Nora Gedgaudas

Avoiding and addressing common pitfalls

Avoiding and addressing common pitfalls

Your biggest challenge with making this dietary transition will be getting “over the hump” of disrupting your normal routine and establishing new habits. Sometimes those first few steps can be the toughest. This may also include the added challenge of garnering the support of other people around you. Obviously, if you can get other family members or at least a trusted friend you have on board with you that support will go a long way toward helping you maintain your enthusiasm, momentum and resolve. There are any number of ways you can frame this with others to make it easier or more appealing, including making this out to be a new, exciting adventure, saving money on groceries, making everyone healthier, performing an exciting experiment…whatever works. If you choose to take this road less traveled on your own, however, know that you are still anything but alone. The Paleo Way provides a supportive community and knowledgeable help each and every step of the way. Once others see the changes in you—(mark my words) they’ll be asking to come on board.

Your biggest challenge with making this dietary transition will be getting “over the hump” of disrupting your normal routine and establishing new habits. Sometimes those first few steps can be […]

Overcoming your dependence on things like sugar, junk foods and coffee/caffeine may (in some cases, though not necessarily) initially leave you feeling worse. Change—even when it is a decidedly positive thing can be disruptive and take some getting used to. Your body may even have physiological addictions you never even realized you had. Some people may even undergo flu-like “detox” reactions or physiological withdrawal as the body attempts to clean itself out from many years of accumulated toxic burden and/or overcome its addictions. This can result in things like fatigue and headaches (more common), emotional or cognitive symptoms, to feelings (short term) of queasiness or short-term uncomfortable changes in bowel habits. Be sure to drink plenty of fresh, purified water throughout this time to help dilute and more rapidly/efficiently process accumulated toxic waste. If you are prone to constipation you may want to do a colon cleanse as part of your preparation for dietary change as a way of clearing this important detoxification pathway. You may also want to undergo a more complete 20-30 day detoxification process with the help of a qualified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) or natural health care provider who can customize an approach that is best for you.

As with anything, if you have a medical condition going into this be always sure to discuss any changes you plan to make with your trusted, qualified (and hopefully knowledgeable) health care provider first and be sure to carefully monitor your condition throughout this transition process and ongoing.   Preparation for this change (as just discussed) may be a more important step for you.

You may also wish to do some functional blood chemistry analysis or other functional testing to determine what issues and imbalances may be present that could interfere with optimal progress—and/or to establish a baseline you can re-check later to better determine progress. I particularly recommend this if you run into significant plateaus or unexplained sticking points along the way following the implementation of this dietary change. Other tests I strongly recommend are food sensitivity testing through Cyrex Labs (soon to come to Australia), an ASI (adrenal stress index) to determine your cortisol burden/rhythm health, and/or an expanded GI profile from Metametrix Labs (the results include the DNA identification of any invasive critters you might be harboring so you really know what’s there).

If you are making this transition from being vegetarian or vegan this process may need to be slower and require some initial functional testing to determine which areas may require additional support or healing before embarking on a radical dietary change. At the very least, don’t just make the leap to eating big juicy steaks right away. In order to better prepare your digestive process for the reintroduction of increased complete proteins you may want to start with things like properly prepared bone broths (see our wonderful bone broth recipes) and small amounts of complete protein sources such as fish to ease your transition to more nutrient dense foods.

Quality raw animal and fish proteins may be an uncomfortable stretch for recovering vegetarians or vegans but may also be easier for some to digest, given the presence of what are called “hydrophilic colloids” and enzymes naturally present in raw meat and (safe source) fish that improve the quality and ease of digestion. The USDA claims that meat solidly frozen for a two-week period prior to consumption effectively neutralizes pathogen/parasitic concerns and may be safely consumed raw. Raw egg yolks (not whites) hidden in a smoothie may be a less challenging way to pave the way for increased digestible complete protein consumption for some.

Baby steps.

