• 8 Key Paleo Lessons You Need to Know

    EIGHT. That’s the number of years ago today that I decided to change what I ate and started following a paleo framework. No more crash diets, no more deprivation.

    STOP! Don't make these mistakes when you start eating paleo. I'm looking back at 8 years and sharing 8 key paleo lessons you need to know...so you don't make yourself crazy. | StupidEasyPaleo.com

    Today, off the top of my head, I wanted to share 8 key paleo lessons with you that I’ve learned along the way…wisdom for your journey. Hopefully, it’ll help you avoid some of the frustration I’ve run into over the years!

    8 Key Paleo Lessons I Wish I Knew Eight Years Ago

    1) If you want to change your life, you’ve gotta be in it for the long haul. There’s no place for quick fixes, perfection, and “diet rules.” Following diet rules or doing the same program over and over is the antithesis of freedom. Have fun and remember to enjoy yourself, too.

    2) A template like “strict” paleo can help you get started but IT’S NOT THE ONLY WAY. It’s an on-ramp to better nutrition, but you have to customize. You have to explore, discover, and define what your ideal way to eat looks like. Personalized nutrition is so key. Remember that context > dogma. At some point, you’ve got to start listening to your body. Following rules for the sake of following rules is short-sighted at best, freedom-robbing and potentially harmful at worst.

    3) Meal planning saves lives. Okay, that was dramatic, but it’s the #1 habit that’s helped me keep healthy eating going all these years.

    4) Potatoes aren’t evil. Carbs are yummy. The end.

    5) Fasting, butter coffee breakfasts, completely removing one macronutrient…do some of these *maybe* have merit for *some* people in *certain* situations? Perhaps. But get your basics down before you dally in those. Eat 3-4 meals a day, get your dang sleep, move your body, reduce your stress, and address your loneliness. Once you’ve got a solid handle on these basics, then maybe experiment with some of these other things. Too many folks miss the forest for the trees because of trends.

    6) A lot of packaged food products labeled “gluten-free”, “organic”, “paleo”, etc are absolute crap. Be a savvy shopper! Remember that gluten-free flours often spike blood sugar higher than gluten-filled counterparts. As a once-in-a-while treat or transition food? Sure. But if you’re still struggling to meet health and body comp goals, it’s time to weed that stuff out.

    7) Don’t set out to eat “healthy” foods you hate. Sure, give it a fair shot (taste buds change) but don’t force yourself to eat things you don’t like. (Liver and me will never be friends so I take desiccated liver capsules.)

    8) I always say that food is like the gateway drug to better health…but health is so much more than food. If you want to be healthier, happier, and harder to kill, you’ve also got to move your body, recharge your energy, work on your mindset, and understand that your whole being – body, mind, soul – needs nourishing.

    There are so many more lessons, but these stick out in my mind. And one thing has become abundantly clear…I’ve been constantly evolving even though the basics that I’ve mastered are still there in some way, shape or form.

    I’m about to embark on an exciting shift with Stupid Easy Paleo in 2018…one that’s been coming for a while and one that will open so many more doors for us to explore all of the pillars of health together. In essence, we’re going to have a newly improved website and a bit of a new name (wink). Everything you already love about SEP will remain, but there’s going to be so much more  

    Let me know in the comments which of these 8 key paleo lessons resonates with you! I’d love to know.

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    STOP! Don't make these mistakes when you start eating paleo. I'm looking back at 8 years and sharing 8 key paleo lessons you need to know...so you don't make yourself crazy. | StupidEasyPaleo.com

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    47 thoughts on “8 Key Paleo Lessons You Need to Know

    1. Woo hoo! I can’t wait to see the changes that you’re bringing to the community in 2018! Thank you Steph for everything that you do!

    2. I’m with you in that you have to customize your eating plan to something you can live with for the long haul. The danger though is that you can customize yourself right out of your needed
      changes. I periodically review how I’m doing on all fronts to make sure I’m still on track because it’s easy to rationalize changes that aren’t really working in my favour.

    3. Love these 8 steps, they are all common sense but we need these reminders. The food prep is key for me to staying on track!

    4. I appreciate #5. Getting back to the basics- reducing stress, getting sleep… I can focus so much on food and exercise that the other concepts get put to the wayside.

      1. Happy to help, Vicky. You’re definitely not alone in that. Sometimes a couple small shifts in those areas can add up big!

