I apologize if the title is slightly misleading. I’m not saying that I’m not paleo anymore, but I’m also not really saying that I am “paleo”. There is a plethora of reasons that I have written this post and I will address every single one of them. If you have any questions, then I encourage you to comment on this post and I will do my best to answer you.
For the record, no, this does not mean that I won’t be posting any more paleo recipes, I will continue the paleo/grain free recipe production. I just wanted to address some things with all you lovely people that I think should be mentioned and I would love to know what you think. So please let me know how you take this.
I’m sure that if you read one of my recent posts about weight gain then I would imagine you probably expected some sort of following post like this one. In addition to that (if you follow me) you might have noticed on my instagram that I also have frequently been using hashtags like “#callthepaleopolice” and “#paleyolo”.
While they are meant to be funny, the underlying reason behind me doing that is that I feel like it’s high time some people within the paleo community start to loosen up their death grip on the strict paleo bandwagon. I think that many people already have begun, even many of the big names out there have, and always have. Trust me, I know, I’m close friends with many of them. With that said I also am fairly certain that there are many people out there that are still dead set on being strict paleo and haven’t given enough thought about a “post-paleo”.
-Some of the best pizza you can get in Italy–
I know what this is like because the same thing happened to me. That’s part of the reason why my before and after for my weight/muscle gain post is so drastic. Through all of the websites, articles, instagram accounts, facebook pages, and other forms of social media, there is a constant mantra of “strict paleo”; meaning veggies, meat, water, a little safe starches (emphasis on a little).
All of these sources of information are constantly relaying that as well as teaching the “mortifying” and “deadly” effects of things like corn, oats, rice, wheat, etc. Not to mention with very little consideration of the sourcing of ingredients. I’m not saying anyone needs to be eating these things, the real problem here, is that super strict paleo is not going to work for everyone. It didn’t for me. Technically it did work for a short period of time for my weight loss a few years ago, but not in the long term. We are basically replacing one dogmatic extreme, with another. It’s gotten to the point that whenever someone asks “are you paleo?” I respond with a wince because everyone associates it with extreme food rules and I have to “explain myself”.
I have reintroduced many foods with great success and in the end have felt much better with them included in my diet. That means foods like white rice, raw dairy, organic corn, gluten free oats, even occasional wheat if it is extremely high quality or imported. I know exactly what my body will reject and what it will accept. Of course I take into consideration several of the scientific arguments that have been made but in the end I’m tired of being drug back and forth like a rag doll. I would like to sit back and enjoy the idea of just eating real food again. After all, it is sort of my profession right now.
This is sort of a short rant that I had to get out. I feel like paleo is an extremely useful tool for someone who is just beginning to learn about food, has a real food illness, or would like to test it with weight loss. Eating in a way that works for an individual is extremely difficult when you start at a really unhealthy end of the spectrum. That’s why I still like paleo; it can help give those people something to work off of. At the same rate, maybe it’s time for the paleo veterans to start reintroducing some more foods like I have. So am I done with paleo? No, paleo and I are still friends. I just think it’s about time that paleo evolves a little bit.
Great post Josh! I really like how you put things in perspective. There certainly is one extreme or another, and if we don’t adhere to any of them then god forbid the police come after you. Everyone should do what’s best for their health. We definitely don’t need to be perfect because there is no such thing.
Sandra Neary says
we eat “clean” organic, self-prepared, avoid sugars and get plenty of exercise. We eat rice and oats, corn, potatoes and I eat small amounts of whole grain bread. As long as our health is good we will continue to do so. I think the “paleo police” are people who truly cannot tolerate many non-paleo foods.
Slim Palate says
I totally agree, although I think that a lot of people have developed food phobias rather than actually having food intolerances.
Thanks for a great post!
I couldn’t agree more and I also feel the same way. The whole Strict Paleo Wagon does seem as if it is getting out of control and people are forgetting the real core reasoning behind it. It is just simply J.E.R.F aka Just Eat Real Food. Though at the same time, enjoying your life without the feeling of guilt and restriction. As long as each individual is eating what is right for their bodies and making them feel healthy from the inside and out, nothing else really matters.
