There’s always a fair amount of talk around the traditional and paleo eating blogosphere about how to explain paleo/traditional eating to neophytes. I like some treatments and dislike others, as is typical in most things in life. In particular, I tend to dislike explanations that focus on rules and what not to eat, rather than the spirit of evolutionarily-appropriate nutrition. I dislike approaches that even mention macronutrient ratios, except to explain that that’s not what it’s really about.
And, when it comes down to it, I dislike explaining how I eat in any concrete terms because I never really follow one way of eating in any sort of dogmatic fashion. I have ideas about what is optimally healthy, and I have ideas about what I find pleasurable enough to ignore some degree of “optimally healthy” and I mix them as I see fit.
In short, I eat what I eat.
If you want to know how you should eat, you really oughtn’t ask me. If you want to hear my arguments concerning the relative health benefits of certain things, especially saturated fats, eggs, and meat, then ask away.
But that’s not a recommendation to what you should eat.
If you cannot bear the thought of eating a fuzzy animal, then every bite of lambchop will be fraught with guilt, and that’s not healthy. We make choices, both based on what we think is best for us AND how it affects us emotionally. Personally, I like dairy foods. I realize that my ridiculous cravings for butter and cream whenever I try to give up dairy are more due to some opiate quality of dairy than an actual, physical need, but I don’t discount the emotional need. And raw cheese and cream are far healthier for me than some other emotionally-driven food choices.
Pick your battles, people. And realize that nutrition, like medicine, is not an exact science. Dr. Campbell has proven, if nothing else, that it is always possible to use biased analysis to support any hypothesis you have. So even if you agree with the spirit of a particular health researcher’s position, take their findings with a grain of salt. Yes, certain things are self-evident, like the fact that large-scale grain consumption would have been impossible before agriculture emerged 10,000 years ago, and that humans evolved for much longer than that. But certain populations have obviously had a head start on certain genetic adaptations. So read the science, and decide what’s worth it.
For me, MSG is very high on the “not worth it” list, not because of any objective scientific research, but because it gives me blinding migraines. But grains are a grayer area. I’m beginning to suspect that I have a specific reaction to gluten, so that might end up on the “not worth it” list shortly. For now, my husband’s homemade bread is definitely worth it, but pizza probably isn’t. Non-gluten grains, especially white rice, are practically a non-issue, as I’m not prone to uncontrolled weight gain.
So, while I agree with most of the tenets of evolutionary and traditional eating, I don’t consider myself a “paleo dieter” any longer. There’s just too much variation to it to be a useful way to describe anything. And, more and more, I’m realizing that nutrition, like spirituality, should be a personal, private journey.