Don Baiocchi

Don Baiocchi’s Paleo Journey is a true source of inspiration—a transformation from struggling with gastrointestinal issues to embracing a healthy lifestyle. Don’s journey will inspire and guide you toward a happier, healthier you if you’ve ever dealt with similar issues and are curious about a path to wellness. Keep reading!

About Don Baiocchi

Don is the owner of Paleo Gluten-Free Guy, a website dedicated to sharing vibrant, nourishing recipes. He’s been cooking and baking for over 20 years and eating Paleo for over 10 years. You can find all his recipes, tips, tricks, and more on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok.

How Did Don Discover The Paleo Diet?

Don experienced gastrointestinal issues for a long time, thinking that that’s the way things are supposed to be. And then, finally, one day, he asked himself, “What if this is not normal?”

A friend dealing with similar issues suggested going gluten-free. Don explored this and discovered the Paleo diet, finding it made sense. Indeed, he started feeling better. He embraced the change gradually, tackling one meal and one week at a time, with weekly meal prepping. 

While cutting out beans was easy, letting go of cereal, oatmeal, and sandwiches was challenging. However, he learned to replace them with soups, salads, and stir-fries. Like anything new, the more he practiced, the easier it became. 

If you’re on a similar journey, take it slowly, step by step, and with practice, it’ll get easier for you, too!

Benefits And Challenges Of Going On A Paleo Diet

Once Don shifted to a healthy lifestyle with Paleo, he saw significant improvements in his health. His digestion issues got a lot better, and he unintentionally shed ten pounds. Allergies that used to bother him also improved – he rarely caught colds, and when he did, they didn’t last as long. 

Before Paleo, despite exercising and gaining muscle, he felt weak. After adopting the Paleo lifestyle, he noticed feeling stronger. Additionally, his brain fog lifted, making it easier for him to focus. If you’re curious about Paleo, Don’s experience suggests it might positively change your body and mind!

Don followed this diet quite closely for around 11-12 years. However, he recognized the challenge of following it perfectly when eating out. So, he focused on keeping his restaurant meals gluten-free, as gluten made him feel awful. If a dish had a bit of dairy or sugar, he didn’t stress about it. 

Don also experienced a positive shift in energy levels thanks to the Paleo diet. While he still enjoys coffee and tea, he doesn’t feel the same need for them as he did with a more standard diet. Eating Paleo has also made him feel more connected to nature and the natural gifts Earth provides. This closeness to natural foods contributes to his physical and mental well-being, reinforcing the idea that consuming foods as close as possible to how nature intended has a beneficial impact on overall health.

In recent years, he occasionally experimented with different gluten-free grains like buckwheat or rice flour-based bread. With this experimentation, Don wanted to understand if he liked them and how they made him feel, especially in situations like restaurant visits or dinner parties. It was all about personal knowledge and flexibility while following a healthy lifestyle.

Don’s Advice For Trying The Paleo Diet

When Don first went Paleo around 2011, finding suitable recipes was challenging because there weren’t as many online resources. He needed recipes that fit his needs for enough protein and carbs, were good as leftovers (he likes to meal prep), and could be easily taken to work (he lifts weights 5 days a week). It took some trial and error, but he eventually found reliable sources, food bloggers, and recipes.

For those starting the Paleo diet, Don has some simple tips. 

“Take it one meal at a time – you don’t have to completely transform your diet overnight. There’s nothing wrong with trial and error. Also, make sure you’re eating enough! You’re taking calories off your plate – no more bread, pasta, rolls, rice, etc. So make sure you’re replacing those calories with more protein, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats.

Finally, don’t be intimidated by healthy fats. Our culture can still be a bit focused on ‘low-fat’ products and recipes, but fat is really important for feeling full and satisfied. One tablespoon of oil in your pan to cook with isn’t going to cut it. Add more avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut, olives, fatty fish, ghee, and other fats to your plate and recipes”.

