“Simplicity Is The Ultimate Sophistication.” – Leonardo Da Vinci
Simplicity. It seems like an easy enough concept to grasp, right? Who wouldn’t want to minimize decision making, save time and money, be more efficient, and achieve goals in record time? Sounds like a good old fashioned “no-brainer,” if you ask me. If simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, then why do so many “experts” spend so much time over-complicating fitness and nutrition in an attempt to make themselves sound more sophisticated? This overwhelming need to prove who is the smartest person in the room (and by room, I mean internet) has littered the market with an unimaginable amount of conflicting information. For the average person, the task of sorting through this global database of information in an attempt to separate fact from fiction seems utterly impossible.
If you’ve spent any amount of time researching Paleo on your Social Media Networks, just take a few moments to examine all of your “feeds.” Go ahead, I’ll wait…
What did you find? Let me guess, it looked a little something like this:
- An article someone shared on Facebook explaining why Paleo is better than every other diet ever.
- A Tweet about the trendy new “Paleo Superfood.”
- A Pinterest board littered with insane recipes with 20+ organic ingredients and 2 hour prep times
- An Instagram featuring before and after pictures promoting some kind of “Paleo Challenge.”
- Tumblr pages featuring chiseled CrossFit athletes mid “snatch.”
- Countless ads for things like Paleo Granola. “But wait! It’s only 300% more expensive than plain old granola! Now that’s a deal!”
It’s enough to make a Monk want to scream!
People give up on Paleo because everything they read about Paleo is portraying some untouchable lifestyle filled with six-pack-abs and full-blown photoshoots for perfectly plated meals. It’s just not realistic. Paleo “Celebrities” have become akin to celebrities in the entertainment industry. The gap between the lifestyles of Paleo Celebrities and the average person is growing more every day. I see it all the time, Podcasts and Blog posts asking experts what they had for breakfast and receiving an answer along the lines of, “Grass-Fed beef patties made to order by my local butcher, a serving of my homemade organic sauerkraut, free-range eggs from hens I raised on my own 50 acre farm in my backyard, and a side of yucca fries which were boiled then cooked in organic fair trade coconut oil!” Really, dude?! … Really?! What if it’s 4:45 A.M., I just peeled myself out of bed and have to be at the hospital by 5 to start my 16 hour shift training to be an anesthesiologist?! What then, Mr. Fancy Pants?! Would you like to come over and cook me that gourmet breakfast you were talking about?! Didn’t think so.
So what’s the solution? Well, that’s easy… KISS. “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” That’s right, that old worn out acronym from the 60’s still rings true today. Just stop, take a deep breath, and get back to basics. My goal here is to spell out a handful of simple steps you can take to start your journey to a better lifestyle with the help of The Paleo Diet. Let’s get started!
1. Choose Your Favorites:
First things first, you need to know what basics foods are generally regarded as Paleo, no matter who you ask, or what website you visit.Rather than create a new list for you to read, I thought it would be more effective to share some of my favorite Paleo Infographics and a great grocery list:
Paleo Grocery List: http://www.cupcakestocrossfit.com/paleo-101/the-paleo-grocery-list/
Paleo Diet In A Nutshell: http://www.paleodietsuccess.com/paleo-diet-in-a-nutshell-infographic/
Visit the links and read over the information carefully. Use these resources to build your foundation. Select a few foods from each category and add them to your personal grocery list. It should look something like this:
- Spices and Flavors – 5 items
- Fats and Oils – 3 items
- Snacks – 3 items
- Produce – 6 items (3 veggies, 3 fruits)
- Liquids – 1 item
- Meats & Fish – 3 items (2 meats, 1 fish)
- Other – 1 item (eggs… duh)
2. Simplify Your Cooking:
- A Skillet -I recommend a 10.25” skillet
- A Pot – I recommend a 2.5 quart sized pot. Use a lid, if you want to be fancy about it.
- A Spatula – I recommend a heat resistant rubber spatula
- (OPTIONAL) A Slow Cooker -Not necessary, but a great luxury to have when you just want to “set it and forget it.” They’re crazy cheap and a good roast can provide a single person several meals.
So, that’s it. Seriously. Equipped with your grocery list and the tools I’ve listed above, you can make endless combinations of Paleo meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s really that simple, and I can prove it. Here are a couple of my favorite meals, explained in incredible detail:
Breakfast: 4 eggs, 1/2 Avocado, Black Coffee
- Put a bit of coconut oil in a skillet on medium heat. Crack 4 eggs in the skillet. Sprinkle some Tarragon on them. Wait a little bit. Flip them. Wait a little bit. They’re done now.
- Cut an avocado in half. Use your fork to dig out the green stuff and put it on your plate.
- Make some coffee. I use a french press, I think that means I’m rich…
Dinner: 1/2 pound grass-fed ground beef, 1/2 bag frozen broccoli, 1 medium sweet potato (variation of this recipe here)
- Put the ground beef in a skillet. Sprinkle some rosemary on it. Wait a little bit. Move it all around with your spatula until it’s browned and you don’t see any bright red spots. It’s done now.
- Bring an inch or two of water to a boil in your pot. Throw the broccoli in there. Wait a few minutes until it’s a little softer. It’s done now.
- Put the potato in the microwave. Cook it for somewhere between 3:30-5:00 minutes. It’s done once you can cut into it easily with your fork.
I’m not saying you have to make these meals, or even choose the same foods I did, I just want you to understand how easy it can be to create a delicious Paleo meal using only single-ingredient foods.
*Note: I understand a lot of people do not use microwaves for health reasons, I’m simply trying to portray just how simple The Paleo Diet can be. If you don’t like microwaves, use your oven, but be prepared to wait much longer for your baked potato.
3. Stop Counting Calories:
If you’re only eating foods that are on your Paleo grocery list, then you have no reason to count calories. Eat when you’re hungry and your body will naturally take care of the rest. Unless you have a specific medical condition that requires some kind of caloric or macro nutrient restriction, eat as much as you want, you have my permission.
4. KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid!
Choose a few different meals that you love and stick to them! Trust me, there is plenty of variety when eating Paleo. You can even schedule your days if you want. Make Monday chicken day, Tuesday steak day, Wednesday fish day, etc. Don’t be afraid to mix it up and try new things. Have salmon for breakfast and eggs for dinner, have fun with it! The idea is to keep it simple. You’re trying to change your lifestyle, not find fancy Pinterest ways to re-create your favorite crappy foods by making them Paleo. If there’s some kind of special occasion, or you want to impress your significant other, feel free to try a complicated recipe for something like Paleo chocolate lava cake, but when it comes to the daily grind, the simpler the better. Do not overthink this, it really is that simple!