Great blog post! Yes I fully agree.
I could not agree more!! Paleo worked for me for a time, but the restrictiveness of it caused me to struggle with orthorexia and become obsessed with healthy eating. I don’t care about eating processed foods. But I became so ingrained with the anti-grain message that if I was hungry and in a place where a grain or other non-paleo food was my only option I wouldn’t eat anything. I wrecked my metabolism by eating too little. I obsessed over every food I ate. This is not paleo’s fault per se, but reading that eating oats was like eating poison was only making me anxious about food. When my hair started falling out–and mind you, at this point I was getting enough calories via paleo sources–I knew I needed to eat some of the foods I had become so terrified of. After reintroducing corn, oats, rice, sprouted grains, beans, etc. I have the most energy I’ve had in 3 years since going paleo. Again, I’m not saying paleo is all bad, but it is important to listen to your body and remember that one thing doesn’t work for everyone. Blindly accepting everything a food blogger or health expert says and cutting out healthy foods just because some person says to without a real need to is silly. I do MUCH better on a diet that incorporates all foods, including beans and grains. Thank you for your honest post, I wish more people in the paleo community would look at things I’m such a balanced way.
Slim Palate says
This is exactly what I’m talking about! Thank you for sharing this personal story with me. This is exactly how I feel about the way things are being portrayed via the internet and various sources of social media. All of these anti-gluten or anti-grain/legume articles are just like the articles that scream poor biased science about “saturated fat being bad for you”. It’s becoming a screaming match between the two with no middle ground. With that said, I hope to make some shifts to help people in the community with this post. Thanks again for sharing your story, I’m very glad you found a way that worked for you!
No, thank you! Your words were very reaffirming. I’m sure this post is going to help a lot of people 🙂
I seriously could have written this exact same response, right down to the part about your hair falling out! My grandmother even made me a beautiful cake for my birthday and I threw my slice in the trash. I cringe when I think about that now. I am so much happier now that I am not restrictive.
Amen! I’ve said for ages that I eat paleo but I’m not pretending with dessert. When I want to splurge why not have the real thing. One thing won’t ruin the world.
Slim Palate says
Yes to this 1000%. Not to mention finding something high quality. Why would I want to waste my time with something cheap and boring like a candy bar? If I’m gonna splurge it better be absolutely amazing and real.
This was a fantastic post. I’ve been “post-paleo” for a few years. People need to make smart, educated decisions about their nutrition instead of just following some dietary rules blindly. I’ve stopped reading several popular paleo blogs because they feel more like paleo lemmings than smart people making smart decisions. Thanks for being one of the smart blogs!
Excellent post! Replacing one restrictive mindset with another doesn’t deal with any underlying issues when it comes to food. Allowing yourself to find a healthy eating style that suits your individual needs is more beneficial in the long run. A constant stream of online ‘perfectionist’ imagery does nothing to help people find their everyday approach. Personally I try to stick to paleo and JERF principles the majority of the time but if I go out for a special meal with friends or family or if I travel I’m going to eat that hand-made pizza <3
Andrea @ Pencils and Pancakes says
I agree! You do you!
I totally agree Josh!
I’ve been “paleo” more or less for 3 years. I have an eating disorder brought on by celiac disease, and IBS. Also known as a lot of health issues. About a year ago, I was just so u satisfied with everything, and after a severe loss, my whole eating regime just went down the drain. (Mind you, at that time, I was eat bananas and almond butter for breakfast most days…I was so tired I couldn’t cook.), was gaining weight and constantly felt awful about myself because as a nutritionist I felt like I should have my health under control, and I was far from it.
I am still struggling, I think that as a person with an eating disorder, paleo almost became another eating disorder, and to this day in still afraid to add things such as oats or legumes back into my diet, as I am afraid of gaining weight or making my gut issues worse. Not a healthy perspective.
I don’t think my body does well on the amount of meat paleo reguires, which for me means eating legumes – and I do, but it’s always a bit of a scary thing for me. I have issues when I eat AIP, let alone when I eat standard whole foods – but clearly I need some changes as 100% strict paleo clearly doesn’t work for me.
