Thursday, July 2, 2015

Paleo Diet: Eating Differently from Everyone Else is Fine!

I've been seeing more and more articles by women (it's always women) whose heads have exploded trying to figure out life without yogurt and cupcakes. Oh, the shenanigans they get up to: bathroom problems from stuffing themselves with vegetables, paleo baked goods that don't taste the same as ones from the bakery, and especially the irresistible urge to eat "normally."

The technical problems aren't hard to sort out: substitutes like baked goods will taste different because they are different, but an adjustment period of a few months will make those foods taste normal. And whatever you eat, don't stuff yourself. First, though, read a book by Loren Cordain or Mark Sisson to learn about the paleo diet before diving in.

The articles I keep reading, though, have more to do with attitude: the urge to be exactly like everybody else or the urge to be helpless. If you're in the second category, I can't, by definition, help you. If you'd rather be Lucille Ball on I Love Lucy than be Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, go for it. But wanting to be like everybody else?

It's not often mentioned, but conformity as a trend comes and goes, and it's all the rage right now. Young people have grown up with helicopter parents, Facebook, and constant contact with friends and family. This is fine if it suits you, but it promotes a great deal of conformity and makes it hard to be different, especially if you haven't known another way. And there is another way.

Just twenty years ago, independence was still a virtue. It had been for decades. Breaking away, finding yourself, and doing you own thing were what people did in the 1960s and 1970s. Young people split from the family home, questioned beliefs, and experimented with different lifestyles and religions. Parents didn't take off work to go to school plays. Boys over the age of 13 didn't need a wingman; at age 16, my ex-jerk was living on his own. As late as the 1980s and 1990s when I was a teenager and young adult, young people moved out of their parents' home in their late teens and early 20s--an older person living at home was called a 30-year-old baby. My parents didn't know what school I went to my first year of college (a lot of kids funded their own education or got scholarships). You could get in trouble for getting personal calls at work. And there was no doggie daycare. In other words, we were more independent.

Young people now can be more independent too, if they want, but it will look different. Mostly, realize that doing something different from your friends and family is fine. Keeping some privacy is fine, too--and may make it easier to do a paleo diet. Friends can and do sabotage each other. Maybe it's jealousy, maybe it's because one person's self-improvement makes them realize they need to get off their own butt and do something. Well-meaning family members who haven't done any research might bug you with their worries. In any case, be easy-going with them about your paleo diet. If your friends go out for cupcakes, just get some coffee or tea without preaching about the evils of flour and sugar. If you've had great results from going paleo, it's tempting to shout it from the rooftops, but most people don't want to hear it. By all means, talk about it with people who really seem interested, make some internet friends or join a meetup group of like-minded people, but don't bore your friends and family.

Think of doing a paleo diet as reviving a recent tradition a lot of us still practice--the tradition of doing your own thing.

19 comments:

Galina L. said...

I knew many women who always wanted to find another female to go together to eat during a break, to do shopping, even go to a restroom. Such desire for a companionship is much less frequent in males. May be acting as a group is more firmly engraved in the brains of our gender. Many of us, who communicate on a LC blogosphere, are slightly less feminine as I noticed. I can do things my own way, but I am comfortable and never bored when by myself.Many of us are not happy in social situations. I think I am communicating well with others, but sometimes people in my family mention that they wish I would talk more.

Lori Miller said...

That's true--a lot of us are happy on our own. Part of it is growing up in a different era, and part of it comes with being older. And some of it is down to personality type: the LC/paleo world is full of introverted technical or scientific types.

The younger girly girls seem to struggle more with a paleo diet. From reading some of their articles, it seems like it would help for them to connect with their friends and family on a basis other than food. So they order a meat dish when their friends order salads or just have coffee while their coworkers eat birthday cake. Really, what's the big deal? They might also allow for an adjustment period. A lot of them try a paleo diet briefly, make a few mistakes or miss their old foods and call it a failure. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

JanKnitz said...

I think having to have "normal" foods is motivated by denial of the need to change. People who are overly dependent on fake foods aren't really giving up on bread and cupcakes, they are just giving themselves a temporary placeholder until their diet "works" (meaning they achieve a goal weight) and they don't want to have to "suffer and sacrifice" to get there. Once they get to a goal, they have every intention of going back to their former lifestyle.

