My Love/Hate Relationship With Paleo
Eating paleo basically helped save my life, so the title of this post may come off as slightly ridiculous and I get that. So let me preface this by saying… I love real food. I love food that is made from ingredients and not boxes. I love creating new recipes that combine a variety of flavors that are, well, REAL. I love salads. I love meats. I love treats within reason. I love what being predominantly paleo has done for my health, by generally avoiding grain, dairy and refined sugar. I love that I can work, be a full time mom, do DIY projects, and travel again instead of being confined to my bed and home.
So what’s to hate?
Somewhere in the midst of well-meaning people creating a beautiful real food movement sprung a cohort who has made some people believe that they aren’t “paleo enough.” This upsets me to no end, not for myself personally, but for the people who are trying and feel like they are failing because they aren’t doing it “RIGHT” or “GOOD ENOUGH.” I run a support group on Facebook and while it is small, I set it up to help people feel like they can make positive change, eat whole foods, and get their lives back (or at least improve what they’ve already got going for them). And at least once a week someone posts something like this:
“How can I afford paleo if I can’t eat organic all the time? Is it still worth trying? What if I can’t buy grassfed meats or pasture raised eggs?”
I also see things like:
“I was made to feel terrible on another page when I said I ate ‘xyz’ or admitted to still indulging in a treat now and then”
Since when is healthy eating a platform to shame others? Since when did whole foodists become godly? Since when is it anyone’s position to judge another based on what they can afford or if they chose to eat almond flour based “paleo cake” on their birthday?
It actually disgusts me that people who are trying really hard to make better choices are made to feel like what they are doing is not good enough. Everyone takes a different path when learning to eat better. For some, the 80/20 rule is enough. For others strict eating is necessary to manage health conditions. And for some, budget is such a concern that organic produce and pastured meats are absolutely out of the question. Ultimately, I find it incredibly important to do one very simple task:
SUPPORT OTHERS EVEN IF THEIR CHOICES ARE DIFFERENT FROM YOUR OWN
It is impossible to change others. And it is not our job to do so. We can gently educate if the timing is right, we can offer support, and we can reach out when we see people struggling, but in the end the decision to implement change has to happen on their own accord. When I set up Predominantly Paleo, my hope was that if real food helped me, maybe it could help others. But ultimately I knew that all I could do was to put it out there and the people who were ready to receive it, would. Others would find me in their own time. And still others would never find me, and if they did, they would not want to incorporate the changes I have into their own lives. Changing your lifestyle is incredibly intimidating in the beginning and it takes time to adapt. People will fall off the wagon and get back on. And more importantly, they will find their “wiggle room”. This means that some people can tolerate a bit of grain or a bit of dairy, or who can periodically throw caution to the wind and fall face first into a plate of loaded nachos and never suffer the consequences.
LET THEM BE
And for those who can only afford to eat cheaper cuts of meat on sale, canned veggies, and who need to eat fillers like beans and rice in the interim, they need support too. Rice is not the work of the devil people. It’s a gluten free grain that’s been around for ages and is typically well-tolerated. Let us encourage people on a budget and praise them for avoiding the processed food trap and instead making real food.
EATING “PALEO” IS NOT A GROUNDS FOR SHAMING OTHERS
If you have been made to feel lesser than in the paleo community, I’m sorry. I personally want you to know that I care about your health. I also care that you feel like you’ve got support, especially if those closest to you think your transition to a real food lifestyle is a fad or unnecessary. I also want you to know that we’re all human and in my personal opinion, eating a treat here and there or eating an organic tortilla on cinco de mayo will likely not kill you. Unless corn makes you need an epipen in which case, no, don’t go there.
I welcome you to join me on my PREDOMINANTLY PALEO SUPPORT page. My goal is to provide a place to exchange ideas, receive support, and find a place to call “home” especially if you are new to this lifestyle or otherwise unsupported in your personal lives.
I do love whole foods and I think that food can be one of the simplest implementations you can make to create an exponentially more rewardingly and healthy life. And when I say paleo saved my life, I quite literally mean it. I’m so happy to be here standing alongside you all and I hope your real food experience is a positive and healing one! Mwah!