Angie Alt is wife, mother, world traveler & blogger. She’s also a warrior in the autoimmunity war. Angie confronts three autoimmune disorders each day, including Celiac Disease, with powerful management techniques like AIPaleo & the Paleolithic lifestyle. She blogs regularly about the emotional side of tackling autoimmunity, adopting Paleo, and how it impacts her, her family, & their way of life. You can read more by Angela Alt at her blog and connect with her on Facebook.
The Paleo lifestyle is not for wussies. There’s no way around it. Paleo requires some serious changes and steadfast commitment. I’ve noticed three main challenges where almost everyone, at one point or another on their Paleo journey, is tested. I thought I’d try to break down each of the top three in an effort to help us all overcome these common obstacles. It helps to see each of these challenges as just snags along the road, that simply require new thinking, instead of the end of the line.
Snag #1: Paleo means I have to give up some of my favorite foods.
It is really challenging to let go of some of the old favorites. I’ve actually blogged about this several times (for example, here). I’m a Celiac, but that doesn’t mean I forgot how good my favorite beer used to taste or all the fun I had sharing a cold one with my friends. That’s the trouble, right? We have to eat and drink several times every day to stay alive and all that eating and drinking gets deeply entwined with special memories and feelings. It becomes difficult to cherish the memories without longing for the foods and drinks. The facts are the facts though. I’m never going to drink a beer again, because my health will suffer greatly for it. I work hard to separate the value of the memory from the old favorites I enjoyed. Giving up those foods doesn’t seem so bad, when you can relish the special memory that still exists in you.
It can be harder to do this if you don’t have an obvious health issue that will flare if you make poor food choices. In that case, I encourage you to put your focus on gratitude. A serious display of appreciation for the great shape your body is in today would be to treat it as though you’d like it to function just as well ten years from now. Giving up former food favorites that you know are not healthful is a major investment in yourself, one that will pay substantial dividends as you age.
Basically, giving up drive-thru tacos and Chinese take-out won’t be as hard if you can reframe your thinking. You don’t have to act like you’ve got amnesia and forgot how much fun take-out night used to be, you just have to focus on the special memory not the food. You don’t have feel sad as you pass the taco joint, you just have to imagine your fit physique in 2023.
Snag #2: Paleo means I’ll have to spend more money on food.
Agreed. You will definitely have to spend more money on food. The best quality foods are not cheap. You don’t have to have more money though; you just have to allocate more of your budget to food.
Carefully review your budget and look for places you can cut, even a few dollars, so that the food budget can expand. Realistically there is probably room in most of our budgets for higher quality food. Consider adjusting your cell phone plan or cable bill. Maybe you can keep tighter control on the thermostat and save on the energy bill? Every dollar will help. Also, don’t underestimate how much you can save by not eating out or not stopping for that latte. These shifts tend to happen naturally with the Paleo lifestyle and add more money to your grocery budget.
Basically, buying high quality real food is not out of reach, it just requires creative budgeting and a willingness to cut a few extras in order to focus on the immeasurable value of your health.
Snag #3: Paleo means I’ll have to spend more time focusing on, well . . . health.
This is absolutely true. Preparing food that is the most nourishing for you and your family will definitely require a greater time commitment. I’ve spent over a year now making three meals a day almost every single day. We almost never eat out. I am truly speaking from experience when I say that there is a serious time commitment involved in making foods that serve health as your first priority. The time commitment doesn’t end at food. I also make time to exercise, relax, get outside, and sleep. Hands down, giving up certain foods and changing your budget are nothing compared to the focused planning, prep, & scheduling it takes to fit that all in.
All the planning, preparation, and scheduling are what ultimately leads to success though. Think about any significant goal you have ever set out to achieve. It required dedication of your time. The best part is that I have found the extra time committed to my health has improved the quality of my time overall. I used to feel awful in my own body 24 hours a day, but then I began dedicating a few hours each day to my health. Now each hour in my body feels more like a gift.
Basically, restructuring your schedule to allow yourself the time it takes to truly care for your body pays huge returns. Try not to think of a home cooked meal of whole foods, a walk with your partner, and sleep as indulgences you just can’t fit in the schedule. Give up TV time (or if you are me, internet time!), draw the line with an overly demanding work schedule, and cut back on outside activities that leave you depleted. All these small changes in time management will add up to a much happier, healthier you.
It’s true, the Paleo lifestyle with its focus on health as the top priority, is difficult to implement. Our modern world makes it tough to say no to unhealthful foods, easy to dedicate funds to unnecessary things, and hard to structure our time for true well-being. All of those are just snags on your journey though, not the end of it. Reshape your thinking and you can reshape your whole life!