Life vs Paleo?
For people who have been Paleo for quite some time, they can frequently find themselves with the troubling problem of whether or not to choose life over Paleo. What we mean by this is certainly not a life and death decision, but that sometimes people choose to live and enjoy their lives, rather than stay strict Paleo.
As you begin a Paleo lifestyle, it is often much easier to stay adherent to it, since it’s all new, and you’re always making the conscious decision to remain Paleo. All of those little temptations don’t even seem appealing to you, because you’re still riding the natural high of being Paleo.
Slowly but surely though, life starts to creep back in, and you’re presented with temptations that seem less like temptations, and more like life beckoning you to enjoy it. What do you do at this point? Do you give in or do you stick to your guns? There are arguments for both decisions and we are going to be exploring both today.
The argument for choosing life
Let’s say you’re at a birthday party, everyone is celebrating, there’s absolutely no Paleo-friendly food around and you’re starving. The birthday party is being thrown for your best friend, and it would be rude of you to sneak out and grab some food, and even ruder to head to the kitchen and start cooking your own.
The spread they have at the birthday party is also looking very appetizing. Burgers and hot dogs, potato salad, beers and some cheesecake for dessert.
You’re thinking about cheating. You’re thinking about breaking Paleo, and you might just actually do it this time around. Even the strictest followers of Paleo might just tell you to go for it.
Here’s the thing – Paleo followers are not like vegans or vegetarians. We aren’t doing this for any moral or ethical reasons which would be suddenly compromised if we were to eat foods which were classified as non-Paleo. This makes it so that we don’t have to feel morally conflicted if we were to stray from Paleo and eat some other types of foods. Paleo is simply not the type of lifestyle that is known for causing moral dilemmas.
Because of this, if the urge to cheat is that great, especially in a social situation where not cheating could even be perceived as rude, then maybe you should just go for it.
A disclaimer though – you’re going to feel like utter crap shortly after you finish consuming whatever it is you decide to consume. You know what though? That’s not always a bad thing.
Breaking Paleo and feeling like a crap afterwards is the type of negative reinforcement that works extremely well to keep people going on Paleo for the long term. They are at the party and feel the urge to break Paleo – an urge which they haven’t been feeling very often after several months of strict Paleo. So they cheat, they cheat hard and then they feel terrible.
As a result, they probably won’t cheat for quite a long time, because every time they think of cheating, they’ll be reminded of how awful they felt the last time they did. Sometimes you need to do the wrong thing, to remind you just how wrong it is.
The argument for choosing Paleo
Same birthday party, same scenario. You’re thinking about cheating. Why would you be thinking about doing that?
You’ve been very strict Paleo for several months now. You’ve worked hard at it and you feel great. You wake up every day full of energy, you’ve lost weight without trying and all of your digestive issues have magically vanished. And for some reason, you’re thinking of shunning what you know works, for a bit of instant gratification.
Aren’t you stronger than that? Your willpower has taken you this far, and it’s likely not the first time it’s been tested. You can’t hold out for one more day? Don’t you remember how crappy you felt the last time you broke Paleo and ate some junk food? Are those the kind of results you’re looking for today – to feel crappy?
You can make all the excuses you want, and try to justify to yourself why just this one will be OK. In reality though, some non-Paleo foods like gluten can stay in your gut causing negative effects for as long as a month.
That means all your months of progress and the next month will have lesser results, all because you wanted to eat something which you’ll chew up and forget about after just a few minutes. Not to mention how hard it is to come back form cheating. Will you stop at just that one time, or will you keep going the next day, and break your Paleo streak for good?
While we can’t tell you which is the right decision for you, we can say that choosing Paleo 95% of the time is probably the right choice. That said, even we are not perfect and absolutely strict 100% adherence is not possible either. Our best recommendation is to eat Paleo whenever possible, even in an awkward social situation. There will be times that pop up when there really are no options whatsoever for Paleo foods, and you’ll really need to use one of those get out of jail free cards. Why not save one of those cards for when you really need it?