Okay. So you’ve read through the rules and are now completely overwhelmed. Where do you even begin!
Obviously, the simplest way is to go cold-turkey and just start eliminating everything on the list. Read food labels obsessively, and push through the first two weeks of sugar withdrawal. But for others, doing everything all at once will just be way too hard and overwhelming. You’ll want a more step by step process.
This is a very personal thing, and what works best for you will not necessarily be what works best for me. But I’m going to try to give some general guidelines. Take what works for you and leave the rest!
1. Prioritize what you want to cut out first. Basically, just start somewhere! If it’s too much to think of everything at once, pick something, just one area to start, and go from there. For me it was sugars and refined flours. I dealt with those, and then went on to the oils and other things. Maybe for you it’s soda (high fructose corn syrup), or eating fast food (trans fats). The important thing is to START SOMEWHERE.
2. Read over my hints for dealing with cravings! You WILL need this, because it’s not easy! Anticipate that when you cut sugar, you’ll be slightly crazy for a couple weeks until your body withdrawals from it. Some people even report feeling sick when they cut sugar at first. Push through, because it does get better in a week or two.
3. Go shopping. Stock up on things that you’re allowed to eat, and keep them on hand at all times. Some new things that you’ll be buying now are listed in Stocking the Pantry. If you have to work too hard to think about what you want to eat, it will be very hard to stick with it, but if you have food and ingredients easily on had it will be much easier. In particular to get started you’ll want to:
- Replace your white flour with whole wheat or spelt flour (stored in the freezer.)
- Replace your white sugar with coconut palm sugar, raw honey, and real maple syrup (to be eaten only moderately.)
- Replace your vegetable oils with olive oil and coconut oil.
- Keep tons of fruits and vegetables in the house.
- Stock up on any foods you like that are allowed.
4. Become a label Nazi. Read labels on everything you buy before you buy it. You should easily recognize all the ingredients as food you can buy as individual ingredients. You’ll find that most boxed/prepared foods are off limits, because junk is in all of it. Even in places like Whole Foods and Trader Joes you have to read the labels. Here are specific things to look for:
- anything that ends in “ose” – that means it’s some kind of sugar;
- any flour that does not say “whole grain” as the ONLY flour;
- anything with the words “hydrogenated” “interesterified” “margarine,” or “shortening”;
- any oil that is not coconut oil, palm oil, or olive oil
- “natural flavors” can mean just about anything, and usually is far from what we would consider natural! Most of the time, the term “natural flavors” means MSG.
- anything that does not sound like food!
5. Stop eating fast food. Completely. This is one thing you should just cut out completely, because there’s nothing in fast food that you’re allowed to eat on this diet, and it’s filled with trans-fats which is on the list of the Big Bad Four things to avoid like the plague. Sorry – you have to just cut it out.
6. This doesn’t mean you can’t eat out! It just means you have to think a little more about it. I wrote a post on my experiences on eating out that might help you.
7. Get used to cooking for yourself. If you need help knowing where to start, pick one of my recipes here and become familiar with it. Then pick another one. After a while you’ll have a whole repertoire of new recipes, and might even be able to start revamping some of your old recipes to use your new ingredients. At first I was overwhelmed with not knowing what to make, but now it’s second nature to me, so it’s just a matter of adapting. Here are a few more simple ones you can try if you’re not too used to cooking for yourself yet: Pain Fighting Smoothies, Roast Chicken, Creamy Shrimp Linguine, Rib Roast, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Magic Milkshakes, Stewed Apples, Roasted Garlic Hummus, Chocolate Almond Snack Bites, Butter Infused Popcorn, Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Cookies, Boozy Irish Stew, Buckwheat Peanut Butter Krispies, Sausage Orrechiette, Marinated Potato Salad, Fresh Fruit Salad, Balsamic Vinaigrette, Tallerine . You can also try searching through Paleo or Real Food blogs for recipes (this is what I spent a LOT of time doing in the beginning!) I have a few listed on my links and resources page.
8. Keep cooking simple at first if you’re overwhelmed. For breakfast eat oatmeal, or smoothies, or stewed apples, or a banana and a handful of nuts, or chocolate peanut butter on toast or a rice cake. Roast a chicken and slice it up, and keep it in the refrigerator for lunches, or make a pot of soup for a week’s worth of lunches. Dinner can be as simple as hummus and veggies, or chicken breasts pan-fried in olive oil served on top of a salad or alongside fruit and veggies. It doesn’t have to be elaborate.
9. Don’t focus on what you’re cutting – try to focus on what you CAN have. There really is a ton of stuff you can eat still, so choose to focus on those. (Review my recipes if you need ideas.) Just because you can’t have some of the things you used to have, does NOT mean that you’re going to be deprived!
10. Print out a list of the foods you are trying to avoid, and post it somewhere as a reminder. As you start to eliminate them, cross them off the list. This will be a great visual reminder of where you’ve been, and where you’re going!
11. You can try looking through the posts I add to “On the Journey.” That’s where I put the stories of my experiences, successes, failures, and things I’m learning along the way. Something I’ve gone through might help you.
These are just some general guidelines to help get your head in the right place to start. If there is something that you’re confused about, or have a hurdle you can’t get over, or anything else that I can help with as you transition to this new way of thinking about food please do not hesitate to contact me!