The 30 Day Paleo Challenge concludes at midnight, Monday, Feb. 13. After serving up 30 days of thorough planning and thoughtful food choices, how will you build your first challenge-free plate Tuesday, Feb. 14? Dare I suggest that your splash down meal should be no different than those you’ve consumed since January 15?
I’ve received dozens of emails, posts and phone calls marveling at the changes — some subtle, many dramatic — logged since eating Paleo. Yet temptation lurks, and the negotiation on how to eat going forward begins.
Splash Down … Don’t Drown, Part 1. Thirty days of clean eating is a great start, but it’s not really enough. Consider how long you’ve unconsciously consumed calories, with little regard to how the food was chemically treated, processed and handled before it hit your plate. For most of us, we’ve lived far longer with mindless versus mindful eating.
Pre-Splash Down Checklist. Take stock of how good you feel after 30 days. Grab a piece of paper and a pen, take five minutes and write down everything that comes to mind about how you feel, the comments people have made, what was easy, what was challenging, what surprised you, the compliments you’ve received, and more. Then take another five minutes and really read the list. Aloud. Let it wash over you. And celebrate what you’ve accomplished.
The Paperwork. Be sure to take time to complete the Post-Paleo Challenge Questionnaire, break out the scale for the first time in 30 days (as if I needed to remind you to do that!), take your measurements, and snap the post-challege photo. Please submit your Pre- & Post-Paleo Challenge Questionnaire so I can complete an analysis of the changes experienced by the 100-plus folks who committed to the challenge. Didn’t make it the full 30 days? That’s okay … submit the paperwork anyway, along with a note as to why you opted out.
Splash Down … Don’t Drown, Part 2. Some people will remain steadfast Paleo eaters post-challenge. The very thought of adding grains & legumes, dairy, startchy veg, sugars and processed foods invokes an involuntary shudder, and perhaps a bit of bile. Some of you will jump off the Paleo wagon entirely and chalk this up to another life experience. Some of you will opt to eat Paleo 80 percent of the time, and reserve 20 percent for planned, mindful variety. There is no right answer for everyone, but you owe it to yourself to take time to make a conscious choice about how you will eat going forward. The only wrong answer is to fall back into a pattern of mindless eating.
Pick One. As tempting as it may be, don’t hit the breakfast or lunch buffet February 14. Many of you have shared with me near miraculous health improvements since eating Paleo. If you load up your plate with grains, legumes, dairy, sugars & processed foods, you’ll never know which foods — if any — trigger aches & pains, belly bloat, sinus congestion, embarrassing gas attacks, constipation, diarrhea, headaches, “brain fog”, mean streaks / mood swings, and more. If you plan to go 80 / 20, pick a food group — grains, legumes or dairy (no, sugar and processed foods are not a food group!) — to add back into your diet. Add one food group per week and pay close attention to how your body — and those around you — react. Did you need to unbutton your pants after eating the plate of pasta? Is your nose stuffy after drinking coffee with cream? Did anyone suggest you were a bit moody? Is your sleep suddenly restless? Do you feel sluggish during training? Many of us have undiagnosed food intolerances. The absence of symptoms during the past 27 days is a good clue that you need to have a measured approach to how you eat going forward.
Without Question. Regardless if you plan to stay hardcore or eat Paleo 80/20, continue to: eat breakfast; fuel your training with appropriately timed pre- and post-WOD food choices; select grassfed beef, free-range poultry, wild caught seafood; shop the perimeter or the grocery store; choose nutrient-dense, dark leafy greens; choose nutritional multi-taskers; read labels; research nutritional information when you eat out; call off ingredients at restaurants; and plan meals with vigor & intent. Overall, continue to be scrupulous about what you put in your body.
No. Never. Nada. Now & Forever. There is no place on your plate going forward for the following foods: Diet sodas, non-nutritive / artificial sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup, foods with added sugars, partially or fully hydrogenated fats & oils, refined grains, processed foods, drive through / fast foods, ground & composite meats (like sausage) made from unknown / factory sources, packaged foods with ingredients you can’t pronounce or have no idea of their purpose, artificial preservatives & colors, glutamates, or any food that makes you feel physically icky, but may fill a temporary emotional need.
Today’s Question: After eating Paleo for the past 30 days, what words / phrases best describe how you feel, and what words / phrase have you most frequently heard from those closest to you?