• Paleo Confused? 3 Steps to Help You Get Clear

    Paleo Confused? 3 Steps to Help You Get Clear | stupideasypaleo.com

    Paleo confused? Not sure how to navigate this ever-expanding world of grain- and dairy-free eating? I don’t blame you. This post will give you 3 easy-to-follow steps to get clear about what really matters.

    Back in 2010 when I first “went Paleo”, I was wide-eyed and intent on following all the rules—admittedly without knowing the rationale behind them. There were as many books about Paleo as you could count on one hand (not kidding) and a few bloggers starting to put their spin on things. And then…*BOOM*.

    Paleo explosion.

    Hundreds of blogs, dozens of books, podcasts and magazines and companies with products and services are here to help you in your Paleo journey. Such a fantastic change from even 4 years ago. But have you noticed that when you go to a restaurant with an enormous menu, choosing your order is far more difficult than when the menu is just one page long? You start to go back and forth, back and forth, mulling over your choices until you realize you get more confused about what you want. That’s sort of what Paleo’s like now.

    Don’t take my word for it, though. I hear from readers all the time, wondering why Paleo recommendations all over the board are inconsistent, or worse, contradictory. In other words, they’re Paleo confused. Here’s a 3-step plan for staying clear:

    Step #1 for the Paleo confused: Be clear about your current state of health and goals.

    If you want to know how to steer the boat, you’ve got to have a map. Put another way, if you’re going to look for the resources to best fit your lifestyle, needs and goals you have to be clear about them, ideally before you get started. Getting a full workup from your medical doctor and any relevant blood tests is the way to really have a baseline of understanding for what you’re up against if you’re trying to improve your health.

    Once you have a clearer picture, start following sites and collecting resources that cater to your goals. Trying to lose a significant amount of fat? Torturing yourself by following all the gluten-free baking blogs is not going to help. Dealing with an autoimmune condition? Start seeking out resources that deal with that (like this and this). Brand new and want to do a 30-day system reset? Check this out.

    Step #2 for the Paleo confused: Accept that there is no one “right way.”

    Simultaneous to step 1, do some basic research about what Paleo really means. It’s hard to get a cohesive picture from the bits and bobs on blogs and through social media. If you’re into minimal investment and you want a free intro, consider signing up for something like my Quickstart mini-course. It’ll give you a little taste of what Paleo is without having to pony up for the full meal deal. Want something more extensive? I can’t recommend these two books enough: It Starts with Food and Eat the Yolks. They’re both comprehensive guides to why real food rocks and how to get started on your own journey to badassery, er, wellness.

    On that note, you’re likely to encounter what seem to be completely different viewpoints along the way. Some folks are so Paleo-strict, they won’t eat salt, fruit, ghee or even vinegar. Yeah, no duh…cavemen didn’t have vinegar…let’s not pretend we are running a historical reenactment of 10,000 years ago. Others are so lax that it’s all crap food in sheep’s clothing, dressed up to look healthy. I fall somewhere in the middle. I salt my food and use vinegar and ghee because they make food taste good, but I’m not kidding myself into thinking that a preponderance of sweets is a good choice.

    So you see, there’s never going to be a universally agreed upon definition for which foods are or are not Paleo. You’ll hear people arguing about green beans and rice wine vinegar and other foods to the point you’ll want to get your nuclear bunker ready. Just choose what’s best for you (given your findings in step 1) and you’ll be okay.

    Step #3 for the Paleo confused: Choose a trusted circle.

    A surefire way to muddy the waters is to try to follow every single Paleo blog and to try adopting everyone’s philosophy (see step 2). Again, there are some pretty large disagreements about food between influential folks in Paleo-land so listening to everyone only contributes to the confusion.

    What to do?

    Based on your current health status and goals or other priorities—such as having limited time to cook—choose a trusted circle of three to five bloggers or experts you can follow. More’s generally not better, and I’m not saying I have to be one of them. Keep an eye out for new folks that come along, but have your old standbys that you know won’t let you down. Be wary of anonymously run sites that don’t have a clear face behind them; often these faceless sites are in the business of sales and ads, not caring about your health.

    Avoid resources chock full of sensationalized articles and huge promises. “Gluten is death!” “Never eat a grain of salt again!” “Lose 5 pounds in 7 days!” Gimmicks rarely produce lasting results. Look for folks who produce quality, balanced resources, who make you think and who help make you better.

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    Paleo Confused? 3 Steps to Help You Get Clear | stupideasypaleo.com

    Questions? Let me know in the comment field below!

    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.

    18 thoughts on “Paleo Confused? 3 Steps to Help You Get Clear

    1. Thanks for all your informative posts! Found you through my favorite blogger @Nom Nom Paleo. I can’t recall where I read recently that the worst issue to overcome as a paleo devotee is ‘guilt’. It’s not one size fits all. We are all a work in progress with various paths to achieve health and wellness. Love Chris Kresser’s approach.

    2. Excellent post and helpful to someone who is new to paleo living! 🙂

      Just finished my first Whole30 last week and excited for this whole new life I have created from it. I truly feel so fantastic. I always felt like something was missing before as I wasn’t happy the way I was eating/dieting. Now it is like that has been filled. Have never felt so incredible! 😀

      Appreciate your blog posts and recipes! Reading Eat The Yolks now and definitely following and reading lots to make sure I have all aspects of paleo living coming at me.

      Please keep all this great info coming!

