The easiest way to change your diet is to change your environment. You can’t eat what’s not around you. If you got transported to Sub-Saharan Africa to live with Maasai, it doesn’t matter if you think you NEED a certain food. You will have dramatically changed your eating habits after a week in this environment. In the same way if you are trying to change an eating habit at home its best to change what you have to eat in your home environment.
Make a commitment to eat real food
Over the years I’ve developed a pretty solid healthy shopping and cooking system that’s made eating real food simple. I’m thinking about it because I just got back from a couple days in Florida and I haven’t been shopping in a while. My fridge is empty of pretty much everything. And my shelves are bare. And it’s a lot easier to eat real foods if that’s all that’s there when I fill my shelves up again.
Start by buying one week of groceries at a time and improve on it each week until you are streamlined and love what you eat. Continue to tweak for optimal health, efficiency and cost. Rinse Repeat.
Start by making a list of what guidelines are solid as far as real/healthy foods go. Realizing that spending a little more money buying quality food now as insurance against the cost of sick days and declining health later is an intelligent tradeoff.
So what are these healthy foods?
Here’s the guide from Mark Sissons book ‘Primal Living.’ From all the reading and research I’ve done it’s one of the best and simplest guides I’ve found.
The Pyramid for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and maximum longevity.
This helps to develop criteria of healthy options.
Herbs, spices and extracts: K, find herbs we think are healthy, probably spices like cumin and anything leafy.
Sensible indulgences: Grab a single bar of 85% organic dark chocolate and a bottle of wine for the week.
Supplements: Omega 3, Vitamin D, an anti-oxidant blend, good multi-vitamin and a probiotic to maintain healthy gut bacteria. Done.
Get a small quantity of ‘Moderation’ foods. I always have 80%+ Cacao chocolate on hand to satisfy my sweet tooth.
Fruits: A couple apples, a couple bags of different frozen berries for smoothies, and a thing of cherries. Perfect. Just enough to satisfy a sweet tooth. Not enough to gorge ourselves on glucose throughout the week.
High fat Dairy: Some aged cheese won’t be too bad – lets add a little of that to the morning omelet and see how we feel. Kerry gold grass fed butter is a must. Put non-salted in your coffee and salted on everything that’s warm including your tongue. You really want to stay away from things like 2% or skim milk.
Starchy Tubers, Quinoa, Wild rice: Stay away from this when not exercising but sense I’m lifting some weights, biking, running and playing hockey throughout the week I’m going to grab some yams and spaghetti squash and sprinkle it with pink Himalayan or Celtic sea salt and soak it in butter before or after a physical activity. Toss um in the cart.
Nuts: Mm mm. How many macadamia nuts can I afford? This many. Cashews? Almonds? What other nuts do I like – add them to the cart. As for nut butter – Peanut butter is bad for you, don’t do it. Almond butter is goooood. I probably eat too much. There is almond butter sold in packets by ‘Justine’ that are absolutely delicious. They have honey, maple syrup, chocolate and even vanilla ones. Not sure if that’s the best thing for you with the added sugar but it’s too delicious to pass up and it’s still a far cry from McDonald’s. A couple of these a week spread on my apples can’t hurt.
Healthy Fats: Kerry gold Grass fed butter. Coconut oil. Domestic First cold pressed olive oil. Check.
Vegetables: What am I going to do to consume the vegetables? I’ll Steam a bunch at once and mix with bacon to eat throughout the week. Add them to the batch of Shepard pie I can eat throughout the week. And get some to grind up in a blender with the frozen berries and almond milk and drink like a smoothie – Lots of Kale. Something cruciferous; Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage. Some ginger and beats. Anything else that catches my eye with dark color that I could blend and consume for nutrition. Shepard’s pie stuff; onion, carrots, garlic, celery? cauliflower, cabbage. And some stuff to steam – Kale, weird long onion looking thing, Spanish, more kale, collard greens, assorted beats.
Meat. Fish. Fowl. Eggs.
Grab 1.5 lbs ground beef and .75 lbs spicy sausage with .75lbs regular sausage for the shepherd’s pie or some other combination of delicious meat. Trying to keep it grass-fed or local when we can. Grab some frozen cold water Alaskan wild caught salmon to toss in the freezer and saute in butter and coconut oil with herbs and water and the lid on. Eat that once each week. Grab a pack of how ever much chicken I think I might put on a chicken salad that week. And buy a couple cartons of Cage free organic eggs. Experiment with different kinds until the ones with the darkest yolks are found. Gonna want some delicious bacon with them eggs. Let’s go grab the stuff from the butcher or make sure to get some that doesn’t have added sugar and looks like the pigs went to a good school, with nice caregivers and got a good education.
How about beverages. Almond milk. Coconut milk. As long as it’s not soy milk. Are delicious and not bad for you. These replace the skim milk rather nicely. Fill the rest of the gap with some other delicious health promoting drinks like Kombucha, tea, or coconut water – enough for about 2 that week. Quench the thirst during the times water just isn’t cutting it.
So now how do I set up my week?
I don’t want to spend a big chunk of time cooking each meal so let’s make sure we have some meal options that I can cook once, last awhile and reheat easily. That night or the next day I’ll try and make a large batch of Paleo Shepard’s pie to eat and save throughout the week. I’ll try and boil however many eggs I think I’ll eat with salads or as a snack throughout the week. Probably around 6.
