80% paleo. 20% everything else.
The idea is that you can eat paleo and still live life. Most people go on diets and feel “restricted.” Paleo is the opposite – the goal is to expand your life – not limit it.
Every now and then, if you want to go out, hang out with friends, get a drink or have pizza – you can – but make sure it’s only every now & then – not EVERY DAY.
What gets most people into trouble is that the 20% turns into 30% which turns into 40% which turns into 50%, etc. Suddenly, eating paleo & staying healthy is the exception rather than the norm.
That’s not what we want!
In a typical week there are 21 meals. 20% of that is about 4 meals, so on a typical week – you’re aiming for (roughly) 6 days of clean, paleo eating and one day a week that’s flexible.
But like we said – the goal is to allow flexibility while getting results, WITHOUT backsliding or losing the results you worked so hard to get. With that in mind, here are some tips on staying 80/20 paleo without missing out on life.
Have a Plan
The #1 thing you need is a plan.
If you try to go paleo and just “wing it” – you’re in for a rough ride.
The best way to go paleo is to meal plan. Here’s why:
There are 21 meals in a week (give or take). When you try to “wing it” – you give yourself 21 opportunities throughout the week where you have to 1) think about what you’re going to eat 2) get the right food to eat 3) actually make the food) 4) eat the food. 4 different decisions & thought processes you have to go through – every single meal.
That’s 84 total opportunities for you to get off track!!
Even if you have the will power of a saint – given that many opportunities, something will have to give.
However, when you meal plan – at the beginning of the week you take care of:
1) figuring out what you’re going to eat
2) getting the right food
3) making the food
Can you start to see why meal planning is so powerful? Instead of doing all that work every single day, you take care of the first three processes only 1-2 times per week!
That means, your main goal each day is simply EATING THE FOOD YOU’VE ALREADY PREPARED.
That’s HUGE. Not only are you doing 75% less mental & emotional work every meal, but you never run into the lost feeling of “not knowing what you’re going to eat that day.”
That’s why meal planning is a game changer and can be THE thing that keeps you on track with paleo.
Eat Good Food
This might sound obvious, but it’s incredibly necessary.
I got an email one time from a woman who was so tired of eating healthy because “all the recipes she made were bad.”
She told me she had “resigned herself to a lifetime of bad meals.”
That’s a recipe for disaster.
If you HATE what you’re eating, you’re not going to stick to it at all. In fact, you’ll probably give up QUICK.
Find good recipes – we have a TON of them for you here at Ultimate Paleo Guide.
If you want more paleo recipes, there are a so many out there just waiting to be eaten – here are some of our favorites:
Find good recipes and stick to ones you know like and know how to make. This makes life easier AND tastier.
Get 3 Go-To Recipes
Yes, I’m talking about recipes again – because they’re that important.
This is more of a strategy for tackling recipes without feeling like you’re in over your head.
You should definitely experiment with lots of different recipes to see what you like, but over time – you should figure out 3 recipes that are your “go-to” recipes.
Recipes that you:
- know you can make
- know that you like
- know you enjoy creating
The goal of this is that you begin to “master” a few different options in the kitchen.
Not only does this mean that your meals will be better over time, but it’s also going to give you a confidence boost knowing that you can cook and you can eat healthy.
Personally, my go-to recipes and some of my favorites are:
Yours will probably be different, but whatever they end up being, experiment with them, master them and make them your “go-to” meals.
Get a Couple No-Cook Meals
Another big helper is stocking up on ingredients for simple no-cook meals.
These are for when you need to eat something and have it quick WITHOUT cooking.
The idea is to have these things around the house & ready for you when the time comes so you can eat paleo and stay healthy when you’re in a time crunch.
Some of my favorite ideas for this are:
- Hard boiled eggs (boil a dozen at a time and keep ‘em in the fridge).
- Mixed berry bowl (blueberries & raspberries in a bowl)
- Rotisserie chicken (get it at the supermarket & pull it apart)
- Avocado w/ salt
- Carrots / Apples / Celery (add almond butter for a dose of healthy fats – this helps keep your blood sugar stable!)
Whatever your favorites are – get them and make sure you’re stocked & ready for the times when you need to eat healthy without cooking.
Get Outside & Move
We talk a lot about foods, diets and what exactly to eat here at Ultimate Paleo Guide, but one of the best things you can do to live a paleo lifestyle is to make sure you get outside and MOVE.
Go for a walk everyday. Find a park, and walk barefoot in the grass. Get out of the everyday grind and remember to breathe, relax and enjoy life outside.
It helps you slow down, get grounded and enjoy life. Not to mention the actual physical benefits of getting more vitamin D (sunlight), walking, and the dopamine release your body gives off when you exercise and move.
Your body was built to move – so don’t keep it indoors all the time.
The point of 80/20 paleo is that paleo isn’t prison. It’s a way for you to actually LIVE BETTER.
With that in mind, if you’re doing a good job staying paleo 80% of the time, don’t be afraid to have fun and eat something non-paleo now & then.
If your kid is having a birthday, and you want to celebrate – have some cake. If you want to get drinks one time a week – have it, enjoy it and don’t overdo it.
The key is this – if you enjoy a lifestyle, you’ll find yourself doing it more. Paleo is designed to enhance your life, not ruin it. So eat up, eat well and have some fun.
Be sure to check out Paleo Meal Plans for awesome paleo recipes that not only taste great, but are easy to make — stay paleo out there!
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