The Secret of Keeping Paleo without Cheating

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The Secret of Keeping Paleo without Cheating

“I feel great when I’m Paleo, but I just can’t resist cheating sometimes.”

Does this sound like you?

Yeah, this was me not that long ago.

In this article, I’m going to show you how I managed, in 5 simple steps, to actually stop wanting to cheat!


The Story of the Cupcake Devil

It took me a while, and it was fairly gradual, but the last time I ate a gluten-filled dessert was on my birthday back in October 2012. I remember the day well – it was pretty relaxing, and I didn’t have anything planned. Despite the lack of stress, there was this little demon inside of my head telling me that it was ok to have cake on that one day!

In retrospect, it was the cupcake devil.

I held out for as long as I could, but it was making me unhappier and unhappier. I finally succumbed after dinner and walked quite delightedly to my favorite bakery (funny that I still had a “favorite” bakery even though I was giving all that up!).

So what did the cupcake devil tempt me to do?

Let’s just say that a red velvet cupcake and a chocolate brownie vanished pretty quickly. Predictably, that was followed soon afterward by a pretty sick feeling Louise!

Knowledge is Painful but Powerful

I knew exactly how much worse I would feel after having those “cheats,” but for some reason, my resistance always faded… Until now!

So, here are my secrets to sticking to Paleo and resisting all temptations.

[And in case you're wondering if I'll succumb to cake again on my birthday this year, the answer is mostly definitely no, because I'm not even having a wedding cake at my wedding in September (it'll be pretty much completely Paleo food)!]

1: Get everyone on board by thoroughly explaining your health problems.

All my friends and family now know that this is how I roll. We can’t eat at certain restaurants, and you can’t offer me cake. If you insist on having your party at a restaurant where I can’t eat, then I either will not come or else I will drink water.

I’ve found that pretty much all of my friends are very understanding (well, they don’t actually understand, but they’re nice enough to accommodate my “weirdness”).

Family is often tougher – I have no clue why they always insist on not believing a word I say and always thinking I can bend my rules “just this once” (aka every single day). Really, it’s just sheer persistence here. I tell everyone that I have allergies to wheat, all other grains, and vegetable/seed oils (which I do, because they make me feel sick!). And if they don’t believe me, then I’ll go into details about all the pains they cause me (from drowsiness, to exhaustion, to stomach aches, to bloating). I’ve found that even my mother is a bit more accommodating after I explain all of that!

You don’t need to give a name to your “illness” – just explain the symptoms and most people will get it.

2: Always have healthy snacks with you.

The times when you are most likely to cheat are when you’re hungry. So only keep Paleo snacks with you. This will make walking past the vending machine so much less painful. I’ll post a list of Paleo snack options soon!

3: Know what you can purchase if you need a quick fix.

There are very few things that you can buy at the store, deli, or drive-through, but there might be a few things that are ok or not too bad. You need to figure out what those are for you and make sure you get those when you’re in a jam.

For me, I’ve found that most stores have bananas or other fruit, sometimes you can find boiled eggs or deli meat (ham, turkey, salami, etc.). You might also be able to find beef jerky, but you should note that most common brands have MSG as well as sugar in it. Nuts and dried fruits are also common in many places.

4: Have a Paleo go-to meal.

After a tiring day at work, the last thing I want to do is cook! That’s when fast food restaurants or take-out seem really really tempting. Hence why a go-to Paleo meal is so important.

Make sure it’s a dish that you can make really quickly and from ingredients that are readily available. For me, the salmon stew is my go-to meal. Salmon cooks really fast and is very filling. Plus, you can keep frozen salmon in the freezer for months! You can add any vegetables you have in the fridge to the stew, or if you don’t typically have fresh vegetables at home, then keep some frozen ones. Carrots, Brussels sprouts, spinach, green beans, and peas are all common frozen vegetables that you can buy at most grocery stores.

5: Exile the cupcake devil.

This is probably the hardest one, and it’s something that will take time to get to.

That devil exists only because you haven’t fully come to terms with wanting to be Paleo.

One of the best ways of coming to terms with it is realizing just how much worse you feel when you cheat and making a commitment to stick to it no matter what.

