5 Tips For Your First Week Eating Paleo

by Dr. Christopher on August 8, 2011

My apologies …

This guy has no compassion when you are sleeping. Nature does what it wants.

My commitment to the Humble Observer is to write a post every Monday of every week.

I missed last week.  First miss in a year of writing.

Please forgive me.

I’m currently in Hawaii where the roosters don’t care if I’m sleeping, they go cock-a-doodling at 6 A.M. when there is no hint of sun yet.

Seriously rooster, you can’t wait until the sun has risen? 

I appreciate your wake up call, just let me lay in the darkness a little bit longer.

I digress.

Things You Should Know During Your First Week of Paleo

At Guerrilla Fitness: Crossfit Morristown, I’m inspired everyday how people reach new levels of health, fitness, and happiness.

I think I’m healthy, then I see menin their forties lifting faster and heavier than me.

I think I’m happy, then I realize how much seeing all of these people make me smile.  I only hope that I do the same for them.

Feelings of pride come over me as members start sharing their new perspective of health without medicine’s help with their loved ones.

Recently, a male specimen, who doesn’t know how to shut up (but luckily, has the voice of a male Siren), discussed with me his own successes and failures trying to convert his family to eating Paleo and getting off of their many medications.

Here is what I told him to relay to his family.

1.  You need to plan: If you don’t plan your meals, you’re setting yourself up for trouble.

Have health snacks such as fruits, nuts, raw vegetables, or left-overs prepared. 

Know what you will prepare for each meal.

Lack of planning will cause #2 to happen more often than necessary.

2.  You will fall down: Babies fall as they learn to walk.  It’s part of the process.  No parent ever gives up on their child after they’ve fallen once.

Unfortunately, people give up after one fall.

Expect to fall.

It’s not whether you do, it’s how quickly you get back up. 

Here’s what happens. 

You’re eating paleo.  You have been going a week strong and feeling great.  After a long day of work with stress upon stress upon stress, you come home looking for the quickest stimulus of sugar to ease your mind. 

Then, you feel guilty and fall of the wagon completely.  You think to yourself, you failed, it’s over.

No, it’s not. 

It’s ok!  Everybody falls down.  Just get back up and resume where you left off.

Expect the fall and resume the diet the next day.

3.  It will be hard initially and get easier as time goes on:

Normally, people get their energy from carbohydrates.  They also get high off of grains, dairy, and processed foods.

My mom calls my little sisters “The Carb Queens.” 

They eat minimal vegetables or protein.

I told my mom, “If you were 10 years old, why would you eat a vegetable (with no apparent mental effect) when you can get high from a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast, pizza for lunch, and pasta for dinner?”

Evolutionarily speaking, feeling good after eating alot of carbohydrates (which quickly turns to fat for storage purposes so you can survive a lack of food for a longer period of time) or after dairy (with its enormous insulin spike, which again, stores energy for the future) is a smart response for the body.

Your body thinks, I feel good when I eat these foods, so I’m going to eat more of it

Your mind benefits by getting high and release feel good hormones such as dopamine and serotonin.  Your body benefits by being able to survive longer in the face of famine.

The problem is, my little sisters are in no danger of confronting famine.

When people eat paleo, energy comes from fat, not carbohydrates.  Not only that, but you can get high from having a body running on clean fuel with no comedown like that experienced by a kid who runs out of fuel in the form of sugar.

It’s hard initially becuse your body is detoxing off of the grains, dairy, and processed foods. 

Allow your body to learn to run off of fat and it will run much more efficiently.

4.  You need to enjoy the food you eat:

In chiropractic school, I had a friend who grew up on non-Paleo foods and it visibly showed.

I’d ask him what vegetables he liked.

He couldn’t name one unless it was “French fried.”

He wanted to get healthier, so he started preparing random vegetables that people told him were good.

He couldn’t stick to it. 

