About how long did it take for any of you to go paleo? How many cheats, days or weeks, did you have before knowing this is a permanent lifestyle change for you?
I think the "complete conversion" is actually a misnomer. I've been Paleo for more than a year, and it's still an ongoing process, mostly because I had to continue to educate myself.
At first I ditched all grains, legumes, sugar, and dairy, but I continued to use canola oil. Then I ditched canola oil but continued to eat grain-fed meat. Then I switched to grass-fed meat but I'm still learning to cook organ meats. Perhaps in the future, I'll learn to hunt and butcher my own meat. Or recognize edible/poisonous foods to forage in the wild.
But, if you are looking for some sort of timeline:
It took me about three days, and I was sold. Excessive hunger went away (previously had to eat every 2-3 hours), I had greater energy and improved mood, my dental plaque completely disappeared in 2 weeks, and it just got better from there.
I had chronic, debilitating foot pain for about 6 years, and that disappeared in 6 months.
Cheat days were every week or two in the beginning, with ice cream and pizza being my favorite cheats. Now, I don't crave pizza at all. It took about 6-8 months for that to happen, and I was quite surprised by it.
I think what made it easier for me was that I didn't start Paleo as a temporary "diet" to lose weight. I started it because I was interested in health and athletic performance, and I was invested in making permanent lifestyle changes from the outset. I think I see a lot of people struggle with sticking to it because they start out thinking of it as a diet, and then they have a hard time making the conceptual shift to thinking about it as a permanent lifestyle change.
Once I noticed I stopped getting migraines, I knew it was permanent.
Here is a tip: Instead of waiting till you run out of "bread, tortillas, pancake mix, flour, beans and peanut butter" -- just throw them all out in one fell swoop.
Here is what it was like for me: Stage 1: Trying to include better foods in my diet and getting rid of the really bad things. Still eating some cheat meals, but not eating candy bars or soda anymore. Trying to eat healthy foods that weren't part of my diet before like fish or kale.
Stage 2: Noticing positive changes, but still eating frequent cheat meals. Learning how to cook so I can avoid non-paleo restaurant ingredients.
Stage 3: Mostly paleo, except for social occasions and eating out. But this leads to be noticing that certain non-paleo foods really do have negative physiological effects because I feel terrible the day after these social occasions.
Stage 4: Learning to say no to foods that really make me sick. Cheat meals get better- can contain things that aren't paleo or that good for me, but don't make me feel sick.
....maybe a stage 5?
Stage 5: Total paleo?
Two weeks saw results(non weight) and felt great ate some sugary bread as a reward and crashed...Hard emptied my cupboards of poison(Donated to foodbank) and went "all in" , I've only made safe pseudofood to quell any odd craving, such as coconut blueberry muffins/pancakes/bread... Coconut flour is refined, but at least it's not poisonous to me, and other than feeling like I ate a brick, I don't crash or feel bad after
honestly once I tried Grass Fed Steak the first time I knew I wouldn't go back to poison meat. I've always loved Salmon and Seafood now the trick is finding quality eggs, the Walmart 350mg O3 eggs taste better than the cheaper eggs but I'm sure there are healthier eggs for me
getting your family on board is 10x more important than being on board yourself
now it's easy, the old cravings are literally gone when I get hungry and dream of food, it's not bread or garbage chips , it's Meat!
Three days of research to make the decision.
One month paleo test with no cheats to see how it affected me.
Saw obvious benefits after 30 days and decided going back to "normal" eating made no sense.
How long did it take for me to go Paleo? I learned about it on a Sunday, researched it during the week, and began it the following Friday.
How long did it take for me to decide to stick with it? About two weeks, at which point my eyes were opened and I realized it worked.
I tried to Zone a couple of times.. didn't last a week. Tried paleo three times but succumbed due to social pressure. The fourth time I stuck with it no matter what. Trying to see food as fuel helped in the beginning.
The first week was tough, as expected. I felt tired, had headaches, bloody gums.. I like to think that this is because my body was adapting to another energy source (mild ketosis), and change comes with pain. During the second week, energy levels came back up and I didn't feel hungry anymore (the opposite, had trouble falling asleep b/c of it).
I did a full 30 day strict paleo with one semi-cheat (had to eat boiled potatoes out of politeness one day). The 31st day we went to a burger joint and ordered a big burger (+bun) and a huge sugary milkshake. Felt bad all night, good way to keep the paleo edge for a long time :)
Check your poop! It's how your body tells you "you did good yesterday!". If it's messy, sticky, smelly, or anything of the sort, you did wrong.
I used this as my guide. It took a while to figure out what cheats I was allowed (beer!) and not allowed (cake, cookies, etc) based solely on my body's reaction to it.