Thursday, September 20, 2012

I'm Down With O.P.P. (Other People's Paleo)

In a strange twist of fate, the journey back to the hometown was an interesting reflection of what has changed since we left.

Both of us, for example.

While I didn't magically get skinny, I am slimmer than I was- with a lot less effort. Even being bludgeoned by hormones and a little puffy, I am way ahead of where I used to be. I never in a million years thought I would ever get a compliment on my skin, and now I get them all the time. I put the scale away for the duration of my current medical stuff: back in the day, this would be a recipe for disaster and I would just keep gaining, unchecked.

SG has recently dropped quite a bit of weight, as he has gotten more serious about cutting out grains, period. The shorts that he's had for years are falling off him without a belt. Just today, I noticed he was wearing a sweater I bought him for Christmas- a sweater that he previously admitted he didn't like to wear because of its tendency to hug around the belly region. It now doesn't have very much left to hug. He also commented that (of all things) he thinks his fingernails are thicker. But the thing he is most impressed with is the demise of his seasonal allergies. Snoring has been cut in half, and the constant sneezing and nose blowing and swollen, teary, puffy eyes haven't made their appearance in months- and this is the worst time of the year for it.

So of course, going home- there are lots of good friends who aren't happy with their weight. They have skin problems, stomach problems, allergies that make them miserable. My dad has a sinus infection, which he blames on "cotton defoliants".  I used to use that excuse too.

This is where I also say that Practical Paleo should be paying me commission! I am so humbled and touched by how many of my buddies have bought the book. Believe me when I say, I am thrilled that you had the faith in me to buy it and read it- I honestly believe in what I am doing, and it's my desire to help others the way I have been helped that prompted me to start blogging on the regular (for me). Chucking out half your pantry and changing everything can come later. Some of you have, and some of you haven't, and that is cool with me.

There are some hardcore people out there- people who get out the Paleo Taser for any kind of dairy product, for any kind of starchy tuber. I am not one of those people. I made those changes on my own- and with more of a Primal outlook towards things. I believe that different people need different nutrients. I believe that a 100% Dorito diet would make 99% of people sick 99% of the time. Some people have no problem with tubers or dairy, and to find out if that person is you, then you have to decide what your goals are, and then you have to fiddle.

For some people, I am sure the answer is a lot more cut and dried than it is for me. I've watched my hubby do a version of Paleo that is a lot less strict than the way I eat. He loses weight- I maintain. We are all different, and it really is all about deciding what works for you.  

The reason I say this- it is SO hard to see people struggling- particularly when you have been there, and if you (like me) are still at a point when wearing an "I heart bacon" t-shirt may draw snarky comments from passers-by. The yardstick we measure health by in this country is the ability to maintain a "healthy" weight.  So I have always hesitated. I mean, what do I know? Just that I feel like a completely different person, but that doesn't necessarily prove anything.

But now, I have SG. And he is over the moon about how much better he looks and feels- and he wants to tell the world, and has developed quite the evangelical fervor.

Now, at the bottom of this- what woman doesn't want her husband to repeatedly trumpet that her crazy "hippie" ideas were right all along? That he feels amazing, and everyone should do this? Yeah, OK, you got me. I am thrilled that he feels this way, particularly after watching him sheepishly empty the bread basket all by himself for my first year of Primal eating. I never thought we'd get here!

But now, I am out there. Flying under the radar is no longer possible, and I have to open myself up to some conflict, because while my husband is an enthusiastic convert, when it comes to anything sciencey, he's not the one who did the legwork, read the blogs and the books, does the shopping, and cooks the meals. That would be me. So he basically opens the can of worms, and then I need to get all the worms lined up in some kind of sane and well-adjusted manner, and maybe make them do the Macarena.

Which leads me to having uncomfortable conversations about gluten at Macaroni Grill after 1/2 our party of four has ordered the pasta alfredo bowl.  I try to be careful. The changes I am talking about are minor to me, but represent Enormous Life Changes to most people. Food is an intensely personal choice. I freely admit that I initially went cold turkey off grains, then gradually tapered off sugar, then most dairy, over a period of years.  If someone has already had to eradicate stuff, because they are sensitive to nightshades (yes T. I am looking at you!) I totally understand why they wouldn't want to limit themselves further. It's something you have to be ready to do, and I get it, and appreciate that you're thinking about it. At the other end of the spectrum are people rating FastPaleo's app at one star because some of the recipes (maybe 1%?) contain white potatoes. Or acting like consuming butter will get your Caveman Card revoked.

My Paleo: I err on the side of Primal. The most sustainable meats I can afford. Omega 3 enriched, cage free organic eggs from Trader Joe's. Nuts as a garnish. Organic, seasonally appropriate fruits and veggies. Sweet potatoes, and I admit, white potatoes- once I figured out that cutting out tubers did nothing for me weight-wise, why not? Dark chocolate. Stevia in my tea. Approved Paleo sweeteners in moderation (special occasion desserts).  And yes, dairy: cheese and butter- I have no reaction to these. Greek Yogurt once in a blue moon- it makes my throat a little tingly, but I love it.

What's YOUR Paleo?


  1. I have started on my own little trek into the Paleo realm. Although my own modifications are not strictly Paleo they are Paleo inspired. I did have the two cookbooks I bought on the counter and had two friends comment on the books and not in a positive light either. I heard "You're not going gluten free are you?!?" and "I heard it's really unhealthy if your not allergic to wheat". And while these are good friends of mine I really didn't see how it was any of their business.

    I like a lot of the recipes in both books and find the challenge in creating better food for me and my family extremely fulfilling. I have not completely given up Oatmeal because my body has told me in the past that I kind of need it. Last time I gave up grains I ended up in the ER because my body couldn't move things out on it's own. So that lesson has been learned. I have started limiting my processed foods which I have found makes me feel better. The added fruits and veggies along with higher quality organic meat leaves me feeling full longer than processed stuff from the cupboard doused in sodium. So my path is more of a whole eating experience. Thank you for sharing all of your stories and the continued inspiration!

    1. Juju- It is wonderful to hear that you are having positive experiences with this: good for you! I think drawing the line at oatmeal is a good strategy. I do have the occasional scoop of white rice when we are out at Thai food or what-have-you. I just anticipate that I will wake up ravenous the next day. But that side effect of just not being hungry as often; and only eating when I am hungry- has been huge for me. So I am glad it is working for you too!