The Top 6 Paleo Diet Failure Points and How to Overcome Them

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Feb 14, 2013
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As I mentioned in my [Rated R] Paleo Seduction post, I've been diving into the 4-Hour Chef by Tim Ferris. I've actually read all of Tim's books and I enjoy his straight-forward teaching style. I find that the 4-Hour Chef is a great book for someone that is trying to live a Paleo Lifestyle because it has some great strategies on learning how to be a proficient chef as well as ton of other cool stuff.

In the first part of the book Tim writes, "I don't care why people pick up cookbooks. I'm much more interested in why they put them down." He goes on to state his hypothesis which is that if he can address the main tripping points, or failure points, he should be able to increase the number of people who eventually become master chefs.

I don't necessarily want to be a master chef but it certainly doesn't hurt to know your way around the kitchen. Especially if you want to incorporate a Paleo Lifestyle.

In the book he lists out the main failure points that cause people to give up on cookbooks and trying to better themselves as chefs. You can pick up your own copy if you want to read about how he came up with his list.

Anyway, it got me thinking about the Paleo Lifestyle and what causes people to quit. Not only quit, but what makes people view it as a short-term solution (which it isn't) instead of a long-term lifestyle for optimal health and vitality?

I came up with my list of Paleo Diet Failure Points and some ideas on how to overcome them.

My hypothesis is that if I can help people overcome these main paleo failure points I can help more people reach optimal health and fitness. That sounds like fun to me.

What are the Paleo Failure Points and How Do You Overcome Them?

As you may know we just wrapped up a Paleo Living survey. We had 268 people take the survey and we could have gotten probably double that if we had left it open a little while longer. Who knows, maybe we'll open it up again soon.

However, from the responses we noticed a lot of the same challenges being mentioned over and over again. When I start to see the same issues being mentioned over and over again it makes me pay attention because that's where I can focus and help people the most.

So here are the Big Six Paleo Diet Failure Points from the survey with some tips to overcome them.

1) Time Management and Convenience. People have a lot going on. I get it. We're all busy. Trying to juggle career, fitness, family and relaxation can be a tough proposition.

It seems that people are so busy, in fact, that they're having a hard time preparing and cooking paleo meals. You add in the fact that you're no longer relying on "convenience" food to make up a majority of your calories and the whole process of cooking meals from scratch can seem like a tough obstacle to overcome.

This was by far the biggest challenge. It was mentioned over and over again. No Time. Lack Of Time. Short On Time. I Need More Time.

I don't live your life and I have no idea what you have to do on a daily basis. What I do know is that we all have responsibilities and we all have the same 24-hours a day.

Usually when someone says they don't have time I interpret that to mean that they choose not to spend time on that particular thing. Because when you really think about it you probably do have time to prepare a healthy meal but you place more value on spending your time in another manner.

It's cool. I'm not here to judge how you spend your time or tell you how you should spend it. What I will suggest, is that if being healthy and fit is truly important to you then you will find the time to prepare and eat nutritious meals.

I'm not discounting the fact that you have a lot going on. Just the opposite. I know you're busy. That's why we created PrimalPal. We wanted to give you a tool that will save you time and allow you to fit healthy meals into your busy life.

2) Planning. Really this could be lumped together with time management. Since we are all busy people we have to become better planners. You wouldn't consider not planning your work schedule.

For those of you that belong to a CrossFit box it goes without saying that each workout for the week is planned well in advance.

So why do we wing it with our nutrition?

Your nutrition and meals need to be planned. At least at the basic level in order for you to see results. I wish there was a way around it. But there isn't.

One of the things people seemed to be missing was a tool that would allow them to create a customized plan. Guess what? Now that PrimalPal exists that is no longer an excuse. You can create a customized plan based on your preferences, tastes and goals.

The point being that you need to do some planning. Paleo, especially for newbies, does not lend itself kindly to "winging it."

Two things will happen with your paleo diet if you wing it. One, you'll start eating the same boring meals over and over again and you'll cave in to the smallest temptation. Two, you'll waste a ton of money buying fresh ingredients and not using them.

I don't know about you, but neither of those sounds like fun to me.

I don't care too much about how you plan. I care that you actually do it. Would I love you to try PrimalPal? Absolutely. It's an awesome system. But if you want to do it by hand or some other method that's cool too. Just do it.

3) Simplicity of Preparation, Ingredients and Recipes. If you're coming to Paleo and you've barely cooked a piece of toast up until now it would be normal to feel a bit intimidated. Paleo almost requires that you have some basic cooking skills under your belt. We're not talking about working as a professional chef here, just basic stuff.

