• Top 5 Paleo Mistakes Newbies Make

    Top 5 Paleo Mistakes Newbies Make | stupideasypaleo.com

    Paleo mistakes are pretty common when you’re new to eating this way, and it’s easy to fall into these pitfalls. The good news is that they’re relatively easy to avoid if you know they’re there. Does it guarantee perfection? Of course not, and perfection isn’t what you should be after if you’re trying to make a lifestyle change. Remember, Paleo isn’t just some fad diet that’s meant to be done for a week to fit into a swim suit!

    Challenges are bound to come your way, but having some awareness of these five common Paleo mistakes will make your journey a less bumpy one! Having a solid foundation for your nutrition will take you far, and if you’re new to this whole grain-free, legume-free, dairy-free way of eating, I highly recommend signing up for my free five part Easy Paleo Quickstart Guide (find out more here.) In no particular order, here are the five common Paleo mistakes newbies make:

    Paleo Mistake #1: Not Doing a 30 Day Elimination Period

    When you’re eating grains, legumes, dairy, processed foods and tons of sugar, your gut is likely to be less healthy than it could be. To jump start the process of healing your gut, I highly recommend doing a 30 day elimination program where you take out potentially inflammatory foods…call it hitting the reset button if you will. That way, you’ll KNOW for sure if grains, legumes, dairy, etc. really affect how you look and feel.

    I thought I was down with wheat until I took it out and realized it makes me feel terrible. Continuing to feed yourself foods that bug your body isn’t the way to optimize health. Once your thirty days is up, feel free to reintroduce and test foods to see if you can handle them. Need help planning your thirty days? Check out It Starts with Food for a detailed program of elimination and reintroduction.

    Did you know that a large component of our immune system is located in the gut? We think of skin being our most important barrier between us and the real world of bacteria and viruses all around us, but in fact, the integrity and health of your gut lining (specifically your small intestine) says a lot about your overall wellness. Certain foods, like those that contain the protein gluten, mess with your gut, causing it to be permeable to things that don’t belong in the bloodstream. Over time, this causes system-wide inflammation. Not good.

    People who eat Paleo (myself included) often get sick less than they used to. Chalk that up to better gut health. Some ways to improve gut health? Take out gut-irritating foods and consume foods with probiotics (that’s a fancy term for good bacteria), like sauerkrautkombuchafermented ginger carrots, kimchi, etc.

    Paleo Mistake #2: Quitting After a Week

    You need to give this time. There was a pretty famous article going around the Paleo community earlier this year about a woman who tried Paleo for a week, then wrote a huge expose about how it didn’t work for her.

    Folks, it takes time to heal your gut. It takes time to find out how you need to adjust the Paleo template to your life and your needs (see #5). It takes time to figure out how to incorporate healthier eating as a way of life, not just a flash-in-the-pan crazy diet.

    While the strictest form of Paleo won’t work for everyone – and heck Paleo might not end up being for you in the long run – give it some time before you make a judgment. One week is not enough time to feel the benefits of ANY diet.

    Top 5 Paleo Mistakes Newbies Make | stupideasypaleo.com

    Paleo Mistake #3: Worrying About Perfection

    Remember, Paleo’s not a quick fix fad diet (despite what some media reports claim). It’s about finding a way to make the lifestyle and healthier changes stick. While I do recommend being strict for 30 days (see #1) and even doing Paleo challenges from time to time to hit the reset button, trying to be perfect all the time is exhausting and unrealistic. I try to eat according to my Paleo template as much as possible, but sometimes I have an indulgence (most of the time I’m reminded of why I don’t when my stomach starts to hurt), but I’m clear on the foods that make my gut ache because I’ve learned through experimentation.

    Trying to be perfect all the time takes willpower and while it’s debated whether willpower is finite or not, one thing is clear: striving for perfection takes energy and can be exhausting. If you’ve ever dieted, constantly denying and depriving yourself, you know this full well. Strive daily to do your best but be willing to admit that at times you may not be perfect.

