Ever wanted to know how to transition to a paleo diet? How to change destructive habits and patterns? Or how to tell people to mind their own business when they criticize what you eat? Whether you’re currently a health coach or aspiring to become one, find out what our expert panel of Primal Health Coaches had to say about everything from low-carb flu and self-sabotage to standing your ground in social settings.
Today’s Ask the Coach post is part 1 in a series of 4 posts, so stay tuned for more questions and answers in the coming months.
I’m new to Primal. What’s your advice on how to transition from a Standard American Diet to a primal/paleo diet? Warnings of the low-carb flu have me wary! – Stan R.
Jackie C.: Instead of looking at (and possibly lamenting over) adding what may appear to be new and different foods (and food habits) to your diet, keep things simple, and focus on the specific food choices you can begin to eliminate. A solid first step would be to clear your pantry of processed, packaged foods and see what you’re left with. Your focus will the probably shift to having a look at what’s in the fridge. Chances are, there are several primal staples to be found there like eggs, salad greens, bacon, and butter. That’s right—bacon and butter. Take things step by step, and you may find that your transition from SAD will be easier than you anticipate.
Rachel P.: This is definitely something that can be done transitionally, as cold-turkey can be too overwhelming for someone new to the primal/Paleo diet! Some clients, however may choose to go all-in, and that’s perfectly fine too! Eliminating grains is often what takes some time getting used to, as we are such a grain-based society.
Monica L: The low-carb flu is a little ways off from taking the first steps toward primal eating. I would begin by eliminating the worst offenders—seed oils, processed foods, and sugary drinks. Then I would begin to eliminate grains. Once you begin to lower your carb intake, begin to incorporate more FAT. And eat until you are full. The low-carb flu may hit, but it’s a short, small price to pay for the long-term health and wellness you will experience.
Summer: Some people do better with a slow transition, pulling one thing out of their diet at a time (like starting this week, no bread is going in the grocery cart, and starting next week, no milk, etc.). However, I prefer going all in from the beginning. I feel like this is the best way to truly feel the benefits sooner. If you have trouble with low-carb flu symptoms there are many remedies to help, like ensuring you have enough quality salt in your diet.
How do you help people get past their inner voices that tell them, “Life is short. Eat the delicious food?” Is it worth paying the money to work with a coach when I’m worried I’ll just self-sabotage my efforts? – Dena H.
Nanette M.: Mindset work is first priority. My goal is to alter your inner voice to say, “Life is short, eat delicious, nutrient dense, great-for-you food.” You may have weak moments when you eat foods that aren’t good for you. Typically what I see is people making the connection that eating that way no longer makes them feel good, and the behavior modification happens naturally.
Rachel: Working with a health coach doesn’t mean that your days of eating delicious food are over. In fact, many people find that adopting a primal/Paleo lifestyle opens up a whole new world of food that they never knew existed! It takes a little time and practice, but you can Paleo-fy many foods. It’s definitely a way to let your creativity run wild, too.
Tina V.: You do not have to sacrifice delicious for healthy. Since going Primal, I’ve “discovered” all sorts of good, tasty food! Beets! Who knew?! Plus, eating healthy may prolong your life, so really, it may not be as short as it once could have been. As for hiring a coach, if you are looking for extra guidance or deeper expertise, I’d say go for it! I, myself have a health coach who’s helping me get leaner. Even though I’ve been trained extensively in this Primal lifestyle, he’s been instrumental in sharing strategies I may not have thought to try. Plus, it’s great to have a cheerleader on your side, especially when the world is telling you that “life is short; eat the delicious food!”.
Jackie: First of all, volumes of research suggest that life doesn’t actually have to be all that short. Making ancestrally-appropriate food choices is a proven epigenetic influencer that can extend not just the length, but the quality of your life. In terms of that delicious-food factor, have you taken the time to browse through one or two of any number of paleo-centric cookbooks? There are hundreds–if not thousands–of tempting and tasty recipes to try. At the end of the day, what have you got to lose by giving it a shot? If your overall satisfaction of food doesn’t skyrocket after a few weeks of “primal” eating, you can always go back to hot dogs and donuts.
