Why You Failed Last Time You Went Paleo (It's Not What You Think)

Last time you "went Paleo" started innocently enough...you did the grocery shopping, meal prepping and planning...but somewhere around day 10 the cravings took over and you dove face first into every carb source within a 5 mile radius - "Paleo" or not. 

This led to feelings of guilt for "falling off the wagon" and not being able to do it perfectly, bringing you back to square one...AGAIN. 

Let me first start by saying that i've been there. I put off making changes in my nutrition for sooo long out of fear that I would never be able to "paleo perfectly" - how would I ever go a day without diet coke or fake sugar to curb my cravings?  

So don't worry - the purpose of this post is NOT to tell you to just "Paleo harder" next time (I am SOOOOO not about that).

It is, however, intended to give you some insight as to why going into Paleo with a "diet mentality" is guaranteed to set you up for failure. A "diet mentality" means viewing foods as "good" or "bad", attaching morality to different food groups, and/or believing you will "fall off the wagon" if you eat some cheese.  

 

Here are the 3 biggest reasons why you failed last time you "went Paleo" and what you can do this time, instead:

Mistake #1: Going too low carb

Removing gluten and other grains is one of the best ways to improve digestion, heal the gut, discover food sensitivities and more.  However, the problem with this occurs when these grains are not replaced with something else.  For example, continuing to eat a Standard American Diet (think sandwiches, burgers, etc) and simply taking away the bread component is a great start, but leaves you with much lower carbs and lower calories than you were to start.

This is likely going to result in quick weight loss initially, due to the lowered caloric intake, but it is not going to leave you feeling satisfied or energized for long.  When removing gluten and other grains, make sure to replace your sources of carbohydrates with nutrient dense, whole food sources such as sweet potatoes, root vegetables, green veggies and fruit.

Mistake #2: Going too low fat

Similar to #1, going too low fat is often a result of the “diet mentality” that many of us have been plagued with for years. Eating too little fat while transiting to a Paleo diet looks something like this: egg whites, grilled chicken, and broccoli for every meal. Yes, these are all “real foods” (well, maybe not the egg whites…) but they definitely leave something to be desired in terms of flavor and nutrient density.  

When eating real food, don’t fear the fat!  Especially when you are eliminating inflammatory foods like grains, dairy and soy, it is important to replace these calories with nutrient dense fats like egg yolks, ghee, avocado, coconut oil, etc.  As a bonus, these added fats will help nutrient absorption, skin health and vibrance, and most importantly - they make your food taste better and keep you satisfied. 

Mistake # 3 You tried to do it alone

Filling up on nutrient dense foods like grass-fed meats, eggs, fish, veggies, fruits and tons of healthy fat seems easy enough, right? You already have access to the education and tools you need to make eating real food easy... (get them here!)

Unfortunately, lack of support from friends and family is the number one reason why even highly motivated people slip back into old habits of eating out, nutrient-poor food choices, caffeine, sugar, etc. 

How much easier and less stressful would it be knowing that your next holiday party or family dinner would have tons of nutrient dense options, and no one would give you weird looks or question your sudden interest in health?

Until that day happens, it is extremely important to find a group of like minded women who can support, share, ask questions and understand exactly what you're going through as you navigate the world of real-food, Paleo, self-care and healing - like a boss. 

This is why I created the PaleoBossBabe Facebook group - Join here!

Looking for step by step instruction to discovering your personalized paleo nutrition plan?

5 Ways Eating Paleo Will Change Your Life

There are tons of misconceptions about the Paleo diet. I even wrote a blog post criticizing it's perfectionistic and dogmatic "rules" that discourage people from following it's nutrient dense template. What comes to mind when you think of Paleo?

 

Low carb?

Hundreds of aesthetically pleasing containers of meal prep - a la instagram?

Ripped dudes in a cross-fit gym talking about PR's and protein?

