It can be easy to get into a food rut with your meal ideas when you’re into “eating healthy” or you’ve decided to “go paleo,” (or “vegan,” or “vegetarian,” etc.).
A common roadblock many folks who have adopted a paleo, clean eating or other type of healthy diet, run into is eventually never wanting to see another piece of broccoli (or egg, or chicken breast, or green smoothie) again.
Can you relate?
After finding a new favorite meal idea or food you love, these foods easily become a staple, until…one day…you can’t take it anymore.
You’re bored with your same ol’ banana paleo muffins. Can’t choke down another sweet potato. Or you’re so over salmon and broccoli.
So what do you do? You find another favorite new meal idea or another food you love, and eventually start eating that instead…everyday, until…you’re completely over that food again too.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
HUMANS ARE CREATURES OF HABIT
I get it. I fall into food ruts too—ALL the time.
While we KNOW intellectually that “variety” is good for us, it can be easy to fall into the same ol’ repeat patterns of healthy foods that initially tickle your tastebuds.
Chances are, if you’re a creature of habit with your meal ideas or paleo foods you eat now, you may have a history.
Growing up, I ate the exact same way—tending to eat the same things all the time.
During 2nd grade, I was all about Pop-Tarts (Strawberry Frosted ones of course) every day for breakfast, a turkey and cheese Lunchable for lunch, and popcorn with a homemade milkshake every day after school.
Then in the 3rd grade, I was on to Frosted Mini Wheats and a banana for breakfast, a turkey and cheese sandwich with Doritos for lunch, and apple and Peter Pan peanut butter for a snack.
By the 4th grade, I had more refined tastes, which included Yoplait yogurt and a granola bar for breakfast, a pita stuffed with turkey and pretzel sticks for lunch, and baby carrots after school.
Fast forward to adult hood, and no matter what season of life I was in, my same food choices at my different meals most days provided me a sense of stability, peace and control. Something I could count on.
Humans are creatures of habit.
Biologically, our brains are wired to NOT like change. This dates back to our ancestry, when change meant “threat.”
A change in weather—such as a storm or season—meant a change in the living conditions. Needing shelter, warmth or different foods from the old standbys that were no longer “in season.”
A change in safety—such as the threat of a bear, lion or other predator—meant kicking into high gear to run for their lives.
And a change in scenery—moving along the open plains—meant adapting to a new environment, new types of foods and new rhythms of life.
Change is uncomfortable, and above all our neurobiology desires routine and comfort at the end of the day.
WHY MEAL & FOOD VARIETY IS NECESSARY
Beyond counting calories or getting in a balance of “macros” (carbs, fats and proteins), DIFFERENT foods contain completely different profiles and potencies of ALL the essential nutrients our bodies need—like nature’s multi-vitamin.
For instance, oranges and spinach pack a power punch of Vitamin C to boost immunity. Whereas bananas boast potassium fo cardiac health and pre-biotic fiber for healthy gut bacteria.
Chicken contains phosphorus (strong bones and teeth), selenium (immune function), essential and some B-vitamins (necessary for energy, metabolic health and brain function), but it pales in comparison to organ meats and wild caught fish—the powerhouse mega sources of B-Vitamins.
When we eat the same things day in and day out (even healthy things), we certainly can consume some essential vitamins and minerals, but end up missing out on others, and consequently, suffer side effects because of it.
Signs of “imbalance” in the body—from brittle nails and hair, to suppressed immune function, constipation, frequent bloating, skin breakouts, low energy, anxiety, and beyond—can all be signs of an “underlying condition” (such as “adrenal fatigue,” or a “thyroid issue” or “SIBO” or “leaky gut”), but these can ALSO simply be signs that you are NOT eating enough variety in nutrients.
