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Why Some Foods are so Hard to Give up (and What to do About It)

Avoiding grains

“I’d love to go Paleo, but I could never give up _______________!”

Does this sound familiar? Or what about its close cousin, “I’m almost 100% Paleo, but I just can’t give up ___________”? Or its occasional sequel, “I finally went all-out Paleo, but I constantly miss ____________”?

Almost everyone has heard some variation on this theme – it’s probably one of the most common responses from people hearing about the concept of Paleo for the first time. So here are some suggestions for managing “I could never give up ___________” syndrome, depending on what the reason for it is.

“I don’t even know how to cook without ___________”

(Common culprits: bread, cheese, rice)

If one particular ingredient is a staple in your cooking, then it’s totally reasonable to feel lost at the thought of foregoing it. If you’ve grown up with Asian food, a meal without rice might sound insane – the same thing goes for Mexican food and corn, or standard American food and bread.

The solution to this one is to turn your recipe-hunting game up to 11 – and here’s the trick: don’t focus on replacing the missing ingredient!

In other words, if you’re struggling at the thought of a meal without bread, don’t drive yourself crazy trying to recreate the “perfect” Paleo bread with 15 different nut flours. Instead, look for Paleo meals that don’t need any bread in the first place. Look for recipes that roughly fit the following categories:

One meal = 1 meat dish + 1 or more vegetable sides (optionally +) some starchy vegetables. Mix and match from your saved recipes until you get something tasty. Cook it up, and congratulations: you’ve got a Paleo meal!

As an occasional treat, there will always be room in the world for Paleo bread and Paleo tortillas, but they shouldn’t be the basis of your meal planning.

“I don’t know how to have a social life without _________”

(Common culprits: pizza, beer, other alcohol)

Who wants to be healthier if it means living like a hermit with your biodynamic kale and grass-fed beef liver? Nobody! And in fact, even if you were willing to do that, it probably wouldn’t be very good for you: a strong community is incredibly important for overall health. If eating healthy really did mean renouncing your social life, it might actually be healthier to eat junk and have friends!

But luckily for all of us, it’s perfectly possible to have your friends and your grass-fed beef liver at the same time! Food is one tool that we use to socialize, but it’s not the only one.

“I just love the taste of _________ too much!”/ “My mom always made __________ and I’d miss it too much!”

(Common culprits: chocolate, cake, cookies, pasta, candy, ice cream)chocolate bar

First things first: this is not just a problem of being whiny or needing to shut down your inner five-year-old! It’s perfectly reasonable to want to eat things that you enjoy the taste of. It’s perfectly reasonable to feel unhappy at the prospect of giving up something that brings you pleasure.

The problem isn’t getting rid of those feelings; it’s balancing them with your other goals (weight loss, better health, or whatever your goals with Paleo were in the first place). Some tips:

“___________ is just too convenient!”

(Common culprits: sandwiches, breakfast cereal, protein powder)

Yes, convenience food is convenient. That’s what it was designed to be! Unfortunately, that “convenience” typically comes at the expense of health – and even worse, work and school schedules are now designed around the assumption that everyone is willing to make that trade-off. And that makes it hard to take a step back and fit home-cooked meals into a modern schedule.

The solution: make Paleo convenient. Cooking at home doesn’t have to be any more time-consuming than ordering in! Some tips:

That covered a few of the most common reasons, but everyone has their own unique situation: is there something else that’s keeping you tied to some non-Paleo food? Why not share on Facebook or Google+ and see if anyone else has some helpful advice?