recently, I ordered a “Paleo Bowl” at a local restaurant. I was so happy they had food that I could eat without a care of what was in it. Of course I was a tad bit surprised to see just how low fat it really was. Vegetables and meat taste good. But fat? It makes it delicious.
You know, Butter, this takes me way back into my childhood. When I was a little girl, my grandma invited me to have breakfast with her on Saturday mornings. My parents had already converted to the not so good margarine, but my grandma still used good old You! She would spread a thick layer of you on a breakfast roll, then put another thick layer of raw honey on top. I know, I know, bread is not good for you. But oh, the combination of honey and butter, I will always, always love it.
Back at the local restaurant I took my Paleo Bowl to the counter and asked the young lady behind it, if it was possible to get a side of butter. You won’t believe the look she gave me, Butter. She seemed upset at even the thought that someone would voluntarily ask for butter! But she put on a smile and told me they don’t use butter… at all. That made me stare at the food, and I couldn’t help wondering if they had added any kind of fat at all in the cooking of this meal.
Anyway, I suffered through the rest of the day in class (yes, this was my finals weekend for Nutritional Therapy), knowing that my lack of fatty acids made my brain less receptive for all the information. Also, only two hours after my meal, my stomach was growling. I was so hungry for something fatty!
Butter, I’m so very sorry that so many people still think you’re the bad guy because you’re a saturated fat. They don’t understand that you are full of great fat soluble vitamins, like A, E, and K2!
And saturated fats are actually NOT bad for you. Science has finally caught up and found no link between saturated fats and cardiovascular disease!
I also learned recently, that butyrate in butter, may actually prevent people from gaining weight, and your fasting triglycerides and insulin will actually be lowered! Also, saturated fats with omega 3 and omega 6 actually helps balance inflammation in the body. Wow, Butter, I’m starting to think you’re somewhat of a…. health food!
Of course, when it comes down to it, you’re really just incredibly delicious! When I came home that night, I had a big load of leftover spaghetti sauce with a heap of butter on top. I should always eat spaghetti sauce with butter. Heck, I should put You on bacon… on eggs… on a spoon full of honey… in my tea… in baked goods… You catch my drift!
Anyway, I gotta go. Breakfast is calling. See ya in the fridge!
yesterday, I had to defend you once again. People are slowly starting to accept you as a health food, but there are still plenty of them out there, who just don’t know you well enough to understand what a great little powerhouse you are! And then I had this conversation yesterday, when a woman called you a “useless dairy product”. Of course, I asked her why she would think that you are a dairy product at all. And she said, it was because you were sold in the dairy section right next to the milk. Given the choice, she’d rather buy the milk, because milk is “good for your your bones. Eggs just give you high cholesterol.” Can you believe such ignorance, little Egg?
Of course, I tried telling her that you are not dairy. And I also tried telling her that, when bought from happy chickens, who get to eat grass and bugs, you are full of great nutrients like: omega 3s, choline, selenium, biotin, carotenoids, manganese, Vitamin B12, iodine, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, and so much more!
But she insisted, that your cholesterol hurts her body, and that she will not eat more eggs than absolutely necessary. I pointed out studies to her, that found no link between egg consumption and increased cholesterol. But, little Egg, at that point, I think I lost her already. I think, in her mind she had already wandered over to the cereal aisle where she would go and find enriched something or other cereal, fiber rich, and heart healthy. So, I let her go with the recommendation to research the subject a little more, so she can make an informed decision.
Dear Egg, I’m a believer! I have been eating lots and lots of your egg friends over the past three years. My cholesterol is fine, and so is my health. You are, and forever will be, my good friend. I love you hard boiled, fried, scrambled, as an omelet, quiched, or really, any way you are served.
Yes, I have arrived in the 21st century! You can now find me on Instagram (Username GROKETTESMUSINGS) and on Twitter.
After Facebook made it extremely difficult for me to reach my almost 1,400 followers, I decided to go a different route, and see where it takes me.