    5. Of the 8, #2 is the one that’s ringing my bell at the moment. I found myself all excited about Keto this year but I had no success in fully trying it. A big part of that was my “Rebel” personality, which I learned about in an earlier article you sent out, but the other part was because I’m just sick of jumping on every bandwagon that comes along, trying to drop weight. I’m just plain tired. The magic of “the magic” has died and all I can think is, “Another list of what not to eat. I can’t.” Then I remembered that the most food freedom I’ve ever felt was when Paleo came along. It was the first eating style that made sense to me because deprivation wasn’t part of it, sweets were not totally banished (long live banana ice cream and avocado pudding!!!) and variety is running all through it. I’m consciously going back to that style. I shall have the odd dairy tweak, though, because cheese is a thing! I like hard cheeses with lots of flavor and can eat cottage cheese straight from the bucket. Those don’t bother my digestion but beyond that I cannot go. I know that because of The Whole 30 and Paleo eating so I think I’m going to have to do what I heard in a country-themed commercial once. “Dance with the one that brung ya!”

      1. Thanks so much for your candor in sharing some parts of your journey with us. You hit the nail on the head with so many things that tons of people go through…restricting further and further down until there’s no joy left at all. I’m cheering you on!

    6. I’m with you!!
      This past October I hit my 3 year anniversary…we started aiming for 80/20, replacing things and learning how to incorporate the changes as we went. After a serious intestinal attack that landed me in the ER between Christmas & New Year’s, we got more serious.
      Now are we perfect? Not by any stretch of the imagination! But we are better…and we have learned…and we continue to learn.
      “Good, Better, Best.
      Never Rest!
      Until Good is Better and Better, Best!”
      We will continue the evolution. Learning to forgive ourselves for imperfections and grant a little grace in the journey has been the biggest lesson of all.
      Thank you for your significant contribution to this journey.

      1. Co-signing everything you wrote, Kat! Better than before…always moving forward. Love it!! And you’re very welcome…it’s my pleasure.

    7. I love this post and I’m just girl crushing on your journey and you. I started my journey in 2014. I was at a bootcamp and they had a paleo challenge. I dove in. I stayed strict paleo for the challenge but then realized your #2 lesson early on and said it’s about me, not about rules. Food planning has actually made our life so much more full because I use the time to make healthy food we love and I’ve grown to love cooking more challenging recipes. Your recipes and site are staples in my daily life. (My husband practices BJJ and I show you off to him all the time. ) Anyhow, here’s some love for your start to 2018!

      1. That’s so awesome to hear how your journey’s been changing and evolving. Really great!! Oh now way…how cool! Have you ever tried it?

      1. Thanks Manda!! It’s funny because I’ve tried so many way to prepare it…even those recipes where people swear that it’s the recipe that makes liver-haters change their minds…hahaha NOPE!

    8. #3 yes. I’ve been Paleo for over 8 years now as well. Some people ‘don’t understand how I can live without pasta/breads- quite easy now! have no interest! I love this post, resonates in great timing too— need to work on my stress issues………..breathe, breathe, breathe

    9. This is such good to encouragement to stay in it for the long haul. Real change with real food takes time and big habit changes. I want to stick “Eat 3-4 meals a day, get your dang sleep, move your body, reduce your stress, and address your loneliness” front and center on my wall.

    10. Am I allowed to say that all 8 truly resonated with me in some kind of way?! 🙂

      #3. The one I agree with 100% and agree that is probably THE MOST IMPORTANT is Meal Planning. Couldn’t agree more.

      #4. I loved reading #4 because I am on a new journey with my food (mixture of Paleo, Whole30, and Personalized Nutrition) and I have allowed white potatoes into my diet (not a ton, but they’re there) and they’ve always been talked down. My dad and I actually got into a respectful argument about them last week.

      #6. That’s unfortunate

      Thank you, Steph!! Excited for your new stuff!! I remember listening to one of your episodes and you said SEP doesn’t match you anymore because you are so much more than just that now 🙂 Glad the action is being taken!

