Going Primal: 5 Things You Should Know Before Starting The Paleo Diet

by DeeAnna Heavilin

You guys, I really want to lose the baby weight I accumulated from two back-to-back pregnancies in the past two years.

I also really like to eat food. I really like to eat food that's good for me: healthy food.

But I also really like to eat food that's not so good for me, such as homemade pizza and ice cream.

I typically throw in a few glasses of wine to round me out each night.

So, for the most part, I do really well.

I basically never eat out, I shop on the outskirts of the grocery store and I stick to a modified (because I choose to not live without cheese all of the time) Paleo diet.

A lot of people I know are fully committed to this whole Paleo lifestyle, and have no qualms about the limitations it places on their variety of food.

I’m striving to be like those people.

But for now, I’m confessing I don’t always love this lifestyle I'm trying to commit to.

So, if you’re thinking about taking the plunge (or maybe you have already, and can admit it’s not all grain-free sunshine and roses), read on.

Here are five things every Paleo dieter goes through:

1. Coming off processed foods is a lot like coming off crack (at least, this is what I think it would be like).

Your body will actually ache as all the artificial nastiness makes its way out of your system.

This is how Cheetos manufacturers ensure your daily habit continues for the rest of your life.

It’s too painful to stop.

The first 48 to 72 hours without grains and dairy will seem to last forever.

You will be hungry. You will be hangry.

You will wonder why on Earth you’re torturing yourself and those around you, and whether you should just run to Subway for a blood sugar surge.

After about day three of your new, clean-living diet, your body will actually feel glorious. You will be wondering why you didn’t do this sooner.

You’ll promise your already tighter tummy that you will never put that garbage in it again.

2. You will fall off the wagon.

Maybe you got hungry and had no good Paleo-friendly options on hand.

Maybe you went out to eat with your (rude) friends who order potatoes and baked ziti in front of your face.

Whatever the case may be, you will fall off the wagon, probably sooner than you think.

You will walk into a restaurant and — having already researched the menu — feel very confident in your order of a harvest chicken salad without cheese or dressing.

Then, your waiter mentions the special today is a French dip sandwich on a homemade French baguette.

Forty-five minutes and one delicious mistake later, you are off the wagon.

You figure that while you’re off it, you might as well live it up.

About 24 hours later, you will be physically sick because of the binge meals you’ve indulged in.

You will promise your now bloated and achy stomach to never, ever put that garbage in it again.

3. You will have serious food envy (or FOMO).

FOMO (fear of missing out) is never more real than when your (rude) friends continue to eat non-Paleo-friendly food in front of your face.

But you’re wiser now. You won’t fall off the wagon just because your friends make terrible food choices, and are slowly killing their bodies.

Instead, you will force yourself to pretend to enjoy your harvest chicken salad with no cheese or dressing, while silently begging to taste your (rude) friend’s chili cheese fries in your mind.

You’ll leave lunch promising yourself you will find better, more considerate friends very soon.

4. You will become a little self-righteous.

Oh, your best friend is doing Weight Watchers? Wow, sounds challenging. Not.

Your coworker isn’t eating any dairy? Not impressed.

Your dad has stopped eating desserts? Here’s your medal.

You are a full-on caveperson now. You are the most selective of all dieters.

You are sacrificing at least 20 times more than anyone else you know, and dang it if you’re not impressed with yourself.

The only problem?

Most people around you won’t only not understand what this whole Paleo thing is actually about, but they won’t care.

They don’t care that you meal prep for nine hours each Sunday, and that you pack six snacks per day so you don’t fall victim to the snack machines at work.

They really won’t care that you have more energy than a 3-year-old who just devoured a whole pack of Pixy Stix.

You will leave most social events tapping your flat belly, and promising it that those other bellies are just jealous.

5. You will eventually get your head back on straight.

After a while, you will realize that while this whole Paleo lifestyle is totally worth the sacrifice, you will probably fall off the wagon every now and then.

You will probably experience food FOMO every now and then. You will probably come across some non-believers.

But none of that will be a big deal because you’ve finally found something that works for you (most of the time): a diet you can stick to that’s not promising to move mountains, unless you do the work to push them out of the way.

But like everything else, it’s just another part of your life.

It's not your whole life.

You’ll get back to believing food is important, but not as important as experiences and people.

So you’ll reconnect with those (rude) friends who eat baked ziti in front of you.

You’ll congratulate your dad on losing some weight thanks to no longer indulging in a quart of ice cream each night.

You’ll eat a piece of pizza without making yourself physically or mentally sick.

Then, you’ll pat that tummy and promise to keep doing your best to treat it right for all those years to come.

What Paleo confessions do you cavepeople have?