo friendly options. And remember, investigate lots of them. If you travel a lot, know your chain restaurants and even fast food joints (although, I usually choose to fast rather than eating fast food).
Another important point in getting rid of those grains and staying on the diet as a whole is preparation. You’ve got to keep yourself supplied with a stock of paleo appropriate food at all times. Give yourself time to learn what’s on the diet and plenty of time to shop each week. Also, once you’ve learned to make some yummy paleo dishes, make enough for leftovers. For those of you that are busy-and that includes about everyone these days – it’s a great time saver to just grab some leftovers and get on with your life.
If you’re really having a tough time in cutting out the grains, don’t be afraid to go the ‘phase out’ route. Gradually cutting out grains over a period of weeks is a great option to get used to the new diet and provides time to learn and experiment with new paleo friendly recipes. And hey, if you do fall off the wagon a bit, don’t beat yourself up over it. In fact, a lot of people take cheat meals, days or even weekends on all kinds of diets and lifestyles. This was actually something I first learned from the dietitians I worked with at my first job in a hospital’s nutritional services department. Since then I’ve come to see that a cheat day can be an important part of the balance in life and good for your soul.
One final issue in cutting out the grains from your diet-beer. Now this depends on what exact paleo practice your following, but according to my crossfit friends and many other paleo diet practitioners, beer is not paleo nor is gluten free beer. Personally, I don’t care. I’m a lover of well made beer (in moderation) and I refuse to cut it out. But if you want to go full paleo, you’ve got to lose the beer. Fortunately, red and white wines are ok, as well as many hard alcohols. Just be careful with those mixers! Soda water is always a great mixer or you can just go hardcore and enjoy your alcohol straight. Just remember, moderation (the best diet would ideally contain no alcohol).
Remember, it takes about 30 days of consistently doing something to make it a habit. When starting on the paleo diet, give yourself time to adjust and keep up the consistency, especially when getting use to not consuming grains. You really can do just about anything you want if you put your mind to it.