Saturday, October 11, 2014

Losing the forest for the trees. Or why you don't need any of that crap to start eating paleo.

The conversation often goes something like this....

New, or relatively new, person in gym: "Hey Steve, I hear you know a lot about paleo. I've been reading all about it. Do you mind if I ask you a question?"

Me: "Not at all. Go for it."

Newbie: "I mean... I'm not eating paleo yet. I'm thinking about it, but haven't taken the plunge."

Me: "That's cool. What's your question?"

Newbie: "Have you tried this bulletproof-coffee fasting thing?"

Now let's be clear.... the reaction that I have in my head to this question is not what comes out of my mouth. (My brain/mouth filter is fairly well-developed, or else I would frequently be getting punched in the face). I'm polite. But I assure you that my principal thought is: "Dude... seriously. Why are you focusing on the gimmicks and the tricks before you have even tried to get yourself to a clean 30 days or so? Before you have even really tried paleo at all?"

I know why this sort of thing happens. It's because paleo is Big Stuff these days. (Labron is paleo, after all). And Big Stuff equals Big Money, and Big Money equals products.

And really, there's nothing wrong with some products. They can be useful, like any other tweak to a paleo regimen once a person really gets going with clean real food. But that's the micro stuff, not the macro basics. Sometimes I fear that we are allowing newbies to get so distracted with the micro angle that they lose those basics in a blur of confusion.

It's pretty simple: you can (and should) start eating paleo product-free, and your trainer/coach/nutritionist shouldn't be steering you towards supplements and other gimmicks before you've even gotten yourself to a point that you can properly evaluate which one of those gimmicks/products might do you some good. That point can't possibly be until you've fully cleaned up your food for a month or so (at least). Let's not, for instance, worry about liposomal glutathione and whether it might be the secret key to happiness if you're still eating donuts regularly.

It's ironic that a lifestyle built on simplicity -- animal protein, vegetables, fruits, good fats -- and on shunning the vast majority of pre-packaged foods has turned into a product-filled minefield of distraction. And I suppose that it's to be expected. It's the nature of the food business. (Have you taken a look at the "gluten-free" aisle in the supermarket lately? It's a clusterfuck of Frankenfoods that just happen not to have wheat in them). But it's up to the trainers, authors and bloggers in this paleosphere that we live in to, well, fight the power, maaaan, and keep the new folks' eyes focused on the prize.

Regular people shouldn't be starting their paleo journey with that shit. And we shouldn't be steering them to it.

Back to basics.

1 comment:

  1. Completely agree! I definitely got caught up trying to do ALL OF THE PALEO when I first started, and it's exhausting. Currently in the middle of a Whole30 and I have almost no desire for anything packaged or "paleofied". I'm loving the meat, veggies, fats, and frozen fruit for a sweet treat. I can tell there are some tweaks I'll need to do once the program is over, but this is when it makes sense to try the little things - after months of doing paleo and going through an elimination diet. You don't need bulletproof coffee and intermittent fasting and resistant starch and carb backloading and fermented cod liver capsules to start eating well!