When I first started eating like a caveman, about a year ago, I crashed and burned in many ways. It tore up my digestive system, my body was way too acidic, I was never hungry yet never satisfied, I had a lack of energy, etc. I eventually gave up and went back to my vegan ways, but I definitely knew that wasn’t the answer.
And then I went back. I started eating Primally again, but did it totally differently. It was as if something “clicked” into place, and my body functioned wonderfully. So, now, I share some of those big mistakes that lead to failure the first time around, along with some of those things done right.
1. Don’t Become a Chicken-a-vore.
One of the most difficult things to swallow when you’re eating pretty much meat-and-vegetables-only is the expense. I can deal with the extra cooking, but the extra-high grocery bill–no way. So, we tried to really concoct ways to save money on the Paleo diet, and, pound-for-pound, your best bet for meat is probably chicken. So, we would have chicken 5 nights a week. The problem? The Polyunsaturated Fatty acid (PUFA) count on chicken is way high; 3 times higher than even conventional beef. You want to limit those.
2. Don’t Go Nuts
When you’re Primal, and you don’t have time to make a meal, but you need something in your stomach, what do you reach for? Nuts! But a few morsels can turn into fists full of the things. The high phytic acid content of virtually all nuts makes then rough on our digestive tract, though. Watch your intake.
3. Don’t Be Dirty
There’s a subset of Primal/Paleo eaters that I would call “dirty.” They think that eating fast food burgers without the bun is perfectly fine. They complain about the expense of grassfed and go for conventional meats most of the time. But quality does make a huge difference. For us, it took a lot of work to figure out the most budget-friendly options. Its about research; you’ve got to invest some time into finding affordable food in your area. Just know that it IS possible. My husband and I are able to do Primal for less than what it cost for us to be vegan.
4. Don’t Become a Meat Freak
Just because it may be the most central and enjoyable part of our Paleo diet, meat can still wreak havoc. Its hard stuff to digest, and, I would make sure your quantities are not excessive. If you are still hungry, add greens, not more meat.
5. Do Green Up
This brings me to my next point, simply put: greens, greens, greens. I serve all my protein on a bed of greens. This means hefty doses of kale with my eggs in the a.m., a huge romaine-based salad for lunch, and broccoli with my meat for dinner. This cuts down on the high acid content of our Paleo food; things just move along better in the digestive tract, and you’ll feel more energy.
6. Do Enlist the help of digestive aids
Whether you are in support of it in the Primal diet or not, this doesn’t just apply to dairy; in general, its a good idea to look at what can be done to improve your digestion. Enzymes before a heavier meal can work wonders. A little diluted apple cider vinegar after a meal can be really soothing. I recommend that everyone, no matter their overall dietary choices, eat fermented foods at least once a day. Buy some probiotic capsules, find kimchi, make sauerkraut, down some kefir–whatever your preferred method–make it a habit.
7. Do Consider fish oil
Taking a high-quality fish oil adjusts your omega-3/6 ratio to be more optimal. This is essential for a healthy inflammation response, which affects everything from joints to skin. Even hormonal imbalances can be corrected by taking fish oil. You could eat a ton of fish, but, between the cost, the overfishing problem, and the mercury scares, you might want to give the supplement a try.