If you follow me on instagram or you’ve read any of my book reviews lately, you’ve probably noticed the word “paleo” popping up quite a bit. So I thought it time for a little confession: I accidentally became paleo.
Q: “How do you know if someone is Paleo?”
A: “They’ll tell you.”
My husband told me the other day that I needed to reign in my paleo proselytizing. My goal is to not become one of those people who no one wants to be around, and I think he’s pretty good at keeping me in check. His comment the other day is what made me realize that I actually am paleo, and I thought it would be fun to share about my accidental journey.
I believe the original version of the above joke was “how do you know if someone does Crossfit?” and it easily morphed to Paleo because the two go hand in hand. I first heard of the paleo movement from a group of acquaintances who were very active in the Crossfit community. Crossfit was their lives, paleo was their diet, and everyone knew about it. This was before I had made any changes to my diet, and frankly I found it quite annoying that they were always talking about how many tires they could flip and how much meat they consumed. I really didn’t understand it at all, and was pretty sure that ordering sweet potatoes fried in oil was really not any better than regular potatoes fried in oil (←turns out I was right!).
It was shortly after this paleo surge that I began my healing journey which involved switching to a “real food” diet. I gradually started eliminating things and tried very hard to not be that person who was constantly talking about what they choose to eat, even though it seemed to be consuming my life.
Fast forward about 6 months, to when Laszlo met a couple and came home and told me “They’re paleo. You will love them!” I found it quite weird, especially since I was not following a paleo diet at the time. But as I learned more about their health choices, I realized we had more similarities than differences. I was still hesitant to associate myself with the caveman diet of the Crossfit legion, however, so when asked if I was paleo, my response was “not intentionally.”
After reading the intro to Paleo Slow Cooking, I learned quite a bit about the paleo diet, mostly that the specifics of “allowable” foods can vary by person. That explained a lot of the confusion I’d encountered through my discussions with those following the diet. The individualized approach made sense, but I still had no interest in becoming paleo myself.
But this summer, after a year and a half of eating “real food” and gradually removing more and more “problem” foods from my diet, I hit a plateau in the treatment of my autoimmune disease. After doing some research, I found something called the Auto Immune Protocol, which is essentially an elimination diet designed for people with autoimmune conditions. Since it was really not that much more restricted than the diet I was currently following, I decided to give it a try. I didn’t even realize until I was a few weeks into the diet that it is commonly referred to as the Autoimmune Paleo Diet (AIP), and is a more restricted version of the “normal” paleo diet. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into, but…IT WORKED!
…and now I’ve definitely become that person who can’t stop talking about it. But I think I finally have a better understanding of those original paleo converts I encountered. What I mistook as an air of superiority in regards to their diet, was actually just an enthusiasm that they wanted to share because they felt so much better!
As I do more research it has been interesting to read the reasoning behind WHY each food group is removed. As I work on “healing my gut” it is important to give my body a break from these damaging foods, with the hope that one day I will be able to add some of them back in.
I’ve also come to realize that paleo is about lifestyle, not simply “eating like a caveman.” It’s not even about eating foods that were around in the paleolithic era. Many things have changed since then which make that impossible. And it’s definitely not about eating only meat!
- Choosing foods that are nutrient dense and healing (as opposed to harmful) to help our bodies feel good and function properly
- Being active, because our bodies were designed for motion (not sitting at a desk all day)
- Minimizing environmental toxins, and
- Appropriately handling stress.
Now that I understand the paleo lifestyle, I can’t help but be excited about it. These are all good things! But when it comes to the diet, I know that it is not for everyone. That’s why I plan to explore several real food diets in my 31 Day Introduction to Real Food series. And the next time I start proselytizing, please feel free to knock me off my soap box.