Warning: What follows is part rant, part wake-up call, but written with love and the best of intentions. I originally wrote this a while back and held back, deciding that Thanksgiving weekend might not be the best time to post it. Stangely enough, I had 3 more people announcing that they were “doing the Whole 30” after I wrote the artice! This wasn’t meant for anyone in particular so please don’t take it personally. And now for a bit of…
Nutritional Tough Love
-By Tania Tetrault Vrga
When City TV called about the Paleo Diet story, it got me thinking. He asked me about whether we recommend Paleo to our clients. I answered that we recommend eating this way, but that we don’t generally use the name “Paleo”, particularly when addressing new clients. All our new members get a nutrition package that contains our basic nutrition principals and a recipe book. We ask everyone to try it for at least 30 days. After the initial strict 30 days, we recommend trying to reintroduce some of the “banned” foods to see how they feel. This adds an element of self-experimentation and avoids the common, but dangerous trap of turning a lifestyle into a religion.
I started thinking about why we don’t go out of our way to call it Paleo or to give it a name at all. It also got me thinking about why I get a bit concerned when I hear something like: I’m going to try the Primal BluePrint, or the Whole 30 or the Paleo Solution. These are great resources and the authors behind these books and blogs have made important contributions to the popularization of this lifestyle. I’m happy to see anyone taking responsibility for their health, so these programs are very positive in this way. What concerns me is the attitude that surrounds these programs, the idea that it is a short term solution rather than a long term lifestyle change. I’ve been thinking of doing another Real Food Challenge, but it worries me that it takes a challenge or a contest or a game of sorts to get anyone to take responsibility for what they put in their mouth.
Understand however, that there is nothing revolutionary about any of these programs. They are all essentially the same and they all work. These programs are also exactly what we’ve expected from you from day 1, from the day you signed up for On Ramp and got your nutrition package. Sure, there are some minor differences between these programs, and each puts an interesting spin on the primal lifestyle, but they all focus on quality food as fuel for the body. I hate to break it to you, but if you say you have decided to try Whole 30, you just admitted that you haven’t listened to your coaches or tried the CFW nutrition plan, because they are essentially the same.
Everyone is different and it’s your responsibility to figure out what works for you. You’ve got a pretty good idea where to start, if we really have to give it a name, let’s call it “Paleo”. So why this need to follow “Super Duper Diet A” or “The Uber Ultimate Nutrition Solution B”? Why does eating clean have to have a fancy name? If you do make the decision to “try” Whole 30 or Robb Wolf’s new 30 day solution, then see it for what it really is, i.e. not eating any crap for 30 days. It’s that simple. It doesn’t need a name. Just do it. And do it your way. There are plenty of recipes and resources on our website other paleo primal sites. If you’re not already doing it, why not? Did you really think that CrossFit workouts alone would make you ripped? Do you really think that calling it something different will make it work better?
Ok, rant over. And just in case you’re not clear on what to do, I’ll spell it out. This way no one can pretend we never told you so.
1 – No processed foods. Beware anything that comes in a package and has an ingredients list. If the ingredients list has more than 5 items, be even wearier (is that a word?) If you don’t know what some of the ingredients are or can’t pronounce them, forget it!
2 – No grains. Don’t give me that “but how am I supposed cut out bread and pasta?” bullshit. Try it for a month and then if you actually do it and you still don’t look and feel better, come and see me and we’ll talk. And no, whole grains are NOT ok.
3 – No sugar or sweeteners. I don’t care if it’s agave, honey, stevia, succralose. Stay away. Fruit is very nutritious, but if you have insulin management issues (more likely if you are overweight) then you need to keep an eye on the amount of hidden sugar you are getting from fruit.
4 – No industrial seed oils. Stay the hell away from trans fats, margarine, canola oil, corn oil, soybean, safflower oil and “vegetable oil”. If you knew what they do to this stuff you would not touch it with a 10 foot pole.
5 – No Dairy. There is some dissent in the paleo/primal community about this. You’ll never know if you can tolerate dairy until you eliminate it completely for at least a month before reintroducing it. Regardless of how tolerant you are to dairy, ditch all low fat dairy, pasteurized dairy and dairy from conventionally raised cattle. If there’s one thing dairy is good for (other than making stinky old cheese), it’s putting on weight, so if losing weight is a priority, stay away.
6 – No Legumes and beans. Again, there is some disagreement on how “bad” these are. Let’s put it this way, if it needs to be soaked , cooked or fermented to neutralize its toxins (as is the case with soy, lentils, and most beans), then it’s probably not a good idea. Remember that gas and bloating are not part of optimal health. If beans, legumes, nuts, or anything else for that matter, cause bloating or gas for you, just don’t eat it. It’s that simple.
So forget Whole This or Primal That. Just take responsibility and stop eating crap. Eat clean non processed foods: meat, fish, vegetables, roots & tubers, fruit and healthy fats. Do it for yourself, not because a book or a blog told you to (except this blog of course). Contrary to what some of the websites might say, there is no one program that is going to change your life and solve all of your problems in one fell swoop. Changing your life is up to you, and it doesn’t happen in 30 days. See it for what it is – eating clean is fuel, fuel for your body, your mind, your soul.