Rss Feed Tweeter button Facebook button Reddit button Linkedin button Youtube button

24 Mistakes People Make on a Paleo Diet

by Suz on March 27, 2012 · 27 comments

in Food, Paleo

Are you making any of these Paleo Diet Mistakes?

1. Increase Fruit Intake

When starting any “healthy eating” regime, so many people seem to make mistakes, like 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. I’ve just finished my first book, the Paleo Breakfast Recipe Book – the aim of this book is to make delicious Paleo Breakfast’s possible and easy with a bit of organisation. I’d love to hear what you think of it!

The Paleo Diet 24 Mistakes People Make Common Fail

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.

The Paleo Recipe Book

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.

The Paleo Diet Primal Blueprint Mistakes Get Outdoors and Get Some Sunshine!

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 arranging social 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, however many mistakes you make, 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 mistakes would you add to the list?

The Paleo Recipe Book
Did you enjoy this article?
Get my 2 FREE Paleo eBooks!
Sign up to receive my weekly email, full of Paleo tips, recipes, events and news and download my free Paleo ebooks

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Lars T. (Primal Minimalist) March 28, 2012 at 6:29 am

YES! I made a few mistakes at first. The main one was I ate only fruits and nuts (sounds funny) during the day. I felt a little stopped up, and didn’t lose any fat.

Reply

Suz March 28, 2012 at 4:49 pm

I diod exactly the same when I first started Lars!

Reply

Jenna Carodiskey-Wiebe March 28, 2012 at 6:31 am

I did #6 to the point that I now get rashes from almonds :( As for #1 however; I had several failed attempts at Paleo due to my inability to get past carb flu. When I finally gave myself permission to eat all the fruit I wanted, I had about three weeks of having several apples a day and then trailed off to a few servings of fruit a week. That worked *for me* because I came to Paleo within 5 pounds of my target weight and have never had blood sugar issues. I enjoy potatoes a few times a week too, with no ill effect on how I look, feel, or perform.

Reply

Suz March 28, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Fruit is probably a good way of getting through “carb flu”. I’ve not heard of anyone getting a rash from almonds – what a shame!

Reply

Geni March 29, 2012 at 7:44 am

I think what you said about the importance of getting organised really rings true for me, this is what I am really trying to do. Today for the first time ever I have written a list, something I don’t normally bother with, thanks for the ideas.

Reply

Suz March 29, 2012 at 11:47 am

Thanks Geni, lists and organisation definitely help, don’t they!

Reply

Misty April 3, 2012 at 3:54 am

Great list!
I began as a low carber and I can tell you that I made all of the above mistakes. When I finally reeled it in and gave up all faux replacements, my health soared and the weight fell off.

Reply

Suz April 4, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Thanks Misty! I’m glad you had good results!

Reply

Nathan Bond April 6, 2012 at 6:01 am

Great article.. I agree with all 24 points.

Reply

Suz April 12, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Thanks Nathan!

Reply

Kris November 3, 2012 at 11:31 am

It’s so refreshing to hear someone that’s knows what they are on about. You can lose fat in a caloric deficit with whatever you eat, however, it’s not going to be beneficial to do an all chocolate caloric deficit eating plan. Paleo is the way to go but you have to watch those calories no matter how you eat!

“Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial.”

Reply

Wen March 11, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Agree with all 24 points, especially #23. First I cut out processed food, then sugar, then embraced paleo — I have lost weight and actually changed shape. I was always hungry on the SAD style of eating, craved sugary, salty anything and lots of it — nothing could satisfy my hunger.
It might be challenging to follow paleo at first but don’t give up.The important thing is, to keep on keeping on, you’ll be so glad you did.

Reply

Nicole April 9, 2013 at 1:49 pm

This is some of the best advice I’ve read about the Paleo Diet. I’d have to say, a lot of it can be applied to many aspects of lifestyle and eating. The hardest one I have with is eating too many fruits and nuts… I just love them so much! But I like what you said about Perseverance and doing your Research. I think too many people want that “quick fix” and don’t realize that you have to change your habits completely – for good – and always, always, always do your homework!! Thanks for the great advice :)

Reply

Lisa July 1, 2013 at 11:25 pm

Can anyone help me dive right into Paleo, right now, I have all of 12 days before visiting family. I’m sick of myself, I have tried almost every diet, you would think I would have learned something by now. Need help. Heck I’ll even pay you.

