10 Baby Steps to Help You 'Get Primal'

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Recently by Mark Sisson: A Quick Guide to Bacon

For this month’s 30-day challenge, we realize that everyone is starting from a different place. As much as we learn from our hardcore Grokkers, we welcome Primal newcomers with open arms and eager ears. We want to know their stories, their challenges, and the strategies that finally make it work for them. Some of us are the type to jump in the deep end of the pool and figure it out when we get to the bottom. Others of us dip our toes, scan the ladder placements, and study the grade of floor depth. Different strokes, we say.

Even as we accept that our own Primal journey will be different from the next person’s, it can be a little awkward or discouraging to be the one feeling out the shallow end while others are doing flips and belly flops in the deep side of the pool. We thought a post on baby-stepping, breaking down the transition into small and very manageable steps, might come in handy for many of our readers — newcomers, renewers, or even old-timers who are coaching friends and family in a Primal direction. Kick back and get brainstorming for your next baby step!

Re-make a meal

Not that a single meal doesn’t count for something, but we actually mean a meal category (or maybe snack) each day. Maybe you want to tackle your least Primal serving of the day first (if you’re still stuck in a carb rut at breakfast, say). On the other hand, perhaps you’re more inclined to take on the simplest meal and work your way up. (Morning snack first? Meat and salad for dinner?) Setting a consistent pattern for a meal each day not only gets you on a solid track; it offers the mental boost of daily accomplishment. Furthermore, it can serve as a template for tackling further food overhauls. Remaking one meal a day gets you in the mode of delving into Primal variety, trying new recipes and eating for health rather than habit.

Drop or swap a vice

Perhaps there’s a particular offender, a persevering and pesky element of your diet that will take special time and energy to ditch. We’re not talking here about an occasional indulgence item but a regular player in the lineup. Whether it’s your favorite creamy stout, morning danish or afternoon microwave popcorn fix, you might find it easier to isolate and conquer before expanding the battle. Some readers have shared stories of choosing “better” but not totally Primal alternatives for their old favorites first and then going back to phase out these “lesser evils” once they had the rest of diet more fully Primalized.

Give up a grain at a time

Those vexing little granules that litter the dinner plates of unsuspecting diners everywhere… We’re only half kidding of course. (You know our shtick on this subject.) Sure, not all grains are created equal. Some, like brown rice, don’t seem to do quite the same number on the intestines as others. Yet, at the end of the day they’re still the same insulin and inflammation inciters. As we’ve said time and again, they add little to a healthy diet and generally fill the space of more nutritious fare. Tick them off the list based on preference or prevalence in your diet. Or work your way through the grain chain with more of a mind to gluten, bidding adieu to wheat and its various derivatives first, then continuing onward through the inventory.

Sample a new vegetable (or other Primal ingredient) each week

Out with the old, in with the new as they say. Your Primal conversion shouldn’t be a story of the incredibly shrinking menu. Take a hint from those middle school food science/home ec journals and explore a veggie a week. Remember the color illustrations, origin histories and recipe lists? Of course, adding more than one new item a week is ideal (especially with the best of summer’s bounty). And there’s nothing wrong with mixing it up either with other new-to-you Primal fare like almond butter or less appreciated cuts of meat. Don’t worry if you have to do some less than ideal adaptations at first like hiding the new item in the midst of other ingredients or incorporating favorite dips or sauces. The idea here is to add, not limit. Your taste buds will adapt with time, and you’ll find yourself with less need for the camouflage or accompaniment strategies.

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