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.