    Paleo Mistake #4: Going All or Nothing with Food Quality

    This is a concern I hear about a lot from readers: “Can I do Paleo even though I’m on a tight budget and can’t afford grass-fed meat and organic produce?”

    The simple answer is yes, and the mistake newbies often make is ditching Paleo because their budget doesn’t allow for “all the best.” Trading in grain-fed steaks for pizza is not the best swap.

    Paleo’s recently gotten this reputation of being only something the well-to-do can afford, and that’s absolute bollocks. Buy the best-quality food your wallet can manage but still keep the focus on meat and eggs, veggies and fruit and healthy fats. You’ll be doing dramatically better than going back to grains as the bottom of your food pyramid and filling in your diet with processed food.

    Some tips:

    • If buying grain-fed meats, stick to leaner cuts (sirloin instead of a ribeye steak, for example) and trim visible fat from meat before cooking.
    • For produce, if you can afford some organic, go with the fruit and veggies you’d eat the skin of (apples instead of oranges, for example). Or check out the Dirty Dozen Plus™ list to see what’s best to avoid. If you can’t afford organic, don’t sweat it. Eat your veggies and fruit, and you’ll be doing much better than leaving them out.
    • Buy meats in bulk when possible or seek out a cow / pig share in your local area.
    • Limit Paleo baking since these ingredients are often very pricey.

    Paleo Mistake #5: Not Eating Enough Carbs for Your Activity Level

    I’m always yammering on about “knowing your context,” and this one is related. Yes, eating very low carb can work for some people (Want to read more about ketosis and how to get there? Click here to view more details.). For others, it’s disastrous.

    If you’re active or athletic, eating Paleo-friendly, nutrient dense carbs mostly from starchy veggies is important especially from a post-workout recovery standpoint. You need topped off glycogen for your next training session. Yes, your body can generate its own glucose from fatty acids or amino acids (that process is called gluconeogenesis) but it’s not super efficient and places an added stress on your system. For athletes and hard-chargers, we don’t need that extra stress. If you’re very sedentary or trying to radically improve body composition, lower carb may be an option for you. (If you’re an athlete confused about carbs, stay tuned for my new book out in January…you can get a free preview here).

    It all depends on who you are and your needs. Be aware. Pay attention to how you look and feel (and for athletes, performance). Remember, there is not exact Paleo template that fits everybody and every body.

    Looking for someone to help you figure all this Paleo stuff out? I can help with that!

    Like this post? +1 it on Google+!

    What’s an easily avoidable mistake you made as a newbie that I didn’t include on my top 5 list?

    Top 5 Paleo Mistakes Newbies Make | stupideasypaleo.com


    Steph Gaudreau is a certified holistic nutrition practitioner, weightlifting and mindset coach, and the author of the best-selling Performance Paleo Cookbook. Her recipes and expert advice have been featured in SELF, Outside Magazine, Elle, and Greatist. Steph loves barbells, cats, and anything Lord of the Rings. She lives in San Diego, CA.

    57 thoughts on “Top 5 Paleo Mistakes Newbies Make

    1. I’m still in the newbie phase probably, and I’d say one mistake I made on my first shopping trip after clearing my pantry was not reading every label. I read some that I knew I should suspect, but then I took for granted others that I _thought_ would be healthy (and I was in a health food store!) and I ended up with things sweetened with agave, etc., etc. or had soy or corn in it. Just because you’re in a health food store, doesn’t necessarily mean it has healthy ingredients…

    2. Not scheduling prep time. All that cooking cannot happen in the 15 minutes after you get home from work tired and hungry.

    3. I would add, as an extension of #5, not eating enough fat. Again, you need to know your context. I see way too many young women go paleo and pretty low carb and then not up the fats. They’re cold all the time, always hungry, light-headed, etc. This spells disaster and will definitely lead to only trying it for a week- if that. There’s a difference between a ‘carb-flu’ and not having adequate fuel intake. Protein doesn’t provide fuel the way carbs and fats do. So figure out what macros work for you, but be sure that SOMETHING is giving you energy.