I think this is normal behavior in our culture. People have a very difficult time making lifestyle changes, while dieting is easy (sort of). I certainly started out that way myself, fully intending to re-aquaint myself with cake and bread as soon as I could. But Ive been blessed with never reaching my "goal weight" and somewhere along the way this became my lifestyle. The gains in health and energy, and concern for my body, my family, and my environment have superseded the momentary desire for a nice piece of cake or bread (MOST of the time ;o) Now I shake my head at people who need fake bread for their lunch "sandwich" or make daily "treats". But at first I thought they were necessary.

Lori Miller said...

Yes, if you go back to your old way of eating, you'll go back to your old health problems, too.

I don't see anything wrong with "fake food" if it's not harming you and you're not expecting it to taste exactly like the original. I make bread that's pretty paleo except for a bit of vinegar, xanthan gum and baking soda. I was never a big bread eater, but I like a slice or two with butter or a poached egg for breakfast. But I would agree that nutty goodies are easy to eat beyond your appetite. They can derail weight loss and add a lot of inflammatory PUFA to your diet.

Galina L. said...

I also think that there is a drive to the food of a childhood. It worked in our favor when my family returned quickly to the traditional home-cooked food of our native country after eating often pre-packaged frozen food after our arrival to Canada.

Lori Miller said...

But maybe that also has to do with conformity: eating like your parents. I'm just speculating since I never, ever felt the desire to eat the food of my childhood.

Lori Miller said...

@Jan, your response made me so hungry for cookies that I baked a batch with coconut flour. (I don't do that often.)

tess said...

I find your discussion of conforming amongst contemporary young-uns very interesting! Being a life-long iconoclast (ok, lone-wolf, if truth be told) I never did understand those group trips to the bathroom....

Lori Miller said...

The only reason I can think of is to bum a tampon.

tess said...

[scanning the page feverishly] where's that damn "like" button??? ;-)

Lori Miller said...

I thought about "holding your hand while you pee," but that was yucky.

Galina L. said...

May be a trip to a bathroom in an office environment is the perfect opportunity for a quick relaxed chat not appropriate when co-workers are around. People used to have more chat-breaks/smoking breaks in a smoking-designated areas when smoking was in a fashion.

Lori Miller said...

I've had a few coworkers who I wished better understood the idea of "not appropriate when co-workers are around."

Galina L. said...

Yes, an unwanted information has tendency to fly around. From my perspective, let the people who need to form a group to enjoy each other, especially on a way to a bathroom and while bonding over consuming "treats to dye for". I have female friends who look at things the way I do, and I try not to make uncomfortable others who live for belonging to a very chattery group. There is a very small chance for an outsider to influence their diet or any activities. Only the change in a general health advice could make a difference.

Lori Miller said...

What you're describing is groupthink, and loner and introverts are less prone to it. Just as it's important for us to get together with others now and then, extroverts need to go off by themselves once in a while and think things through without the influence of friends who may not know what they're talking about. Or may be trying to undermine them. As Robert over at Living Stingy says, it's safer in the middle of the herd, but the grass is trampled and pooped on.

Nancie Anne Frazer said...

think this is normal behavior in our culture. People have a very difficult time making lifestyle changes, while dieting is easy (sort of). I certainly started out that way myself, fully intending to re-aquaint myself with cake and bread as soon as I could. But Ive been blessed with never reaching my "goal weight" and somewhere along the way this became my lifestyle. The gains in health and energy, and concern for my body, my family, and my environment have superseded the momentary desire for a nice piece of cake or bread (MOST of the time ;o) Now I shake my head at people who need fake bread for their lunch "sandwich" or make daily "treats". But at first I thought they were necessary.
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Nancie Anne Frazer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rachel said...

Yes! This post is so good. I remember during one of my Whole30s I got so upset because I was at a party and while everyone was eating cake and drinking beer I wasn't. And I really let it get to me. But finally after some thinking, I realized I was the only one upset about it. None of my friends care. My "fear of missing out" exists only in my head.

Lori Miller said...

I tell people, "I like cake, but it doesn't like me."