Reply

Celia September 26, 2013 at 9:52 am

Start by completely committing. I tried off and on over the summer, but it was only when I really committed that I started feeling better. So basically, attack this diet and DON’T CHEAT. At least, not in the first month or so. Afterwards, allow yourself a little bit here and a bit there, but for a month (or more!) DO NOT CHEAT. Cheating will only weaken your motivation.

Don’t be afraid of fruit. Ease yourself off of a high-fruit diet later on. The main focus of paleo is feeling better, so don’t be afraid of fruit.

Watch yourself- don’t accidentally break paleo.

Find support, for me it was my family and definitely my sister. We encouraged each other and shared our successes.

Don’t give up. After a month, the cravings for other food go away. When I think of dessert, I think strawberries. And snacks are veggies or maybe a few nuts. Just stick with it and do not give up!

You got this! It’s not as hard as you think, once you get over the hump of starting!

Reply

Kimberly August 16, 2013 at 4:49 am

I can be accused of not getting enough sleep or not working out properly but this way of eating has helped me in so many other ways. I do sleep better and I have job where I’m on my feet for several hours a day. I often have to take supplements to help with the pain in my joints and muscles from this. But I would be in so much more pain if I hadn’t given up grains, dairy and legumes and most sugars. I do have my little cheats from time to time. A cookie here, a bite of coffee cake there. Coffee in the morning with my coconut creamer. I think of them as cheat meals since I don’t make cheat meals very often but I am ALWAYS aware of how my body is going to feel if I cheat big time! I will be in big time pain and feeling sick and hungover just from a plate of pancakes or even a mexican dinner. It’s pretty much not worth it as it can take me 3 or 4 days to calm my body back down from the effects of that stuff. All in all I’ve been doing this since May of this year and I have lost about 23 lbs so far. I will usually weigh myself about once a week. But don’t obsess about my measurements. My main focus is feeling good and keeping the inflamation response in my body in check. I do not find eating like this a hardship and I’m never really starving in between meals. I eat plenty of protein and lots of different veggies. Some days I can tell you that I don’t exactly practice portion control but the weight is coming off slow and steady which is what you want anyway. I’d tell anybody to give a whirl – it can only help you feel better !

Reply

TS August 16, 2013 at 6:53 am

Lisa,

Just jump right in, eat A LOT at first, especially high fat meats… eventually, after a week or so, your hunger will level off as you fat adapt. Don’t paleo-ize SAD foods right away either, stick to fresh meat, vegetables, fruit, and nuts. Really work on beating your sugar addiction. Don’t be afraid of salt (especially if you get light headed), if you avoid processed foods, you don’t have to worry about salt intake.

I’ve been there, this will be the easiest lifestyle to follow and stay on one you adapt. Good luck!

Reply

Rachel September 16, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Great article.
Helpful in pointing out the pitfalls. My struggle still is with enough exercise and a biggie is enough sleep ( mother of 4 still breastfeeding 1 through the night). That said I have lost weight very slowly and don’t actually know how much, but roughly around 7 kgs over a year.
Paleo is a great way to get rid of sugar and wheat from your diet and opens up a new world of the ‘raw food’ type recipes. There is lots to enjoy!

Reply

Celia September 26, 2013 at 9:45 am

This list is fantastic! Learning more is such a huge part of the Paleo diet. I definitely eat too much fruit and nuts, but I am young and am beginning to wean myself off of them. I have been doing strict Paleo for over a month now. I have chronic and acute Lyme disease, and my sister as well, and we both altered our lifestyles because the treatment is so difficult and food was upsetting my stomach a lot. So, while I have not felt any of the radical changes (the treatment makes me feel awful), I definitely feel better than before! I just feel healthy and fresh. I also have shed a few pounds, but weight loss was not my goal in switching to Paleo, as I was already at a very healthy weight. One thing I have definitely noticed is shedding fat, despite minimal weight loss. I am a runner and am starting to see my six pack coming on! Anyways, thank you so much for this list. Like I said before, learning and exploring and researching is a huge part of Paleo. So, thanks!

-Celia

Reply

Lady Z October 29, 2013 at 1:11 am

NUMBER 8!
NUMBER 8!