What you can expect on my blog in the future are a lot more health related posts. I will talk a lot more about digestions, the functions of the various organs, some motivational writing, and of course I’ll share my experiments with food. (Today I’m learning to pickle beets!)
In addition, to support my income, I will occasionally post a review of certain products and place affiliate links on here. Please consider supporting me by using these links when you purchase an item I recommend. 🙂
Finally, I invite you to comment now and then to let me know you’re there. Yes, yes, the stats confirm that you are, but it’ll be so nice to communicate with you, and of course, to understand what you are particularly interested in reading.
Obviously you know that my post will be in favor of paleo/primal, but heck, don’t you just love headlines like this, that question what you believe to be the truth?
So let me start with the short answer. NO! Paleo in the strictest sense of the word is NOT a fad diet. It is our ancestors’ way of eating. It was there, when humans learned to use fire, when they hunted wild animals and ate berries, nuts, and whatever else they could gather that was edible. And while they lived a rather short life, this is most likely not due to their diet, but to the dangers of living in the wild. No antibiotics, no vaccines, no hospitals, no houses to keep you warm and dry. The fact is, that human remains from way back when provide evidence for their excellent health, strong bones, great teeth… etc.
Also, and this is something that I feel to be important and true, English speakers are at a disadvantage. How so? Well, unfortunately you are stuck with just one word for diet and diet. This may not be an issue in the bigger picture, but it is when people talk about dieting versus eating a healthy diet. In German we have the word Diaet for a diet that has a beginning and an end… Weight Watchers, South Beach, everything with a name, everything that you know you will eventually fail at, because it is too limiting. When it comes to “eating a healthy diet” though, we have the word Ernaehrung. I like this so much better, because Ernaehrung doesn’t imply that I’m dieting, it just means I’m trying to eat healthy.
Lately, I’ve heard a number of people say that they quit the paleo “diet”, because it was too difficult to maintain. Others consistently call it a fad. Why is it called a fad? Not because it doesn’t make sense to eat meat, fruits, and vegetables. Eating these foods simply makes sense. It’s called a fad, because it feels limiting to people of the 21st century. Think about it. Grocery stores would be half as big without all the modern day foods we enjoy. Cereal, rice, pasta, sweets… Who wants to give it up? Who really wants to stick with a strict paleo “diet”? And so, we now see more and more people, who quickly want to lose a few pounds, and then go back to their old ways, because that’s what we do these days. We diet, we stop, we diet, we stop. We don’t do a “Ernaehrung”, we do “diet”.
Pages have been popping up, too. “So many days of paleo will help you lose this much weight.” That’s the promise. Go on a paleo diet to become skinny. Paleo, whether we like it or not, has become a fad. Maybe not for you or me, but for many out there, who simply cannot or will not invest the time and energy to go beyond losing a few pounds. And why would they? We are bombarded every day with the message, that whole grains, high fiber, heart healthy cereals, and x servings of bread or other grains are healthy for us. Who cares about cavemen and their healthy bodies? Those days are long gone. We are flooded with convenience foods. We are busy. We are overweight. And we don’t have time to cook. We even have the opportunity to get our paleo meals pre-cooked and delivered to our doors. Of course this isn’t cheap, so we do it only for a little while. There is an end in sight. Only two months, only four weeks… Yes, paleo has become a fad.
This bugs me to no end. Because in my world, paleo is so much more than a fad, so much more than a diet. In my world, paleo is a way of life, a template to hold on to, even when I do stray. Even my straying happens within certain parameters. I never stray far. I always stay gluten free, my one big requirement always. And I always return, because the truth is, I feel the healthiest, the stricter I stick with it.
So how do you stay paleo for life? How do you show the nay-sayers that it can be done, and that it is not a fad at all?
1. Be confident, that you’re doing the right thing. Even when you stray, be confident, because you know you will be back.
