Let's talk about diets...
So, you’re starting a new diet?
Maybe you’re considering the Paleo diet? (I hope! Keep Reading!)
Or your friend/mother/father/sister/brother/boss/co-worker/anyone you see on the street is? Yup, it seems like everyone as some point or another has sprung head first into a new diet.
The lines however, can become blurry when it comes to what a “diet” actually is. I dislike the term because there are so many different meanings depending on whom you ask. The word diet is extremely relative; to one person a diet may be not eating any sweets, to another it could be drinking only juice for ten days straight.
A diet is officially defined by Merriam-Webster: a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one's weight.
This is where my concern stems when it comes to labeling Paleo as a diet. The word diet grabs the attention of people, it sums is up easily, but this approach to eating is nothing close to a diet. Reducing calories is not the point. Losing weight is not the point (although very often occurs). Eating sparingly is definitely not the point.
The point is to find food that will encourage and support your body to perform the natural processes it was designed to do. Think about it this way; if you don’t fuel your car then it won’t run. If you don’t fuel your body, it won’t run either.
Another qualm I have with labeling Paleo as a diet is the fact that a traditional diet usually only lasts for a short amount of time. Think of all those friends/family members/co-workers that protest the new diet they’re going on, then two weeks later are eating doughnuts and pizza. For some, this roller coaster of dieting, binging, falling off the “wagon” is like a carousel that never stops.
Many people begin eating a Paleo diet and it is in their mind truly that; a diet. A restriction from eating foods they have been eating for many years. But, as time marches on and the benefits of eating real food become so apparent, many people realize that being on this “diet” is no longer a forced decision and the restriction becomes a choice. A choice to feel great, no longer deal with chronic health conditions, and have a new found relationship with food.
Paleo truly is a lifestyle. Ask anyone who has followed this way of eating for several years, or even months, and he or she will tell you the same. Paleo is a way of viewing not only the type of food you eat to support and promote health within your body, but a realization that exercise, sleep, stress, toxins and other environmental factors play a role in overall health.
Another reason I disagree with labeling Paleo as a diet is because more often than not, Paleo is simply a guideline for people who follow it. There is no “perfect Paleo” (despite how hard some may try) and going “off the wagon” or “cheating” is part of it. Eating foods that aren’t “Paleo” all the time is okay. It happens. Life happens and it is okay to not eat Paleo 100% of the time. This template of eating is not all-or-nothing, as many traditional diets are. Pick yourself up, don’t feel guilty and the next time you are faced with a food choice, go with something that will support your health and provide you with high quality nutrients.
Bottom line is to choose foods with many nutrients that make you feel great. If that’s considered a diet, then so be it. But to me, choosing a sustainable lifestyle that makes you healthy to live your life with vigor and passion is hardly a diet. So go forth however you choose to define Paleo and be well!