I intervened and told him that he must enjoy the food he eats!  If he doesn’t, he will just go looking later for something unhealthy that he doesn’t.

In other words, he needs to find out which vegetables and recipes are the tastiest and experiment until he finds staples that he could lean on.

In this way, he could slowly add vegetables and recipes over time and branch out into more and more colors.

I recommended sweet potato fries, a man salad with plenty of protein and fat, baked vegetables with olive oil and spices (sea salt, black pepper, oregano, basil, parsley) baked at 400 degrees F for 45 minutes.

Over time, he started enjoying more and more vegetables and is now, close to a Paleo convert.

5.  Eating paleo will pay off … Big-Time!

I can recall losing ONE person out of hundreds who’ve tried Paleo and never come back to it.

This person seemed to give a half-assed effort from the start and didn’t truly want it. 

Not only that, but she didn’t allow me to help her.

If someone can stick with eating paleo for a month, they will see the results and not ever want to go back.

Know that this paleo stuff works.

I often say “Try it.  Give it one month.  If you don’t like it, go back to eating the way you normally do.” (I say this knowing that she is going to feel amazing if she sticks to it).

And eating paleo doesn’t mean that you can never treat yourself to your old favorites.  You just do it less often, whether it’s once a week or for a special occasion.

When you do fall of the wagon, the crappy feeling of being bloated and the mental hangover will remind you why you are eating paleo in the first place.

Whether it’s losing fat, getting lean, reducing symptoms such as rheumatoid arthitis, gastrointestinal distress, mental lack of clarity, acne, eczema, or optimizing lab markers for disese in your blood, eating paleo will work for the vast majority of people.

Give it a chance to work its magic.

A Request to Help You

As I said, I’ve been thinking about you and feeling guilty for missing a post last week.

I hope that this post helps you introduce paleo into your lifestyle or into the lifestyle of your family and friends.

I’ve also been wondering how you are and how I haven’t asked you how I can help in a long time.

So here I am asking you again.

How can I help you?

What would you like to learn more about?  Exercise?  Crossfit?  Paleodiet?  Stress?  Depression?  Happiness?  Personal growth?

Do you need someone to talk to in an area of your life that you’re having trouble with?

Do you live in North Jersey and need a ride to the airport?

Honestly, if there’s any way I can make your life healthier or happier, please let me know.

Comment below, or email me at cstepiendc (at) gmail (dot) com.

Since the rooster loves me enough to wake me up every morning, I’m in a loving mood.

Love and cock-a-doodle-do,


P.S.  I’ve become good friends with Diane of balancedbites.com.  She is more knowledgeable about Paleo than me, loves bacon, and is a strong advocate for eating sauerkraut everyday.  I couldn’t support her message any stronger than I do now.

Dr. Christopher Stepien is a chiropractor, chronic pain specialist, and A.R.T. provider, and clinic director of the Barefoot Rehabilitation Clinic in Morristown, NJ.  He practices out of Crossfit Morristown.



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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane @ Balanced Bites September 2, 2011 at 3:14 am

Great tips, Chris. Thanks for the nod here as well. You’ve been a fantastic help to me too in helping to unglue some of my pains!

People can check out my blog, live seminars, facebook page, twitter and now the podcast in iTunes for lots more information. See you soon 🙂


Dr. Christopher September 2, 2011 at 8:38 am

I’m happy that you think these are great tips. I was worried that in your eyes, these weren’t good enough.

I’m also happy to help you with the unglueing process.

Yes, see you soon Diane. : )

Judy December 7, 2011 at 6:44 pm

I would like to ask you a question. I am 5’2″ and weigh 150 and I am 51. I love to cook! I have been doing Crossfit and Paleo for a week. I am ready to quit. This morning I went in and we did the “perfect 10” ha ha!! I was only able to do 2 rounds. I left crying. I hate myself for letting me get this way. I should be able to do more! I don’t want to go back, I am so ashamed. What do I do? Loose weight, then Crossfit? Thanks for any advice.