I think a good rule of thumb would be: if it comes from the earth, eat it, if I doesn’t leave it. (I count animals as coming from thfrom earth, but only in their unprocessed form)
Slim Palate says
If you have been paleo for 3 years you should try incorporating just a tiny bit of something new. I promise that one day will not mess you up whatsoever. Just take it nice and slow. You will KNOW if your body cannot tolerate it through digestive responses, etc. Once you’ve used paleo as a nice guideline then you will come to find that your body can be very in tune with what it will accept, and what it will disagree with. Good luck! By the way I’m completely speaking from personal experience, I am not a nutritionist what so ever. This is just what worked for me, and everyone is different. Not everyone will be able to eat what I’m eating all the time and I won’t be able to eat some of the things other people can eat (A.K.A foods you consider a treat, which even then can be eaten with simple mindfulness rather than a specific percentage or a day).
Hi Josh!! What a great post that I think MANY of us are feeling, but don’t have the voice you do to be heard. Thanks and you look great and it’s great to hear that you are putting your health first. Keep it up!
Excellent post! So glad you are finding your balance. I couldn’t agree more with what you said. I needed a paleo/GAPS diet to heal my gut and now I keep to foods that keep it healthy and reintroduce foods slowly if I’m not sure my body will take them. But I, too, have done so much better in search of balance than clinging to one food plan.
I have enjoyed your posts and watching your diet evolve. You have some fabulous recipes and I am so glad you have shared them with us. The ones I have tried are all delicious. I also believe that instead of paleo, gluten-free, etc, we should all be eating “clean” and am working hard on doing that for my family. And doing all things in moderation is a much more balanced way of living than trying to be ultra-strict on foods. Thank you for all your hard work and sharing your recipes. Please know that you have a lot of positive support, probably more than those who rant at you. And please keep sharing any new recipes.
I heartily agree. As a matter of fact, some paleo-ists are making the jump to grass fed butters, rices, potatoes, and natural cheeses. We need to learn to get back to cooking at home instead of filling out “gullets” with processed foods that are filled with who knows what (including sugars). Clean cooking (and organic) allows our bodies to digest food instead of it hanging in our systems. There is indeed a balance. It’s about making good choices about food and then not sitting on our butts–never exercising. Great article. Well said.
Traci Daley says
Great post and I totally agree! Real food is the key.
Kim Pawell says
Well said Joshua. I went grain-free for about a year, but found focusing on what to eat instead of what not to eat was a more productive, more enjoyable, less black and white approach to food. There was a Swedish study of nearly 60,000 woman that concluded “It appears more important to increase the number of healthy foods regularly consumed than to reduce the number of less healthy foods regularly consumed.” Adding more healthy foods and cooking at home are the two guiding lights to my food philosophy. http://somethingnewfordinner.com/blog/new-years-resolution-cook-more-often/. I like what you are doing, the way you are evolving and your willingness to share your path. Keep up the good work!
How dare you?!
Just kidding! Excellent post. This quote from you is it in a nutshell for me: “I would like to sit back and enjoy the idea of just eating real food again.”
I studied/practiced an Ayurcedic approach to eating for awhile which was very helpful to my family and me. Their first “rule” when choosing what to eat is that “Food should be appealing, appetizing, appreciated and enjoyed.”
Where Paleo helped me so much was in helping rewire my brain to find a mound of steamed veggies tossed in a bit of ghee and sea salt alongside some grilled meat MUCH more genuinely appealing than candy or chips.
With that said I did learn that certain foods do affect me negatively – corn and gluten being two – but also that I’m fine with them in moderation, and fresher, less processed food containing them seems much easier on my system.
My husband on the other hand has autoimmune issues and we’re exploring to see if 100% eschewing certain things like gluten or dairy will help him. His Dr. said that if it is a genuine allergy/food intolerance even a tiny bit can trigger the autoimmune reaction. If that’s necessary, we’ll do it. But I don’t want to live my life in fear of food. And I don’t want to be “that person” who can’t enjoy a meal with friends because she has so many “rules” about food.
In your case Josh, the proof is in the pudding. Look how strong and healthy you are now compared to your obese high school days, yet I suspect you may be consuming as many – if not more? – calories now than you did back then. It’s just balanced, real food made with wholesome, fresh ingredients.