When I first started paleo all I ate were scrambled eggs and chicken breasts off a George Foreman Grill. But over time I've learned a few things. I've also managed to memorize a few easy recipes that I can fix up on the spot.

I suggest you do the same.

Learn a few basic cooking skills and become familiar with a few kitchen essentials. Things like a slow cooker, dutch oven, chef's knife and a food processor. Then grab a handful of recipes you want to try and plan to tackle one once a week. You'll be amazed at how much you retain from preparing a recipe one time. Prepare it a few more times and you won't have to look it up every time you want to have it.

One last thing about simplicity. Many of the best meals I've ever had used the fewest ingredients. That's true of paleo meals. Users submit a lot of recipes to us. A lot of them are extremely simple and delicious. Focus on learning to prepare the simple meals first.

4) Social Pressures and Lack of Family Support. Peer pressure is real.

Have you ever been in a room full of your co-workers when there is food around? It doesn't matter if everyone just got back from lunch... people are going to eat that free food.

And if you turn down a piece of cake or a doughnut or pie or whatever... boy oh boy do you hear about it.

"What, are you on some sort of diet?"

"Are you not eating carbs?"

"What are you... some kind of weirdo?"

OK, maybe nobody says the last one. But I guarantee that you'll hear the first two. What do you do when someone asks you that question? Do you cave and say, "I guess I'll have some."

You have to be mentally prepared to deal with these scenarios. Understand that saying "No" is a perfectly fine response that does not require any further explanation on your part. In fact, if someone questions your motives just tell them you don't feel like having any.

If you're a really mean person you could always stare back at them and say, "Do you really think you should be eating that?" Hahahaha... Don't do that unless you don't want to have any friends.

Every time you say no to a temptation you earn a small victory. Enough of those small victories and soon no temptation will be a match for your resolve.

Family events and even just dinner can be a challenge for some people. What if your spouse isn't Paleo? It can be tricky navigating family meals when you're the only one trying to eat healthy.

In regards to family I think you need to be the leader in your household. Set the example and brush off everyone else's excuses as to why they don't want to eat nutritious food. Just because you chose to live with them doesn't mean you have to eat like them. 

Plus, there are a lot of tasty paleo meals that the whole family will enjoy. You just need to spend a little time planning them.

What's amazing is how quickly people come around when they see your positive results. Soon all the skepticism turns to support.When that happens your motivation will be higher than ever and you'll achieve your goals.

5) Cravings for Non-Paleo Foods. Everyone deals with this. Even the most strict Paleo Diet followers have cravings. I wrote a whole post about sugar cravings and what to do about them.

Here's the deal, there is a very strong connection with your memory and craving specific foods. If you're used to eating certain foods your mind and body will be more likely to crave those foods.

Usually the cravings are the worst in the early stages of going Paleo. You might crave pasta or pastries or any number of non-paleo foods. The best thing you can do is fight through the cravings and earn yourself a small win. These small victories really add up over time.

Stay focused on your goals and stick to your plan and soon you'll be craving kale chips instead of Doritos.

And realize that you are allowed to deviate from Paleo. Nobody has a gun to your head. Just be responsible with your "cheats."

If you're really focused on losing weight then cheating may not be an option. Not at first anyway. Be realistic about where you are with your life and goals. Then stick with your plan.

6) Finances. It's no joke that the economy has been a little sketchy here in the U.S. for quite some time. Pinching pennies has become a hobby for some people. I completely understand.

I think that the paleo community at large really likes to beat the "buy everything organic" drum ad nauseam... and for a good reason.

No doubt quality of ingredients is important but not everyone can swing buying grass-fed beef and all organic produce. If you find yourself in the camp of having to really watch your budget, which I think most of us are, then don't stress if you have to buy some ingredients conventional and some organic.

In our free eBook The Ridiculously Easy Guide to Paleo we talk about how to prioritize which ingredients to buy   organic and which ones you'll be fine to buy conventional.

The bottom line is to buy the highest quality ingredients you can afford.

Trust me, eating conventional meat and conventional greens will be better for you than eating the boxes of chemical laden garbage that line the grocery store aisles.

If there's anything you feel I left out please leave a comment below. Otherwise, please share this post and help someone overcome their Paleo Diet Failure Points.

Tweet @ Me. It's cool. I don't bite... unless you're made out of grass-fed beef.

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