10 SIGNS OF NUTRIENT DEFICIENCIES IN THE BODY
Common signs and symptoms, and the nutrients you may need include:
White Spots on Nails
Possible Nutrient Deficiency: Magnesium, Vitamin C, B-Vitamins, Zinc
Possible Nutrient Deficiency: Zinc, HCL (Stomach Acid), Glutamine
Possible Nutrient Deficiency: Zinc
“Slow Metabolism” & Inflammation (feeling “puffy”)
Possible Nutrient Deficiency: Zinc, Glutathione, Vitamin B-12
Possible Nutrient Deficiency: Vitamin K2, Vitamin A, Zinc, Vitamin C, Omega-3 Fatty Acids; *Also gut “issues” like bacterial overgrowth, or leaky gut), Copper-Zinc Imbalance (excess copper and zinc deficiency
Possible Nutrient Deficiency: Amino Acids (Proteins) & B-Vitamins, *Also gut “issue” like bacterial overgrowth, or leaky gut
Possible Nutrient Deficiency: Glutathione, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Vitamin D, Gut dysfunction (low stomach acid, bacterial overgrowth, etc.) preventing absorption of nutrients; See “Gut Healing Foods”
“Adrenal Fatigue” & Stress
Possible Nutrient Deficiency: Vitamin C
Low Energy & Poor Workout Recovery
Possible Nutrient Deficiency: Iron, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D,
Seasonal Cold & Flu Symptoms
Possible Nutrient Deficiency: Iron, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Copper-Zinc Imbalance (excess copper and zinc deficiency)
Thyroid Imbalance (Unwanted Weight Gain, Fatigue, “Slow Metabolism,” Easily Cold)
Possible Nutrient Deficiency: Iodine, Selenium, Glutathione
Wrinkles & Cellulite
Possible Nutrient Deficiency: Vitamin K2, Biotin, Vitamin A, Collagen (Protein), Vitamin C
Possible Nutrient Deficiency: Silica, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Vitamin A
Possible Nutrient Deficiency: Vitamin E, Vitamin B5
Difficulty Concentrating, ADD/ADHD
Possible Nutrient Deficiency: Vitamin B12, Copper-Zinc Imbalance (excess copper and zinc deficiency
Possible Nutrient Deficiency: Vitamin K2, Water (clean, filtered water)
“Weak Bones” (Osteoporosis, Stress Fractures)
Possible Nutrient Deficiency: Vitamins A, D, K2 & Magnesium (Calcium “Co-Factors”), Calcium (in foods only, not supplements)
SUPER FOOD (VARIETY) CHEAT SHEET
VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE and if you’re into a “real food” based diet, here are some essentials to check in (with yourself) to see if you really are eating the varied abundance of nutrients your body needs to be healthy. Here are some of the best foods for the nutrients your body needs!
Biotin Foods: Egg yolks, liver, Swiss chard, romaine lettuce, almonds, walnuts
Calcium Foods: Grass-fed Full-Fat Fermented Dairy (yogurt, cheese), Spinach, Broccoli, Raw Almonds/Almond Butter
Coppe Foodsr: Clam, Liver, Oysters, Crab, Ham, Cashews, Octopus, Chestnuts, White Fish
Folate Foods: Pastured/Organic Liver, Dark Leafy Greens, Soaked Legumes & Lentils
Glutathione Foods: Grass-fed dairy, especially raw dairy, fresh raw fruits and vegetables, and organic meats, (Supplementation is also recommended)
Gut Healing Foods: Fermented Foods, Bone Broth, Pre-biotic Fibers (Jerusalem artichoke, onions, garlic, green tipped bananas, cooked and cooled potatoes and sweet potatoes), Avoid inflammatory foods (Eggs, nightshade vegetables, grains, beans, dairy—at least for a trial period), Soil Based Probiotics
HCL (Hydrochloric Acid) Foods: Apple Cider Vinegar
Iron Foods: Clams, oysters, beef and chicken liver, beef, and lamb (organic, pastured, grass-fed), (Bonus: Take 250 mg of vitamin C (as ascorbic acid) and 200 to 1,200 mg of betaine hydrochloric acid (HCl) with meals AND consume substances that impair iron absorption—including tea, coffee, dairy products, supplemental fiber, and supplemental calcium and zinc—between meals)
Iodine Foods: Iodized Sea Salt, Kelp Granules, Seaweed, Nori, Cod, Prunes, Shrimp, Pastured Eggs
Magnesium Foods: Dark Leafy Greens (spinach, chard), Dark Chocolate (80% or greater), Pumpkin Seeds, Raw Soaked Almonds, Bananas, Legumes
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Wild Caught Fish & Seafood, Fermented Cod Liver Oil
Vitamin B-5 Foods: Organ meats like liver and kidney, egg yolks, and broccoli. It’s also in fish, shellfish, dairy products, chicken, mushrooms, avocado, & sweet potatoes
Vitamin B-12 Foods: Clams, liver (organ meats), Mackerel, Herring, Oyster, Sardines, Salmon, SOME Muscle Meats (chicken, beef, turkey, bison, etc.)