Slim Palate says
Yes the irony is that I eat many more calories now than I did then. It’s all proof of the oversimplified “calories in calories out” is a bust. I eat like 3,000 calories on a workout day and lose fat, of course my metabolism is much higher at this point. Good for you and your family for discovering your path and what is appealing to you, I feel the same way! It’s all about what works for us.
Leticia Villarreal Sosa says
Hi there. I found this post interesting, mostly because I’m not sure who is being referred to as the “paleo police”. In my experience I have never encountered anyone who was so fundamentalist that the criticized what I ate or didn’t eat. I know which foods are on my NEVER eat list because I know how they affect me, and I have foods that I minimize, but like to enjoy once in a while – like some very good gelato (sugar and dairy!). Because I always avoid wheat, sometimes I eat gluten free, but not grain free. I continue to eat greek yogurt because it helps me to keep my weight down, is very satisfying, and a good source of protein. I love many of the paleo principles and incorporate them in my diet, I also love a lot of the raw vegan philosophy and incorporate some of those ideas – essentially to come up with the best combination that fits my goals and keeps me healthy. So I think others describe me as paleo, but I wouldn’t describe me as paleo – but I don’t necessarily call myself that because of the exceptions I make.
Anyway, I didn’t mean to give a list of what I do or don’t do, but I just wanted to comment on the original post and the replies because I just haven’t experienced anything so fundamentalist. I read Paleo magazine and have never felt that way with any of the articles, I’ve read numerous books. So, I was wondering what sources you and the others replying were referring to – the academic in me wants citations rather than just generalization because it’s just not something I have experienced. What I have seen on various blogs, etc. is that everyone has some sort of variation of what they eat or what they call “paleo” and that’s just fine. I’m glad I’ve never been judged or criticized for eating something or not. Next time, though it would be helpful to add exact quotes or citations of things you’ve read that have given you this impression. thanks!
Slim Palate says
Hey Leticia, I wanted to give citations and quotes for this but I did not for several reasons. The main reason being that I don’t want to call out relatively good sources of nutritional information despite their biases. This post was almost strictly observational and out of experience that I think most people within this paleo, gluten free, or healthy eating community can relate to and have experienced. Sorry if this post seemed confusing.
Good for you! I always say “You do what you need to so you feel better”. Everyones diets should be individually set up for this reason. Not everything works for everyone and one label will not fit all. Its so great that you shared.
beverly lucas says
hooray for authenticity! I applaud your willingness to share this. Isn’t it funny how people almost label you more than you do yourself when you mention that you are eating a paleo diet, or vegan or….and then when they see you eat something else they are quick to point out what part of that doesn’t fit your label or their label of you.
I too feel better doing exactly what your are doing. Whole30 led me to this with easy steps and an openness and great guide to testing who you are and what serves you from food. It eliminates your personal prisons.
and when you are optimal, you can have occasionally the odd item you would otherwise not choose to have, and then the prison walls collapse. And nine times out of ten, that occasional movie popcorn or piece of pizza becomes super occasional because it just makes you feel horrible and you really feel it and don’t want to go there.
Health is the ultimate goal here, and we cannot compartmentalise humans into a category. Even day to day foods vary for me in terms of what is going to make me feel good that day, or nutrients I need to take in.
so well done you. You lead your generation with grace and those to follow you. Thank you 🙂
Slim Palate says
Hey Beverly, thank you so much! I feel that people are definitely too quick to want to categorize things. To be fair, it does make sense, it makes a very vague path easier to navigate. In the words of my buddy Chase “It’s like the pirate code: a guide, not a law.”.
What is in a label? A lot! A few years ago, the term “paleo” had been really useful for me in finding great real-food low carb recipes. As someone with SIBO, I have been so frustrated with the recent trend in “paleo” site/books in that they now include high carb ingredients! Before I found paleo, searching low-carb would lead me to dishes using a lot of artificial sweeteners; gluten-free is often high in grains or starches/sugar; grain-free might be high in sugars. Paleo used to be a great description, but as many practioners have loosened up, it is now practically meaningless. I am not judging anyone for eating non-paleo (even I do it, sometimes). Nonetheless, if I wanted recipes using potatoes, rice, sugar, etc., I’d just pick up one of the many cookbooks in my collection.
