I Think Your Diet is Stupid (But I Get It)

I really like to make fun of paleo. Sorry not sorry, it’s bullshit. Unless you have a real allergy or Celiac (as in you have been diagnosed by a doctor), you have no hard and fast, logical reason not to eat bread. Wheat is a solid energy source, processed food isn’t always bad, and a move to an agrarian society is responsible for a lot of human civilization getting where it is today. Humans have survived eating a varied diet for hundreds of years. Most people can eat most foods and they will probably be fine. It’s expensive and impractical, less a health choice and more a way to muddle up a basic and delightful human activity. Here are some articles by people smarter than me explaining why paleo is peak Caucasity foolishness.

I feel that way about most other diets, too. From veganism to Atkins to Ornish, I’ve yet to hear of one that sounds reasonable and sustainable. I don’t see the point in doing something you can’t keep up for, well, the rest of your life, and doesn’t leave room for beer and french fries. Heavily restricting what goes into your face is exhausting, and unless you have a medical reason I don’t get it.

The only concept that makes sense to me is lots of fruits and vegetables, lots of lean protein, easy on carbs and dairy and sugar. This seems reasonable and flexible. This makes sense. This isn’t easy. I want to eat pizza and funnel cake until I pass out in a sugar-cheese coma. Mmmm.

And I lied, I do get it. I really get it. You want to lose weight. You want to be healthy, aka live forever. You want to be attractive and therefore good and okay. I get it because I feel that way sometimes too – except for maybe the live forever part, we are all living on borrowed time and we’re all going to die which is terrible but very inevitable.

But I get it. It is near-impossible to be a woman and not feel intense pressure to control and portion and measure and try and do the right food and exercise thing, because if you are right about food that makes you a better, more worthy person. If I choose carrots instead of chips, I am morally superior. If I use coconut oil instead of butter, my skin will look magazine-pretty. If I run five miles instead of watching Game of Thrones, my waist will be smaller and men will like me and therefore I’m capable of being loved. If I choose a salad over a cheeseburger every single time without fail, my colon will shine with the glory of a thousand suns, it will be intestinal Khaleesi but instead of dragons I’l have the fiery power of slightly lower blood pressure. If I feed myself some bullshit unscientific theory about eating like cavemen, I will be healthier, skinnier, radiating goodness and light.

I can’t let go of paleo. I love pasta and hate pseudoscience.

Where I’m going with this, aside from House Targaryen-butt metaphors, is I think paleo’s ridiculous but it makes sense. From childhood you’re bombarded with images and words from the media, loved ones, and strangers that pretty is good and very important. And pretty means white, thin, young, symmetrical. If you’re fed that psychological food and drink for years and years, reaching for a fad diet that promises live well, live longer, gluten is the root of all evils and p.s. your acne will go away…it makes sense.

It is hard to accept that there is no catch-all solution. In a state of desperation, people (myself included) like to glom onto something that promises to stop the psychological hemorrhaging, an idea that gives you something to work towards. It’s harder to think that maybe there may not be an end goal to work towards, that you are okay the way you are right now, that eating better and exercising is a series of small and incremental changes that take place over time and are an ongoing thing. That being thin and conventionally hot, or even healthy, will not solve all your problems.

I’m a 20-something female-identified cis white lady with an okay face and average body. I am playing Appearance Donkey Kong on the lowest difficulty setting. And what this means is a lot, from small to the horrific: Clothing is a pain in the ass but not a waking nightmare. My size is right there on the rack. And when I’m out there looking for clothing that will probably fit me fine if not flatteringly, I’m not going to get followed in the store, or otherwise suspected of criminal acts. Society may not find me beautiful, but it will probably find me acceptable. I feel shitty about the way I look sometimes, recoiling from the mirror when a waistband is too tight. This is from Level One. As much as I mock having a case of the wheat-crazies, the urge to change yourself feels so familiar it hurts.

Paleo is a fad diet. Like most fad diets, it will pass. But denying yourself a tasty, affordable, and potentially nutritious food group to fit into an idea of what is okay is strange at best, ugly at worst. You are demonizing something neutral, packing fear and self-loathing into an innocuous little grain. Wheat is one thing. Grains don’t feel pain. But it is not a stretch to apply this misplaced disgust to something with more consequences, like another human.

Also, pancakes are delicious.

-Rose

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One Comment

I totally get where you’re coming from. However, I do believe there is some validity to it. Not validity to the diet, but the idea of it. Paleo is suppose to be based on the diets of our ancestors and yeah, we’ve changed. Many of us can now digest milk with no problem. If people have to say they are on a paleo diet to make better choices, then great!! Girl, have your pancakes and enjoy them. Lord knows, I enjoyed my cake, beer and anything else carb related this past weekend. It’s all about balance. Too much of anything isn’t good for us.

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