As a obese woman with insulin/leptin resistance who turned to Paleo as a way to eat in a way that could control my blood sugar and prevent type 2 diabetes…. I have to say that I have been on MANY websites and blogs where the so-called “gospel” of Paleo is to NOT COUNT CALORIES. It makes no sense. How can a person consume to much coconut oil and ghee and 120 calories per Tbs., 12 oz steaks, bacon, and eggs per day and not gain weight?

Paleo food is very calorie dense, and for overweight people, portion control is often a huge issue. SO sure I could have a 800 calorie meal 3 times day– but not if I want to lose 1-2 pounds a week.

Even with exercize, calories do count and I would say for sure when you are a fat person trying to loose weight on while eating the Paleo way. Oh, and nuts? Forget about it! I don’t eat them at all, its not worth it to eat 300 calories of something that is a meager “handful”

Thanks for the post!

Reply

Carson December 19, 2013 at 1:23 am

Thank you for this! Even after making the commitment to Paleo for months, it is so easy to slip back into some of these mistakes.

Reply

gigi December 19, 2013 at 6:50 am

I have followed a strict SAD diet and even vegan diet for my entire life, have been normal weight, (which has been a CONSTANT struggle to maintain) and have had the “fat is the devil” mantra drilled into my brain for as long as I can remember! The “result” of my best efforts to live a “healthy” lifestyle has resulted in copious tests, four different GI doctors, and a diagnosis of IBS because they can’t or won’t figure out what the “cause” of my GI pain is! I’ve been told “I’m the healthiest sick person they have met”, which starts to make you question your own sanity! I started going gluten free with some relief, but it did not resolve all of my issues. I have just recently gone paleo (or as my husband and I joke, “gone to the dark side”) and I do believe this is going to “relieve” my remaining symptoms based on everything I’ve read, testimonies from people over and over again that strengthen my resolve to stick with this because it works-AND-did I mention I am starting to feel better?! Thank you for all the wonderful information and feeling of community you provide! I feel like for the first time I have finally found a lifestyle I can not only maintain, but actually THRIVE in!

Reply

Sam December 20, 2013 at 5:52 am

What is with diet coke?? I am addicted to this crap, have a can once every 2 days. When I read this I just froze, I have to kick the habbit! Have attempted so many times before! Also carb flu is horrible, I’m a huge carb girl so it is very hard. the fruit idea is a great idea to get through it! Going to give it a go!

Reply

Chris December 31, 2013 at 11:22 am

I started living Paleo Feb 2013. I’ve lost 40 lbs. Five pounds from my goal weight. At first I just concentrated on eating correctly. As I started to lose weight and felt better I started walking. I plan ahead for the weeks meals by cooking meat or stews in the crockpot and freeze small portions to take to work for breakfast and lunch. I also prepare larger portions to fix for the evening meal. My family all eats a paleo meal in the evening. I still eat more fruit and nuts than I should but I guess this is my cheat. I stay away from non paleo foods. The pain (stomach and back pain) is just not worth it for me. Thank you for this article. You never stop learning.

Reply

Träsel January 7, 2014 at 5:23 am

Why not drink a Diet Coke or two per week? It’s artificial and some of the ingredients are potentially harmful, but there’s no calories in it. There are many toxins in vegetables, too, but we ignore them for the most part. Unsuspecting starfruit, for instance, can wreck your kidneys.

Reply

Pam January 7, 2014 at 8:57 am

Great List. My husband and i both suffered Carb Flu after eating Paleo for a week and I was feeling quite worried that we were doing something wrong, it lasted for almost 2 weeks but it passed and we have been feeling great every since. Hubby also learnt very quickly that too much fruit will put on weight. We both were a little off track over the festive season but got straight back into it and love it.

Reply

Jp January 29, 2014 at 10:02 pm

Why not drink Diet Coke????? was that serious or trollbait lol? If i had to choose a coke the last thing i’d choose would be diet, because it would just leave me craving more and if i did it my body would get used to that taste being sugar and then not be able to detect/utilize real sugar (which it needs to be able to do cause artificial sweeteners is not what is in foods naturally). Träsel if you learned about the diet you would find out what foods they are recommending and fruits do not sit in the “eat most” category at the base of the pyramid.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: