In an age where fast-paced living is the norm and the struggles of juggling parenthood, work life, exercise, and relationships can feel an uphill battle, it is no surprise that taking on a new lifestyle can seem like an incredible and daunting task. Depending upon where your starting point is eating a clean and natural diet can seem completely unattainable and out of grasp. The demands of modern life can make cooking seem like an epic task – luckily there are plenty of ways to help incorporate Paleo nutrition into your lifestyle and make eating healthy and unprocessed diet a (much more attainable) walk in the park.
My clients cover a range of demographics – from the single people who devote their time to their own penchant for organic superfood salads and their quest to discover the latest hype in health food (I salute you all!) to the Stay At Home Mum who just wants to put good quality food on the table without breaking the bank. Do you know what they have in common? A desire to change and the motivation to put in the efforts required to make it work. As long as you have this it really doesn’t matter what your situation is, it is possible. For those who are successful in the long run, there are a number of strategies which I often recommend and which, for me, go a long way in improving your chances of success.
My Top Tips To Paleo Living
Your Freezer Is Your Friend
Some days even the best time management skills in the world fail us and we find ourselves standing in the kitchen facing a dilemma of having nothing cooked at 7pm in the evening and neither the motivation nor the energy to start cooking. Having frozen batches of dinners in your freezer ready to go really takes the hassle out of meal preparation on those crazy days and means you and your family still have a nutritious meal. Making a curry or casserole? Make extra and freeze it in batches ready to whip out for busy week days. Invest some time on a day off and cook up a storm –it doesn’t have to involve 10 dishes of varying levels of Michelin Star quality. Just make one or two big batches of curry, stew, or casserole and freeze into family size portions (I like to use ‘Pyrex’ containers or even glass jars or bottles such as passata bottles to freeze these in, just leave space for expansion). There are few things as virtuous as not having to actually cook but still having a home cooked meal. Move over Nigella, this kitchen diva is kicking ass!
Bonus Tip: Short on freezer space? Invest in some BPA free food storage bags and store flat for a great space saving solution. Consider a second freezer in your shed – extra storage if your kitchen is small.
Bring Your Own Lunch (BYOL)
This is a simple concept which many have forgotten. It has become so easy to run to avail of a £3 “deal” in the nearby petrol station of a stodgy ham and cheese, crisps, with a bottle of coke. Eating these special deal lunches may make us feel less guilty for the wasted pounds we are spending every day on shop bought lunches, but the reality is that bringing our own lunch is much easier and much cheaper than we think. It also allows us to know exactly what is in our lunch, rather than eating cheap, poor quality ingredients. Like the tip above, BYOL does take a little forward thinking but not much! Great options for lunch are leftovers – everyone knows leftover curry tastes even more delicious the next day. Why not bring some of your leftover dinner into work and wait for the envious glances from your colleagues as they tuck into a stale Ryvita while trying to convince themselves their “healthy” lunch is just as satisfying as yours (they may even try to eat yours, be forewarned!).
As well as leftovers, salads are a great option and take seconds to get ready in the morning or even the night before. Salads are a great option for lunch as they provide you with lots of anti-oxidants, fibre, and nutrients. Pair it with your protein of choice such as chicken, oily fish, or leftover roast beef, add some healthy fats such as an avocado or a simple olive oil dressing, sprinkle on some nuts or seeds and you have a delicious lunch at a fraction of the cost of a deli salad. Hello extra cash, goodbye 3pm slump!
Bonus Tip: Invest in a good Thermos flask to keep your food piping hot until lunchtime and avoid the need to nuke your carefully prepared food in the microwave.
Invest in a Slow Cooker
Slow cookers are a fantastic investment if you follow a jam-packed schedule. Available in most good electrical or home appliance stores, these handy gadgets allow you to stick on your dinner before you go to work and arrive home to the delicious satisfaction of a home-cooked meal ready for the table! With 1000s of Paleo slow cooker recipes available online there is literally no excuse not to have a hearty meal on the table in seconds. You can even go all Martha Stewart and have prepared meals ready to go from your freezer and simply lump it all in the slow cooker in the morning still frozen (check food is piping hot before serving). Then just leave it to work its magic.
Bonus Tip: If you are feeding a family of 4+ always go for a family sized slow cooker, the largest you can. It is better to have it too large than too small. I would also encourage you to buy one with either a built-in timer or use alongside a separate plug-in timer to ensure it turns off when required.
Cook One Meal For the Entire Family
This is one concept many struggle with at the beginning. So you have decided you personally want to eat unprocessed food and want to be healthier but are not ready to get your family on board just yet? You aim to please and in typical mummy style you take on too much and cook not one but two meals every evening – one for you and one for the children equaling extra cooking, extra washing up, and extra stress! STOP! You are not a robot and if you continue this way one thing will surely happen – you will stop putting YOU first and will give up on your ‘extravagant’ notions of eating healthy and will go back to making one meal (possibly a less healthy one). The only way this can become incorporated into your lifestyle is if you cook ONE meal for everyone. I have always been a firm believer in this and it is how I approach eating in my family. Cook meals such as stews, casseroles, curries, and bolognaises from scratch and feed everyone the same meal.
Bonus Tip: Family missing their “carbs”? Just switch up the sides: for example I would add white potatoes for my husband and have sweet potato for me or I might make him rice but omit for me. Still makes it easier than cooking 2 complete meals!
Breathe – This is a Long Term Change, Not an Over-Night One!
One of the best pieces of advice I can give you is this. You don’t need to take on every single concept of better nutrition in one go. I have been eating Paleo for 4 years now but I didn’t suddenly arrive at the point I am at overnight. I changed, I tweaked, I learned new things and added them to my lifestyle and I am still changing! As long as you are working towards improvement all the time and constantly evolving in your healthy plan that is what matters! Remember, it is a long term change, it takes time to perfect!
Bonus Tip: If you worry about EVERY. SINGLE. THING. You eat you will be stressed out and unhappy and most likely sicker due to the effects of stress on health. Do the best with what knowledge you have while always thinking of health in the long run. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your Paleo Protocol!