Note: Plant foods do not contain true B12, but rather contain cobamides that block absorption of B12. This is why vegetarians and vegans must supplement to obtain adequate B12
Bonus: Take “HCL” or Apple Cider Vinegar to boost stomach acid and help you digest your food
Vitamin A Foods: Cod Liver Oil, Liver, Pastured Egg Yolks, Orange & Yellow Vegetables (Carrots, Peppers, Sweet Potato, Pumpkin, Squash, Cantaloupe, Mango, Apricots), Broccoli
Vitamin C Foods: Red peppers, Orange, Kiwi, Broccoli, Strawberries, Grapefruit
Vitamin D Foods: Cod Liver Oil, Herring, Fatty Bluefin Tuna, Duck Eggs & Pastured Chicken Eggs, Rainbow Trout, Eel, Mackerel, Sockeye Salmon, Canned Sardines, Chicken Eggs, Liver, Pastured Pork
PLUS: 15-30 minutes Sun Exposure
Bonus: Consume Vitamin D Foods & Cod Liver Oil with other Healthy Fats at meal time for maximum absorption
Vitamin E Foods: Spinach, Turnip Greens, Chard, Sunflower Seeds, Almonds, Bell peppers, Asparagus, Collards, Kale, Broccoli, Olive and avocado oil
Vitamin K2 Foods: Full-fat, Grass-fed Dairy, Organ meats, Liver, Ghee, Grass-fed butter, Pastured eggs, Sauerkraut, Natto, Kimchi, Kefir, Kombucha
Selenium Foods: Wild caught Sardines, Tuna, Halibut, Ham, Grass-fed Beef, Turkey, Chicken, Pastured Eggs, Spinach, Brazil Nuts
Silica Foods: Leeks, green beans, garbanzo beans, strawberries, cucumber, mango, celery, asparagus, rhubarb
Sulfur Foods: Egg yolks, Meat, Poultry, Fish, Garlic, Onion, Brussels sprouts, Asparagus, Kale, Broccoli, Cabbage, Sauerkraut
Zinc Foods: Oysters, Liver, Grass-fed Beef, Lamb, Bison, Endive, Mushrooms (Crimini), Broccoli Rabe,
21 EASY & DELICIOUS PALEO MEAL IDEAS (AIP Friendly)
Variety of nutrients? Check.
If you’re so over eggs and bacon, or chicken and broccoli, here are 21 easy and delicious paleo inspired meal ideas to mix things up (with less than 7 ingredients and AIP-friendly too!)
Paleo Breakfast Meal Ideas
- Chicken Apple Sausage + Sauteed Greens & Mushrooms in Ghee
- Salmon Cakes with Avocado + Garlic Lemon Asparagus
- “Chocolate Smoothie”
(Spinach, coconut milk, 1/2 avocado, 1/2 green tipped banana, 1-2 tbsp. carob powder & Collagen Protein— or Equip Foods Chocolate Protein Powder, 1/2 cup chunky ice cubes)
- Cinnamon Fried Plantains with Ground Turkey & Greens
- Banana Muffins + Organic Turkey Bacon
- Homemade Coconut Yogurt + Berries, Cacao Nibs, Coconut Flakes (or nuts) & Cinnamon
- Bone Broth https://www.ossogoodbones.com + Roasted Veggies (of Choice) + Pulled Chicken (from Rotisserie) + 1 tbsp. Grass-fed Ghee or Butter
Paleo Lunch Meal Ideas
- Chicken “Salad” (chicken with paleo mayo ) wrapped in Collard Green Leaves + Roasted Carrot Fries
- Turkey & Ham Rollups + Apple with Sunbutter + Zucchini “Chips” https://sweetcsdesigns.com/easy-baked-zucchini-chips/
- Coconut Flour Tortilla + Ground Taco Meat + Guacamole + Sauerkraut
- Mixed Greens + Canned Wild Tuna + Kalmata Olives + Paleo Cesar Dressing + Sun-dried Tomatoes (optional)
- Stuffed Sweet Potato with Rotisserie Chicken & Sauteed Spinach + Coconut Butter
- Grass-fed Burger Patty + Avocado wrapped in Lettuce Wrap + Sweet Potato “Chips”
- Canned Wild Salmon + Diced Butternut Squash “Hash” with Power Greens in Ghee or Coconut Oil
Paleo Dinner Ideas
- Spaghetti Squash Chicken Casserole
- Pesto Chicken “Pizza” + Side Spinach Salad with Oil & Vinegar
- Herb Crusted Salmon + Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Turkey Bacon
- Melt-in-Your-Mouth Pot Roast + Cauliflower Mash + Sautéed Greens with Ghee
- Fish Tacos with Avocado + Sauerkraut
- Anti-Inflammatory Turkey “Meatballs” with Honey Mustard Dip + Rainbow Roasted Carrots + Asparagus
- Crispy Chicken Thighs + White Sweet Potato + Rainbow Chard (sauteed with Sea Salt, Pepper & Coconut Oil)