Letting Go Of Strict Rules About Food

One of the shifts in Don’s mindset that helped was letting go of strict rules about “breakfast foods,” “lunch foods,” and “dinner foods.” He embraced eating Paleo meals three times a day and discovered he enjoys soup for breakfast. Questioning specific rules, like the impact of grains on health, led to questioning others.

To keep a positive perspective, Don regularly tries new recipes and ingredients to fight boredom. He doesn’t stress about being perfectly Paleo; he’s strict where needed (no gluten) but stays flexible when eating out or at others’ places. 

Lastly, not judging others for eating differently is crucial. Don knows what works for him and shares recipes for those interested but doesn’t force his choices on anyone. For him, satisfaction comes from within.

Don’s Favorite Paleo Recipes

If you’re looking for simple yet flavorful Paleo meals to spice up your kitchen, you’re in the right place. Let’s dive into Don’s favorite Paleo recipes that taste like no other! 

Apple Cinnamon Chicken

Apple Cinnamon Chicken

Don loves a good sheet pan meal, and this Apple Cinnamon Chicken tops his list. This recipe takes your regular chicken and potatoes dinner to a new level. The aroma of apples and cinnamon in your kitchen is just one perk. You’ll get juicy chicken thighs, tender veggies, and a touch of sweetness from the apples. It’s a happy-family-making feast that happens to be Paleo, gluten-free, grain-free, and Whole30-friendly!

See recipe

Taco Casserole

Taco Casserole

And how can you say “no” to a casserole? Taco Casserole is a delicious dinner that’s both fun and satisfying! Packed with veggies, ground beef, salsa, eggs, and spices, this casserole is baked to perfection, making it ideal for weekly enjoyment and meal prep. What’s more, it’s low-carb, Whole30, gluten-free, dairy-free, and keto-friendly, ensuring a tasty and wholesome meal for everyone at the table! Enjoy the flavors without any guilt! 

See recipe

Sweet Potato Protein Smoothie

Sweet Potato Protein Smoothie

When Don needs protein on the go, this Sweet Potato Protein Smoothie hits the spot, and it really does taste like sweet potato pie! Perfect for pre or post-workout, it gives you that extra boost of protein and carbs. Whether as a snack or on-the-go breakfast, this smoothie keeps you full and energized. And here’s the bonus – it’s naturally dairy-free, vegan, and Paleo-friendly. Sip your way to a delicious and nutritious treat!

See recipe

Paleo Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Paleo Chocolate Chunk Cookies

And when Don wants something sweet, these big, fat, gooey Paleo chocolate chunk cookies are too good to be true. These cookies are not just delicious; they’re also gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and refined sugar-free. So, treat yourself to a delightful indulgence the paleo way! 

See recipe

Mixing Physical Activities As Part Of A Healthy Lifestyle

Don enjoys a mix of lifting weights and yoga as part of his healthy lifestyle. Lifting makes him feel strong, while yoga adds a sense of mobility and mindfulness. While cardio isn’t a big part of his routine, he’s grown fond of taking long post-lunch walks. This blend of exercises makes him feel his best, aligning well with the positive effects he experiences from following the Paleo lifestyle.

What is Don’s Goal?

Don aspires to turn his website into a full-time job in the future, a goal he is actively working towards. While still there, he envisions writing cookbooks and collaborating with food brands to create helpful new products down the line. For now, his primary goal is to make his website a go-to place for all kinds of recipes, although he acknowledges there’s still a long way to go to achieve that. Nonetheless, it’s a fun and motivating goal that he keeps in mind as he progresses.

Don also connects with the Paleo community through his blog, social media, and face-to-face interactions. Instead of assuming what’s best for others, he prefers to showcase his healthy lifestyle and what works for him. 

Sharing recipes and engaging in social media conversations, Don focuses on providing helpful information like substitutions, make-ahead ideas, and freezer instructions, understanding that cooking can be intimidating for some. His approach is about making everything as fun and positive as possible because eating well shouldn’t be dull or unpleasant. Don ensures his online spaces are free from negativity and excessive criticism, welcoming constructive feedback but discouraging rudeness.

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From Gastrointestinal Issues To Embracing A Healthy Lifestyle: Don Baiocchi’s Paleo Journey

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