Is Paleo Too Restrictive?
I recently attended a conference for fitness and health bloggers, and when asked what my blog is about I would say that it's a CrossFit and paleo blog. Most people recognized at least one of those words, but mainly I found myself explaining what a paleo diet entails and what I choose to eat and not eat.
The common response I got was, "That sounds too restrictive. I could never do that." I've been doing really well with it for four years, but I also consider myself fairly disciplined when it comes to food. So, it got me thinking - is the paleo diet too restrictive? Maybe, but isn't every "diet" restrictive? Vegetarians and vegans restrict meat. For anyone who eats meat, wouldn't that seem too restrictive? But vegetarians and vegans choose not to eat meat, just as paleo folks choose not to eat grains, legumes and dairy. Both groups choose to restrict certain foods.
Another common response was, "I could never eat like that because I would feel like I'm depriving myself." Depriving yourself from what? When someone says that they don't want to feel deprived I hear, "I want to be able to eat what I want, when I want, without consequences or repercussions." Basically, they want to have their gluten-filled, high fructose corn syrup cake and eat it too. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. There has to be some personal responsibility and self-discipline. You have to make real, permanent lifestyle changes in how you approach food and the decisions you make regarding what you put into your body. That's why you shouldn't even think of paleo as a diet. To me, a diet implies a short-term change in your food intake generally for the goal of weight loss. Paleo is a lifestyle which implies long-term permanent changes and not a quick fix.
Meat, veggies, and good fats. It does sound really limited and restrictive until you've reprogrammed your brain to come back from the dark side. It takes some time, but eventually you realize that you don't need, or even want, most of those other foods because you've seen the light and know how problematic they will be. And what it eventually comes down to is if the cheat meal is worth it or not. If you're going to do some damage, it better be really good and worth the inflammatory hit.
So, what do you think? Is paleo too restrictive? Is your way of eating too restrictive?