Paleo 5-Day Action Plan – Day 3

Day Three: Modifying How You Cook at Home & How to Handle Eating Out   

Your current cookbooks or long-time favorite family recipes are not going to cut it when it comes to this way of eating. It’s time to put them aside and modify your cooking repertoire. You’re also going to have to find a way to handle those times you’ll be dining out or eating at a friend’s (or family member’s) place.

First, let’s talk about modifying your cooking at home. Because Paleo has a limited number of foods you can have, you don’t want to get bored with the same thing over and over. Challenge yourself to find different ways to create the same meal (use different spices, different vegetables, etc.). Also have fun with this and challenge yourself to find new ways to create your own sauces and dressings. Make this a time to experiment with new things. For example, look for an unusual vegetable such as eggplant (or something you’ve never tried before) and try a new recipe with it.

Something really important to think about when cooking at home, now that you’re following the Paleo plan, is to pay attention to labels and read all ingredients. You may be surprised to find that some things you thought would be ok to use really aren’t. For example, if you want to marinate a steak and use a prepackaged or bottled marinade, be sure to read each ingredient. If there’s gluten, sugar, soy or preservatives, stay away from it. Your best bet will be to make all your own sauces, etc. This way you know exactly what you’re getting.

What about eating out or at other people’s houses?

It’s bound to happen – a work related luncheon, a friend’s birthday, or any other occasion that calls for eating out at a restaurant. Or a friend invites you over for dinner or you have regular Sunday dinner with family. Whatever it may be, here are some tips to help you handle these situations.

Your first instinct might be to pass the opportunity up because you’re not sure how you can stick to the Paleo way of eating in these circumstances. But you shouldn’t have to skip social activities (and if it’s something work related, you probably can’t skip it anyway). Instead, it’s just a matter of planning ahead!

If you’ll be dining out, do a little detective work. Check online for the restaurant and see if they have a menu available to look at. Most places do these days, so it’s easy to find a couple options that can be Paleo friendly with a little food swapping. For example, if there’s a salmon option that comes with a vegetable and something like rice, ask for double vegetable and skip the rice. It’s a simple solution!

The key to dining out is planning ahead and knowing before you get there one or two options you can have. This way you won’t be tempted to eat off plan. Also, speak up and ask questions. Your server is there to help you and if they don’t know something they can always ask the chef. So ask those questions! Find out how something is prepared and if it doesn’t fit with the Paleo way of eating, ask if it can be changed and prepared a different way. It never hurts to ask – the worst that can happen is they’ll tell you no.

If you’re heading to a family members or friend’s house for a meal, have an open and honest conversation with them about the way you’re eating. Ask them what they’re preparing and if it’s not something you can eat, let them know you’ll be brining your own food, or ask if they’d like you to bring a dish to pass then you’ll know for certain you’ll have something you can eat. Having this conversation with them may even result in a change of menu on their end and they’ll accommodate you.

Now, let’s move along to the next action item – creating your grocery list (and shopping)!

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