Thursday, March 13, 2014

5 important resources for undertaking a Paleo diet

I've helped many people shift from a conventional diet to a Paleo-based diet.  More often than not, the information is easy to understand and you can get substantial buy-in by providing a little science, but the problems begin when you get to implementation.  In this blog I will go over 5 resources that people should use to help implement a Paleo diet.

1)A thorough plan

Before you take any step, do yourself a favor and get together a solid, detailed plan.  If you were going to drive to Florida or plan a vacation anywhere, you wouldn't just wing it because winging it is likely to lead to failure or at least a less than optimal experience.  Look at shifting from your standard diet to the Paleo diet as a journey.  Where are you going?  How are you going to get there?  Are there any potential pitfalls along the way?  Do I need anything to make this an enjoyable journey?  Fortunately, enough people have undertaken this path before you that you likely don't have to pay someone to help you.  You can buy a book, or just pop online and read other peoples' experiences.  There are a few standard issues that people run in to while implementing a Paleo diet, and most of these issues are due to poor planning.  What do you do if you're out eating with friends?  What should you have in the house to snack on in case you get hungry?  Are there any strategies you can use to reduce the amount of time you spend in the kitchen.  Fortunately, these problem have been encountered by other people and can be answered pretty simply if you sit down and develop a detailed plan rather than just say you're going to do a Paleo diet for 30 days and wing it.  In my next blog I will discuss how to come up with a detailed plan and provide a sample one I made for a client.


One of the biggest pitfalls people encounter when "going Paleo" is that they end up neglecting certain nutrients that are contained in a group of foods they may not particularly enjoy. is a good way to identify the nutrients you may not be getting and determine which foods you should add in to your diet to get them.  Once you sign up, you can enter the foods you eat every day and look at an analysis of which nutrients you are getting and which you may be missing out on with your food choices.  From there, you can use the tools section and search for foods high in the nutrients you are deficient in to help make a more healthful diet.  I find indispensable when developing a diet for someone and a great value, especially since it's free.  It's also a good way to develop a diet for clients while using their existing diet as a template, that way the change is not as severe.

3) Good food storage containers

One thing we can never have enough of in my house is food storage containers.  Whether we are cutting up vegetables for the next few days, packing lunch, or making extra chili for the following week; we always seem to run out of food storage containers in short order.  One of the biggest changes when switching to a Paleo diet is that it is not very convenient from a food prep standpoint.  Rather than spend more than an hour every day preparing food, we tend to spend an hour 2 times a week cutting and prepping food and then storing leftovers from each nights dinner in the freezer for the following week so that we are always prepared.  A ton of food storage containers in multiple sizes is crucial for cutting back on prep time.

4)An activity tracker

Activity trackers are very useful places to store and look at data that may be of interest to you.  I've used a Fitbit One on a daily basis for the past 2 years.  While I am using it to motivate and compete with my clients, I initially used it to look at how my lifestyle affected my health.  I found a few things including coffee and dairy that I eventually removed from my diet since both seemed to be effecting my sleep in a negative way that also caused my morning fasting blood glucose to be a little high.  I removed them and saw a fairly substantial improvement after a couple of weeks so I kept them out and make sure not to do other things that may negatively affect my sleep if I do partake in either.  Another benefit I find from the Fitbit is that clients who tell me they are doing everything they can to lose weight are often sitting around for hours at a time or only getting 6000 steps per day.  If they wonder why the diet isn't working for weight loss and they are getting 6000 steps per day, I can tell them the problem isn't the diet, it's the couch.  I go over a bunch of the ways you can use your Fitbit One sleep data in this blog.


In terms of nutrient density, nothing beats spices.  Ounce for ounce, spices are a far greater source of many essential nutrients than any other foodstuff on the planet.  They also contain a ton of phytonutrients that provide many benefits outside of those found in the essential nutrients.  For example, turmeric, a spice used frequently in middle eastern cuisine, has a potent anti-inflammatory effect and activates stage 2 cell detoxification.  Also, garlic contains a special form of vitamin B-1 called allithiamine that is 50x more bioavailable than the thiamine version of B-1 found in nearly every other food.  B-1 is crucial for carbohydrate metabolism, adrenal health, and is a nutrient likely lacking in any Paleo diet that doesn't utilize copious amounts of sesame seeds or tahini.  You can check out why B-1 is important and signs you may be deficient here.  While fresh spices are best, dried ones should be added to oil first to help release the essential oils.  You really can't go wrong with any spices, I like to rotate mine daily so that I get a myriad of benefits that I didn't get when my diet was fairly plain from a spice standpoint.  Another added benefit to using spices is that they can be a way to get plant matter in to your diet if you react to FODMAPS because they are consumed in far lower doses than whole plants and vegetables.