24 Mistakes People Make on a Paleo Diet
1. Increase Fruit Intake
When starting any “healthy eating” regime, so many people seem to replace the junk food with endless fruit salads, fruit smoothies and snacks of whole fruit. Just because it’s natural, it doesn’t mean it’s a good choice. Fruit is very high in fructose, something that should be minimised to prevent inflammation, insulin response and ultimately conversion into fat storage.
2. Failing to Make Time to Get Organised
If you’re organised, eating healthily doesn’t have to take much time, but prior planning is essential. Being organised and having the ingredients you need at hand, meals planned and contingency plans in place for tricky situations (such as social events) is essential for success. If you find yourself hungry at a party you knew you were going to, you haven’t set yourself up to make the right food choices.
3. Expect to Lose 20kg/ Gain an Athletic Body Composition in 7 Days
I read about a lot of people who are disappointed that they’ve been following a Paleo eating plan for a week and have not lost any weight/ changed their body composition yet. This isn’t “a diet” for short term cosmetic benefits – it’s a lifestyle you can follow for the rest of your life, leading to long-term health benefits. If you’re looking for a diet to get into your bikini in 4-days time (before returning to your previous way of eating and exercising), you’ve come to the wrong place!
4. Try to do Junk Food Paleo
It’s not realistic to expect to replace a junk food diet with paleo equivalents. Whilst you might be able to find packages food that are broadly Paleo these are no substitute for properly prepared foods – with good quality ingredients. There is a place for packaged “Paleo” foods, such as when on the road – but these times should make the exception, rather than the rule.
5. Keep Old SAD Foods in the Pantry
There might be hundreds of dollars worth of pasta, packet meals and bread-making ingredients in the pantry. It might seem wasteful to throw it away – but to really commit to a better way of eating, there is no place for this in your kitchen. Donate it or throw it away, but don’t “use it up” first, or hang on to it “just in case”. Commit. Get rid. Restock.
6. Overdoing Nuts
Nuts are Paleo, but they are calories too, lots of them. It’s all too easy to snack on a few too many nuts. Some nuts also don’t have favourable Omega 3/ Omega 6 ratios – another reason to go easy and limit the nuts to no more than a very small handful each day.
7. Being Scared of Fat
It’s probably not surprising, but after years of being told about the evils of fat, many people are scared of it. Despite reading and understanding the Paleo concepts, when it comes to eating, some people are still wary – and may cut the fat off meat, or cook in as little coconut oil as possible. I think it just takes time and reinforcement – make sure your diet contains adequate fat.
8. Ignoring Portion Control
Calories do matter. I read so many comments where people have been strictly Paleo, but are not losing (or are even putting on) weight. It’s not a correct assumption that you can eat whatever you like – certainly not when you are overweight.
9. Become Fixated with a Certain “Brand” of Paleo
There are lots of different ways of eating, within the Paleo spectrum. Some people may do very low carb for instance, and others may follow an auto-immune protocol. If it isn’t working, move on and try something new. To stick to a set prescription, which clearly isn’t working for you, makes no sense. Experiment. Find what works.
10. Let one Slip Ruin the Day/ Week/ Month
Sometimes things do go wrong. You ate something that wasn’t Paleo, by any stretch of the imagination. Instead of using this as an excuse to eat more SAD food, it is the perfect opportunity to start fresh and move on. There is nothing wrong with occasionally having non-Paleo food, providing it isn’t allowed to ruin the rest of your efforts.
11. It’s a Science not a Renactment
You hear people who start to question everything through Paleo lenses. Computers and modern medicine weren’t around in the Paleolithic era – so we shouldn’t use them? This may be true, but we have the benefit of modern science and research to combine with Paleo, to get the best possible results – it would be foolish not to take advantage.
12. Don’t Sleep Properly
Sleep is such an important part of a healthy lifestyle. I’d argue it’s actually the most important factor. Without sleep, you might be eating a perfect Paleo diet and have a great fitness regime, but you won’t be in the best possible health. Without adequate sleep your body mechanisms won’t function efficiently, you won’t recover properly from exercise – and you won’t deal with stress as well. Working out why you aren’t sleeping properly and taking steps to resolve it will work with your Paleo lifestyle to bring your health forward in leaps and bounds.
13. Trying to Make Things Fit
You know your morning skinny latte or daily glass of wine isn’t in the spirit of Paleo, but you try to make it fit (all those antioxidants must be Paleo, right?). If you have to justify it, you probably shouldn’t have it – at least not so often.
14. Avoid the Sun
There seem to be more studies every week showing us just how crucial Vitamin D is – yet so many people still avoid the sun and cover themselves in sunscreen at the mere mention of the word “sun”. Even in Australia, at the right time of day, for the right duration sun exposure is a good thing.
15. Refuse to Cook
Not cooking seriously limits eating choices and will makes it so much harder to eat well. Cooking doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming – it can actually be relaxing, fast and very rewarding.
16. Turn a Blind Eye to Social Occasions and Restaurants
It’s all too easy to let a few poor choices slip in when eating out socially – but these can really add up. With steps such as finding out the food options in advance and not going out hungry, you can make good choices and minimise the damage. If it’s too hard to eat differently to everyone else, perhaps arrangingsocial events that aren’t food based – or offering to cook for friends will be a better alternative.
17. Obsessing on a Weekly Cheat
Paleo should not be boring or restrictive – if it is, you need to introduce more variety and try new recipes. When a planned weekly cheat becomes the focus of your week, it’s time to address what isn’t working and fix it. With a varied Paleo diet thoughts of SAD food should be very few and far between.
18. Don’t Move
Fitness is an important part of a Paleo lifestyle. Whilst nutrition is a huge part, the importance of being active and lifting heavy things once in a while should not be ignored. Paleo doesn’t begin & end with food tweet this quote
19. Don’t Take Measurements
When you feel well, it’s hard to remember how you felt before. If you have blood tests and take a note of your measurements and how you feel every few months, it will be obvious how well Paleo is working for you and what you can improve on.
20. Listen to Conventional Wisdom
Following Conventional Wisdom often isn’t very compatible with a Paleo diet and could get very confusing. Once you decide to stick to Paleo, it’s helpful to filter out many of the health stories in mainstream media, or just read them for entertainment value.
21. Fail to Read and Research
Those who stick to a healthy lifestyle seem to be those who understand the impact it has on their health. The more you read and research, the more you can tweek your lifestyle and improve your health. Following a lifestyle based on someone else’s example, without an understanding of the principles, will be very hard to stick to and follow properly.
22. Don’t Tell Others
In any change, it’s really important to have support. Family and friends will (hopefully) accommodate your nutritional wishes and may even follow your example. If you’re finding it difficult, having a support network is invaluable. Finding others following Paleo is great way of building a support network of people going through the same as you.
23. Not Persevering
Changing diet can be hard. Carb flu is a distinct possibility when moving from a SAD diet, to a Paleo diet. It might feel all too easy to give up at this point – when in reality a bit of perseverance will see this stage end and everything will get easier. Sticking with it, however hard it feels, will be so worthwhile.
24. Hanging onto an Old Favourite
Diet Coke immediately springs to mind as something people often struggle to give up. Products like this seem extremely addictive, but certainly aren’t working with your Paleo nutrition towards your health goals. Whether it’s changing routine, finding an alternative – or going cold turkey, it’s time to let go.
What would you add to the list?