If you are prone to hypoglycemia or reactive hypoglycemia-related symptoms then you may require certain supplements to support your dietary transition to a healthier reliance on fats for you primary source of fuel. Carefully read my Paleo Way blog post on supplementation and/or the chapter entitled “Taming the Carb Craving Monster” in my book, Primal Body, Primal Mind to learn more about the steps and supplements you may need to take for this. Signs of hypoglycemia and (subclinical) reactive hypoglycemia commonly include mental/physical fatigue, headaches, mood swings, irritability, brain fog, cravings and negative outlook/mood prior to meals.   If this is you, then you probably should give yourself some extra support as outlined in my book to make this easier on yourself (and everyone else around you).

All we can do is see what we get from taking the plunge, then see what else may be needed along the way to make the transition smoother and more complete.

COMMON PITFALLS 

These include things like old habits, holidays, birthdays, office parties, peer pressure, internal rationalizations, denial, loss of momentum, overwhelm, confusion, anything that detracts you from your planned routine (like a trip or vacation), the sense of need to “self-medicate” with “comfort foods” under stress, hitting some plateau to progress and assuming “it just doesn’t work for you” or maybe just forgetting why you ever wanted to make this change in the first place.

Lets briefly touch upon each of these:

  • Old habits, internal rationalizations, denial, forgetting why you ever wanted to make this change in the first place and loss of momentum– I’m lumping these together because they have a similarity between them that tends to respond to the same things. It’s important here that you first read all the articles written for this program, carefully outlining the science behind this dietary approach, together with its “do’s and don’ts”.   My book, Primal Body, Primal Mind is also a well-researched and detailed guide to many of these principles and can help you understand ahead of time what you are doing and why, so the reasons for change are crystal clear to you. If you don’t want to necessarily go back and re-read the whole thing maybe just go back and skim a few chapters and/or blog articles you feel especially resonated with you. Also, you can try listening to a few podcasts on topics especially meaningful to you available on my web site free of charge.       Download them to your mp3 player and listen to these while you are driving or taking walks to better energize your clarity and resolve. Also, don’t forget to twice daily review your clearly established (and written down) goals so that you never take your focus far away from your desired outcome. ALWAYS know where you are going.
  • Peer pressure – this one can be tough for some. No one wants to feel like “the odd one out” or uncomfortably different from those closest to them. This is really understandable but so much depends on how you are framing this to yourself…and to them. The more you look upon this as your own personal, private process of evolution and positive change the better. You might even look at it as your own private mission of setting a quiet new and better example of health that your friends and family will eventually notice and maybe even seek to emulate down the road. Don’t feel you need to validate your own choices by the relative acceptance or agreement of others. Just live your life according to your own quiet truth and the rest will eventually take care of itself.

Better yet–set an example.

I have generally found that others tend to respond well to this. Those friends and family that are prone to being more insecure may feel threatened at first by what feels like some form of separation from them and then pressure or ridicule you accordingly. So much really depends on how this is presented to them. The more nonchalant, non-proselytizing and non-imposing you can be regarding the new dietary changes you are making for yourself usually the better others will respond. Trying to evangelize your newfound approach to health (or anything else you feel strongly about) tends to commonly have a polarizing effect…particularly on family members—who are always the hardest to convince of anything. Don’t push it. Just live your life and make your own personal choices that are right and best for you. When it comes to getting things like gluten out of the house you may need to make the reasons for this more clear by obtaining clear lab results (which tends to be better accepted for its legitimacy) from gold-standard sources such as Cyrex Labs or get them to read my Paleo Way blog article on gluten/grains or chapter on gluten in Primal Body, Primal Mind. There is sufficient referencing in all this to typically satisfy even the most cynical critics. In the end, we really can’t change others and can only truly change ourselves. Showing your own integrity and resolve in this regard can be inspiring to others (especially once the results start to show themselves) and will ultimately help you feel better about yourself than anyone else’s opinion ever could.

