So yesterday I read a blog post that really stuck in my craw (am I even using that expression right?) I felt annoyed by it in the morning and took to Twitter, as you do. Actually, I try to limit the irritation I take to Twitter, but this was more of a cry for help:
Some of you talked me out of it (Thanks!) others commiserated with me (Thanks for that too!) but last night as I was going to bed I decided to look at the post again and then read all of the comments, and then my head completely exploded. I’m writing this post headless, actually. It’s very Sleep Hollow Chic.
I don’t know why I did that, I knew it was a bad idea at the time but I did it anyway. But because I did that I now have to write some things down about it or else I will not be able to fully exhale. And it’s going to be a a bit of a rant but I will try and not be insulting or a giant judgmental bitch. But I do feel irritated. So yes, those are my eyes that you hear rolling through just about every step of this post.
So the post in question was a Focus On: The Paleo Diet by Gina over at The Fitnessista. I’m sure you know of her, Google lists her subscriber count somewhere around 7000, so she is definitely a popular blogger who I would say identifies in the whole “Healthy Living” sphere. Can I be honest for a second? I hate the term Healthy Living Blogger. Like actual, visceral hate. Mostly because I think the meaning of the word healthy is often used so incorrectly that it is losing it’s meaning. Healthy = Having Health = Being Devoid of Ailments. And I can’t tell you how many “Healthy Living Bloggers” I see rattling off food advice and then also casually saying they struggle with things like IBS, or digestive problems, or mystery symptoms that are just their “genetic quirks” *giggle.* DUDE THEN WHY ARE YOU TELLING PEOPLE WHAT TO EAT? AND WHY IS THIS CONSIDERED HEALTHY? Bokeh-filled photos of friggin’ oatmeal does not a healthy life make.
Sidebar: I hope you don’t read this website and feel like I’m telling you what to eat, because that is not my intention at all. I hope you also do not feel like I am trying to be a Healthy Living Blogger because I am not. I hate the categorization of bloggers quite a bit in general, but just know that I never come to this space trying to school you about what you should eat. I am no expert. I am just one person living a life and writing about it. End of Story. Where is the categorization for that.
Ok, sorry to veer of the path there for a minute.
The Paleo Framework
So her post on Paleo wasn’t horrible. She did a mostly accurate description of it, though I wish instead of talking Paleo or Primal (both of which are somewhat proprietary names) we could maybe just talk more about the large umbrella of the Ancestral Eating Framework. Dairy or No Dairy, Salt or No Salt, Tomay-to To-mah-to! It’s all based on the underlying research that shows that even though it’s been 10,000 years, our bodies haven’t evolved to THRIVE on the food of modern agriculture: most notably grains, factory-farmed meats, and excessive sugar. And that’s the point — Thriving. Not Surviving. I survived for 31 years eating a Standard American Diet. I honestly do not feel that I was THRIVING until I started Paleo. And from here on out I’m just going to use the term Paleo to refer to that umbrella of Ancestral Health.
How strict you adhere to this Paleo Framework depends on many things, including (shocker) the very state of your health. Are you ailing? There’s a menu for that. Are you moody and tired? There’s a menu for that. Do you have physical complications that your body just isn’t healing? There’s a menu for that. Paleo is like the most bad ass food app that Steve Jobs wishes he thought of. But we’ll forgive him because he thought up lots of other cool stuff.
Wherein I Champion People Who Think & Vegetarians
The problem is that most people — even some pretty sharp people (and I do believe that Gina is a smart cookie) have this over simplified vision in their mind of Ancestral Eating. Some think it’s a cult-like group of wannabe Cave-People eating T-Bone Steaks at every meal and then making fun of those who do Zumba instead of lifting heavy things. Even if she (and others) don’t say that directly, that’s kind of the PR that Paleo has going for it, and dude I’m sorry, but I’m so over that. My shoulders are way too broad to rock a Wilma Flintsone halter-neckline and really, just stop that already you smart people. Making uninformed judgments lowers the value of your stock.
Here’s a quick clarification too if I’ve ruffled some feathers: I’m not saying that if you don’t *EAT* Paleo you are not smart or not thinking. But if you want comment on a blog post about how lame it is and want to disagree with it so passionately, at least have a reason that makes sense and hasn’t been debunked a million times over.