Whatever comes to mind, there's no question that this way of eating is a popular trend, and although it can be rigid and restrictive, I believe that Paleo, when modified to fit your nutritional needs and goals, is the best way to nourish your body and mind. 

So, just to clarify, when I use the term "Paleo", what I really mean is: a diet based on eating nutrient-dense, real food ingredients in order to nourish your body and mind. "Paleo" just happens to be much easier and shorter :)

 

What does the Paleo diet include?

- Grass fed meats

- Pasture raised eggs and poultry

- Wild caught seafood

- Healthy fats like olive, coconut, avocado

- Plenty of veggies and fruit

- Nuts & Seeds

 

What does the Paleo diet exclude?:

- Processed foods

- Dairy

- Grains

- Legumes

- Starches

- Addes sugars

- Alcohol

 

Do I follow these recommendations to a T? Hell no. I like to think of the Paleo diet as a road trip, with (Insert health goal here) as the destination. Eating strict Paleo is probably going to be the fastest route, but if you drive straight through without stopping to pee, or stretch your legs, or get a snack...you're going to lose your f***ing mind. 

Besides being proven to prevent diseases like diabetes [source], parkinson’s, and alzheimer’s (which is amazing) I find that most people are more concerned with current, chronic symptoms that will unfortunately get dismissed by your MD or given a bandaid to cover up.

These are things like fatigue, digestive problems, weight gain, anxiety/depression and acne. Although seemingly insignificant compared to something like Alzheimer's, daily symptoms such as fatigue or depression can seriously lower a person's quality of life.

In mypersonal experience (and experiences with clients) the most effective way to alleviate these symptoms (without a rx) and greatly improve your quality of life is first through a Paleo -style nutrition plan. Here’s why:

1. Fatigue

Think of a “healthy” Standard American Diet (SAD):  Whole grain cereal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, pasta for dinner.  You eat a diet similar to this, day in and day out, and wonder why you can’t seem to function in the morning until a verrry large coffee hits your lips.  So what’s going on?  Every time we consume a meal high in refined carbohydrates, blood sugar levels (glucose) increase rapidly (think sugar rush).  The pancreas responds by releasing insulin to bring blood sugar levels back into balance. Without energy-sustaining nutrients like fat and protein, this balance does not last long. Soon enough, the liver becomes involved by releasing glucagon in attempts to bring blood sugar back up. 

Glucagon provides a quick surge of energy, followed by another crash, leading us to reach for more sugar, caffeine, and refined carbs. Once again, insulin is released in the bloodstream to bring blood glucose levels back into balance. (Repeat this process multiple times a day for all the years you have been alive, and it is easy to see why your body is pissed off!) Unfortunately, processed carbohydrate meals (like in the SAD example) do not keep us satisfied for long, and soon enough after the initial energy “spike” we are back to where we started, craving more sugar or caffeine or highly refined carbs in order to get on with our day.

Additionally, our adrenal glands often have to step in to combat these insulin surges with an output of cortisol. When cortisol rhythm and other adrenal hormones become out of balance, an entire cascade of hormone dis-regulation results….and it ain’t pretty. This often looks like hormonal acne, infertility and thyroid disfunction, but most commonly, the result is crippling fatigue, aka all-I-wanna-do-is-watch-Netflix.

Eating a Paleo-style diet full of healthy fats, proteins, and nutrient dense carbohydrates will take you off of this blood sugar rollercoaster for good, allowing your adrenals to heal, your hormonal balance to become regulated, and best of all - your energy to return!

