After listening to me talk about Paleo and seeing the positive changes, a few of my friends have been interested enough to actually try Paleo for 30 days, a whole30 approach, to see how it works for them.
I got a text message from one of my friends last week, which read:
“Hey, I want to try Paleo starting today for a month, that’s the whole30 right? Where do you shop for your stuff? What should I eat?”
I started to reply, but it quickly became far too long for an SMS, so I sent the email below instead.
OK, it was too long to text!
I would start by working out what you're going to eat for the next week. Where you'll be each day; how many meals you'll have at home and how many meals you’ll eat out. Write it down!
Do a big shop for all of the ingredients for the recipes you picked out – the first shop may be quite expensive if you don’t have many herbs and spices (which make such a difference to the recipes) – it’s a good investment though as they’ll last a long time.
The basics you need are: –
Meat. Where you can, get organic, at the very least free range (i.e. chicken) – and if possible grass fed meat. I have a great organic butcher near me, but Woolies and Coles have a few organic ranges
Eggs. I eat a lot of eggs. Pastured & organic are best, Omega 3 enriched are great – at the very least make sure they are free range. They usually last for a while and are great for quick food – so buy lots!
Vegetables. If you can, get organic. Try to get what's in season, rather than imported vegetables. In the first week or two I'd recommend sweet potatoes and squash. It's possible you'll find it really hard cutting out refined carbs, so that is what the sweet potatoes and squash will help with. Other than that, get a good variety of vegetables. Most recipes call for the basics like onions, carrots, garlic, green leafy vegetables etc. Ignore starchy tubers like potatoes (besides, you can substitute sweet potatoes any time you'd usually have regular potatoes). I also tend to use a lot of zucchini, capsicum and mushrooms.
Fruit. I don't have much fruit, as essentially it is sugar, but it might be quite good for you whilst you’re transitioning to this new way of eating. Berries are great and other good choices include kiwi, pineapple & melon. Eat fruit whole; don't make juices with it (this removed the fibre from the fruit which increases the insulin response – also it encourages you to consume a lot more than you'd eat whole)
Fats. You'll need to not be scared of fats! Only cook in coconut oil (coconut oil is only found in health food shops, choose unrefined virgin coconut oil) and animal fats. Olive oil (and other nut oils such as avocado oil) are good for salad dressings, but shouldn't be heated. Remember – no dairy (i.e. butter) for the 30-days. Coconut milk is another great fat source. Get this from the Asian section in any supermarket. I'd only recommend Ayam as it has the purest ingredients of any brand I've seen. Make sure you get the normal version NOT the light version. Use this as a basis for meals (i.e. a curry) or even with berries to make a berry smoothie. Avocados are another great fat source to go with a meal.
Nuts. Occasional nuts are great, but don't go overboard (which is hard!). Macadamias & Almonds are good. Almond butter is also good (used sparingly) and can be found in the macro range at Woolworths.
Drinks. With no dairy, think now about what you'll be drinking. Most drinks should be water, but you can add a slice of lemon/ lime and the water can be hot or cold. You can use carbonated water. I get lots of different types of tea (but check the ingredients carefully; you should recognise all of the ingredients – nothing artificial). Redbush, gunpowder, chai and green tea are some that I enjoy. You can also have tea with coconut milk.
If you're going out and options are likely to be un-paleo my top tip is not to go out hungry. If you eat before you go out you probably won't need to eat – and if you do it will be easier to look for better options without the distraction of immense hunger. Most places offer meat and fish – I ask for it as plain as possible and check how it's cooked. Avoid anything that is marinated or fried. Ask for no sauces or dressings on your meal. I usually substitute things like fries and mash for more veg or salad.
Breakfast is something people often find hardest. It’s easiest to get over the fact breakfast “has” to be a certain type of meal and realise breakfast is just fuel, like any other meal. Have good food; be it last night’s leftovers or cook something up. I find eggs a great breakfast option and often have omelette or scrambled egg with avocado and bacon. Noatmeal is another good option for an occasional breakfast, but not every day. I think it's really important to try to consume breakfast as soon as possible after waking up, within 30 minutes if possible.
You can get the basics from Woolworths or Coles. The “Macro” range at Woolworths, or the “Natural Health” range at Coles have a lot of good Paleo ingredients. Butchers (especially organic) will be a better source of meat. Farmers markets (if you have any locally) are a great source for most things. Health food shops are the only places I've found for coconut oil and Himalayan or Celtic sea salt.
Take a photo of yourself before you start and let me know if you can't find anything or want ideas!
Top tip – be organised and plan before you start.
So how did I do? I'm sure there are lots of things I should have mentioned that I forgot… I think it’s going to be helpful to have a list to give to anyone who asks me this in the future. What advice and tips do you give to people who turn to you for advice on starting Paleo?