As one might expect, I read tens of Paleo blogs, Facebook pages, forums, etc. each and every day. More often than not, we are a very civil community, willing to share ideas, knowledge, and fantastic recipes with one another in the name of better health and more productive lives.
That being said, there is a very vocal subset of the community that is hellbent on ruining the fun for the rest of us: the PaleOverlords (read: Paleo Overlords).
You know who I’m talking about – the ones that are quick to point out that you shared a recipe that calls for a small amount of dairy; wishes for a dislike button when you post that you had a sushi date night with your wife; or goes into a diatribe about the lack of conclusive evidence the quinoa is Paleo.
Know anyone like this? Would you say they’re pretty tough to deal with?
Are you like this? If so, please knock it off.
Paleo as a healthy template
One of the people in the Paleo community that I respect the most is Chris Kresser. Not only is he action-packed full of information, but he takes a pragmatic approach to Paleo in that it’s not a set of hard and fast rules that you must obey, rather, it is an amazing template for you to find the healthiest diet for you.
Read that again. Paleo is an amazing template for you to find the healthiest diet for you.
To give you a real world example – I had been following a pretty strict version of Paleo for probably 12-months. Things were going well, but things weren’t quite right. I’d lost more weight than I had wanted, I was always tired, and mentally I felt a little foggy. So I started doing some experimenting with foods I had removed, and came to find that by adding rice and legumes — particularly black beans — to my list of “acceptable foods” I was able to get back to the weight I wanted, my brain fog lifted, and I still kept all of the benefits I’d seen — clear skin, improved mood, etc. — since going Paleo.
If I had listened to those that say “you must avoid rice and legumes or your health is immediately going to go into the crapper” I never would have found the optimal diet for me. I would still be underweight and not as sharp (though, some may argue I’m still not that sharp, but that’s not the point here), so I’m glad I “broke the rules.”
(If you haven’t already done so, check out Chris’ Personal Paleo Code program (now named Paleologix Total Transformation) or his upcoming Personal Paleo Code book for more information.)
Conclusion (PaleOverlords, read closely)
If you are blindly following Paleo dogma, yes, some (and depending on who you read, most) of the foods I referenced above – dairy, rice, quinoa, wine, etc. – are not considered Paleo. (The emphasis on “blindly” is because there are some people who simply cannot deviate from the prescribed Paleo diet. Obviously, these people have reason to not experiment with dairy, rice, etc.)
That being said, one of the things I enjoy most about the Paleo community is that at the end of the day, it’s really all about doing whatever it takes to make yourself the healthiest and happiest version of you that you are capable of being.
So if someone in the community says that they eat sweet potatoes every day, or that they occasionally have rice with meals, or enjoy a glass — or the occasional bottle — of wine with friends, please save yourself the trouble of pointing out that these things technically aren’t Paleo. If it works for them, it works for them.
Last time I checked, our cavemen brethren were without modern conveniences like cars, phones, and the internet, so technically these things aren’t Paleo either, but we don’t think twice about condemning someone for driving, talking on the phone, or checking out awesome blogs like Paleo Lifestyle Magazine. The same courtesy should be given for those of us who are willing to push the boundaries of what’s considered Paleo in the name of searching for our best personal-Paleo roadmap.