2. Poop problems

If you’ve ever gone to doctor and been diagnosed with IBS, you know the frustration of having a weird combination of constipation, bloating, and diarrhea. Unfortunately, there is no “cure” for IBS, besides figuring out which foods are triggering unwanted digestive reactions, and/or determining other areas of dysfunction like low stomach acid or stagnant bile flow. This is why one of my first digestive protocols is a simple elimination diet (basically, a strict paleo diet) that gets rid of gluten, dairy, soy, alcohol, and added sugars. I know this sounds intimidating, which is why my podcasting cohost and fellow NTP, Andrea, created a Free 7-day course that will break down EXACTLY which foods to eat, as well as the “grey area” foods I mentioned before. (Enroll below)

3. Acne

Our skin cells regenerate every 27 days, which means that the foods we eat become the raw material necessary for creating beautiful skin. When we continue to consume inflammatory foods like refined oils, processed food and added sugars, the result is lackluster skin with an excess or absence of proper levels of skin sebum, which often leads to painful acne. Incorporating a wide variety of Paleo foods is the best way to get the appropriate amount of skin healing nutrients like zinc, vitamin A, Vitamin K2, selenium, collagen and essential fatty acids. 

4. Weight gain

Did you know that weight gain is actually a symptom of a greater issue, rather than just a problem in and of itself? Often times, our weight will fluctuate based on what our hormones are doing (our hormones control everything from energy levels to fat storage to sex drive). For example, estrogen levels that are too high in relation to progesterone (due to certain foods, alcohol consumption, or environmental toxins) actually encourage amounts of fat storage, particularly around the butt and thighs. Weight gain can also be indicative of the body’s impaired ability to detoxify.  When all avenues of detoxification are not working to expel toxins properly (the digestive tract, skin, etc.) these toxins must be stored in fat cells, thus causing increased fat storage -> weight gain.  Luckily, eating a Paleo diet has not only been proven as an effective method of balancing hormones, it also provides the adequate nutrients such as choline, antioxidants, and amino acids for proper liver detoxification. 

5. Anxiety/Depression

One of best kept-secrets of the Paleo diet is that it actually can be used as a therapeutic approach to heal anxiety and depression. I've talked about my experience with this before, too)

How is that possible?! Neurotransmitters such as GABA, Serotonin, Norepinephrine, Endorphin and Dopamine are directly responsible for our personal brain chemistry - meaning lack or imbalance can lead to things like anger, depression, hyperactivity, memory loss, drug/alcohol cravings and bad moods.

The levels of these neurotransmitters are directly affected by our nutritional choices; including intake of amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. This is where intake and absorption of high quality protein is essential. Sources like pasture raised eggs, grass-fed beef and wild caught fish are all great options.

Sounds awesome right? I know nearly every single one of us has struggled or is still struggling with at least one of these symptoms.

...So what's holding you back?

For most people, there is a disconnect between wanting to change your diet, feel better...

...and not wanting to spend hours per week meal prepping, cooking, or turning down social events out of fear you want be able to find anything to eat. 

 

Tell me:

- What's your biggest Paleo misconception?

- What's holding you back?

XO,

Amie
 

Real Food Good Mood Podcast - Episode #14

RFGM Episode #14 - Holiday eating & Whole foods on a budget

  • It's starting to feel like the Holidays!

In this episode, Andrea and I talk about:

  • Our views about Halloween candy, teaching kids moderation, and the "Switch Witch".
  • Real-food strategies for navigating holiday parties without stressing out or looking like a total weirdo (well..that one's subjective...)
  • A quick way to "test" which alcohols might leave you feeling more hungover than others (#NTPpartytricks)
  • Inspiration for real-foodies that want to spend little to no time in the kitchen (like me) or an hour or more a day (like Andrea)
  • Our NEWEST venture: Breakup With Breakouts - Acne Free in 30 Days - Our new e-book that teaches you to heal your hormonal acne from the inside out by nourishing the body, restoring the gut, balancing hormones, and detoxing your routine. 

 

Listen to the full episode here:

Don’t Forget! 

Our Negative Thought Patterns Are Keeping Us Sick (Rebelle Nutrition)

The words you speak become the house you live in - Hafiz

If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I am a firm believer that nourishment is about more than the food we put into our mouths. The way that we eat has a direct influence on our health: for example, eating in a sympathetic state (read: stressed) actually causes digestion to be impaired and stomach acid production to be halted. 

