Author : Justin Nault
Paleo Is Not A Rulebook. What exactly is “Paleo,” anyway? I mean the true meaning or essence of the word. It’s an important question. To establish what a person must do to “Be Paleo,” we must first establish what Paleo actually is. These days, it’s starting to look more and more like a religion. A movement which sits upon a foundation of unbreakable rules that allow no room for negotiation. We have a set of commandments that are never to be broken. “Thou shall not eat refined carbohydrates.”“Though shall not consume dairy.”“Though shall not covet sugary treats.”
Humans are incredibly skilled at finding loopholes. Always have been, always will be. For every rule, there will always be a workaround. There will always be “exceptions.” We have all heard a person say something like this, “Ugh. I had stuffed crust pizza and beers for lunch yesterday and a candy bar for dessert... But that’s okay because those were the only things I ate ALL DAY!” This person has found a way to justify their decision to break the rules. As ridiculous as their argument is, it is logical to them. They have reasoned their way into their poor decision. They’ve convinced themselves they were justified.
That, my friends, is the current state of Paleo.
Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t be happier with the widespread adoption of the Paleo diet. I’m all for baby steps. I just see behavior patterns that I find genuinely concerning. Let’s imagine what an ideal grocery store would look like if they all created a“Paleo section.” What should the Paleo section look like? Well, it should look a lot like the meat and produce sections. Let me rephrase, it would look identical to the meat and produce section. But that’s not what’s happening. It is fascinating to me that some grocery stores have already created entire Paleo sections. Yet, heartbreaking that they closely resemble the cereal and baking sections of grocery stores. Boxes and boxes of Paleo goodies. All the tools you need to turn all your favorite bullshit snacks into “Paleo” bullshit snacks. Many of these Paleo products have nutrition facts that would rival that of Cap’n Crunch. 30+ grams of sugar (from honey, of course. It’s Paleo!), 40+ net carbs (but, hey, it’s almond flour, it doesn’t count!), and questionable (at best) ingredients such as “Natural Flavors.” This new reality is a direct result of our innate ability to find loopholes and exceptions to every rule. The only way we will find the true essence of Paleo is by removing the idea of a “rulebook.” If we adopt Paleo as a philosophy, rather than a set of rules, I believe the movement will spread further and carry with it far more benefits to humanity as a whole.
As an example, I will share with you one of the most common questions I get as a Paleo Nutritional Therapist. “So, when do you cheat?! Like, when are your cheat days and meals?!”You should see the look on peoples’ faces when I say, “Never.” Let me explain...
I discovered Paleo a few years ago and my life has changed for the better ever since. Each day is better than the last, I kid you not. Reason being, I adopted Paleo as a philosophy from Day 1. Paleo became my “new normal.” Here’s the best way I can describe it. If you walk into a real estate office and there is a bowl of fake plastic fruit sitting on the coffee table, do you reach for a piece and take a bite? Of course, not. Why? Because your brain is capable of looking at the fruit and instantly categorizing it as “not food.” You walk past the bowl without a second thought. Not eating the fruit requires exactly zero willpower. Wouldn’t it be nice if your brain could come to the same conclusion for non-paleo foods, in an instant?! Well, the truth is, it can. But this reprogramming of the brain only comes with time, and 30 days just ain’t gonna cut it!
ALSO NOT FOOD!
To drive this point home a bit further... Let’s say I have just completed a 48 hour fast. I’ve consumed nothing for 48 hours, not even water. At the end of the fast, I am ravenously hungry, feeling like I could pass out at any moment. You walk into the room and place a giant box of Cinnabons and a Coca-Cola in front of me. I can assure you, with 100% certainty, I will not take a single bite of that pseudo food. It just won’t happen. Why? Because my brain instantly recognizes it as “not food.” I want to pick up that food and eat it about as much as I would want to pick up the plastic fruit and eat it. Nothing about it even remotely appeals to me. Was I always this way? Of course, not. Was it easy to become this way? Well, it wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t exactly easy. Was it convenient? Nope, not in today’s society. Plenty of people looked at my decisions as “weird” and definitely not normal. But the fact is, “normal” doesn’t mean “better ”just because society says so. If that were the case, we wouldn’t be dealing with an obesity epidemic and a Health Care system on the verge of collapse.
All I’m saying is, go all in. Make a real, concerted effort to change your lifestyle. Stop focusing on abstract rules that you must follow. No one likes rules. What makes us think that coming up with more of them to follow is a good idea? Stop giving yourself brownie points because you “obeyed the rules” and passed on dessert at lunch. That should be your normal. Make it so. There is a much bigger picture to Paleo. A lifelong journey of learning and growth that requires a conscious decision to create a better life for yourself. There’s a whole hell of a lot more to this life than office chairs, TV shows, and the 5 seconds of mouth pleasure you get from toxic foods. The trade off of mouth pleasure for human health is (or should be) a no-brainer!
Those of us who live this new normal every day have been exactly where you are right now. You’ve reached the tipping point. What side of the fence you come down on is entirely up to you.
We’ll be waiting for you...
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