Paleo Rant

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.

The 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.

Her Verdict

“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.

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29 Responses to Paleo Rant

  1. AndreAnna says:

    Thank you for reminding me why I don’t read comments on posts like this. I have you to do it for me and have your head fall off. 🙂

    You can’t fix stupid.

    • Holly says:

      This is a service that I offer. I should come up with a pricing plans of options, shouldn’t I? You’d get 10% off the top, obviously since you inspired it. 🙂

  2. LizScott says:

    I have CONCERNS and THOUGHTS and am ANNOYED.

    But mostly: yeah, it’s reeeaaaal fucking hard to go out to eat and just get meat and veggies. Mindblowingly difficult, in fact OH WAIT.

    God damn. I just. Come on.

  3. Megan W says:

    I’m one of those people who don’t give my opinion on something if I don’t know enough about it. And I think people appreciate when I admit that…honesty over ignorance, I’d take that any day. I’m not informed on Paleo guidelines, therefore I don’t have an opinion on whether it would be something I’d like to try. I DO know that I enjoy reading your take on it and I love when you post recipes. I look at the recipe, see if it sounds like I’d like it (and if I have the culinary skills to make it!) and go from there.

    Rant away here. It’s your blog and we readers love your voice!

    • Holly says:

      I’m so glad that you got that this was my point. You know, I don’t preach to know what EVERYONE should be doing. At all. I’m still blundering through it all myself. But I’m certainly not going to craft a series of posts around giving an objective opinion and then say “Yeah my friend told me this and it sounds weird, so I don’t recommend it.” With no research at all! Agree With It! Or don’t Agree With It! But have a reason.

      Does it surprise you that I changed my major after one year of Political Science? God…I could never be a politician!

  4. Patty says:

    I understand your partial regret with posting but I sincerely appreciate your voice. Your ending argument particularly rang true to me.

    “I have absolutely ZERO feelings about what YOU eat, actually. But just don’t be this person.”

    Thank you! And amen.

    • Holly says:

      Thanks Patty! I always feel trepidation when I am so overly emotional about something. HOLLY, WALK AWAY FROM THE KEYBOARD. 🙂 So thanks for the positive feedback!

  5. Kate says:

    Oh Holly, I just adore you. I’ve been stalking your blog for a little while now and have decided that if I had a kid sister I’d want her to be smart and fearless like you.
    It’s your blog. Rant away!

  6. Stephanie says:

    Go on with ya bad self. Now can you go link this to her post…I need some drama in my life. Ha ha ha. Rant away.

  7. Chris says:

    Are we living in parallel universes?? My friend and I host a group on facebook called Drink the kool Aid. Its all about convincing those around us to try the paleo lifestyle as we further our endeavours on the Whole 30. (day 7-feel awesome!) Anyway, our friend works at Globo gym (not really but a gym of that sorts-puke) and she plans to start the Whole 30 when we finish, but she’s not paleo, and I think she doesn’t really want to but will try anything once. She posts a link to an article a friend sent her, anti paleo of course. Its long and INFURIATING so I’m not sharing it and in the end she writes her recommendations which basically sumarize the standard paleo diet!!! (with a few exceptions)
    I hear you!!! We just have to trudge on and hope society sees the results and maybe then they’ll get it.

    • Holly says:

      Drink the Kool Aid! I love it.

      Deep Breaths, I feel ya. I don’t know why I let this get under my skin so much, usually I can let it all go. I think it’s the idea of how off-the-cuff it felt.

      I don’t mind if people disagree, heck I don’t even care what other people eat…but don’t tell me I’m dumb because I’m doing something that sounds hard.

  8. Brittany says:

    Oh Holly, this is so hard! Why do people who aren’t nutritionists give nutrition advice? I totally respect and love that you (and many of my friends) eat a Paleo diet. Just because I’m a vegetarian, doesn’t mean that the whole world should be and that those who eat meat is wrong.