But what about our thoughts about the food we eat? Our thoughts about our health problems? Our thoughts about our bodies? Do these thoughts become self-fulfilling prophecies?

There is energy behind every thought we think and decision that we make. Whether this is energy is positive or negative, is completely up to us. 

Having worked with many people who have chronic health challenges (myself included - I was my first client!) I wonder how many of these issues would be resolved if we changed our thoughts about our food, our bodies, and even our lives. 

This is not to say that nutrient-dense food and proper supplementation don't have a place - they absolutely do - but I believe that they are only half of the solution. 

The Food We Eat

When you sit down for a delicious meal, are you focused on the fact that you have a slow metabolism and everything you eat causes weight gain?

Are you afraid to eat almost anything (even vegetables!) out of fear that it will cause six-month-pregnant-looking bloating?

Eating in a sympathetic state (caused by stress) actually reduces levels of HCL in the stomach, causing impaired digestion and bloating no matter what food you are eating. 

These are some of my favorite examples to use because in this case, because the negative outcome you are focusing on actually WILL come true if this is your mindset.  Another good example of this is how eating out-of-your normal diet foods while on vacation or surrounded by your besties will often cause no reaction; but when you bring your nutrient-dense paleo lunch to work and your co-worker won't stop talking about her marital problems, you get a stomach ache.  

Our Health

Do you walk around with the belief that you are tired, lethargic, and that everything you eat will make you break out?

Ok, so this example was actually ME. I used to (subconsciously) tell myself daily that being a low energy person was just who I was; and that I needed to monitor my food intake very carefully in order not to have any digestive or skin- related reactions. 

These issues were was partially alleviated through calming the F down with my exercise and removing gluten, but the even bigger game changer for me was starting to QUESTION these beliefs. 

  • Am I really a low energy person?

  • Does everything I eat really hurt my stomach? (Or am I hyper-focused on everything I am putting into my body, causing unnecessary stress?)

Turns out, the answers to both of these questions were NO. Instead of telling myself the self-deprecating story that I had chronic fatigue and bloating, I started to imagine what it would feel like to wake up every morning full of energy. I repeated mantras in my journal that were the EXACT opposite of everything I had been telling myself for years. Here are some examples:

  • I am healthy and full of energy
  • I am able to digest everything I eat
  • The nutrient dense food I eat is healing my body and skin
  • I have a fast metabolism and healthy hormones

I'll be honest, I felt a little crazy and "out there" when I first started doing this. How could this really make a difference in what I was feeling in my body?

Our Lives

Even if you have an amazing relationship to food and your body (which i'm guessing that you don't since you are reading this ;)) it is likely that your negative thoughts have influenced your life, whether subconsciously or not. 

Take a minute to think about the biggest goal you have in your life right now - Now, take a minute to write down the first three things that come to mind when you consider achieving this goal. Most likely, the first 3 things that come up will be reasons why this goal will be difficult for you, or why you can't do it, or why someone else has already done it better than you. Why? because we are human, and the human mind is programmed to see the negative as a protective mechanism.

But this doesn't mean that we need to accept these thoughts as truth and settle with a mediocre life because we aren't rich enough or young enough or pretty enough. 

It means that we must recognize these thoughts and replace them with reasons why we WILL achieve this goal, HOW we will do it, and WHY we are capable right now. 

At this point, what do you have to lose? If you can't seem to get rid of your bloating no matter how many supplements you take, or have been feeling negatively about your body no matter how many books you read on the topic, why not start trying to shift your mindset around food and body (easily and cheaply I might add) and see how it spills into every other area of your life?

I guarantee that changing your thoughts around food, your body, and your life will not only help you create more positive habits and feelings, but will actually leave you feeling more inspired than ever.

For this reason, I created a super awesome (printable) worksheet to help you get started and make the process of shifting your mindset around food and your health an easier one. Just click the button below to download!