Dr. Christopher December 7, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Hi Judy!!

Hold your horses please Judy!!

First, I am very proud of you for doing crossfit AND paleo for a week. Crossfit isn’t for everyone, and you’re doing it. Not only that, you’re taking on Paleo at the same time. DO YOU REALIZE how amazing that is? That you chose to go after a fitter/healthier you? And you’ve done it for 7 days?! You obviously want it. And honestly, you’re going to have it.

Why “only” 2 rounds? I say “Hell Yes to 2 rounds.” In a month, if you do that workout, it will be 4 rounds. In 2 months, 6 rounds. Is there any reason to be ashamed of 2 rounds? You showed up.

I teach our “Crossfit Lite” program and I witness people who think very lowly of themselves improve day after day, week after week, month after month. All you have to do is show up. Don’t worry about your weight, time, or speed. Just go to class.

AND PLEASE, don’t hate yourself. LOVE yourself for starting now. I promise, I promise, I promise … it will pay off. One day at a time.

No, losing weight and THEN crossfit isn’t an option at this point. You’re in it. And you’re going to come through.

If you want my help, email me (cstepiendc [at] gmail [dot] com) and I will hold you accountable.

Proud of you Judy!

Garcinia Cambogia Formula November 27, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Great blog here! Also your website loads up very fast! What web host are you using?
Can I get your affiliate hyperlink on your host? I wish my web site loaded up as
fast as yours lol
Garcinia Cambogia Formula recently posted..Garcinia Cambogia Formula

Dr. Christopher November 27, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Ha, Hi Garcinia. I use 1and1.com. I don’t have an affiliate link, but it seems to work well.

Kimberly April 21, 2014 at 1:30 pm

Hi Christopher, first, I have to tell you that you, you are a wonderful writer, love your posts! and the post to Judy made me tear up. That was an amazing bout of encourangement and I hope Judy took all of it in and moved forward. 2nd, I found this while looking for additional support. I had been doing Paleo for a couple of months, love how I felt and weight was just melting off! However, I got off track and gained some weight back and feel crappy. SO, I went back to my doctor who started me on this Paleo thing 🙂 and I am back on track, day 1. A lot less arrogant to think “I got this” and looking for support. I really like your post and will take your advice for sure! I love the Man liest Salad!! 🙂 will be making that for certian! Thank you for what you are doing. Super, super helpful and encouraging person!

Dr. Christopher April 21, 2014 at 5:29 pm

Hi Kimberly!

I appreciate your nice comments. I enjoy helping people lift themselves up. It gives me purpose. : )

Kimberly, I fall off the wagon all of the time. It’s ok. I simply have to bring awareness to how horrible I feel, love myself and imagine how I want to be, then take action remembering how I truly want to feel. You can do it too.

If there’s any type of support you need, please let me know. I’m here for you.

With much gratitude to you,


Lynette Marsh April 26, 2014 at 3:38 am

Hello. Just read your blog for the first time and thought how caring it was without being mushy… Can I ask a question. I live in Tenerife, not in America and don’t know of anyone doing paleo. So its very much on my own. I aM 64 and 230lbs. I aaM suffering from arthritis in my lower back and facing having my ankle fused as the doctor says its “destroyed” after a bad break 20 years ago. What I want to ask you is do you think paleo can help me or have I left it too late.

I have made a start, this is only day 3, but feel this could be my last chance to do something to improve my health. Thank you. Lyn

Dr. Christopher April 28, 2014 at 9:05 pm

Hi Lyn,

Happy you commented, happy to help. Wow, Tenerife, I should visit you. Ha.

Doing Paleo can help you overall, especially to lose weight and put less stress on your ankle. There’s a small possibility that it can help your lower back and ankle, although it sounds like you have more “osteoarthritis” from physical stress and not an “inflammatory arthritis” from inflammation.

Regardless, I highly recommend trying Paleo for a month in order to clean your system and see if you can feel healthier and happier.