I just want to say that you’re the best. Haha. This post was honest, respectful, and refreshingly well-written. I’ve been in such a position before as well- known by everyone as a “health-freak” and honestly afraid of touching “unhealthy” foods, yet unbelievably frustrated and overwhelmed by Google’s plethora of contrasting information.
Our bodies are amazing; they can adapt to just about any environment, and are always working to keep us alive. I really believe that while it’s important to take care of ourselves, it’s just as vital to remember that our bodies are our allies- not our enemies. It’s a relationship that requires a certain amount of trust (and experimentation! >.<).
Keep up the great work! ^_^
Wonderful post. I was on a strict Paleo for sometime too but eventually I just got tired of the restrictions. And as a busy person, preparing foods is not always a luxury. I got tired of chopping veggies and at one point my wrist started to hurt bec I was doing it like a crazy person, lol. Anyway long story short, I still believe in Paleo. I lost weight and I felt healthier with it. I choose paleo-ish food whenever I get the chance and I still avoid processed foods as much as possible. You’re an inspiration. I’m also trying to gain weight and I’d love to read more about your tips and progress! Keep it up!
You’re just more honest about your dietary changes (and indulgences) than most paleo folks. Your dietary expansions actually read as very ancestral/Weston A Price-ish, and IMO this is more realistic and healthier than strict paleo for most people (obviously there are many exceptions). The mental health aspect of this is as important as any other factor: being able to enjoy life and delicious food, including sharing food experiences in a broad social setting, and not worrying about each and every ingredient when we’re not the ones controlling the preparation of it. If/when I go to Paris, guess what: I’m going to have a croissant!, and I haven’t had wheat in 2 years. It’s just a life experience that I want to have and I won’t deny if from myself. Ditto on pizza in Italy. When in Rome…
When I make ice cream (rarely), I use raw milk and honey, but when I’m dining out and I know that the ice cream being offered is really special, I don’t really care how it’s made. For me, the worrying and fretting causes more stress and bodily harm than anything bad that I could consume. And as you’ve said, many paleo community leaders, including Chris Kresser, are proponents of a customized approach to paleo, for optimal health (mental and physical).
Kudos Josh, for your open-mindedness, bravery and honesty! IMO, this is the future of paleo.
I too started with the Paleo story after being diagnosed gluten-intolerant, and also had to cut out sugar. That was a year ago and I have started re-introducing certain foods such as white rice (because I missed my sushi) and potato (because I missed my hot chips). I still feel great so don’t find a reason to be so strict with these items. And like you said, my body will tell me if I go too far… Thanks for this, Josh!
Clairey G says
I’m enjoying your courage to change and honesty!
You know we aren’t paleo…I love love love your recipes, they are wonderfully delicious alternatives to sugar and grains. For me, I like giving my children a large variety of foods.
Thankyou for your reliable yummy recipes.
Wow, this post has me in tears! Tears of relief, mind you. Last year, I was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism (at only age 29). After an array of tests, I have discovered I have genetic mutations and the autoimmune issues that are typically flared up by the “no no’s”. Of these things, I’m only just now learning what those are and I have to admit I’m hopeful for the future, but almost devastatingly overwhelmed. On one hand, I want to heal. On the other, I find this impending doom looming over my head that I will never enjoy tasty, luscious, “soul food”. I am seeing a genetic nutritionist and she is wonderful, but since I am just getting started, the fear is real that I will never achieve the tasks ahead and will remain ill for the rest of my life. Your article gives me so much hope that I can use this as a jumpstart to get to feeling like a normal human being, but won’t be restricted to the point of insanity. I just discovered your blog tonight and I’m excited to follow you. Thank you again, for helping me feel not so afraid on this new journey.
Slim Palate says
Hey Natalie, I am so happy to be here to help you out on this journey. Don’t fear of what you cannot have, take each day one step at a time and don’t worry so much about the future right now. Live and enjoy in the now and point your focus to something positive.
Great post and your after pic looks great!