My Problem With the 30 Day Paleo Challenge

I am a fan of the Paleo diet. I think it is an excellent way to reboot your health and lean out. Many of the leaders in the Paleo community promote a 30 day challenge to demonstrate the benefits of the diet. During the 30 Days, the dieter needs to do the following:

  1. Eliminate Grains
  2. Eliminate Dairy
  3. Eliminate Legumes
  4. Eliminate Vegetable Oils
  5. Greatly Reduce Sugar
  6. No Alcohol

That is just the start. Some variations of the 30 Day Challenge go further with food sourcing rules (grass-fed, organic) and exercise requirements. If you can turn on a dime and follow the above list then more power to you. I couldn’t. It took me months of slowly rolling in the concepts before I dialed in my own custom version of Paleo. It worked for me and I never needed to go “all in” to see the benefits.

What I’ve noticed in the Paleo community is that many of the most successful followers have one thing in common. They were former vegetarians. Myself included. Why is that? Vegetarians become very skilled at learning what is in the food they eat. They have experience reading labels. They are more likely to have cooking skills. They’ve already put lots of thought into ordering at restaurants and shopping at grocery stores. When they make the switch to Paleo, all those skills just get aimed in a new direction. Their success rate will be much higher than the individual with no experience following a restrictive diet.


I still eat (sprouted) legumes occasionally. 

The problem with the 30 Day Challenge is that unless you are skilled in following restrictive diets, there is a good chance you’ll find the restrictions too much to even start or you might might fail midway and give up entirely. An alternate approach is to roll in each restriction on your own time table. Not only is this method easier, you will be able to see which food group was causing the most problems. For me it was gluten. Had I tried to give up all grains and dairy at the start, I would have failed and never learned that I’m OK with dairy and to avoid gluten.

Maybe this post is common sense, but it needed to said. This all or nothing extreme mentality isn’t going to work for most people. Plus is it isn’t necessary. Gradually removing toxins from your diet and adding in nutritionally dense food works. The process may be slower, but what is the hurry when you are talking about life changing habits?

1 Comment

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  1. I couldn’t agree with you more! Challenges like this remind me a lot of people who suddenly decide they’re gonna go to the gym 6 days a week. And… 2 weeks later they stopped working out entirely.

    It’s always smarter to take life changes like these one step at a time

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