'john' left the following comment on my last post:
I can't wait for this paleo fad to finally come to an end, but I fear it's become such a religion for so many that it's going to overstay its welcome.
First of all, "paleo" is NOT like most other diets. It is not a "diet" plan to shed a few unwanted pounds from the holidays.
It is not a program to slim down in time to look your best for your summer swimwear.
It is not a "fad" for which some so-called expert goes on the Oprah Winfrey show -- oh wait, she retired...good riddance -- Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz or The View, and women all over the country race to embrace their inner cave-woman and start eating bacon, fatty cuts of meat and free range chickenskin sopping in grass fed dairy cow butter.
It's not a "diet," per say, and it's certainly not a "religion."
It's simply recognizing the truth about nutrition and what our bodies were designed to thrive on...and the foods that are part of an industrial agricultural system designed to maximize profits by appealing to your taste buds and resisting spoilage for as long as possible.
That's not a fad. It's a way of life. It's understanding just how truly damaging certain neolithic food creations are to the human physiology.
It's understanding just how ubiquitous the marketing propaganda and health misinformation is propagated in our mainstream consciousness and how it is all designed to guide our choices when grocery shopping and eating out.
It's quite simply, gaining knowledge of the truth and making decisions accordingly.
And while SOME people definitely take it to the point of religious fervor, that's not what you see when you read the works of people who have been at the forefront of this "paleo" movement for a number of years. Mark Sisson has his 80/20 principle (which I basically follow), and he also puts sugar in his coffee every morning, and eats dark chocolate and drinks alcohol on a regular basis. Richard Nikoley eats corn tortillas that his hispanic wife cooks....and I agree wholeheartedly. Mexican food is just not the same without some tortilla and/or masa flour. (I just make sure to only eat corn tortilla processed in the traditional manner of nixtamalizado - in which the corn is treated with lime, which neutralizes the lectins and phytic acid and other naturally occurring anti-nutrients in the corn - before grinding into flour.) Many other noted Paleo bloggers have also discussed adding potatoes and white rice back into your diet in moderation once you no longer have SAD related issues to deal with.
This to me is the reason why "paleo" is not a strict, dogmatic religion type diet fad.
Another reason why so many people become overly-enthusiastic about the "paleo" diet, is that once you embrace certain paradigms - namely the healthy goodness of saturated fats and meat - it's something else to realize there is such a wealth of simply delicious foods for which you do not have to limit yourself on and eat until you are completely satiated on it AND STILL LOSE WEIGHT. That is a completely different experience than all of the other real Fad Diets for which you have to count your calories or eat smaller portions that leave you still hungry and irritated. Once you realize that not only will filling you up full of bacon, eggs, cheese, steaks, fish, ham, lamb and bison and loads of butter and grease will not only NOT make you fat, it will actually help you lose weight...well, a lot of folks can't help but get excited and enthusiastic once they realize that the paradigm of mainstream society for which your weight issues are merely a matter of gluttony and laziness is nothing but a BIG FAT FUCKING LIE.
When people first adopt the paleo diet, the physiological and mental effects are rather dramatic. You lose weight, you start feeling energetic, and a host of minor irritable health conditions go away.
This usually comes from those who first go 'Paleo' extreme and cut out all carbohydrates except for cruciferous vegetables, and don't eat dairy and sugar...even fruit.
For the average person raised on the SAD their whole lives, the transformative effects can be really dramatic over a short period of time. They note these effects, and it becomes almost dogmatic to them to avoid all carbs is the key to their diet success.
In the short term, this is no doubt true. For people who have developed varying levels of insulin resistance, visceral fat, and on the constant ebb and flow of the high-carb/insulin/blood sugar roller coaster, following a strict paleo regime for a short period of time (several months) would be good to lose the excess weight, restore insulin sensitivity and stabilize their metabolism and even energy levels. But once you've reached the point where these things are no longer an issue, you need not be rigid in your adherence nor do you need to treat all carbohydrates as the equivalent to cocaine or heroin.
Once a strict adherence to paleo-tenets reverses the various effects of the SAD (everyone is different...some may take longer than others), you can begin to add certain starchy foods (like potatos and rice), fruit and dairy back into your diet and occasionally indulge in neolithic foods like sugar and alcohol, without losing the gains your initial transition phase brought about.
