Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Uh Oh...

As someone who has been doing this for awhile, I don't consider Paleo to be a "fad". But we're going to be getting a lot more backlash soon. My prediction is that Paleo will be the hot new diet "trend" of 2013.

The reason?

Wheat Belly is currently #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list, in the "Hardcover Advice and Misc." category. And Practical Paleo is at #7, in the paperback division of that same category.

Holy smokes! I suppose I realized (when I spotted the stack of books above at my local Costco) that we had really hit the big time. But giving some thought to it has brought me to this point. Things are going to explode- and soon. Any day now, I expect to see Robb and Mark and everyone else on Good Morning America, along with a whole bunch of success stories in the flesh. Weight Watchers should be quaking in its boots.

So: get ready. January 1 is just around the corner, and you know what that means. You're going to get a lot of questions about Paleo from people you know, the online message boards are going to be flooded with people asking questions about pork rinds and whether whole wheat counts as a grain, and whether all the fat will cause them to spontaneously combust.

I am steeling myself to be nice to those people: to deal with them gently, to steer them in the right direction, to close my eyes and count to three when it's obvious that they haven't actually read anything, and to not snap when they get upset because they "can't live without bread!".  It would be easier to avoid (AVOID! AVOID!) but that unfairly puts the load on the people who answer those questions day in and day out anyway. 

I was once one of those people. I tried everything. Every year, it was something else- sometimes, several something elses. This is the only thing that's ever stuck: It will be three years in March! And while I have gotten to spend those three years sitting back and absorbing truly alarming amounts of info: I remember the handful of people who actually took the time to stop and give me a generous, sincere, and helpful answer.  I remember the crappy ones, too. So please- be kind. ;) 

When I started out, very few women were eating Paleo: or if they were, they didn't post a lot on the boards. I also learned the hard way that asking for help seemed to automatically place you in the "st00pid n00b" category: even when I was anything but. Because so many people didn't didn't do the research and blundered around asking for help, it took me a long time to get a real answer. And I am still so thankful that I got it.

If you're one of those new people who is just jumping on the bandwagon a little early, and somehow crash-landed here- welcome!  

What you should know: Please keep in mind that everyone's Paleo is different. Add to that you're depending on a bunch of faceless Internet strangers for advice. What you get will probably be an awful  conglomeration of witticisms, in-jokes, and crazy acronyms, some stuff that is well-meant but comes from people who have only been doing this a week or so longer than you have and needs to be taken with (a few) grains of salt, some stuff from people who are 100% Paleo, no exceptions (and insist that is the ONLY WAY) and some stuff that is actually helpful to you. Keep that stuff. Toss the rest. And for heaven's sake, read the books. Read Practical Paleo: if you're attached to dairy, read the Primal Blueprint too. If you want, read Wheat Belly for good measure. Make sure you draw your own conclusions. 

When I started, I cut out grains immediately, and the results were shockingly obvious, only a few days later. Sugar came next: although I was more lax about that than I should have been for longer than I care to admit! The best advice I can give: clean out your cupboards, stick with what you are familiar with that's Paleo approved, do your best to plan for contingencies, and just live. Most of us are so distanced from the way our bodies communicate with us, stuff that should be instinctive- Hunger. Thirst. Fatigue. Illness. Aches and pains. Crankiness.  These are just taken for granted, and are usually considered inconveniences, or something to overcome, if you think about them at all. I now look at them like road signs. Years of dieting had taken away any ability I had to heed most of these signs. I was "supposed" to be hungry all the time, and I was "supposed" to drink as much water as possible, whether I was thirsty or not. I now eat when I am hungry. I drink when I am thirsty. Amazing!

The best advice I can give: It will become instinctive- just eat, and eat simply. Get used to cooking at home if that's not usually your thing. Get used to asking a lot of questions at restaurants. Take "before" measurements and pictures. Get some bloodwork done, and a physical too, if you're n top of that stuff. Try a few recipes, but also build on stuff that seems familiar. You don't need to run out and buy a bunch of liver and coconut flour. 

There are plenty of great things to snack on, and often the Paleo "replacement foods" for baked goods will lead you to be more susceptible to the real thing. On the other hand, screwing up once in awhile, or enjoying the 80/20, can be a powerful motivator: both positive and negative. Don't torment yourself, just forge ahead, and take note of the changes in your body: good or bad. Ditch the grains and load up on veggies and fruits: the stuff you like. Figure out what you will conserve on and where you will splurge- will you join a CSA, hit the farmers market, prowl the aisles of Whole Foods and Trader Joe's checking every ingredient on packaging?  You'll have tons of time to practice, to figure out what works for you, and it will soon be second nature. Then you can worry about tweaking your exercise routine and macronutrient ratios and body fat percentages. Be patient: we are all different. Just respect your body and forge ahead; and if you have questions, shoot me an email. I solemnly swear to answer to the best of my ability, or refer you to a trusted source if I can't.

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