  • Overwhelm and/or confusion – Sometimes people try to bite off more than they can chew right away or feel as if everything has to happen all at once right out of the starting gate. Any dietary change is always a process. Be a little bit easy on yourself (but not “overly” easy, if you know what I mean–in other words, be gently disciplined) and just take this one step at a time. Hopefully the vast range of support in this 10-week program can alleviate some of that and make this transitional process easier for you. The trick in taking all this one step at a time is setting small goals you can easily reach every day and keeping your long term goals clearly in mind using the tools you are getting here.       When making dietary choices throughout the day always stop to ask yourself: “Will this food or beverage move me toward my goals or further away?” And: “Will this food/beverage make my health better or worse?” –Note that it is always one of the two—we are always either getting better or worse.       Nothing ever stays the same.
  • Temptation (i.e., birthdays, holidays and office parties) or the sense of need to “self-medicate” with “comfort foods” under stress – the brazen and colorful actress Mae West once said (and/or the similarly brazen and colorful Oscar Wilde) “I can resist everything but temptation.” Amusing as this is, temptation is a force to be reckoned with and not underestimated—or for that matter indulged. Everyone faces this sooner or later and you must have clear contingency plans for this in place and at the ready to be successful in avoiding this common pitfall. The first thing to do here is KNOW YOURSELF. Understand your own personal tendencies and start to pay attention to the games you invariably play with yourself (we all do this to some extent). Notice yourself when you start rationalizing. Recognize your own insecurities or tendencies toward self-sabotage and take gentle action to avert them. Create a plan for these eventualities that will maximize your odds of success and overcoming the obstacle. When it comes to parties, either bring your own snacks and beverages along or eat beforehand at home so you feel less tempted. When it comes to holidays at home plan accordingly and be true to your dietary needs and restrictions. When it comes to holidays spent with family away from home try to select the options that are consistent with your needs and politely avoid those dishes that you know will be problematic for you.       If you aren’t making a big display of this often no one will notice. For instance, at your holiday dinner just quietly have some meat/poultry/fish and vegetables. If someone makes a stink about the fact you didn’t eat any stuffing or have any pie you can either just say you didn’t care to have any or you can say more (briefly as possible) about why and express the hope others there will understand–without sounding overly dramatic or judgmental. My usual thing (only) when confronted is to say “all this looks wonderful but I just don’t eat X, Y or Z anymore and it just wouldn’t be worth the way it would make me feel (i.e., sick or symptomatic) if I did….I hope you understand.” The less judgmental you sound in your explanation toward others and their choices the better they will tend to take it and the more likely they will be to support you. Another option, of course, is to plan ahead with those preparing the main meal and offer to bring a dish or two of your own that is consistent with your special dietary needs. More often than not family and friends will want to be supportive of your best health and success and will be understanding of whatever you need to do toward that end—as long as you aren’t sounding judgmental of them or trying to insist everyone does the same thing you do.

As for the issue of “comfort foods” under stress, it’s good to recognize your personal tendencies and plan ahead by identifying certain healthy snacks you will rely on for such occasions. If in the past you normally reached for a beer you might try reaching for some delicious raw kombucha or coconut kefir instead. If you reached for cheesecake you might try something like whipped coconut cream and fresh berries instead. –You get the idea. Ultimately you may well find you deal with stressors in your life much better and don’t even get the cravings or feel the need to “self-medicate” with junk food/alcohol when the going gets tough. If you are feeling an emotional funk or anxiety state you might try reviewing my chapter (in Primal Body, Primal Mind) on amino acids and see if one or more of those might not help boost your mental state and resilience. Always ask what might be going on with yourself foundationally/biochemically first that you can address (i.e., food sensitivity reactions, blood sugar stuff, neurotransmitter deficiencies, other deficiencies). If you have received shocking or upsetting news or are experiencing a genuinely difficult time where difficult emotions are fully understandable then seek either personal or professional support to get through it. No amount of Hagen Däs or alcohol can possibly substitute for that.

 Whatever you do, though, don’t be like Mae West.

By Nora Gedgaudas

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