      Have an awesome day! – Val

      1. Hi Val! Thank you so much! It sounds like you are well on your way to a new, very healthy lifestyle. Thanks for taking the time to let me know…it really made my day!

    3. Hi Steph! I love your blog and how you support the beginner (just like myself). Quick question: do you have any advice for someone (myself again) who has so much tentation in the fridge (because of my family) ? Thanks.

      1. Camille, I was lucky since the whole family was on board when we converted to paleo. (At the time there were 3 generations under one roof and we were also eating a relatively whole foods diet prior.) My oldest adult son was the driving force as he was experiencing some health issues; and as one who needs evidence and data to drive decisions, encouraged us to check out the experts in the field.

        I thought removing grains would be the toughest; however, it proved to be easier than we anticipated. Replacing the daily bowl of oatmeal with eggs was incredible as the mid morning hunger went away. We cleaned house, replaced cooking fats with coconut oil and grassfed animal fats, EVOO for salads, and added avocado and macadamia nut oil for roasting veggies. Found a local source for grassfed meats; joined a CSA to supplement our garden; got rid of all those industrial oils and other processed foods.

        Cooking is so much more fun and satisfying. I’m still cooking for 3 generations starting with me at 71 and moving down to my grandson who is 8. I love Steph’s tips and recipes. You will find great info and recipes at Nom Nom Paleo, too. I love Melissa Joulwan’s Well Fed books….her tips on varying uses for ground meats are super and practical; and more economical that many cuts.

        Best wishes!

        I suggest seeing if the family would agree to a 30 day reset/trial. You might see more willingness to move with you.

    4. What a wonderful post! There is so much information out there, it was confusing when we first started our Paleo journey. But like you said, you learn what you need, and what works for your situation, and you gravitate to the sites that offer the most relevant information and recipes. Yours is one I am so thankful to have found!

    5. Hi Steph.
      Great post. This pretty much sums up how I’ve approached the last few weeks.
      Step 1 – I hired a personal trainer who convinced me to do paleo & to stop just ‘showing up’ to the gym & workout in my basement & trying fad diets.
      Step 2 – avoiding the Paleo-nazis & the Paleo-fyers out there who ‘know it all’
      Step 3 – There is soooo much info out there about this eating lifestyle- notice I didn’t say diet-I’m learning 😉
      I try to consume as much as I can. The more info, the better. So many contradictions though. I found your website/youtube videos along with another guy-Brad Gouthro very informative. Experts like Gary Taubes, Mark Sisson, etc… are very intelligent & know their stuff, but you are entertaining. Keeping those videos short & to the point keep my attention. Your blog posts are written in such a way that it feels like I am standing next to you having a conversation. I love it! Keep up the awesome work!

    6. GIRRRRRRRL! gee whiz your posts are all brilliant. have i told you that you’re my favourite blogger EVER? cause you are. it’s true.

      I have so much to say about this post it is crazyyyy 🙂

      1. i love how you said to map it out in step one. honestly, i couldn’t agree more. make the paleo “diet” work for YOU. have reason. have purpose. eat to benefit YOU.
      2. i love that you recommended it starts with food and eat the yolks! i read it starts with food twice because i love it so much and i cannot wait to read eat the yolks next!
      3. i think i fall in the same way of eating as you. not strict, but i don’t make paleo-fied goodies. i eat real food and purchase organic when possible.
      4. you are my girl that i know i can always rely on 🙂 i also love Diane and Liz, too!

      xoxoxoxo 🙂 love love love YOU

      thanks for being so awesome, girl!

    7. Ok so I’ve turned over my whole house to be gluten, carb and suar free. Pretty proud of myself, go me! Here’s the problem…….my hubs has lost 15+ pounds and I put on a few eating clean, I just don’t get it. I’m cutting out cheese as of today and limiting nuts as well. Did anyone lose any weight? Can I put half and half in my coffee? I’m healthier I know it but a weight loss would be awesome too! Thx :0)

      1. Hi Heather,

        Have you done a 30 day elimination protocol such as Whole30 yet? There can be underlying issues with food intolerances or sensitivities that are still causing issues. It’s one of the simplest ways to get a handle on which foods might still be giving you a problem. Check out their site: http://www.whole30.com or their book: http://amzn.to/16HCwDw.

    8. Hi Steph! Such a great post! I, like the others, love your blog. Such helpful and interesting information (and fabulous recipes also, duh) that helps to alleviate some of the confusion. Sometimes too much information can be overwhelming and hard to navigate and you really help to keep things “stupid easy”! When I first started eating Paleo I was so strict and if I slipped up I felt so guilty. Then I read something Robb Wolf said and it all made sense. He basically said to stop listening to the militant paleo and to find the “shade” that works for you. I stopped classifying things as “good” or “bad”, which also leads to an unhealthy relationship with food, and just decided to apply the template as it worked for me. So, now I eat cheese from time to time … but a grass-fed cheese. Making these “not paleo” choices as nutrient dense as possible because it’s ultimately about health and nutrition. Anyway, before I go on and bore you even further, I wanted to say thank you so much for your blog. You, along with a few of my other favorites (Diane S., Liz W., Chris K, etc) have truly helped me in my journey and I look forward to continuing my “education” through all of you and your informative posts. Thank you again!!!

      1. This is so great, Shari! I really appreciate you taking the time to come by and let me know.

        There is a lot of misunderstanding about the rationale behind certain Paleo foods and if folks understood those, I think we’d be a lot better off.

        Keep rocking it!

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