But, even though this last one is tough, doing the previous 4 things really help you get to the point where #5 is achievable! (If you want to get there faster, then keep a journal of how you feel every day and what you eat. Your mind will start to quickly make the connections.)

What Did You Do?

So, if you’ve managed to go full Paleo, what was your secret? Or if you haven’t, are you going to start trying? Let me know in the comments!

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{ 9 comments… add one }

  • Julie August 23, 2013, 5:30 am

    Thanks for the tips!
    I started eating the Paleo way about three weeks ago, using Whole 30 as my guide. The first few days were a gradual easing-in period. I ate and drank a few forbidden foods, mostly because I didn’t want to waste what I had already paid for, lol! But as soon as those few things were gone, I was committed to Whole 30 as set forth in the book, It Starts with Food.
    A few days ago, I noticed that the pain I’d had in my achilles tendon for over three years is gone! My body simply feels more aware, more alert, more capable somehow. I hoped for some weight loss, which has also happened, but the pain relief is an unexpected bonus. I have no desire to lose these benefits, so staying away from the stuff that was harming me is pretty easy.
    Thanks for letting me share!

    Reply
    • Louise August 23, 2013, 10:39 am

      That’s great Julie – So glad you’re already feeling so much better!

      Reply
  • Carol August 23, 2013, 11:38 am

    I started Paleo about a year ago. I did really well for about 6 months, then some family issues came up and I caved. I started back up about 3 weeks ago and am having trouble staying focused. I have a doctors appointment in about a month, so I’m determined to stick with the program. My addiction isn’t sweets – it’s salty snacks. I allow myself Nuthins. If I don’t get my stuff together the night before, I run out of time in the morning before work and then it all falls apart again. You would think in a large town as Houston, there would be more Paleo-like places to eat. Thanks for your tips, I try doing all of the above and will still keep trying.

    Reply
    • Louise August 23, 2013, 1:20 pm

      Thanks Carol – let me know how you get on!

      Reply
  • Elena Vo August 23, 2013, 12:51 pm

    Great tips, Louise!

    What works for me is reminding myself of the multitude of health research articles I’ve read on the effect of grains on the human body. Once I picture myself ten years from now with a bucket of health issues that stemmed from me not eating healthy, I find it easier to stick to my grain-free routine.

    Reply
  • Laura August 26, 2013, 9:08 pm

    Your statement about not coming to terms with wanting to be Paleo really hit home. I need to be Paleo due to food allergies but as a stress eater, I caved a couple of months ago due to family issues. I have been making stabs at it but seem to always be unprepared. Thanks for the tips above!

    Reply
  • Andrea November 12, 2013, 7:32 pm

    I started gradually eating Paleo (needed to get rid of foods) roughly 4 weeks ago. I love it! I have dieted healthy in the past and list 100 pounds multiple times. Age had made it very difficult to lose weight now and I stress, pain and boredom eat. This is the first way to eat that has really stuck and not really missing grains. I’m not supposed to eat wheat anyway so it wasn’t a hard stretch to include all grains. I try to cook several recipes on one day and freeze things so I don’t have to worry about not having time to cook dinner. I prep meals and snacks the night before as well. It was amazing how quickly my body started healing itself. I had planned for a special dessert at Disneyland to celebrate a friends birthday after 3 weeks of Paleo. Wow – it took three days to get my stomach calmed down. Holidays with the family will be interesting but they are used to me doing my own thing at times anyway.

    Reply
  • Joyce April 15, 2014, 5:08 pm

    Oy, what timing …. today I tried a rush reintroduction of wheat (aka pizza crust) after being begged by my kids to make my sinfully delicious, and so not Paleo, Mac & cheese for Easter … nicht gut. Mild so far, yet I’m still hoping it passes quickly …I can’t imagine having serious ‘hang overs.’ No cake for me! (I know I can do that after avoiding the sample table at the local bakery today!)

    Reply

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Louise Yang Ancestral Chef

Hi! I'm Louise - I am "beyond gluten-free," grain-free, paleo/primal, a lawyer, an ex-physicist, a cook, a blogger, a Brit living in the US, an ex-violin player, an occasional crossfitter, a mystery book junkie, and of course, I am the Ancestral Chef :) Read my About Me Page for more!

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