I wanted to share a story with you all. So, you know (if you follow this blog) that I am a fan of the Paleo diet, for the most part. My favorite Paleo blogger is actually Chris Kresser, because of his philosophy on following “diets”. In the end, it’s not about what some expert recommends, it’s about doing what YOUR body responds to best – find YOUR personal diet and lifestyle (Check out his book, Your Personal Paleo Code, which I highly recommend). Yes, we experts can help you to make decisions, change your diet and set health and fitness goals and STICK to them.
The problem is, many people decide to follow a diet in more of a religious way, accepting any dogma that is thrown their way as to whether x is better than y or z. I feel this way about the Paleo diet. It’s a love-hate relationship. I love all the research and thinking and writing that has been done on the Paleo diet, but I hate the faddiness and dogmatic level it is taken to at times.
See, there are so many Paleo-approved recipes that are just plain not good for you or will make you downright sick. Paleo baked goods are my main problem. I will give you an example. I don’t want to call any bloggers out specifically, so I will try to be broad about it. I recently decided to try out a popular blogger’s recipe for a common dessert, Paleo-ified. The problem was, the recipe replaced the usual sugar with honey, a Paleo-approved sweetener. This made this baked treat way more dense (because the leavening was simply whipped eggs, and honey is heavy), and it was easy to overeat. I don’t often eat much honey, other than just a small spoon in my herbal tea, so I had not experienced this effect before…but I was basically writhing in pain, unable to take care of my kids, running to the bathroom all day. (You may or may not know that I have IBS and have tried a million diets to help it. Don’t get me wrong, a liberalized, personalized Paleo approach works for me – but clearly not everything Paleo.)
While the Paleo diet, at least the main components of it, have pretty much cured me of my IBS, not every Paleo-approved recipe is going to be OK for my body. Just because honey was technically available in the Paleo era does NOT mean that my body likes it. Likewise, fermented dairy (i.e., yogurt) is available currently and WASN’T available in the Paleo era, and my body does much better when I eat it often, and I have less episodes of pain and suffering.
My point is not that you need to scrap the Paleo diet — not at all. The Paleo diet is very useful and has a lot of great research behind it, great minds and think tanks, and wonderful recipes in general. My point is that YOU need to figure out what works for YOU and stick to THAT and not some kind of dogma. If I had eaten a bowl of yogurt (not traditionally Paleo approved) instead of the Paleo baked treat (Paleo-approved), I might have avoided hours of suffering.
Also, I would recommend looking into FODMAPs if you have IBS or IBD. A Low-FODMAPs diet can actually really help with IBS symptoms, and I am convinced that the reason I was so sick is honey is high in FODMAPs, whereas maple syrup, my usual sweetener of choice, is low FODMAPs. The great thing is, my body had already figured this one out before my mind did. I hope that you will listen to your body unlike I did on this particular day, and do what’s right for YOU, not what’s “insert-diet-approved”.