You know who does a great job of that? VEGETARIANS! VEGANS! I don’t find that framework right for me, but I can tooooooootally get behind the reasons why they aren’t into Paleo. Many people eat a vegetarian diet for moral reasons and you know what — good for you! Who am I to say you need to get over how you feel about animals? That would be awful. Don’t eat Paleo because eating meat makes you sad? Makes sense. Again, not the right decision for me, but go on with your bad self. But if you are going to say something is stupid, you best have a good reason otherwise you are just being kind of mouthy.
Points of Contention
So let’s get down to the post already. JESUS with the ranting Holly. A few things that irked me:
Right off the bat, This: “Con:…the potential to consume a lot of saturated fat, thus promoting health complications such as heart disease.”
—-> This makes me want to bang my head against a wall. Are we still on this? Because everyone and their mother has pretty much acknowledged that THIS IS NOT THE CASE. But honestly, I don’t even want to get started with that. I’m really more annoyed by everything I’m listing below.
“I can totally see that it’s a method that works for many people –otherwise it wouldn’t be so popular- but don’t agree with eating styles that totally eliminate entire food groups. “
—-> That’s weird because she doesn’t eat “red meat” and she doesn’t eat “dairy from cows.” Sounds like food group elimination works for her, and clearly she has no problem eliminating the food groups that she feels DO NOT MAKE HER THRIVE. Same concept, so obviously you agree with it. Just own that. And own the fact that you didn’t research WHY folks who adhere to a Paleo Diet don’t eat grains/legumes, etc.
“One of my friends, who is Paleo, told me that by eating so little carbs, you’re tricking the body to use fat as fuel instead. This isn’t something that I’ve heavily researched, so I can’t say whether I know if it’s true or not, but it seems a little unnecessary to me.”
—->So at least she is acknowledging that she hasn’t done any research. GREAT! You know what sounds smart? To now go and give everyone your opinion. It seems “unnecessary to you?” I mean, that sentence basically says “I have no idea what’s being said, but it’s wrong.” WHO EVEN DOES THAT??? I felt particularly sad about this part because she is someone who preaches about good health, nutrition and exercise with a very sizeable following. And to me, I think you at least owe it to your audience to craft a post that isn’t full of off the cuff judgments, if that is your bag on the blog. Trying to say a framework of eating “isn’t something you would recommend” when you clearly haven’t researched is just irresponsible. To me that reflected more poorly on the author than the framework.
“Paleo seems to be very hard to follow in everyday life, especially if you’re social and have and non-Paleo friends.”
—->Really? Does not eating red meat seem hard if you are social and also have red-meat eating friends? What about your friends that drink milk? Is it hard to go out at night and find a restaurant to that doesn’t cover everything with cheese? Yeeeeeeah, that sounds exhausting! While we’re at it, surely don’t ever train for a marathon because that sounds hard to do in everyday life. Especially if you are social have non-marathon-running friends.
“I prefer to recommend diets based on whole foods, lean meats, veggies, fruits, whole grains and low-fat dairy if desired. Not only does it provide health benefits, it’s an easy and feasible plan follow.”
—>So what you are saying is you recommend the Paleo Diet. But you also think it’s cool to eat grains. I’ll leave the dairy comment alone because she has already said SHE ELIMINATES THAT from her diet. That’s basically the ONE difference. What makes that “very hard to follow.” COME ON.
“Paleo isn’t something I’ve tried, but I don’t recommend it”
Well, except we’ve already established that you do recommend it. Plus “sprouted grains.”
I honestly can’t even bring myself to get into the comments, because then I think we would be here all day and I’m already starting to feel slightly regretful that I’m even posting this. But I will say there seems to be two super vocal attitudes towards Paleo. (In the comments and in real life, really.) The people who have tried it and love it, and use it as a GUIDELINE for how they eat. And then the people who think it sounds too hard and dismiss it before every trying it because it seems hard.
I also feel bummed by that too, but that’s a post for another day. The thing is I totally get that it sounds hard and restrictive. I thought that once too and decided to give it two weeks and then quit. Except that it’s been 2 years and ‘d never go back.
But the other thing I get is that there are many people who have no desire to EVER try it for their own reasons. And I’m cool with that as well. Trust me, even with all of my feeeeeeeeeelings, I have absolutely ZERO feelings about what YOU eat, actually.
But just don’t be this person. The person who says:
Gee, that sounds hard, so therefore it’s veracity should be called into question but I’m not actually going to educate myself at all, I’m only going to sit here at my computer and judge.
Because in that case, I will have definitely have feeeeeeeeeeelings about you.