Saturday, June 23, 2012

lots of right ways to do paleo

Sometimes I can be a little dense. I don't know how else to explain it.

I began following a Paleo diet because it just seemed to click. I had been telling people who asked, often those in restaurants or generous friends trying to cook for me, what I could and couldn't eat, what was in and what was out, for what seemed like forever. Then there was Paleo: no grains, no dairy, no legumes, no artificial crap, all the obvious. The "yes" list was short but abundant: quality proteins, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats. Perfect!

I was never committed to the historical aspects. I didn't care what Paleolithic women and men actually ate or whether they cooked it or if anyone would ever have eaten this meat with that produce. I liked the workability of it from a practical health standpoint. And I loved it from a foodie standpoint. The blogs and cookbooks were delightful. I could read Paleo recipes and know I could eat most of them. It seemed obvious. It seemed easy. I felt I was home. It was great.

Then, the way it always does with anything living, the picture changed. More and more and more recipes and pics included copious amounts of butter. People were writing odes to goat cheese. Processed meats were everywhere. I was seeing BACON BACON BACON. Discussions of how easy it is to eat in ethnic restaurants or even food courts abounded. Then the grains were randomly interspersed: rice or corn, mostly. Lots and lots of recipes with chocolate. Yes, it was dark chocolate, but it always contained a bit of milk. And then I started noticing how much people were talking about cheat days and percentages and ridiculing anyone adhering closely to the basic premiss. Here I was going, "but...but...but..."

While all these things were likely there all along, I mostly didn't notice. I do admit to some surprise when a highly anticipated cookbook came out with a huge dessert section. And I, of course, have seen the myriad of discussions about what is truly Paleo and whose version is most accurate. I just didn't ever find them very interesting.

Finally, while reading a well-written account of a blogger's off-the-grid restaurant meals, it really registered. I've seen post after post and photo after photo detailing restaurant, even fast food meals. I would often think "Where do they find these places? What about cross-contamination? What other ingredients are in there?" But, of course, these questions don't come up for everyone choosing Paleo. She can do this occasionally. It doesn't mean she's failed or has to go on some sort of silly binge. It means she chose to eat something fun or special. But she also will not get sick as a result. I would. And it would normally not be short-lived. It's just too scary. And yeah, I'm a coward. Eating in restaurants is virtually non-existent in my life because I follow this plan out of necessity. It's neither better nor worse. It's just the way it is.

I still contend wholeheartedly that I am not severely tortured by my food choices. By some standards, sure, they're limited. Not by mine. I have stopped thinking of artificial anything as food. I can't imagine wanting cereal for breakfast. And while I may wistfully look at a take out Chinese menu or a beautiful, thick lasagne, I'll get more excited by a perfectly cooked lobster tail or a rare rib eye steak, believe me.

As always, a work in progress...


  1. Totally get that. My cheat and other people's are totally different. I can't splurge on some awesome brioche french toast once a year... oh well. It is what it is. In some ways, I am quite envious of these people who choose Paleo or wheat free because they think it is healthier, not out of necessity. I don't have that luxury.Oh well... I'm happy nonetheless. ;) BTW... you're awesome.

    1. As I write this, I' more than a bit influenced by a stupid thing I did today. GK bought cashews today because they're recommended over many of his go-to snacks by Whole9. I, being the ever-optomistic idiot decided to try some, since after all, they're not really nuts. All well and good, they hurt like nuts. I left steaks on the grill and said do the best you can and went to bed. Ouch! Yeah, like you, my cheats are not other people's. Thanks for your understanding and support.

  2. I was quite surprised at some of the ingredients in a "Paleo" cookbook I checked out from the library...dairy?! At this point, I am able to tolerate small amounts of butter, but nothing else remotely dairy. I do find myself craving a bowl of cereal sometimes or some rocky road ice cream or a big, fat, fluffy piece of some type of rustic Italian roll....sigh...I am resigned to consoling myself with a luscious steak. hahaha I think I'll live. Thanks for your insights!

    1. I know! Steak? Cereal? Come on, no comparison. I do know what you mean, though. Don't tell anyone, but sometimes I'd just like some mac and cheese.


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