Linda B.: Speaking from experience, I can guarantee that you will be eating delicious food, it may be different foods than you ate before, and you will eliminate foods you loved and you will miss them initially, but after a while you won’t miss them and when you do eat them they won’t be as tasty as you remembered them to be, I guarantee it! If you are committed to the outcome and work with a Primal Health Coach during the transition, you will be successful.
Summer: This is a great debate! YOLO, right? It seems to me that if you only live once, shouldn’t you try to make it the most pleasurable, longest possible, highest quality? If the food you are eating is going to make your life shorter, or even make you feel bloated, irritated, tired … then what’s the point. Shouldn’t food give us energy, make us feel great, and sustain us for many many years? AND you’ll find that Primal food options are so delicious too.
I have a hard time expressing and justifying my “odd” Primal diet and behaviors to the uninitiated. How do you explain your dietary choices and exercise habits to friends, family, and coworkers? – Dan E.
Linda: No need to explain! The truth is no one is really paying attention to what you eat, if you don’t say anything they probably won’t notice. Bring a healthy lunch, if eating out size up the menu and order something that fits your “new Plan” as best you can. Everyone else is busy eating or figuring out what to order—they won’t even notice. If you have a serious health problem that requires that you eliminate something a 100%, like gluten or dairy, then tell them that, and most likely they’ll be understanding. After you become comfortable with your choices and you begin to experience improved health, you’ll be happy to share what you’ve learned.
Monica: It’s simple: “I eat this way because it makes me feel good.” I don’t eat this because it doesn’t make me feel good.” “I move this way because it helps me reach my goals.” “I’m not asking you why you eat the way you do.” “I’m doing an experiment to see how this exercise or diet or ___________ affects my sleep, weight or ______________.”
Nanette: I don’t. I eat what I eat. I simply say “no thank you” or “I don’t care for it”. This has really helped my kids, too. Nobody asks questions when you decline. It is when you say “I can’t” that questions enter. I never get exercise questions. I move, I’m active. No questions there.
Rachel: A good way to deal with the challenges that can come along with adopting a healthier diet and lifestyle is to be very upfront about your goals. Letting friends and family know that eating a SAD is no longer making you feel well, and you need a change. Often, the support can come later on, especially if everyone sees how well you’re doing with your new lifestyle habits!
I’m interested in becoming a health coach myself. What prompted you to make the leap and what was your experience with the Primal Health Coach Institute course? – Sabrina H.
Rachel: Like many coaches, I went through my own health issues of hypothyroidism and weight gain, and I decided it no longer served me. I found Paleo, and then found out that there were so many others out there just like me who wanted to share their experiences and help others who were in the same spot. Once I found out PHCI existed, I thought hard about it – level of difficulty, the cost, etc. I was also so tired of my job, that I knew I needed a change, and once I spoke to Laura R., I knew I was ready.
Nanette: I was a self trained health fanatic; classes, webinars, etc… When I came across the Primal Health Coach Institute, it was a no-brainer for me. I wanted a certification that aligned with my beliefs. This was it. The course was more difficult than I expected, which I am happy about. I was looking for a program that maintains the quality of the coaches.
Monica: I began the course when it was a Primal Expert Certification. I just wanted to learn MORE and be well educated. During the process it became a coaching course. I had no intentions of coaching, but it began to be so easy to incorporate as my passion for Primal living spewed out of me. I would say take the course for your OWN benefit and see where it leads you!
Tina : I knew that even if I never used my training as a paid health coach, I’d have deeper knowledge of the *why* of this way of living. I’m a questioner, and this course answered my questions. Also, I am wanting to transition into a different career, and this was step one in a multi-step process for achieving that dream. Already having an advanced degree, I thought the course was comparable to a graduate class. It is very well put together.
Linda: After following the Primal/Paleo way of eating and exercising for several years, I came to understand how many of today’s “health” problems were primarily caused by diet and lifestyle, only people don’t know how to unravel the onslaught of misinformation coming at them from all directions. I felt called to help people understand this information and work with them to create a customized plan that works for them.
Summer: The Primal Health Coach Institute course really makes you feel ready to coach in a fairly short amount of time. I want to become a health coach full-time so I can be my own boss and help people achieve their goals… you know… be the change you want to see in the world.