Let me know how I can help. Chris

Lynette Marsh April 30, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Thank you for your reply. I have just completed the first seven days and already noted a big improvement in my sleep pattern. I do feel rather listless and tired but I aM hoping this will improve over the next week or so. I have also lost a couple of pounds which for me is a good loss. Its not too easy Here in Tenerife it is not easy to obtain special foods such as coconut oil but I aM going to the UKsoon so will stock up.
I don’t feel as if it will be a problem to commit to the first thirty days as I am really enjoying eating this way.

Lynette Marsh April 30, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Sorry pressed wrong button. If you are ever in Tenerife you have an open invitation to a giant salad day here. Thank you again. Best regards Lyn

Dr. Christopher April 30, 2014 at 11:49 pm

Hi Lynette,

Give it time. Trust. If you’re already sleeping better, I expect more good changes to come. After a month or 2, then you can tweak based on what is working and what isn’t. You will add a single food ingredient every 3 days to see how you respond.

Yes, stock up where you can.

Haha, maybe I’m going to plan my trip to you soon? Thank you for the invite! Please let me know how it’s going and I can help you.

Lynette Marsh May 1, 2014 at 3:58 am

Thank you will keep in touch. Lyn

Sonya May 5, 2014 at 10:16 pm

Hi Chris,
I stumbled across your post looking for information on what to expect the first 30 days on Paleo. I love your style of writing and the support you provide to those of us looking to make positive lifestyle changes. With that said, here’s my deal…Prior to beginning Paleo I was having headaches almost every day, zippy energy and my stomach always felt jacked up. The first week on Paleo I had some of the worst headaches of my life but for the most part those are gone although I still get mild headaches at some point in the day. I am now in week 2 and instead of stomach craps, I now have lower abdominal pain. The only way I know to explain it is that it feels like I have just given birth, that tender organ sensation-the don’t do anything strenuous or your insides will fall out feeling. I still don’t have any energy and with these new aches and pains I feel like all I did was switch one set of problems for a totally new set. I will hang in there for the 30 days but it’s so frustrating when you finally decide to something good for yourself only to feel as crappy, some days crappier, than you did before you started!

Dr. Christopher May 6, 2014 at 10:33 am

Hi Sonya,

It sounds like you had some serious issues that you are now fixing. I congratulate you. Were you vegetarian beforehand and did you eat meat? You might not have enough stomach acid if this is the case. Do you notice which foods seem to give you the discomfort? You could be having a reaction to a food or your body could be healing. You could also be consuming too much roughage for now. Stick to cooked veggies if this is the case. Hang in there, let’s see what happens as your body heals.

Shannon September 17, 2014 at 6:13 pm

Hi this is the first site on paleo that is helpful and not critical or harsh, I’ve been paleo now on and off for 2 months. I try to mainly stick to it as a good example to my kids, I have a 14 year old son who is battling 2 types of leakemia, we lived basically in Sydney hospital for the last 12 months having intense treatment, he seems to be going good but the stress I was under made me put on 5-7 kilos , and I know my stress hormone and everyday worry I have for my son keeps me fat. So he is still on chemo for another year and asks about food all the time , I tell him stick to your high fatty good foods and he is also no gluten free so it’s a good start…. Sometimes when we have tests for him etc (which is a lot) I just want to eat crap food after for my coping so I have nuts with me and sweeten them with rice malt syrup and that really ties me over till the mood passes… But thank you we will keep reading together and keep fighting his illness with good healthy paleo Shan x

Dr. Christopher September 21, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Hi Shannon,

So it sounds like you’re human. Give yourself a break . : ) When any of us are stressed, we cope in different ways. The more you can breathe and allow yourself to feel whatever your body or stress wants you to feel, the less you’ll cope through food, drugs, alcohol, sex, etc.

Work on those emotional burdens. The diet will continue getting better as you go deeper. Promise. :


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