One of the biggest worries about going paleo is what you can or cannot eat. There are a number of misconceptions surrounding the paleo diet that have people thinking that the only foods you can eat are meat, fat, and vegetables. Carbs are to be shunned and fruit (a natural sugar) is a monumental no-no.
This couldn’t be further from the truth! Yes, paleo does focus on quality protein, healthy fats, and LOTS of vegetables but fruits are also an important source of nutrients, as well as natural sweeteners (such as honey, agave, and coconut sugar), and nuts and seeds. And believe me when I tell you that the combinations are endless! The key that most of these people miss is moderation. So, they launch their paleo journey, but sadly it has already ended before it began. They went in uneducated and most likely with the wrong mindset. I’m can only guess that they went in thinking that they were already missing out.
It can be hard to give up the thoughts of never again eating crusty French breads, chocolaty brownies, or sinfully sweet desserts. When we call it quits on these old comforting companions, it can be hard. We don’t fully commit, we cheat here and there, and then wonder why the paleo diet is working for us (whether it be for weight loss, increased energy, or feeling better). We never give our bodies the chance to reset and remove all of the harmful toxins from the inflammatory foods we’ve been eating, so we never see results.
But why do we cheat? Because our fear of being deprived makes us feel deprived! So, we eat that bowl of pasta, or grab a muffin with our unsweetened almond milk mocha latte. We have a very emotional bond with food. Feeling stressed? There’s a food for that. Feeling sad? Cookies don’t judge. Feeling happy? Ice cream likes to celebrate. These bonds form neural pathways in the brain’s reward center and it can take time to change those neural pathways.
Another reason we cheat is that we go into the paleo diet with the wrong frame of mind. We see this as just another diet, and the trick to any traditional diet is to allow yourself an occasional cheat day to ward off the binging. Sure, you can do that on the paleo diet, but if you are allowing yourself a cheat day once a week, you are (again) never giving your body the chance to reset and remove all of the harmful toxins. Your brain doesn’t have the opportunity to change those neural pathways formed by the emotional bonds with food. But the problem is that the paleo diet isn’t just another diet. It’s a way of life that has the potential to heal the body, help you lose weight, and increase your energy so that you can lead a healthier life.
To help make your transition easier, here are 9 of my favorite snack ideas that help to curb cravings so that you don’t feel deprived:
1. Banana With Almond Butter
This one is super simple. Bananas are high in fiber and an excellent source of potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, niacin, riboflavin, and B6. Almond butter is high in antioxidants, protein, and fiber. The combination is a powerhouse for energy production and keeping your appetite satisfied.
2. Trail Mix
Who doesn’t love the convenience and taste of trail mix? Perfect for when you’re on the go, it packs healthy fats from nuts with a boost of energy from the natural sugars in the dried fruit. And if you haven’t cut chocolate as part of your paleo diet, you can add some good quality dark chocolate as a little indulgence!
3. Guacamole and Vegetables
When you think of guacamole, you picture corn chips and piles of loaded nachos. But have you ever considered pairing guacamole with carrots, celery, or sliced bell peppers? It is so good! Not only are you getting all the good stuff from the veggies, but you are also getting a dose of healthy fat from the avocado in the guacamole. And guac is so easy to make! Mash an avocado with a few spoons full of pico de gallo and add sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and lime juice to taste. Voila! Guacamole perfect for dipping!
4. Beef Jerky
This one is protein on the go! Perfect for when your energy is a bit low or your macros aren’t quite where they should be….or you’re just feeling a little bit carnivorous. It’s a tasty addition to your snack list. Just be sure to read the ingredient list, because not all jerky is paleo. Many use sugar and soy sauce, among other non-paleo ingredients. But there are a number of paleo brands, such as Caveman and Krave. Or you can make your own paleo jerky with this recipe from The Kitchn.
5. Smoothie Bowl
A smoothie bowl is the best of both worlds! You have a wonderful smoothie base topped with a colorful array of fruits and nuts. And they’re so pretty (just ask Instagram). All you need to do is find yourself one of a thousand different smoothie recipes (if it calls for yogurt, you can use a coconut or almond milk yogurt), and get creative with your toppings. And don’t forget to Instagram it!
6. Energy Bites
I have seen so many versions of energy bites that this one is a little hard to explain. Years ago, I came across energy bites that were loaded with oats and other non-paleo ingredients. They were good, but now I understand that they were also inflammatory. And truthfully, I find the paleo energy bites so much more satisfying! They curb my appetite and satisfy cravings almost instantly. There are many different recipes out there, but it really depends on what you’re looking for from your energy bite (other than energy). I like mine to have a bit of a superfood, anti-inflammatory kick to them. This is a good recipe from Mind, Body, Green. I put two tablespoons of turmeric in with the carob powder. To add to the superfood awesomeness I also added a tablespoon of moringa powder that I had on hand.
7. On the Go
If you don’t have time to create a snack, not all is lost! There are several brands that cater to the paleo diet. I previously mentioned Caveman. They are more than just jerky, with an array of snack bars in their arsenal. There is also LäraBar. Just be sure to read the ingredients, because they aren’t all paleo. Truthfully, you can find paleo snacks at most convenience stores today. There are pork rinds, dried fruit, and nuts, just to name a few items that you can find at any rest stop. And many have fresh food islands where you can find hard boiled eggs and fresh pickles.
Now, I have to be honest that I have not tried the next two ideas….but I am dying to give them a try!
8. Paleo Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies
Who doesn’t love a good cookie? And these look excellent, loaded with carrots, nuts, seeds, and even collagen protein! I can see why they are called a breakfast cookie. I’m sure one cookie will carry you through until your next meal. The full recipe can be found here, at Fit Mittens Kitchen.
9. Sweet Potato Bites With Bacon and Avocado
I’m actually considering turning this one into a breakfast by slicing the sweet potatoes lengthwise and adding a basted egg to each. But I can see how these would make an easy impromptu snack! Healthy carbs from the sweet potato, healthy fat from the avocado, and bacon (it should seriously be its own food group). You can find the recipe here, at Well Plated.
Hopefully this list will help to get you started on your paleo journey. Just take it one bite at a time and don’t be afraid to explore!