      Glad to get that off my chest 😉 I just see so many people try to approach paleo while being fat phobic (or even just not knowing how to incorporate fats at high enough levels) and that spells disaster.

      1. 100% agree on that one, Emily! So very important. I think there’s such a phobia about fat and a lot of misinformation. It’s an uphill battle sometimes but slowly, we’re changing minds on that. Thanks for stopping by to comment!

        1. So true. I find it hard to get that across because a lot of us (me included) come from a background where limiting fat was the thing to do.

          1. Exactly. It does take a lot to wrap your head around the fact that you’re eating all of this fat but it’s not bad for you…I didn’t truly believe it until I started to see results, and I bet that’s true for a lot of newbies as well!

    4. I agree about paleo baking – almond flour, coconut flour etc. cost a fortune! I prefer to spent those money on good quality meat for example wild boar 😉

    5. I’ve found that the advice to buy meat in bulk and freeze it is a mistake for me. Once something is in my freezer I don’t want to eat it. (Unless it’s ice cream..LOL) I feel bad having to throw away old freezer burned meat. Part of the Paleo experience is shopping for fresh seasonal food and then going home and preparing my meals for the next few days– Not thawing out some unappetizing piece of meat and forcing myself to eat it.

        1. The way i get around that is by keeping the freezer organized and “shopping” there first before i go to the store. Saves money, too!

      1. Thanks Mike. I think that’s where things can get muddy…when folks apply rules blindly without regard for and assessment of their specific needs. Thanks for stopping by!

    6. I am gearing up for 2nd whole 30. Husband says he is doing it this time. Biggest problem is grocery list and one week of recipes, to rotate. That is all I want. Still seems hard to get this together. Felt great after first one and will build on this, but need direction.

    7. Couldn’t agree more with your post & bloggers comments. For me the hardest part is planning for meals. Doing my first whole 30 on jan 1st, hubby too andI have never spent so much time planning my meals – I’m so excited! I am really bad at it. I really hope this will snow ball into a good habit after the whole 30 instead of staying a bad habit.

    8. If someone can figure out how to do this in an affordable way while living in the Alaska bush, please let me know.
      Here are the barriers: 1) VERY limited produce options and those that are available are quite pricy ($85 for a box of organic produce that costs $35 in Fairbanks and only $25 in the lower 48 and yes that is for organic in all three places). 2) Milk (I know cows milk is one of the things to avoid but this is a comparison) is $20 a gallon and if you want almond or rice milk, double that. 3) There is NO availability of free-range eggs, grass-fed meats, butter other other products and NO alternatives to wheat flour available here. And getting any of these shipped is impossible out here without paying $3 per pound for shipping if they are even able to ship here at all. 4) Hunting for alternative meats that would be very healthy is limited primarily to those that qualify for subsistence permits (and you pretty much have to be a member of the Native Corporation of the area to qualify for this, which I am not eligible for).
      So suffice it to say, we here in the Alaska bush are not really able to partake in eating healthier, probably explains the extremely high rate of obesity and diabetes here. I would love to eat healthier and am trying to do what little does work here, but this is a very big challenge that I need help in problem solving for.

      1. Those are certainly some serious challenges, Jocelyn. You have to do the best with what you have, even if it’s maybe eating potatoes or rice or less troublesome grains. As far as grassfed meats, I don’t know if I’d worry about that given your limited availability. Leaner cuts of grain fed meat would be the next best alternative (and this is what I do most of the time).

        1. Thank you for the suggestions. Thank goodness for amazon prime cause I was able to get some flours that are not grain based. Tried to get coconut milk but with no such luck yet so right now my option there is still cows milk and cheese. Don’t know how bad this will affect the diet but it’s what I have to work with right now. I have ordered from thrive life before for freeze dried veggies which are better than canned and at least gives me some options. I am mostly trying to do this as a start in eliminating some of the gluten in my diet as my father was just diagnosed with celiac disease. I am not sure I am ready to try the detox and then following a paleo lifestyle yet mostly due to cost but working up to as my budget allows (such as buying flours this month and then increasing my veggies and fruits next month when I can afford another big order). It’s a process to say the least and the hardest part is still getting the hubbies buy in… Lol

          1. So interesting how the availability is really different from here.

            Ohhhhh yes, I’d say if you were going to eliminate only one thing it’d be gluten and gluten-containing grains.