    People have a hard time with people doing things differently from them. I totally agree with you that for someone with so many readers, she has an obligation to thoroughly research topics she writes about.

    The good news in, even vegetarians like me would read that article and know she’s eating a piece of the crazy pie…. 🙂

    • Holly says:

      Thanks Brittany!

      I think we ALL need to go on the Crazy Pie Elimination Diet. But I feel like it’s soooooooooooooo trendy. 🙂 haha

  9. Ally Bean says:

    Ditto what Kate said. I love a good rant and this is classic.

    “But if you are going to say something is stupid, you best have a good reason otherwise you are just being kind of mouthy.”

    Best line I’ve read all day. Needs to be on bumper sticker. Well done.

  10. Danae says:

    Holly, you rock. Thanks for posting this and putting into words what the rest of us can only get angry about and then go bang our heads against a wall – a rant for all of us, if you will.

  11. Liat says:

    Her post struck me as intentionally ignorant and in the worst way possible.

  12. JulieVK says:

    Yep, it’s really frustrating to read these kinds of uninformed stereotypes about Paleo that keep people from trying something that might just be the best thing that ever happened to them. I resisted Paleo for years for this very reason, and it was my loss!

  13. Jamie says:

    THANK you for posting this. I was getting so frustrated reading Gina’s post and the comments. The whole ‘eliminating food groups’ argument is so tired and worthless… especially since she does it anyway! In addition to red meat and dairy, she also avoids gluten. But people don’t seem to get riled up about that for some reason.

  14. Kate says:

    I really enjoy your thoughts on this, and the fact that you aren’t telling people what or how to eat. It’s funny, the kind of uninformed objections that blogger is making — I hear almost the same thing about vegetarianism/veganism! People say, “All I really know is, you don’t eat meat and that must be really hard. Also you probably don’t eat any protein so I wouldn’t recommend it.” Heh. It’s pretty easy to tell when someone has NO idea what they’re talking about.

    Anyway, the paleo framework is not something I think could work for me, since at this point in my life I really don’t see myself going back to eating meat. I think it really would be too hard to get enough protein as a vegetarian (no meat) and paleo adherent (no beans or grains).

    But I’m a big believer in each person finding what works for them and this is sure working for you! You are looking fab and I know you’re feeling great, too.

  15. Valerie says:

    I feel this way about anyone being dumb on any topic that they know nothing about!

    Why is it people don’t just step back and be like,”I know nothing about that so I can’t really judge accurately.”

    You’re awesome!

  16. Erin says:

    I think I just fell in love with you. 🙂

    The vegetarians/vegans in the blogosphere already have created enough drama amongst themselves. They can keep it away from my team! Go paleo!

  17. Maureen says:

    Holly, I love this post! I must admit when I first heard the term “Paleo” diet I rolled my eyes a bit, but I think it was just a response to the name. That was silly of me, and after reading your thoughts and seeing your progress, I gave it a try. This way of eating totally agrees with me, and I feel better than I have in years. It seems like the “healthy living” crew is entrenched in ideas that are decades old, not realizing that nutrition is a fairly new science, and is evolving all the time.

    • Holly says:

      I know…the name! THE NAME! When people call it a caveman diet I also just want to shrivel up and die. It needs some new PR 🙂 So glad you are feeling great!

  18. Megan says:

    THANK GOD for people like you, Holly. Also, I followed your link to her website and I WANT THOSE 20 MINUTES BACK.

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  20. The oatmeal comment cracked me up, as I feel like all every “healthy living blogger” I read does is post (what they think are) pretty photos of overnight oats, day after day. And yet, I still read! Go figure.

    • Holly says:

      Me too, girl. ME TOO. Sometimes I wonder WHY DO I READ THESE, when the oatmeal photos get a bit much, but you know — sometimes there are great little nuggets of motivation, wisdom, advice, or commiseration — and while I don’t know if the oatmeal rage is worth it, I like to read lots of different things. 🙂