- Everyone’s scared of them, but
- they don’t actually exist.
The Paleo-sphere’s been a-rockin’ lately: from Paleo Police Halloween costumes to all out declarations of jumping ship and leaving the “paleo” label behind, things are getting cuh-razy up in here. Some of it’s funny and lighthearted and some of it’s downright nasty but one thing’s for certain:
Paleo’s finally a teenager…bigger, crankier and moodier than it used to be.
It started off so new and gentle, but now it’s growing (fast) and changing (faster) and feeling out its place in the world. And sometimes, it’s highly unpredictable and angst-ridden.
But, back to ghosts.
I see so much social media with captions like, “Yeah, I’m eating ice cream…come get me, #PaleoPolice!”
Guess what? It doesn’t freaking matter. There are no Paleo Police. They aren’t real. Ghosts…busted. (There, don’t you feel a whole lot better?)
You create them in your head (I’m speaking about anyone here…perhaps not actually you). You let them get to you. You walk around fearing – or fearing judgment from – something that doesn’t really exist. Sometimes, others may actually condemn you for what you eat but they don’t matter either. What’s more upsetting is their judgement of you and not what they’re actually saying, right?
It’s okay to eat “non-Paleo things”. It’s your own prerogative; your own life; your own health. Do I eat a Cordain-style, uber-strict Paleo diet? No. It doesn’t fit my needs and goals. I’m an athlete, so I need some extra salt and sometimes I eat white rice and white potatoes as carb sources. I like butter. I eat dark chocolate.
And if someone disagrees with me, that’s not my problem. I don’t walk around pre-emptively defending myself against the (fictitious) Paleo Police because it’s pointless and drains my energy. However, if someone asks why, I’ll happily explain with my personal experiences and with science.
I’ve done my homework. A couple squeaky-clean 30 day Paleo experiments were enough to tell me loud and clear that milk, cheese and gluten wreck my tummy and making tons of Paleo treats awakens my dormant sugar addiction. As an athlete who’s trying to get as strong as possible, I know protein’s a priority and eating a bunch of junk doesn’t help my recovery. I’m clear about what different foods do to me and why. If you’re just starting out with Paleo, do a strict 30 days to reset your system, and then reintroduce any foods you want in a systematic way (don’t tank a whole pizza on day 31 because you won’t know if gluten or dairy gave you a bad reaction…if you have one).
When I went to Paris in September, I ate cheese.
I’ll pause for the collective gasp.
Why? I like how it tastes and I was in France for goodness sake. I wanted some fromage while picnicking on the back steps of Chateau de Versailles on a warm, robin’s egg blue sky day. (My stomach was pissed later, but I expected that). I avoid it the rest of the time, but on that day, it was part of a special moment.
So, when some bloggers and authors recommend strict Paleo or say you shouldn’t eat certain foods, aren’t we just judging others? No, we’re not trying to be Judgy McJudgerson jerks…I promise. Trying to educate the masses about why certain foods (like grains, legumes and dairy) are problematic is not an easy job. Trust me, some folks are reeeeealllllyyyy passionate about things like peanuts and cheese. When folks advocate avoiding bread, for example, we’re not saying you’re a bad person for eating it; rather, we’re communicating scientific, physiological information about what a protein called gluten does to your small intestines. Sounds less threatening, right? It’s not judgment; it’s science.
So what to do? It’s simple: focus on you. That’s it. At the end of the day, be honest with yourself about whether your food choices are getting you closer to your health goals. If so, rock on. If not, time to reevaluate. The good news is the power’s in your hands, not the fake Paleo Police.
What to do when someone attacks your food choices? See below.
- Be responsible for your food choices. Know how foods affect you and why you eat / avoid certain ones. If you still don’t feel healthy, it’s time to take a good hard look at what you’re eating. Some foods may not be serving you well. If you’re trying to heal your body, avoiding inflammatory foods 100% of the time might be necessary until you’re on the road to better health.
- Tell them to MYOB and move on….or
- Ignore. Delete. Ban. Unfriend. Don’t be a masochist. Remove offending people. They suck the life out of you.
- Send them to a website that explains the science behind your food choices, like this one or this one or this one or this one or this one.
- Know that eating food only comes with good consequences or bad consequences. Guilt or happiness about eating it has little to do with how the food affects you physiologically.