I can’t believe I’m writing another post on my version of Paleo, just 4 months after the last one. It’s not that anything has particularly changed, it’s just that I feel that I need to explain and further justify a few things. You see, since that post, my life has changed a bit, and with that, so has my approach to eating and Paleo.
I’ve felt that over the last few months I’ve neglected the blog somewhat. At first I had all the excuses ‘I’m moving flat’ ‘I haven’t got a proper study set up’ ‘I’m busy with college’. But slowly the excuses started sounding a bit thin. I left my job partly so that I would have a bit more time to spend on the blog. Yes, college is more full on than before, but it’s not unmanageable, considering I don’t have to go into a job everyday. And I thought I’d have some great things to write about – and I do! – but I also have a bit of a confession.
The longer I’m Paleo, the less ‘Paleo’ I’m becoming. THERE, I’ve said it! I’ve been feeling terrible about this because I felt that I almost had an obligation to be Paleo, or at least only show the Paleo side to me, because of this blog. But it was making me feel a bit unhappy. Half the time I was feeling a bit uptight, that I had to stay within this particular framework because of this blog. The other half of the time I was feeling like a fraud because sometimes I was eating lentils. Or hummus. Or quinoa. Or even. PASTA. Not often – no more than once or twice a month for the legumes. And the pasta – first time I’d eaten it in a few years!!
So what changed? Well first I went to HEALTH Unplugged, and was so impressed by how evolved things have become since the last year’s conference. Everyone seemed more open minded, less strict, more accepting of who you are, what you eat. In fact, everyone seemed more NORMAL. But most importantly, I listened to a Dr Tommy Wood talk (who was the first person who told me last year that I’m allowed to eat legumes!) who reinforced the idea that Paleo is often dogmatic to a fault.
And then – without sounding like a stalker – I also caught up with Tommy at the Fitter Food Academy a few weeks later, who presented a talk on nutrition science and research. And how flawed it is. He went through some of the Paleo rules we blindly follow, explained the studies on which they are based. And basically ripped them apart. And I thought that was BRILLIANT.
The final epiphany came when I was lying in an Epsom Salts bath listening to Fitter Food Podcast 59. This podcast was a sort of catchup on what they’ve been up to, specifically talking about their new book and why it’s ended up being so fat. It’s because their approach has evolved. They’ve changed. And that was my light bulb moment – don’t HIDE the fact that I don’t always eat Paleo, and that in fact I don’t even agree with much of it. EMBRACE it – and explain it!
A few weeks ago I posted a picture of spaghetti bolognese on Instagram. A full blown gluten-, dairy-, vegetable oil-filled meal. Completely unapologetic. And it was one of the tastiest damned things I’ve eaten in a while. The response? More likes than most of my typical posts, a couple of positive comments. No one died. No one told me off. THE PALEO POLICE DID NOT ARRIVE. And it felt so refreshing to post it, to feel that it was OK to post it.
So I suppose that’s how I feel I’ve evolved – I feel more relaxed generally about how I am eating, and I’m feeling a lot better for it, because I’m not constantly stressing. I suppose I’m lucky because I don’t tend to have any particular chronic issues that are exacerbated by going off Paleo now and then. In some ways perhaps I am doing the 80/20 thing, without really planning it. I’ve always hated the 80/20 concept as a rigid rule. What does it mean – you eat non-Paleo 20% of a month (6 days off), a week (1.4 days off), a day (half a meal off), a meal (1/5 of the plate)?? It’s so open to interpretation! But I think I now realise what it means – spend most of your time on track, and it means the odd mince pie (or blow out take away meal!) will not affect you so badly. And the more you do this, the less you get tempted, the less you want to do it and the more you stay on track!
It’s now Christmas time and as much as in my head I’m ‘taking the time off’ from worrying about food, in reality I don’t actually do too badly over Christmas. I eat way more chocolate than normal (and shock horror, milk chocolate truffles, not even dark chocolate!) and have the odd tart or mince pie. But it’s not that every single meal is a shitstorm. If I need a rule I go with good breakfast, good lunch, relax during the afternoon and evening. And in January I’m going to do a Fitter Food Reset which will get 2016 started just right. That’s how I started 2015 and I’m pleased to be ending the year in a happy place.
Eating aside, I’m also spending way more time on the other aspects of Paleo. Since researching and writing the blog posts for HEALTH Unplugged a few months ago I’ve come to realise the major importance of all the other parts of my life. So I’m focusing way more on sleep, gut health, getting outside and moving daily, and trying new things with new and old friends. And perhaps that is really helping me to be just generally happier in myself, less judgemental.
So there you have it – my version of Paleo, take II. I’m sure (in fact I hope!) that I will continue learning, growing and developing my eating approach. I don’t think this means I’m no longer Paleo…it just means I work within a Paleo framework that works for me. And sometimes I fall off the bandwagon but I get up and dust myself off, have a good night’s sleep and a walk in the morning and move on.