This is nothing new, either. The original Atkins diet was based on "induction" in which you cut out ALL carbohydrates except for fibrous, cruciferous veggies. After a number of days of carb avoidance, your body goes into ketosis and you begin to burn your bodies stored fat as fuel, and the ketones from that process begin to show up in your urine. Once you got beyond the induction phase and lost your excess body fat and restored your metabolism, the old Atkins diet preached adding carbs in smaller proportions back into your diet once again. If you you began to notice you were gaining weight again, than go back on the ketogenic diet and than slowly add the carbohydrates back again until you find your optimal maintenance point.
It's not rocket science...and it is not a religious edict either.
No need to become the Paleo-Taliban, invoking holy war on all plant based carbohydrates or declare jihad on all factory farmed meats. The "paleo" diet paradigm is just a general understanding to guide your decision making about your overall consumption behavior to maximize your health. Use your common sense, and understand and accept that the occasional deviation will not result in a diet heresy that will destroy all of your dietary progress, or doom you to ill health and diseases.
For instance, I try to avoid grains as much as possible in my overall consumption patterns. For someone with IBS or Krohns or Celiac, they pretty much have to strictly adhere to 100% avoidance to avoid the bad reactions they get to gluten-containing foods.
But I do not, nor have I ever, had any sort of digestive or auto-immune disorders associated with grain based glutens. So when my sister baked me a Black Russian Birthday Cake (Chocolate cake with Kahlua & Vodka frosting), I cut myself a huge piece of cake and a couple of scoops of ice cream and I FUCKING ENJOYED IT.
And all of my friends and family couldn't help but make comments about how I'm eating all that sugar and wheat flour. I laugh and tell them "my diet is a general guide that I follow. It is not a strict religion. I am not going to diet-purgatory for a single transgression, I am not going to immediately put back on the 35 lbs. of fat that I lost nearly 5 years ago when I first went "paleo," nor am I going to have a heart attack or develop diabetes from the occasional rare indulgence. I appreciate the effort involved in making a custom cake to celebrate my special occasion, and the spirit in which it was given to me and my family.
This does not mean I will go back to eating whole grain breads and cereals on a daily basis, or that I will resume drinking soda on a daily basis, or that I will go back to my former state of avoiding all saturated fats and minimizing my meat consumption and cooking with Omega-6 imbalanced vegetable oils.
Terry also brought up a related issue in which she cooks for a family that does not follow the basic low-carb diet that she herself tries to follow. For one thing, the cost issue. If your budget is tight, and grass fed beef is out of the picture...better to eat factory farmed beef than to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or Ramen noodles. Better to eat SPAM and eggs for breakfast than a big bowl of breakfast cereal and lowfat milk. When I can afford it, I buy grass fed beef, buffalo, lamb and free range chicken. When I can't...well, I still have to feed my family. While I oppose factory farming on principle, we still need meat to eat.
I wish I really could influence the market demand for free range produce so that no one else would eat factory farmed meat, making free range foods the standard fare in all grocery markets. But that's not happening anytime soon, and the reality is while factory farmed meat is substandard in nutrition to free range fare...it's still better than eating a grain-based/vegetable oil type processed foods that makes up the majority of the SAD.
Another consideration is to avoid being the social outcast at gatherings and events. Everyone hates the diet fascist attempting to control how everyone else eats. If there's one thing I'm sensitive to, it's not becoming the preachy asshole killjoy telling people that the food they are eating and enjoying at the moment is the reason why they have so many health problems. If someone offers me food that I generally try to avoid, I just say no thank you, I'm not hungry at the moment...or I serve myself food and avoid the eating food I don't want to ingest, even if it's on my own plate. Like eating the cheeseburger and not the bun, or the pizza toppings without the crust, or pour the spaghetti meat sauce on white rice instead of wheat based pasta.
"Paleo" is not fad. People that figure out the underlying principles and change their lifestyle accordingly will have gained the knowledge to guide their dietary choices for a lifetime...including the occasional indulgence that is diametrically opposed to those principles. It's about attaining good health to enjoy life. Sometimes enjoying life means not eating the perfect diet 100% of the time...just most of the time.