Seeing the World Through Paleo-Colored Glasses

Now all I need is a powdered wig.

A friend of mine posted a comment on a previous post (here) about a certain side-effect of going Paleo/Primal:

The last and possibly worst side effect that I’ve suffered is that I feel as though I’ve become more judgmental about the way other people eat. Suddenly I’m mortified by the sight of someone eating a whole grain bagel…eek!

When I started this WOE, I took a very Zen approach. We’re all different, our bodies need different things, yadda yadda yadda. I have friends who are vegetarians and far be it for me to judge someone else for their dietary choices, lest I be judged. I really felt relaxed about it and could keep my ideas to myself.

But lately…all around, I hear “Moderation is the key” and we all know how much I love that one. I was recently with some friends and I tried—I really tried!—to keep my mouth shut about several topics, but I kinda lost it when someone said that the cholesterol in coffee was bad for us. After some research, I got hits saying that French-press coffee can raise bad cholesterol and some saying coffee raises good cholesterol levels. Gotta love it. Besides, worrying about coffee raising cholesterol levels is missing the ENTIRE point, isn’t it? May as well put a band-aid on a cancerous tumor.

I’m currently in my favorite coffee shop raising my cholesterol, and, of course, every food stuff they sell is gluten-based and slathered in various forms of sugar. I see people noshing on their berry scones, croissants, and muffins. I remember fondly the day about ten years ago when I was working in a café and a customer said, “Ooh, those muffins look good! But I’m going to have a scone instead,” thinking it was healthier somehow. Even then I chuckled because the scones had about a stick of butter each. And now I know the butter isn’t a problem, it’s all the other stuff, and it’s still funny.

But it makes me sad, too. A woman ahead of me in line obviously had the same issues I had pre-Primal. She was mildly overweight, had the tell-tale abdominal rolls, a layer of fat hiding the curves of her calves. She was wearing running shorts, running shoes, a ballcap, and a wicking t-shirt. She ordered the scone. It’s all okay as long as you work it off, right?

Paleo/Primal thinking creeps into other areas of my life too. I can’t watch a movie anymore without tweaking the actors’ diets for them. The two most recent examples I can think of are Matt Damon in The Adjustment Bureau and Rupert Grint of the Harry Potter series. Now, I hate to contribute to any more body image issues in Hollywood, but I’m always mildly surprised that people with so many resources at their disposal, especially those whose appearance is their livelihood, haven’t heard the news. In Matt’s case, I feel like he’s in the insidious weight-gain phase of carb intake which gets harder and harder to control as we get older. He just looked softer around the edges and his skin not as vibrant, and I can say that because, honey, I’ve been there. We can all chalk it up to aging, and that’s somewhat true, but I know from my experience that it’s not the whole story and it’s mostly a bullshit excuse for why we all feel so bad. As for Rupert, we get the benefit of actually watching him grow up on film. He’s at his prime in the 5th and 6th movies of the franchise, but most recently, he has the familiar look of bulky muscles hidden beneath a doughy layer. He’s young yet, and I’m sure he’s having a lot of fun with his money and youth, so maybe someday he’ll buckle down and get serious about it all. I know I didn’t start thinking about it until about age 21.

Mommy, why is that lion eating a cookie?

Then, in the most ridiculous development of all, I get all judgy reading my daughter her books. Yes, it’s true. I’m that bad. In Sandra Boynton’s Hey! Wake Up!, various bizarrely-grouped animals wake up, put their clothes on, and greet the day with bowls of oatmeal, glasses of orange juice, and plates of toast. Except for the rabbit who gets broccoli stew. Then they all go out to play, get tired (gee, why would that be?), and come in for a mid-morning snack of—wait for it…wait for it…—COOKIES AND MILK! There was, however, a pleasant surprise lurking in my daughter’s book bin—an old, strange little story about another bizarre grouping of animals who all live together in a house in the woods. They all take turns making dinner which is problematic. For example, when Miss Kitty makes a dinner of milk, catnip tea, and liver, everyone is unhappy except Pup, who doesn’t mind the liver. And when Tweeter the bird serves worms and seeds, only Little Chick will nibble on them. The moral of the story is that all creatures should be and do what comes naturally to them. Now there’s a story for the ages and our waistlines.

Honestly, I think I’m in a bit of a weird phase here. I think I’m at the point where Primal eating is second-nature to me and because of that, I’m mildly surprised that everyone else has yet to catch on. I’m simultaneously excited to talk about it and exhausted to explain myself over and over. I’ve officially become the asshat weirdo who thinks it’s all a big conspiracy and everyone is wrong about everything.

But all is not lost. I feel like given a little more time, I’ll be able to ignore comments from folks who are steeped in CW and re-learn how to keep my mouth shut. But I just don’t see a simple little scone as harmless anymore. It’s become symbolic to me of everything that’s wrong with our diet today. And there are so many innocent people who don’t know how truly damaging it is and that their freezer full of Lean Cuisines is the culprit instead of the solution.

Has this happened to you? Please tell me I’m not the only one! How do you deal with being surrounded with so much misinformation?

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20 Responses to “Seeing the World Through Paleo-Colored Glasses”

  1. I can identify so much with what you’ve said here, but especially the part about routinely finding myself surprised that others haven’t integrated such principles. For instance, I’ve had two moms suggest to me in the past week that we get our kids together at…McDonald’s! Both times I’ve been like, “Wait…what?”