    9. I would add that newbies feel the need to bake a ton of paleo snacks which are usually made with nuts, coconut, eggs, and sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar etc. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, however, newbies often use the muffins, “paleo bread”, and other snacks as staples in their diet to replace grains as they don’t understand that the foundation of paleo is grass fed meat, vegetables, and some fruit. The problem with this is they end up consuming large quantities of nuts, coconut, and sweeteners; all of which are inflammatory. Also eggs can be trouble for some people suffering from autoimmune conditions. These paleo treats can sabotage their gut health if they aren’t careful. I was one of the people who did this, but now I am on AIP paleo (no eggs or nuts/seeds) and I am making serious progress with my gut health. Two months on AIP and my digestion is smoother, my skin is clearer, and some of my other problems are resolving as well. As delicious as paleo baking is, I’m glad I have learned to do without!

    10. Having been low carb for a long time, I am still a little confused on how many carbs I need. I am not sedentary, but I’m not hard core athlete either. I do crossfit 3x week and heated/vinyasa flow yoga 1-3x week. I’m also hypothryoid (thank you very much Hashimoto’s) and have heard conflicting things about high carb vs. low carb for hypothyroid. Any advice or insight would be helpful. By the way, I love your blog!!

    11. My fiance and I are new to paleo. We’re doing pretty well I would say, still trying to cut the sugar addiction even tho now its natural sugars, haven’t done a whole 30 yet. Seems like a really good idea, I started researching natural remedies for acne a while back and have ended up with diet, and now paleo for the answer. We didn’t really eat “bad” before, definitely not compared to most people I know, no processed food or anything like that. Anyways I’ve been wondering about how many servings of fruit a day would be ideal, I know its supposed to be low GI fruit as well just that still confuses me. Also I think sugar is a big part of my acne, so I don’t want to eat a ton of fruit if its still going to cause it. And what is a good amount of fat to eat per day in grams, or what would be too much. General info on me is female, 23 years old, 128 pounds. We’ve been getting into cross fit but we don’t have a crosfit gym where we live unfortunately so for now basically power lifting 5x a week.

      1. Hi Hayley…I honestly wouldn’t worry about the GI of the fruit…eat what you like and don’t stress about it too much. My favorites are berries, so that’s what I like to include…usually 1-2 servings a day works well for me.

        I stay away from dried fruit because it’s a trigger for me (I want to eat it all).

    12. 1. Getting sick less is without a doubt true – haven’t been sick myself in over a year and whenever I’ve felt a cold or scratchy throat coming on I’ve combatted it by pumping my system with fruits/veggies
      2. Love that you used the work bollocks
      3. <3 you

      1. You are so awesome and I couldn’t be more proud to see you cooking up a storm and loving it! Proud sis right here 🙂

    13. I think the scariest thing about Paleo for me was not realizing I had to take supplements along with it, I thought they were optional and didnt take them and over the course of six months lost over half my hair. Still trying to get back to the way my hair used to be and now, a year later I am still struggling!

            1. Yes Ma’am. I had hired a trainer and he was the one walking me through the Paleo start up process, and it was going great, I was getting fit, was feeling great, even loosing weight, but my hair started falling out and so did my nails, they went from being half an inch long to being nubbies, and they peeled away in layers, like paper!, I mentioned to him what was happening and he told me it was because I was not taking those supplements I mentioned

            2. I politely disagree with his assertion that you need to take whey protein isolate. Meat, eggs and seafood provide us with a very strong protein constituent in the diet. If you’re not training competitively, more than once a day or in an otherwise above average amount, whey protein has no distinct advantage over whole sources of protein other than convenience. I’m a bit troubled that he recommended that over real food.

