When you have a family you have to transition to a real food diet gradually. This is actually a good thing because you’re more likely to stick to it in the long term than if you go ‘cold turkey’. Just start from where you are and take things one step at a time. Here’s how we got started:
- going gluten-free, but also gluten-free free. This is a no-brainer as my husband and youngest daughter are both gluten intolerant. We only buy gluten-free flour, bread, cereal and pasta nowadays. And we are working on cutting back on commercial gluten-free foods as well, and replacing them with more nutrient dense, real-food alternatives like meat, fish, eggs, vegetables and fruit.
- (almost) no dairy. Our youngest daughter is intolerant to cow’s milk protein so I no longer use any cow’s milk in cooking. We do still buy cheese snacks and yogurts for my 4 year-old and husband, plus ice cream now it’s summer. Dairy is a grey area on the paleo diet, I figure it’s still nutritious and they seems to tolerate it ok. Honestly, I think I will start eating dairy again when I stop feeding our youngest (I really miss butter and cheese!), although much less than I used to as I feel better without it.
- reducing processed food and refined sugar. The two steps above help with this a lot. I try not to buy sugary snacks to have around the house unless it’s for a special occasion, but we do tend to buy ‘treats’ when we go out. My personal opinion on this is that consuming less sugar is better, but if you have none at all, then you will feel deprived. I remember when I was younger not being allowed sweets at home, and then when I went to birthday parties I would eat so much that I would throw up later at home. I’m trying to find the right balance for my girls. I’m gradually finding swaps and alternatives we like, such as fruit snacks, nuts, dried fruit, and bliss balls.
- trying out paleo baking. This is tricky as a lot of recipes are from the USA and I haven’t been able to find the ingredients over here. It’s also expensive to buy all the ingredients and takes time sourcing them. We’ve also found that my youngest one can’t have eggs so that limits us further.
- adding new things to our diet:
- liver pate
- more fish
- sweet potato hash
- lots of salad
- bone broth
- water kefir (this was a big FAIL for me! I just can’t get to grips with it)
- dairy free smoothies
- chia seeds
- going organic, gradually – I prioritise organic meat and stock up my freezer when it’s on offer, and buy cheaper cuts of meat.
- building a 4-week rolling meal plan, which includes some of everybody’s favourites so it’s inevitably a compromise, but it saves me from that 5pm ‘what’s for dinner?’ panic.
What were your first steps on your real food journey?