2. Be flexible. Paleo should be a template, not a diet plan. You’ve heard me say this a number of times. Our way of eating… our “Ernaehrung” will evolve. Two years ago, I wouldn’t have touched a potato, because potatoes were not paleo. Well, nowadays a lot of paleo folks consider the potato an excellent source of nutrients. Good old potato, that has been a staple of our diet for centuries, when we had nothing else to eat. When you find a food, that seems to agree with you, that doesn’t seem to have an negative effects on your health and well being, then what keeps you from eating it? The paleo police said so? Well, tell the paleo police to go and… never mind, you get my point.
3. Be forgiving. Okay, so you ate crap for a week, or two, or three. I did last week. My daughter’s non-stop rehearsals made it impossible for me to cook every day. Plus, the chips and chocolate were available. I ate them. Big flippin’ deal! Get back on the bandwagon and leave it behind you. Who is there to judge you? Nobody but yourself. And you owe it to yourself to be kind to you.
4. Don’t call it a diet. Seriously! It’s NOT a diet. It is a lifestyle, a way of life! It is “Ernaehrung”. Do away with the word diet. Sure, the word Ernaehrung may not flow from your lips too easily, but lifestyle should do just fine.
5. Embrace the gluten free aisle. There, I said it. *gasp* Please don’t misunderstand. I am not asking you to buy a ton of gluten free pasta, cookies, bread, and sweets. Far from it. What I’m saying is, allow for those days when all you want is to pop a pizza in the oven, without having to make it from scratch. (We totally dig the Against All Grain pizza around here!) Enjoy that oh so delicious quinoa pasta, that you can make into one heck of a delicious mac and cheese (yes, I’ve done this and have been crowned Mom of the Year). And yes, when you just have to have a cookie, and you just can’t or won’t bake, then yay for gluten free cookies! Woot!
You have gone your whole life eating “wrong”, and somehow your body managed to get you through this experience. Give yourself the blessing to, occasionally (NOT ALWAYS) eat something that is not considered paleo. Really, it’s okay. The paleo police won’t be sitting outside your door waiting to make an arrest.
Over 2.5 years ago, after many years of yo-yo dieting, poor sleep, a terrible menstrual cycle, and other more or less annoying “side effects of aging”, I made the very important decision to cut out all grains, legumes, refined sugar, and dairy. I embarked on a journey like no other, lost almost 40lbs, met some inspiring and highly intelligent people, found better health, and came to the conclusion, that these “side effects of aging” were really the side effects of a poor diet, the Standard American Diet (SAD).
Within six months I was a new person. And of course, I talked about my newly found wisdom to anyone who would listen. If you’ve been following this blog at all, you’ll know, that this was not my Happy End. Unlike beautiful people like Melissa and Dallas Hartwig, Mark Sisson, and Robb Wolf, I started falling off the paleo bandwagon. I even added dairy to my diet in the hopes that it would help me get past my cravings for sweet things, for sugar and chips. I have fallen off, and jumped back on probably about 10 times. In my mind, I knew that I needed to stick with a primal lifestyle in order to maintain a healthy weight and feel good.
But I, like countless others, have fallen into the “gluten free” trap. Gluten free pasta, cookies, chips, bread, crackers. Slowly, silently, one after another made their way into my kitchen pantry. Each one was defended by me. I am a busy mom, housewife, freelance writer, and the Operations Manager of fastpaleo, too! I don’t have time to spend countless hours in the kitchen, cooking and baking, figuring out ways to make life with my reluctant children easier.
Eventually, I found great people like Sean Flanagan and Antonio Valladares, both of whom brilliant people in their own niche of the health food business. Their reasoning that sugar addiction as such did not exist, was a powerful message to me. Something else must have be the underlying cause of my endless sugar cravings. So, instead of avoiding sugar, I added it back into my diet. I bought ice cream and chocolate, didn’t shy away from taffy when we went to the beach. I was absolutely thrilled that I maintained my weight, and everything seemed fine.
I became a bit of a skeptic about all things paleo/primal. I continuously read messages, that seemed to confirm that us paleo folk were taking this health food thing to an extreme, that we didn’t need to do this in order to stay healthy. Sure, eat clean, but don’t worry about the sugar, the rice, the quinoa, the ice cream. Keep a healthy balance, and don’t eat too many calories.
