It’s time somebody to say it: Paleo donuts suck.
[Full disclosure: There are a few recipes for treats on this site, but I don't make it a habit of posting tons of desserts because, well, they're not a part of my plan for optimal health and wellness, and I don't think it's right to pass them off to you with illusions that eating them regularly is a good idea.]
Desserts and treats are a tricky—and touchy—subject.
I’m not saying that you can never have a treat ever again when you make the commitment to improve your health by changing your diet. Being a Paleo perfectionist every day for the rest of your life is not a way to live and isn’t sustainable. (On the other hand, being squeaky-clean for a 30-day nutrition reset such as Whole30®, where you’ll completely avoid added sugar and desserts, is valid because it’s 1) a learning tool and 2) temporary.) But, let’s be honest. You may be here because you have a history of health issues, obesity or disordered eating. I was a sugar addict. We all have things we’re working on.
As a Paleo blogger with a sizable readership, I have a responsibility to you: to provide thought-provoking information, educate about nutrition best-practices and provide you with tasty, healthy recipes. I do all this without the illusion that making Paleo treats and desserts on a regular basis is a good idea. Sadly, there are influential folks out there selling you the sexy side of Paleo. A million and one desserts, even sweets and treats as part of clean-eating programs. (Remember, the programs where you’re supposed to reset and learn something about yourself?) They do this without preface…”Oh hey, by the way, these aren’t really for daily consumption.” Many have mentioned not eating the treats they make and blog about. How is this truth in advertising?
Where did we get things so mixed up? When did things become so grey? I guess I feel a bit like a Discovery Channel documentary to their Entertainment Tonight: One is good for you and the other, fantasy fluff. My readers deserve better. You see, bloggers have a responsibility to be transparent and readers, to know their context. Looking for gut health? Trying to normalize your metabolism? Performing your best athletically? Losing fat? These will all influence your unique dietary needs. Again, perfection isn’t the name of the game, but making good choices and building a strong nutritional foundation is non-negotiable.
So, back to Paleo donuts and why they suck. Okay, it could be Paleo [insert any dessert here], really…
Reason #1 Why Paleo Donuts Suck: They Don’t Taste Better Than the Real Thing
How to replicate the whisper-light crisp of a donut as you bite down, followed by the pillowy soft interior with almond flour? It’s not possible. Part of the reason why people love donuts is how they taste, feel in your hands and smell—faintly yeasty with sweet overtones—as you eat them. Instead of making Paleo donuts on a regular basis, why not just save up for a really special occasion and eat the real thing? You know it’ll freaking taste better than any Paleo recreation! (Celiacs or other people who should legitimately not eat wheat, please take this as intended.) Go to your favorite shop and sit down with your favorite kind of donut. Put your phone down. Savor each bite. Enjoy the experience. Then go back to life—and nutrition—as scheduled.
Reason #2 Why Paleo Donuts Suck: Gluten-free Flours Aren’t Perfect
Even Paleo ingredients aren’t perfect. Yeah, I know: Gluten-free flours may be “better” than wheat. The gut irritation caused by gluten is real, and it’s not good. But let’s not jade ourselves into thinking gluten-free flours or nut flours get “unrestricted consumption” status. They’ve got issues: phytates, the potential for gluten-cross reactions, and high caloric content just to name a few. Just because an flour is gluten-free doesn’t give anyone carte blanche to eat tons of it. Sweeteners hold the same burden. Some may be more “Paleo” than others, but it shouldn’t be eaten without limit.
Reason #3 Why Paleo Donuts Suck: They’re Not Helping You Make Better Choices
Like me, you may be here because you’ve got some serious issues to resolve with food. I was the queen of sugar, and I still have to watch myself. Does this mean I don’t indulge in a sweet from time to time? Not at all, but I have to be very careful about how frequently I make treats. In the four years I’ve been Paleo, I’ve had to pull the reins back more than a few times because “once in a while” became more like “every few days.” Sugar still messes with me if I eat too much of it, even from “Paleo” sources like honey or maple syrup. So, I avoid it in my day-to-day because I know I make better food choices when I do.
Reason #4 Why Paleo Donuts Suck: Daily Desserts Aren’t Part of a Healthy Nutrition Plan
Desserts should be special. And by special, I don’t mean eaten only on days that end in “y”. End of story.
Reason #5 Why Paleo Donuts Suck: Paleo Baking is Not Economical
Trying to do Paleo on a budget? Worried you can’t afford it? Paleo baking—and all the special ingredients that goes with it—is expensive. If you’re trying to decide between meat and eggs and good quality produce or baking, you’re going to get much more nutrition from the former than the latter.