Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), and whether or not it is truly a Paleo food item is a hot button topic on the Paleo scene lately. Why it is so controversial is due in part to what Quinoa actually is in biological terms. However, I do have some other issues with the Paleo-ness of quinoa which I’ll get into later. But first… Continue reading “Is Quinoa Paleo?”
Approaching the New Year, it always seems like so many people want to make some ridiculous commitment to a new diet or a weight loss goal. Inevitably most people will fail or (even worse) possibly achieve some level of success then immediately revert back to the same old habits that were not making them happy to begin with.
Are you about to make that resolution? Stop yourself right now. Don’t bother proclaiming some unobtainable weightloss goal or ridiculous excersise regimen that you know you will only follow for two weeks then be totally burned out on.
As human beings, we acknowledge that old habits die hard and forming new habits is even harder. To try to completely turn your world upside down overnight and jump into a drastic change in diet or exercise will end in tears for most people. Instead I propose that you commit to a small change. Something that will reap great rewards while simultaneously moving you in the right direction and opening the door for more small changes over time. Here are my top three (virtually painless) baby steps that you can take to make a change and make a transition to a Paleo or Primal diet (or any diet for that matter) much easier without going all-in from the start.
1. Eliminate Soda From Your Day
Coke, Pepsi, Sprite, etc. are the biggest contributors to obesity, high blood sugar, and too many other negatives to get into here. Eliminating even one soda from your daily routine will help you feel better and let your body begin functioning as it should. I’m also talking about removing diet sodas from your diet. Their detrimental effects are also significant.
Try replacing every soda with unsweetened iced tea or water. You will be surprised how much better your meal tastes and how much better you feel. If you really hate water or tea, try adding citrus to your water. Try a wedge of lime or orange instead of lemon for something different. Use soda water to add some carbonation without the sweetness. Try some different teas from the grocery store or specialty shop to find something you like, hot or cold. If you have to have some added sweetness, avoid artificial sweeteners and sparingly add in some honey or real maple syrup. Be creative and find things you love.
2. Buy Fresh Fruit
Make it a habit to buy fresh fruit every time you shop. This habit alone will make fruit available in your home at all times. You will find that when you have fresh fruit readily available and easily accessible, you will be more likely to eat it every day. The natural sugars in fruit are what your body was designed to process efficiently and the natural fiber will keep you feeling full longer. Apples and grapes are easy to grab and pack well for work or school. If you can replace at least one crappy snack a day with fruit, you are establishing a great life habit for you and your family.
This is the most painless way to consume calories that I can think of. Challenge yourself to park your car as far away from the grocery store entrance as possible. Park at the outer reaches of your work parking lot. Anywhere you go, provide yourself the opportunity to walk some extra steps. Take the stairs and avoid escalators and elevators. Avoid using handrails as much as you can to help focus the use of your legs and increase core stability. You would be surprised how much this alone will help you feel better and reduce back pain by strengthening your large leg and core muscles.
Resolve to Make Small Resolutions This Year
These three steps will not rock your world, but they will make you feel better and you will see a change in how you look and feel over time. More importantly, they begin to change your habits which makes it a lot easier to take on bigger changes later on. Don’t commit to becoming a Crossfit rock star or Paleo evangelist at the strike of 12 on New Year’s Eve. Quietly commit to these small changes and take more profound steps as they feel right to you.
Happy New Year!
Image: Flickr o5com
Since I had so much positive feedback on my last post about New Year’s resolutions and three ridiculously easy changes you can make right now to improve your chances for success on any diet, I’ve put together another top three list. This time I am detailing three Paleo foods that you can immediately use to replace non-Paleo items you regularly use. Consider this post as a second step in easily transitioning into a Paleo diet, Primal diet, or any other healthy diet for that matter.
Also consider these three Paleo switches as great practice for anyone looking to start Whole30. If you are afraid of committing to Whole30, these simple switches will give you a small taste of what to expect and make things a little easier.
1 – Replace Peanut Butter with Almond Butter
Get rid of your peanut butter. Okay, use it up first if you want to, but when it’s time to replace it switch to almond butter. Peanuts are legumes and are not part of a Paleo diet. Why remove peanuts from your diet? Well the health reasons are myriad and you’d be better served by reading this page on Paleo Hacks. However the biggest reason I can think of for tossing peanut butter out of your pantry is all the sugar and preservatives contained in commercial peanut butter. Almond butter is better for you, I think it tastes far better, and it is a key ingredient in many Paleo pancake recipes.
Tip: If you aren’t ready to give up your peanut butter and jelly sandwiches yet, use some almond butter instead. Even better, use whole grain bread, almond butter, and fresh raspberries in place of jelly for a killer change without added sugar.
Indulgent Option: Justin’s All-Natural Maple Almond Butter
2 – Replace Dairy Milk with Almond Milk
Dump your questionable homogenized, pasteurized, and who-knows-what-ized dairy milk and buy or make some unsweetened almond milk. The majority of the world’s population is lactose intolerant. You may or may not be, but if you have been drinking dairy all your life without any reprieve you would never know any different unless you take a month and live without it. It’s time to challenge yourself to a month without dairy, take note of how you feel, then go back and monitor yourself again. You might be surprised what you find. Dairy is a gray area in the Paleo or Primal diets, this is a great post about it on Mark’s Daily Apple.
Recommendation: Silk Natural Almond Milk
As far as commercially available almond milk goes, Silk is readily available in most grocery stores for a reasonable price. Buy the unsweetened version to avoid extra sugar. Almond milk has a thick consistency and a flavor that is hard to describe. It’s slightly nutty and rich. If you are used to 2% milk fat dairy, Silk will almost seem like a milk shake in consistency. A favorite in our household. Great with Paleo pancakes too.
Indulgent Option: Make Your Own Almond Milk
Avoid vegetable oil and shortening at all costs. Hydrogenated products like Crisco are crap you do not want in your body. Common vegetable oils are made from soybeans (legumes), and products like canola are made by processing rapeseed with petroleum products, acids and bleaches (and most contain GMOs). There are too many reasons to get into here, but these cooking fats are loaded with polyunsaturated fatty acids and should be avoided like the plague that they really are.
I suggest using coconut oil (in general) because it is great for general cooking use from low to relatively high heat. Perfect for Paleo pancakes. For low and no heat try high quality extra virgin olive oil and for high heat cooking try palm oil.
Recommendation: Spectrum Naturals Coconut Oil
Spectrum is readily available at many grocery stores and reasonably priced for an organic product. This is my cooking fat of choice. Great olive oils are readily available anywhere but you pay for what you get. Spend your money wisely and buy extra virgin olive oil in green or brown bottles which protect the oil from light which may break it down. Buy the freshest that you can find (check the dates!).
Indulgent Option: Wilderness Family Naturals Palm Oil
Making these three changes to your pantry will go a long way to preparing you for a Paleo/Primal/Ancesteral (or any) diet, but more importantly they will immediately impact your daily health and nutritional habits significantly. The best part is that all three changes listed here taste great and are really easy to make!
Photos: iPhone Photos of Items from my own Pantry and Fridge