And this is where things turned sour. I went from 100% primal, to 90%, did well, and went down to 80% and then to 70%. Pretty soon, I ate gluten free bread on a regular basis. I bought a bar of German chocolate and devoured it in one sitting. Instead of one glass of wine with dinner, I had three. Rice became a food to be enjoyed once a week, not once a month, and those delicious shakes from Burgerville down the street were now a regular treat.
After my initial diagnosis with my hemangiomas of the liver, I was also told to stop doing CrossFit. For the better part of summer, I sat around, ate junk, felt sorry for myself, and lost complete control of what went into my body. And when my weight slowly started creeping up, I chose to ignore it, thinking, all I needed to do was go back to CrossFit eventually, and everything would be fine.
Well, I was cleared for modified CrossFit by my surgeon, and I have been going for about a month…. but I still hadn’t changed my ways. I was still out of control when it came to my food. The truth is, I was probably now eating worse than before I went paleo. In my head I rationalized, that I was doing all the right things. Sugar, sugar, sugar… I could stop any day I wanted. In the meantime I gained more weight. I ended up gaining 20lbs. 20! Think about this. I let this happen to myself! I chose to ignore my weight gain until I stepped on the scale and found that I had regained half of what I’d lost two years ago.
Look, the truth is, I only partly understand the science behind sugar, and whether or not it is addictive. Maybe Antonio is right and I have something else going on inside me that renders me helpless when I am confronted with a bar of German milk chocolate. But well, I am not about to find out. I have had my blood works done twice this summer. Maybe they should have run some additional tests in order to pin down my “disorder”, if in fact I have one. The fact is, I am as healthy as a horse (well, with the exception of those hemangiomas, but those are a whole different story). The fact is also, that I CANNOT eat sugar. I need to stay away from it. Not because of some scientific truths, but because of MY truth. My truth is that I can’t control myself. My truth is, that there is a difference between refined sugar and raw honey. For me there is, be it physical or psychological. Who cares! My truth is, the stuff is not good for me.
My truth is also, that gluten free products are great… for other people. Not for me. Gluten free bread, you can have it. I don’t want it. I am going back to my “old ways”. I am going primal, and I’m staying primal. I’m doing this for myself. Not for anybody else, and certainly not to prove anything to anyone. My body has made a simple request, “Be kind to me.” And being primal is my way of being kind to my body.
I did, in fact, come full circle. And maybe I needed to go through all of this, to arrive back just where I started almost three years ago.
I encourage YOU to do the same for you! If you have found what works for you… be it paleo or primal, or a combination of lifestyles, then stick with it. Make no excuses. This is YOUR health and your life, and YOU have to live it.
Update: I had a thought. I’ve struggled with falling off and getting back onto the bandwagon for well over a year. Remember the blog post I wrote about kids: Choosing your battles – Life with teens? I had written the following:
Education ≠ Behavior Change
Sure, I knew all about paleo and that it was great for me. But somehow, after falling off and not seeing immediate negative results, I lacked the trigger to get back on.
Teen – “Mama, I want Top Ramen so badly. Will you buy me some at the store?” Me – “Say what? No, I will absolutely not do that. Did you not see that video of how Top Ramen is digested really slowly, because it’s full of crap?” Teen – “I don’t care. I really love it and I want it. Please bring me some.” Me – “No!” Teen – “Uuugh, I have a cold. Will you bring me a can of chicken noodle soup?” Me – “Dearest child, why don’t you just shoot yourself? It’s a quicker and less painful death.”
Teen rolls her eyes and stomps off. I admit, this may not have been my most glorious parenting moment, and I do make amends to my rules. But Top Ramen and canned chicken noodle soup? Has this child not learned anything about paleo/primal? When will she stop asking for garbage?