  2. You took the words right out of my mouth and the thoughts out of my brain! My husband and I feel like we’ve totally become food snobs. And it’s hard to watch our friends and family eat a sandwich even though we tell them all of the health reasons they shouldn’t.

  3. Just found your blog Karen and am really loving it. I relate to this post also. Everyone in my circles knows I’m all into fitness and healthy eating – but not all of them know that I’m Paleo… and to explain it to some of them – well – I’m just not into arguing about why Whole Grains aren’t healthy.

    Anyway – a couple of weeks ago I was out to lunch with a friend and she looked at me very proudly as she ordered her sandwich on whole wheat toast. She said “See! I’m being good!” I bit my tongue… I just didn’t have the heart to burst her bubble. But, I feel the day coming when I will be more outspoken… and probably pissing a lot of people off *chuckle*

    • Thanks for stopping by, Jenn! I’m impressed that your circles don’t know you’re Paleo! We had no way of keeping that cat in that bag, and now I wish we had tried harder with our friends because we get comments or bad jokes at EVERY social gathering.

      I think the tide is turning, albeit very slowly. So maybe your friend will catch wind of this and quit suffering through whole wheat toast sandwiches.

  4. This post really hit a chord with me. Since going Paleo, it is strange going in Wal-Mart (usually just for Pellegrino since I shop at Farmers’ markets for food) and seeing what all the mostly obese patrons have in their shopping carts. I want to say something to give them a clue but know I would be viewed as a nutter if I did. I try to steer friends to info on the web about Paleo but so far I don’t think anyone has followed my lead even though I have lost 45lbs in about 6 months. Still think the best path is to live Paleo and eventually the world will catch on because it just works for weight and especially health.

  5. We do have the benefit, however, of the recent influx of knowledge about celiac, and I simply hang on to that focus: NO GLUTEN! If they are interested in hearing more I will go into it but it is hard, definitely. Most people assume I am diabetic … ???

  6. Oh my gosh – I’ve always said to each their own, but it’s so hard sometimes to keep my mouth shut now that I’ve made the change to the Paleo Lifestyle. My Mom just had a stroke last week. She’s doing ok but she is having some memory issues and problems with her right side. She’s extremely overweight and her health is horrible. She has high sugar and takes insulin. The stroke was because of cholestrol plaque build up. So obviously food intake needs to be important for her. Anyway – she’s in rehab right now and they have her on a ‘diet’ and I was there yesterday going through her choices and wanted to just scream. It’s, of course, all based on the SAD diet and she gets 4, yes that is FOUR, choices of carbs – so she can have chicken noodles soup, bread, crackers, and 10 other crap choices of carb food. Oh and they are so kind as to offer 1 pat of margarine for her bread and fat free jelly or fat free dressing for her salad. I can’t hardly stand to help pick her food choices cause I want to just yell at people for the awful choices she has. Let’s see how much freaking processed sugar and crap we can put on one plate and give to her – AHHHHHHH!!!!

  7. Yes. I know what you are talking about! I hate being so judgmental but there are people I love making choices that are going to be a health train-wreck! It is hard to stand by and watch because you know that they will suffer in the future…

  8. My husband and I frequently experience this. Loved your post – you are not alone!

  9. I agree wholeheartedly!!

  10. I love it all what you said…. coulda written it myself!
    Thanks for posting it!

  11. I felt like you went inside my head and told my story! Thanks for validating it!!

  12. I deal by continuing to search for more facts and research and read anything I can find backing up this WOE. Then I share it on Facebook. I am asked and challenged about it and I provide the best answers I can. Interestingly, I am reaching far away friends first. I have friends In Georgia, Oregon, and South Carolina (I’m in California) who all turned Paleo after I exposed them to it. The people closest to me are the most resistant, not interested in change. I will offer advice if asked, but I tend to leave people alone. However, if we are discussing facts, I get passionate. People tend to say things that they can’t back up because they are just repeating inaccurate CW. My husband on the other hand is more aggressive, because he believes so passionately in this WOE. His allergies virtually disappeared and his acid reflux is completely gone since going Paleo, so he preaches like the blind man who can now see after being touched by Jesus ;-)

    • I agree, I think Facebook is a great way to get the message out there. I’ve decided to keep my personal profile mostly clear of Paleo stuff, but occasionally I link to things, especially if they’re found in standard media like the NYTimes. And lately I’ve been linking to food activist issues too. I’m sure everyone thinks I’m a nut, but what else is new? :)

  13. I try not to judge others but encourage them to join me in a paleo option. For instance i convinced my friend to ditch the burrito at chipotle and make a paleo friendly bowl. However i can’t knock anyone for eating a delicious us bagel of pastry with their coffee…no paleo cookie will ever be quite as good as a tasty donut =P

  14. Oomg!!
    I feel the same way!! I am going crazy here lol.
    I just try to keep my mouth shut and try to fece the fact that every mind is a different world. But when people keep bringing up nutrition and telling me what’s bad that’s when I can’t hold it any longer. I have had to argue with my little sisters pediatrician about it!!! I dunno I guess just keep at it and if someone asks how is it that you succeeded you can explain everything rather than trying to convince people who are already set in what they “know”. The fact that you know and practice primal life is already another victory for the war. Keep at it and keep your loved ones close :)

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