If you don't already know, I am not a fan of diets. From Atkins, to Nutrisystem to Southbeach...they proclaim to have answers to the age-old weight-loss issue. But I know that diets don't work. People almost always regain the weight they lost, and some people go on to gain more weight. And then there is the Paleo diet: the mother-load of restrictive diets. Followers don't eat grains, dairy, beans, or refined sugar and instead fill up on meat, veggies, fruit and nuts. A healthy snack of avocado on a slice of whole wheat toast? Nope. Okay, what about gluten-free bread? Nope. Count me out! I love bread and cheese. They are pretty much the staples of my diet. So when someone tells me they are "Paleo" I am scared for their soul, especially when they add, "we are raising our children Paleo." How unfair! A childhood without pizza? Call the authorities!
But let's back up a second before I get all judgy. I am a lifelong vegetarian. I've never eaten meat (except accidentally) because my mom raised me to believe that "animals are people too". So even when I was old enough to make my own decisions about my food choices, I remained a vegetarian (despite the tempting smell of bacon). But I have never seen my vegetarian diet as a "restrictive diet." In my opinion vegetarianism is a lifestyle and easy to follow. It doesn't feel restrictive at all. So if vegetarian is a lifestyle, then why can't Paleo be a lifestyle? Why do I accept the vegetarian diet without issue, but hold my breath when someone tells me their kid is Paleo?
The answer is because I am being hypocritical. But not entirely. The fact is, restriction is in the eye of the beholder. If vegetarian doesn't feel restrictive to me, but cutting out grains and cheese makes me want to run to the nearest pizza joint, then I should probably continue to eat grains and cheese. And conversely, if someone feels healthy, happy and unrestricted on Paleo, then good for them (and their brainwashed children). The small caveat is nutrition. It is relatively easy to maintain a balanced diet consuming vegetarian foods. It is more difficult to eat a balanced diet without whole grains and diary. It can be done, it's just harder. What do you think? Can Paleo be a lifestyle that promotes a healthy relationship with food?