This is a great topic for me this month! Why and What we eat off the Paleo/Primal template and how we don't let eating off template catapult us right back into eating the Standard American Diet.
I absolutely love the Paleo template (removing all the silly "prehistoric/caveman" associations with it) - I love the food: a focus on lean proteins, VEGGIES, fruit, seeds, nuts, and healthy fats like avocado and coconut oil and removing processed foods, too much sugar/alcohol, etc. I love that when I follow this way of eating, I greatly reduce inflammation and bloating throughout my body, increase my energy, sleep better and feel overall pretty amazing.
But I do not follow it 100%. And people must wonder WHY, if all those good things I said above are true?
There are two different situations that I don't follow the Paleo diet:
1. Some foods technically not on the diet don't affect me as far as inflammation/bloating/etc. I have incorporated these foods back into my diet because of their benefits. As I said, I do not follow the Paleo template because of some misconception that I am eating like my ancestors. I follow it because the template works really well for my body.
The number one food I eat that falls into this category is lactose-free cottage cheese. I am slightly lactose intolerant, so I can't eat straight dairy. However, I have found no better way to start my day than with this cottage cheese - it is FULL of protein (more than 2 eggs), is quick and easy in the morning (a must when I am getting ready for work), and keeps me full and satisfied all morning (I add blueberries and sunflower seed butter).
So, my feeling is that if a food works for you and your body - keeps you nourished, doesn't inflame you, doesn't cause you digestive distress, and helps you feel energetic and strong through the day, and does not negatively affect your long-term, overall health... why eliminate it? Most things eliminated on the Paleo template DON'T make me feel good, so I keep them overall out of my diet: grains, processed sugars, even legumes and white potatoes have inflammatory effects on me.
2. Sometimes I make a purposeful choice to indulge in foods off-template because I want to. Chris and I have a rule - we do not EVER buy off Paleo foods for the house. This works really, really well because we eat 19-20 meals out of 21 weekly meals from our house. So right there, I am kept strictly on track for most of the week.
That 1-2 times we eat out of the house? It is because a friend has invited us out to dinner or we are at a restaurant/cafe/etc.
Those times we eat out of the house, I weigh the cost/benefits of eating off template. Sometimes, it is not worth it to feel a little groggy or inflamed, and I will still order/eat as Paleo as possible in the situation. Other times, I want to eat a lovely meal my friends made for me or to eat Thanksgiving with my family or to try a chocolate cherry bread pudding at a fancy restaurant. I choose to indulge in that food without guilt, knowing that I just made a choice that won't help my body function to its optimum ability. But I am a pleasure seeking human, so sometimes the pleasure is worth that choice.
But it rarely is!
And with our rules in place keeping us on template most of every week, a single indulgence (that still fits into our daily calories!) cannot possibly derail us.
Eating the Standard American Diet is no longer an option for us. We know, now, how healthy, strong, and energetic we can feel. Eating the way we used to, we just thought sluggishness, stomach aches and skin breakouts/rashes were a normal part of being a human (when in reality, it was our body trying to tell us we were not fueling them well!!).
We are comfortable eating off Paleo because we know that we will never fully go off the diet. I will never make the choice to buy grains or whatever for my house - I will never put it in my grocery cart and pay for it at the register.
Our choices are purposeful - even when we choose a non-Paleo food out of the house.
As we grew into the full responsibility of adulthood together, my husband and I continue to build a life of mindfulness. Taking responsibility for our choices, knowing fully the consequences of those choices, it is very difficult to make a choice that will hurt us.
So on our path we continue :)
I am glad to get a chance to explain why I eat off the Paleo template occasionally. It might seem strange to some that I am so passionate about this way of eating, and yet simply do not do it sometimes. I think that my body is so thoroughly flushed of things that are toxic to it that it can efficiently process a small amount of inflammatory foods. (Note: SMALL amounts).
I do believe that, however, if I found that even rare instances of going off my food template made me sick or caused me to snowball right back into the Standard American Diet, I would not go off template at all. There is no food that tastes so good it is worth my health.
But, those are the choices we all have to make for ourselves! To truly be aware of our health and how any amount of a certain food will affect that. Right now, I am healthier than ever and will continue down this path. If somethings changes, so will my choices.
Follow the other members to read about how they stay motivated:
Karen at http://gardengirlkp.blogspot.com/
Leigh at http://poonapalooza.blogspot.com/
Gwen at http://thesunnycoconut.com/