And this is, when I remember a lecture from AHS. The speaker reminded us that
Education ≠ Behavior Change
Sure, my kids know plenty about why they shouldn’t eat garbage. But does a smoker quit smoking merely because he knows it can cause cancer? No, of course not! I am faced with serious rebellion, especially from the 12 year old, who makes a point of eating the one most glutenous meal on the menu, when we go out to eat. Why is this? What makes this girl tick? And how will I get her to really think about what goes into her body? According to the AHS lecture, here is what it takes:
Education = check… Ability = check…. We are seriously lacking motivation and triggers. Think about it, what caused you to make the switch? The desire to lose weight? An autoimmune disease? Skin problem? What was your trigger? And what ultimately motivated you to keep doing it?
My kids are exceptionally healthy human beings. We haven’t seen a doctor in ages. The last time was for a broken finger. I can’t remember the last time either of them needed any antibiotics. There are no allergies, no weight issues, no autoimmune stuff, no ADD. Even during strict paleo eating they have not seen any results, have not felt any improvements. What makes me think, that simply the knowledge that paleo is right for us, will make them giddy and excited about living like this?
There is another obstacle on their road to perfect health (“but Mom, I already am perfectly healthy!”)… their peers! The one most gigantic road block, if you ask me, are their friends. When they walk to the little coffee house around the corner together, all of them buy cookies and cake, and they order sugary drinks. What young teen wants to be left out? And, to be clear, I have offered the alternative of unbelievably delicious paleo chocolate chip cookies. But, it’s not the same. A paleo chocolate chip cookie from Mom cannot compete with the glutenous goodness from the coffee shop… not because it doesn’t taste equally delicious, but because it’s not bought at the shop like all the other kids’ cookies.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware of the fact, that there are teens out there, who do eat paleo, and who feel passionately about it, although I’ll go out on a limb and say that they are generally older, and that there was, in fact, a trigger.
What to do? It all comes down to choosing your battles. I will absolutely never, ever buy Top Ramen or canned chicken soup. Here’s what keeps peace in the house… most of the time.
– At home you eat what Mom cooks or choose a paleo alternative
– Always be willing to at least consider the paleo alternative to a SAD food
– Enjoy that quinoa pasta, when Mom buys it, because it will remain a treat
– Think twice, before you empty your wallet on junk. Money does not grow on trees.
And for the parents:
– Know that you are doing your best, all day, every day.
– Be firm with what you bring into the house.
– Show a little flexibility now and then. It won’t hurt you or them if you occasionally cook rice or quinoa pasta, or buy that dreaded sweet milk chocolate.
– Empower them. The more you make them a part of the decision making process, the more they feel excited about it. Heck, let them sort through your paleo cookbooks and let them check out paleo website, and create a meal plan for a week. You’ll be surprised at the delicious stuff they come up with.
– Keep the information coming at mealtime. There is nothing like kids sitting there with their mouths full of food, unable to interrupt your well informed rant speech on the latest paleo research. It will sink in… eventually.
In conclusion I’d like to say, that I am of course aware, that not all teenagers are alike. I’m going to take a wild guess, that the 15 year old rebel in your house may be a little more resistant to your teachings. In this case, only patience can do the trick. Pay attention to the triggers… I got the 19 year old daughter to at least go gluten free, because she was suffering from frequent stomach aches for years. She has confirmed that she feels better, although she cannot at this time commit to go fully paleo.
As far as empowerment goes, my 12 year old is rather excited about our upcoming new gig, Grokette’s Primal Teen. We’re working hard on getting ready for this new endeavor in our lives, and my daughter is, of course, thrilled at the prospect of sharing the paleo/primal message with the world. Bye bye, Top Ramen!
Please go and check out Paleo Lifestyle Magazine. It’s a free online magazine that is published monthly, and it’s really growing every day. I’m all about supporting small venues, businesses, and such, so writing posts and articles for Brian at Paleo Lifestyle Magazine is a great honor and a pleasure.
My latest post there covers The How to of Paleo Life… with ideas for shopping, cooking, prep work and more. Find the post here!