« Health & Fitness

30-day Paleo Challenge: Tips Along the Way

by Cassandra Basore

2 weeks in now on my own 30-day Paleo challenge and I’ve found that even though there is NO cheating allowed, there is in fact some wiggle room.

For those unfamiliar with the 30-day Paleo challenge, the program I have been following can be found at whole9life.com under their Whole30 section.  

Basically, the 30-day challenge is 30 days of clean eating (nothing processed at all), drinking a ton of water, and a healthy exercise routine. It may sound easier than it actually is, because almost everywhere you look processed food is available fast and at low cost.

At a glimpse, a 30-day Paleo challenge diets consists of eating quality meat, vegetables, nuts & seeds, some fruit, and tons of water while avoiding ALL sugar, grains, legumes and dairy.  

Back to the wiggle room I mentioned. Even though there is absolutely NO room for sugar in this diet (which is by far the most challenging task), natural sugars you get from fruits, vegetables and in some cases meats is nothing to feel guilty about. Granted too much fruit may overload your system with sugar, but let’s face it eating an apple and an orange as desert is going to do absolutely no harm to your body.  

Here are 5 tips I’ve found so far to be life-saving on my 30-day challenge:

1: Do not be tricked by “No Sugar” labels. This could mean that replacement sugars, such as stevia, have been added to give that sugary taste. In the 30-day challenge, the change in your body happens when you stop the sugar cravings. If you replace sugar with another sweet substance (even though it’s not technically sugar) your body will not stop the cravings.  

2: Drink water when you’re not thirsty. Not only is it hard to take in the amount of daily required water, but sometimes your body doesn’t even feel good after drinking it. I have forced myself to (1) have water constantly available and (2) drink it even when I’m not thirsty.

3: No grains….no grains….NO GRAINS! This easy concept for the gluten-free dieter, but during the 30-day challenge, the “grains” category includes many more foods. Usually foods like brown rice and quinoa are Paleo accepted, but during the challenge, they are unfortunately considered a grain. Something to remember is if it looks like a grain and acts like a grain (even if it’s not) you cannot eat it on the 30-day challenge.  

4: The power of leaves. One of the hardest questions for me taking on even a simple Paleo diet is, “what am I going to eat this on?” Now that summertime is here, the grill seems to constantly fill up with foods that love to be wrapped in a bun. If you’re on the 30-day Paleo challenge leafy greens are a life saver for these foods. Romaine, Iceberg, and Boston lettuce are all fantastic options for rolling up a sausage or even a hamburger (remember to stay away from those over processed sugary condiments though).

5: Prepare and pack your own food. Recently I had to prepare for a camping trip that had me extremely nervous for two reasons. One: I didn’t know if I’d be able to bring Paleo food that wouldn’t perish.  Two: I didn’t want to offend my fellow campmates by declining the s’mores and adult beverages. What I found instead what that with a little bit of preparation, I was able to have almost all of my food premade and keep them safely inside Tupperware containers and also everyone at the campsite was jealous of how different and delicious my food looked.

With only 2 and a half weeks to go, I’m still learning much everyday on my 30-day Paleo challenge, but the best advice I can give so far is: it is totally worth it.