            3. Its very confusing. I went to my doctor and he didnt find anything wrong that would be causing the loss, except my eating and he insisted I added dairy back for the vitamin D which he said was the cause of the problem, as my blood work did show a deficiency in Vitamin D. but dairy is not Paleo friendly, so I feel a bit stuck!

    14. I was recently diagnosed with severe Crohn’s Disease and have been told to eat “a bland GI diet” that is full of white carbs and high in sugars. Even with steroids, I cannot seem to get the inflammation under control so I have been reading more and more about Paleo. I have been thinking about trying it, but am daunted about the idea of doing this while I am also sick. But, feeling like if it works it will be worth it. Do you recommend that the 30-day elimination for someone with Crohn’s? I was thinking maybe I would leave some limited dairy in, but if it will counteract the process that sounds futile.

      Also, do you have advice for how friends and family can help? I have people offering to support our family, but all they want to do is bring food I can’t eat. How do I get them on board or recruit them without being demanding?

      1. Hi Andrea,

        I am sorry to hear you’re not feeling your best. I recommend reading, “It Starts with Food” by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. The foods in a grain free/Paleo diet support a healthier inflammation response in the body. It’s worth doing some additional research to make sure you get the support and proper information you need (i.e. maybe some specific eliminations like nightshades, dairy, etc…) As for family; just let them know what you need once you have a plan you feel comfortable with. I wish you all the best on your journey to healing.

    15. Hi,

      I’m newish to paleo, working on my second whole 30. I have a question about tapioca flour/starch. I’ve seen it in a few recipes and I’m wondering is it really paleo?

      Thanks a bunch!

    16. i do not understand the argument that paleo or eating healthy is more expensive?.. I drink water and I shop in produce and the meat market. I’m skipping like 9 isles . Except for the eggs and occasional can of coconut milk. I’m wondering if these healthy eaters are still shopping in the chip, bread, soda and frozen food isles too,? No way can you walk in the grocery store and skip all those isle and come out paying more. I’m sorry but that’s an excuse

      1. I agree with skipping the interior of the market. I think processed gluten-free foods or lots of baking or fancy recipes might be the culprits here.

    17. I am just now doing my first Whole30 (day 4)!! I am following the whole30 meal plan template, and have calculated my carbs, fat, and protein % for two days (just out of curiosity, but I will not continue to do this.) For those two days, I am taking in about 50% of my calories from fat, 25% of my calories from protein, and 25% of my calories from carbs like veggies and fruit and starchy veggies after I exercise. Is this normal?–50% fat sounds like a lot…

      1. It doesn’t sound abnormal though it may be higher than you’re used to. If you want to knock it down a bit, I’d stick to lean protein instead of fattier cuts.

    18. I’ll be posting this article up for members on my website. We help people transition to a Paleo (or close to) lifestyle, by first helping them change their mindset about ending the “diet” mentality and shifting to a permanent way of life.

      They have to make it fit for their own body too. I loved the comments about fat and will add these should be high quality fats such as avocado, coconut or olive oil, and ghee to name a few. I personally felt a very positive shift by getting 50-60% of my calories from fat. But that’s me and the only way I identified that was through food journaling!

      1. Hi Christa! You nailed it…so important to shift away from the mentality of dieting and deprivation and starvation.

        Keep up the great work!

    19. Do you have any tips for going paleo with a nut allergy? I tried it once before and definitely suffered all the “not enough good fat” symptoms. I’ve since developed some autoimmune issues so need to give it another go but still seems hard since I can have nuts! (I can have coconut and macadamia)

      1. Good question, Heather, and I think you need to consider adding animal fats, too…not just those from plants. You mentioned coconut and macadamia are okay, but what about olives and olive oil and avocado? Also, think about high-quality animal fats like ghee or grass-fed butter, lard, tallow, etc. My friend Rach from Meatified is an excellent AIP blogger over at http://meatified.com and I recommend you check out what she’s doing. I don’t have a ton of expertise in the different removal and reintroduction phases of AIP.

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