      1. You totally can, Melissa! I love your thoughts on 3, 4, and 6. And yes, long live the potato!!

        You’re so kind, and thank you so much for the support and boost of confidence. I’m very grateful <3

    11. No question number 4. I got seduced by the initial weight loss going low carb. It worked for awhile, but the problem is that I stayed on it for four years and just recently figured my issues are from that. It wrecked my hormones, cortisol is too high, no energy during workouts, wake up during night having to eat, etc. So I have to start over so to speak from a higher weight than what I began with! Just have to be patient and enjoy all the rice, tapioca, yucca, sweet potatoes. Cheers to carbe diem!

      PS I bought your paleo athlete book awhile book – going to use to remind myself to enjoy carbs 🙂

      1. Carbe diem! Haha that’s brilliant, Patrick. Really sorry you had to go through all that but it seems like the experience has made you much wiser and more balanced. (And I totally get you b/c I ate way too low carb at the beginning. I would give away the fruit from my CSA box. Eeeeek.)

        Thanks for your kind words!

      2. I couldn’t agree more with #4. I got into Paleo 5 years ago when everyone was preaching the evils of carbs. To say low carb didn’t work for me is an understatement but it took me a long time to figure that out. I basically stopped sleeping completely and was so worn down and exhausted that I hurt my thyroid and was running on cortisol/stress at all times. Many negative side effects resulted including a binge eating habit which I’m actually grateful for because I finally realized the only time I got any sleep was when I went on a kettlecorn and cookie bender as a result of the carb deprivation. It’s a real misery to white knuckle your way through every day, constantly obsessing about sugar – willpower can only hold out so long and no amount of extra fat or protein solved it. I finally started eating potatoes or root veg or rice at every meal and I feel so much better. Calm, focused, better energy, better sleep, no more obsessing. I’m no athlete, either. I workout every day but I am also middle aged and work at a desk all day. People are unique and you have to figure out what works for you, including eating carbs!

        1. I think the feeling was, “If a little reduction is good, then more is better.” You’re definitely not along. And I’m so glad you’re feeling better…really happy to hear that things are on the upswing. That makes my heart really happy. Thank you for sharing your story Kristen!

    12. Great post! No. 4 is my wish I had of known favorite too! I have eaten so few carbs that I developed kidney stones and I’m underweight with messed up hormones like Patrick. Any suggestions on safe carbs to get back in balance and put on a little weight?

      1. Hey Debby…so sorry to hear that. For carbs, try a little fruit or root veggies (potato, sweet potato, carrots, beets, parsnip, etc.), hard winter squash, plantains, etc. All veggies have carbs, but you’ll want to probably try some of the carb dense kinds I’ve just listed out.

    13. Number two resonated with me the most. I remember when I started Paleo during Thanksgiving weekend (yup! – in for a penny, in for a pound!) and thought I had to get everything “right.” I was quite strict at the start but then read a blog post or something somewhere that said there were no Paleo police who were going to show up at my door! That helped me relax which helped me embrace the changes more fully.

      1. Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Janice. I had a similar start…very very strict. I was afraid to eat fruit. Looking back I see how silly it was. Oh gosh yep…the paleo police! That idea helped me so early on. I’m really glad you found a way to make the changes work for you and experience all the benefits.

    14. Moving your body and changing your mindset is HUGE for me!! All of these are great things to remember and keep in mind when making this journey for our health. Thanks for posting! Love your site, your emails, and all your info! Thank you!

      1. You’re so very kind, Mel. Thanks for stopping by and sharing with us what’s really helped you. Really appreciate you being here!

    15. #5 for sure. I really need to work on making sure I take care of myself too. I’m looking forward to seeing what changes come to your site this year.

    16. While they all are great tips I think 1 and 3 are the ones that resonate the most with me right now. I always seem to go from diet to diet and this year I’m all about starting out with Whole30 and then transitioning into a Paleo lifestyle and making it a lifestyle. For meal meal prepping has been a lifesaver, when I do it I feel ready to take on the week and know what I’m going to eat. If I don’t meal prep I feel like I am setting myself up to make not great food decisions and spending more money eating out than I would if I meal prepped. Thanks for sharing these tips Steph! Love your blog and just started listening to your podcast!

      1. I’m so glad those two tips resonated with you Jess! Your plan sounds great and it’ll give you a really great foundation upon which to personalize your nutrition going forward. Meal prep for the win!! And thank you for all your very kind words <3

    17. When you say, “At some point, you’ve got to start listening to your body.” That right there. I’m still on my way to that kind of living with food especially, but, seeing it in writing makes me kinda emotional–like, damn. Thanks for this!

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