For breakfast I’ll have 3 eggs and 4 strips of thick juicy bacon. Or ill have an omelet. Or ill skip breakfast and have bullet proofcoffee blended with salt free grass fed butter and some coconut oil and practice burning ketones like the cave men would do.
For lunch I’ll heat up my shepherd’s pie on the stove with some butter and chase it down with chocolate almond milk. I know I could probably find an even healthier option but the combination is too delicious to pass up.
If it’s a day of high activity I might have a green smoothie on the side with added nutrients. Or ill make a yam or spaghetti squash for extra carbohydrates.
If I’ve been inactive I’ll just cook my 3 chicken breasts and add as much of one as I want to my salad saving the rest for later in the week.
Ill snack throughout the day on the nuts and fruit when I’m hungry. For dinner, depending on how hungry I am or what my timeframe is like I’ll sauté shepherd’s pie in coconut oil or steam some vegetables and eat them with butter. Or both. Every now and then after dinner I’ll have a bit of 75-85% cocoa organic chocolate bar and I’ll feel fantastic about all of it.
My weeks just go by this way
Tweaking the minor ingredients as I read more books and learn more information. Adding and taking things away depending on what kind of results I desire and what my current preferences for food are. Every once and awhile Ill slip big and pound some pizza or ice cream and Ill regret it for the next 3 hours to a day and a half and I won’t sleep well that night. Reinforcing the healthy choices and making it easier to stick to life sustainable nutrition in the future. The healthier I eat the easier it becomes to eat healthy and the more I notice the effects when I don’t. The habits reinforce themselves and soon eating healthy becomes automatic.
It helps to cycle a few meals you really enjoy and can easily tweak to add variety. Having a couple choices for breakfast, a few for lunch and some go-toos for dinner will help eating well become automatic. For example:
Like I said. Everyday I eat almost the exact same breakfast. Sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, cooked in coconut oil. Seasoned with Celtic sea salt. With a 3-4 egg omelet, fried eggs or scrambled eggs. Sometimes I’ll add different veggies. Broccoli is a current favorite or zucchini. Sometimes I’ll add add breakfast sausage or bacon.
Knowing exactly what I’m going to eat every morning makes shopping and cooking super easy. My routine is automatic. This meal is continually satisfying with all its minor tweaks and can leave me full till night time even if I skip lunch.
Here is a video showing how I make that omelet, I learned it from a professional: Worlds Best Omelet.
I view these as two in the same. I like to make a large batch of something Sunday that I can heat up thought-out the week with a couple of go too meals for when I want to change it up.
Shepard’s Pie is delicious. You can change the ingredients super easy and experiment with different ratios of meat and vegetables. When I was working out every day, doing crossfit, biking 30+ miles, swimming and running 8 miles a couple times a week I would eat a TON. And many of my calories would come from beef, sausage, bacon, MEAT!
When I’m not able to crank out physical activities as hard it becomes important to fill more and more of my diet with veggies. Shepard’s pie makes it really easy to adjust the ratio. But also adding different kinds of salads helps fill that gap.
Chocolate Chili is another go too meal. Haley and I make a huge batch, toss some in the freezer and eat the rest throughout the week. This is heavy on the meat side so I prefer to balance it with a Spanish salad for dinner or lunch to supplement the high dose of meat from the chilli.
We also make Stuffed Peppers a lot. I cook the meat with zucchini, yellow squash and onion to up the veggie ratio and mix in my favorite organic tomato sauce before stuffing the peppers. Making 6 at a time gives Haley and I 3 days worth of meals. Just reheat for 30 min on 350 then top with a little cheese. (Avoid all dairy when just starting out or if trying to lose weight.)
Another go-to is paleo tacos. Pretty much normal tacos with lettuce for the shell instead of corn or flour tortilla. Pictured here with a side of okra.
I like recipes that are super simple to make and only require a few ingredients. Nothing too complicated. Here is a dish I made up when we had some company over. It was a HIT! Highly recommended. I call it…Paleo Orange Coconut Cajun Chicken. Adjust spice according to taste.
If I had to pick a meal for those special occasions. It would have to be New-york strip, baked sweet potato and a kale salad (recipe here) with olive oil. Breath taking.
Anything off the grill really…
And if you have any Vietnamese restaurants near by I highly recommend pounding vast quantities of PHO. Or Vietnamese beef noodle soup.
Snacks & Mini-Meals
Make sure and have some options on hand for craving or times when you’re getting hungry but are in no position to create a master piece. Quick food that also works good traveling. Boiled eggs are great for the go. Beef jerky is bomb. Just try and avoid the fake additives from brands like jack links. If its main stream its probably full of chemicals, sugar and MSG. This stuff was from a local butcher. Wish I had 1000 pounds of it.
Another thing I try and always have on hand is a good nut mix. I make a huge bag of the stuff and bring it with me anytime I travel. Usually add coconut flakes and some dried berries to sweeten it up.
Here’s a whole plate of experiments when I was trying a Raw Vegan diet. That highly salted peppered avocado is my jam. Kombucha is bomb btw, drink lots. The rest is kale chips, dried onion chips, sesame cracker things, dried mango and a snackroons coconut flake ball.
For an actual shopping list click here.