• Going Paleo: Cold Turkey or Gradual Change?

    Going Paleo: Cold Turkey or Gradual Change? | stupideasypaleo.comOne of the most common questions I get here on the blog: When going Paleo, is it best to go cold turkey or to implement gradual change?

    My answer is that it’s not a simple answer, and a lot depends on you and your individual tolerance for change. Regardless of the resources you read or the suggestions you get, keep in mind that if it feels wrong in your gut, it may not be the method that suits you best. Let’s take a look at the two options and how to approach each.

    Option #1: Go Cold Turkey

    If you’re excited and motivated to change and trying something new doesn’t send panic into your very core, then the cold turkey method for going Paleo might be for you. Keep in mind it’s possible you’ll have to radically change your view of meals and food in general, but know that if you keep at it, it will become easy and automatic over time. It’s my fourth year eating Paleo and the Paleo meals I make now are done without a lot of extra thinking. Of course, even with willingness, there can be times of uncertainty, but if you’re resourceful and flexible you’ll make it through okay.

    Typical steps for going cold turkey Paleo include:

    • Gathering information via books (like this one) and other resources such as my free quickstart mini-course.
    • Cleaning out your fridge and pantry of non-Paleo foods.
    • Restocking your fridge and pantry with Paleo-friendly foods. (Get my free shopping lists here.)
    • Finding new recipes. (Check out my favorite cookbooks here and here.)
    • Replenishing your supply of storage containers. (You’ll tend to do a lot more cooking at home.)
    • Planning a big cook up day to get your week off to a solid start. (Check out my tips and video here.)

    It also helps to have a partner or buddy you can lean on during the adjustment process.

    Option #2 Go Paleo Gradually

    Feeling freaked out about going Paleo? Doing it in a gradual fashion may be for you. Even if you know you need to change what you eat but the thought makes your palms sweaty and your heart race, that anxiety is suboptimal. Now, don’t mistake this for setting the bar too low; challenge your comfort level enough that you’ll make forward progress along the way. This method could take many forms:

    • Removing processed foods and junk food as a start.
    • Removing a few foods at one time instead of an entire list.
    • Picking one new food to add into your rotation every week.
    • Taking an 80/20 approach (but realizing if you aren’t seeing the benefits you’d like that you need to make further changes).
    • Setting small goals over time.

    So What’s the Right Answer?

    The one that resonates with you and gets you closer to the goals you’ve set for yourself. (Wait, you have set goals, right?!) Paleo’s basic template is pretty consistent, but customizing it based on your needs—especially as you learn how to best make it your lifestyle—will come with time. Push yourself but respect your own boundaries and comfort zones, too. Paleo will stick and be a long-term lifestyle change if you allow yourself the time to learn, change and grow with it.

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    Going Paleo: Cold Turkey or Gradual Change? | stupideasypaleo.com

    Tell us which method you used (cold turkey or gradual) when you went Paleo!

    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.

    16 thoughts on “Going Paleo: Cold Turkey or Gradual Change?

    1. I discovered sort of by accident that I was gluten intolerant – so all wheat had to go from the kitchen, and that’s been a difficult enough change, not to mention how much of my pantry had to be tossed out.

      My goal is Paleo, I’m learning, but not perfect yet, and that’s okay. I’ve eliminated all the really nasty food like products, so that’s good. Getting rid of all grains tho, that will be difficult.

      Larry

    2. Gradual change for me, I’ve always bought some things in bulk and I hate waste so the rice and things like that will be used up over time, and then not replaced. I was veggie for years too, though started to try eating meats a few years before starting to change to paleo so trying different types of meat is a gradual change for me. Fortunately I love bacon!

    3. I went cold turkey with an agreement that success had to show in two weeks and IT DID. That was over 12 years ago and I have not looked back. My husband is still working the gradual approach which works for him. I cook for me and he sometimes adds other foods like toast with eggs and some cheese on salads.

    4. Cold Turkey as far as the gluten went. Cutting the gluten cut my sugar cravings almost immediately. I occasionally forgot, and would eat a bite of someone’s pasta, but in general I stuck to gluten free 100%. I could see the changes in my waistline within a week. I tell people that the Paleo lifestyle is like a diet in that you have to plan your meals and your pantry (that is with any diet) but it is NOT like a diet in that I feel so satisfied. My husband is easing in…. its hard when you sell for pasta for a living. (Sigh.)

    5. We’re doing both…gradually going cold turkey. We have a date in a few short weeks where we will go cold turkey. In the mean time, we are using up or donating any non-paleo food items while incorporating as much paleo-friendly recipes as possible. For us, it’s a win-win.

    6. I went cold turkey 2 weeks ago!!! It’s been hard but I am finally starting to feel the benefits!!!! My OH however is a bit more resistant so whilst he is essentially eating the same foods as me at home in the evening he is on occasion adding some mashed potato or similar but I’ll get him there in the end!!!!

    7. As an adult I have found that cold turkey works best. I’ve done the gradual thing, and yeah it just made me want the banned stuff more.
      However I’m transitioning my kids to paleo, and that I have found has been gradual, with substitutions, it’s a long process but well worth it.

    8. For me, it’s got to be cold turkey. And then, unfortunately, it’s going to have to be cold turkey again, because I have a tendency to backslide (and am in the midst of one such slide right now). If I try to cut back on just a few things, it doesn’t work for me. And even with the cold turkey approach, I can be good for a month or two, but all it takes is one or two meals off-plan, and then “they tell two friends, and they tell two friends,” and pretty soon it’s been a week and I’ve got to start fresh again.

    9. My husband and I started eating paleo gradually. It was just easier for us to make little changes rather than going all out. We gave up grains and sugar first, then worked our way up to replacing/ making our own dressings and condiments. The last thing we’ve done is give up artificial sweeteners. My husband is still trying to figure out what to replace his sugar-free hazelnut creamer with. We’re definitely not perfect about it, but we’re a great deal healthier because of the changes we’ve made.

    10. I tried the gradualetgod and the 80/20 cold turkey method and neither worked. I am going to be going 100% Paleo cold turkey in a couple days and stick to it for a month and then if I feel I can handle it I will add stuff back and see if I can handle some non Paleo foods.

    11. I have to say for me, it needs to be gradual

      Ive recently been told I have IBS so I cut wheat out which has improved things. Im not hugely into dairy, but that’ll go next (its the milk in my coffee i’ll miss!) and I am trying to reduce sugar (again, coffee the issue here!)

      However, I do want my stomach to feel better but I also am finding it restrictive on my life, Like going for meals with friends. I have a bit of you only live once outlook and I hate to go out and not feel I can join in with the different foods. I’m working on that but eating at home is fine, eating out not so much!

      1. That’s why it’s important to know yourself 🙂 Try making your own nut milk (cashew or almond) but using as little water as you can. You’ll end up with a creamy result. It’s not the same as milk but it’s the closest you might get.

        Sometimes you may need to supplement gut health with fermented foods or probiotics if you’re dealing with IBS. Talk to your doctor. Removing foods sometimes isn’t enough to encourage good gut flora though it may help with structural gut integrity.

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