Once you’ve made a decision to start the paleo diet, six months may go by before you find yourself trying to “keep it interesting”. After all, you’re human, and while everyone else admires your discipline, and tells you how great you look, it doesn’t change the fact that you’ll miss the tastes, textures, and smells of all the bad food you use to eat. As one friend put it, “What will I eat at the baseball game? No nachos, dogs, or beer”? True. You’ll be faced with social challenges that push your limits and test your will. You can handle it. Make smart choices. Remember, you’re responsible for what you put in your mouth. I put a 1 year goal out there to be strict paleo before entertaining any modern day conveniences. You’ll never see the true benefits of maintaining a paleo lifestyle until you keep up with it for a long period of time. I saw changes at 6 and 9 months in that I never would have gotten to if I set an initial goal of only 30 or 90 days. Try it and you’ll see. Snack foods seem to be the biggest issue for all of us. Quick, portable food is a lot easier to handle than raw foods that need preparation. That’s why, in our busy lifestyles, we are “forced” to eat crappy food all the time. Once you recognize this, you can take the steps you need to prepare and carry your food properly. I always have a cooler in the car, for example, so keeping grilled chicken or turkey or hard boiled eggs for snacks, when I know I’ll be away from a kitchen for any length of time, is more convenient. Walnuts or almonds make great snacks, too. Limit your dried fruit intake because the sugar content is so high. Best to eat nuts along with any fruit, as a rule. Protein slows your system’s process of dealing with sugar and carbs. It’s important to avoid the insulin spikes caused by high carb intake. Even with all those snack choices, we still need to stimulate ourselves with changes in flavors. There are a few smarter choices you can make when it comes to the convenience of protein bars. Most bars are high in sugar and carbs, which is why we feel them satisfying our hunger as we eat them. But, how we feel 20-40 minutes later is a different story. A bar will make you crash. Here’s what I do when looking for a bar. First off, avoid added sweeteners. There should be no added sugar in your bar. That includes agave syrup, brown rice syrup, etc. Avoid non-paleo ingredients like soy lecithin, peanuts, and cashews, any grains, guar gum, tapioca, etc. Do your research. Chocolate is a personal preference issue. Some paleo dieters avoid it, some don’t. For me, I avoid things that affect my body chemistry. Clearly, chocolate does that, so I minimize it as much as possible. There are a few brands of bars that are consistently better than others. LARA BAR is a brand I like because they have several bars that are only 3 to 6 ingredients, all paleo. Apple Pie, Pecan Pie, Banana Bread, Cherry Pie, Lemon Bar are a lot of options to try. Again, a daily bar is not something I’d recommend. Typically I use them when running distances over 7 miles. Recently, Clif Bar came out with a new line called Kit’s Organic and a few have only paleo ingredients, like Berry Almond, and Apricot Sesame Seeds. They are tasty and offer different flavors and textures than the LARA BAR. One last note, serving sizes are important. Nutritionists say, get use to keeping your snack carb serving size under 15 grams. It’s a lot less stress on your insulin system if you do. If you’re eating protein, that limit can go up to 30 grams of carbs. For most bars, that means eating only half at a time. Wait an hour before eating the other half. You’ll begin to realize that we have been overeating for years and any small steps you can make to change your eating habits for the better, will have a long term impact of your overall health and well being.