I really should have known better. It wasn’t till last weekend when there was all the talk about food addiction and all that other fun stuff on Facebook and the SINS page that things really clicked for me and I got a clue.
There are times I go MENTAL with my diet. What I realized is that I’ve been creating a pretty much impossible standard for myself. And it’s been making it harder to stay Paleo and making me pretty crazy besides. I said a lot about “impossible standards” when I talked about the whole body image thing in my post “Body Image, Food Addiction and I’m Not Good Enough.” I guess writing that post made some of the crazy stuff I’ve been doing more obvious…
What RESULT are you after?
In Self-Help there’s a big thing about results. Anthony Robbins is HUGE on defining what result you want before you start anything. What result was I after when I started Paleo-style eating more than 6 years ago? HEALTH AND PERFORMANCE. My “result” wasn’t “I want to eat a perfect Paleo diet and be more perfect than anyone else at it.” That kind of self-righteous bullshit is reserved for vegans and vegetarians as far as I’m concerned
I’m still blown away at times when I mention something like eating brown rice or goat yogurt on Facebook and have a bunch of people FREAK OUT about those foods not being Paleo. I mean, what are we trying to do here? Are we trying to “eat Paleo” as an end in and of itself, or are we after health and performance? If you have BETTER health and performance with a cup of brown rice a few times a week, then eat the damn rice! Are we trying to get through the Pearly Gates of Paleo Heaven or are we trying to LIVE and TRAIN and PERFORM?
On the flip side, nuts and seed make me feel like crap and I don’t digest them very well. BUT THEY’RE PALEO! “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar…” How canst thou forsake nuts and seeds? Blasphemy!!!!!!! Look at my RESULT. Do I want to follow the diet dogma or do I want HEALTH and PERFORMANCE? Avoiding nuts and seeds is getting me to my RESULT…
But, THAT’S not Paleo!!!!!!!!!!
Something that’s made me nuts about virtually every “diet community” I’ve been around is the dogma and near religion that a lot of people get into. As a community, I think Paleo has a few zealots but, overall, I think we have more of a “use what works” mentality than many other communities. Robb Wolf has played a large part in that because he’s a leading theorist and he’s also pragmatic, humble and willing to change course when he learns something new.
Our diet – call it Paleo if you must – needs to be a living, breathing and evolving thing. A diet is a lot more than a list of what you can and can’t eat. I think Paleo is the best map we’ve come up with to date but, IT’S STILL JUST A MAP.
Something I take regular flak on is my use of rice protein in my fruit smoothies and green smoothies – and my use of smoothies in general! But the damn things WORK for me! I know that Paleo man didn’t have a Blendtec – or an outlet to plug it into – but I DO and smoothies work for my body and where my life is at this moment.
As a side note, I think the people who are screaming the diet dogma the loudest are the ones who are most likely to be pulling down the shades and eating garbage when no one is looking. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone and all that…
The Other Side of Perfectionism
I’ve written a lot about eating organic, buying local and supporting small farms. This past week I realized – all of a sudden – that I had set some SERIOUSLY high standards for myself – and they were making it HARDER to get where I wanted to go. I’ve made it a point for most of the last 6 years to eat ONLY organic food. I’ve stayed as organic as I possibly could. I’ve also made it a point to eat only grass fed beef and I’ve tried to get raw dairy – and make my own yogurt with it – whenever I could. Beyond this, a goal of mine has been to – as I’ve written about – keep everything local.
So, here’s the standard:
- 100% organic food
- All meats organic and fed their APPROPRIATE diet – This means cows are fed grass and chickens are pastured and not fed corn or soy, etc.
- As much local as possible – This is somewhat achievable spring and summer, but in the winter in New England it’s a lot harder.
- I’ve avoided seasonings other than Celtic sea salt and organic pepper for most of the 6 years. I really did my best to enjoy the natural flavors of things.
And Then I Started Missing the Mark – A LOT
I actually managed the above pretty well. Yeah, one of my staples is pasteurized goat yogurt and the organic whole chickens I get from Whole Foods are fed soy, but most everything else has been on track for the most part. But I wasn’t very hungry for the foods I was “supposed to” eat. Or, I’d start hungry and a few bites in be struggling to get it down. I could look at this as a moral failing – and I’m sure plenty of others would LOVE to as well. But I tend to look deeper than the surface of things…
The problem with having perfection as a standard is it’s REALLY easy to NOT meet it. That’s what was happening to me. When “grocery shopping” means a 30-45min drive to the nearest Whole Foods or paying WAY too much at the little local health food store and not having a great selection – it was getting pretty hard to stay 100% clean.
Add to that, I’m preparing ALL of my food myself and it was getting out of hand. I don’t mind devoting a lot of time to my eating and diet, but it was becoming somewhat impractical and some part of me was becoming more and more resistant and resentful.
And then there were those days when I was completely exhausted mentally and physically and said: “Fuck it, I’ll just order a pizza!” And, the reasoning goes, if I’m breaking my diet I might as well have a few Kit Kats for dessert. Oh, and I’ll have pizza left over tomorrow so I might as well “relax” tomorrow too… And we’re on our way down the slippery slope to mediocrity BECAUSE WE WERE PURSUING PERFECTION AND IT WASN’T REACHABLE AT THAT MOMENT.
Making it Practical
This weekend I went to Stop and Shop and – horror of horrors – bought two of their own rotisserie chickens. Not organic, not cooked myself. They even had some cornstarch and sugar added. Now, this IS NOT the way I want to eat. I’m still on the organic, local, humanely raised thing. It’s what I believe in and what I value. But I also have had to embrace the UTILITY of driving 5 minutes down the road and getting a hot, ready to eat chicken once in a while when I don’t have the time or energy to cook AND I’M HUNGRY. It’s a MUCH better option than driving 5 minutes down the road for a pizza.
Basically, what I did is give myself a “middle option” between cooking an organic, pastured chicken myself and ordering a pizza. How about eating chicken that may not be the quality I’d really prefer? That non-organic chicken is going to be a hell of a lot less harmful than a freakin’ pepperoni pizza!
Making Things Taste Good Again
This past week I’ve been really thinking about the food addiction topic. One of the reasons I think a lot of crap food is SO addictive is the seasoning. They’re really good at doing stuff to that food to make it taste good and keep you coming back for more. But the need for new and different tastes is a natural human thing – and probably evolutionary at that. And wars have been fought over spices throughout history, so it’s a good bet that we humans are pretty into them.
Last night I ate chicken, roasted veggies and bacon. All topped off with some Tabasco Sauce and Bone Suckin’ BBQ Sauce (I use Bone Suckin’ because it’s not only AWESOME but it’s one of the few that’s gluten and refined sugar free). And it was delicious! I ate and ate and ate! And this was the same meal I didn’t even want to finish the night before – without the sauces.
You STILL have to work, Pumpkin…
At this point, I’m sure someone out there is saying: “He’s right! I’ll just eat whatever I want! I don’t want to be a perfectionist!” That’s NOT what I’m saying! What I AM saying is that perfection is an impossible standard. Let’s go for OUTSTANDING and keep focused on the RESULTS we want to achieve.