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Is Paleo All or Nothing?

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  • Is Paleo All or Nothing?

    I am new to Paleo and have been learning and practicing the past few months. One question that keeps coming up for me is, if you do not meet the low carb benchmarks on a given day or indulge in a "bad food" are you doing more damage to the body then if you were not eating Primal at all? Eating the additional fat and lower carbs, does it make us more sensitive to carbs when we do eat a slice of birthday cake?

    Does this mean that Paleo is an all or nothing lifestyle? If so, that makes it not only hard to maintain longterm, but raises all sorts of questions in families. My kids and wife are not eating Paleo. My wife is vegetarian. My family is generally healthier in terms of whole foods & veggies & less sugar than most--but we are not completely restrictive.

    I don't know how to incorporate some Paleo principles into the non-Paleo family member's diets if they are not doing it all the way. My 11 year old is not going to stop eating sugar entirely or say no to pizza--so would I be doing them more harm by having them eat full fat foods all the time?

    So many people eating differently in one home is not without challenges.

    I guess my primary question is this simple: if your carb intake is higher than that prescribed by Paleo are you best not eating all the additional meat and fat--that you will do more harm than if you just kept eating the way you always have?

  • #2
    I find eating paleo to be more forgiving than most WOE. After you eat this way for a few months the occasional "cheat" really does not seem to have any affect. If I start to crave something I eat it or I start eating more of other things to compensate. I have found quite often that I don't really enjoy the "cheat" food as much as I thought I would. Sweet things taste overly sweet and other things just don't taste as good as nutrient dense foods. My taste buds have changed.

    I do still love a slice of Good pizza once in awhile but if it is not of high quality even pizza does not taste as good as remembered.
    If I cheat too much all my old ills return, like inflammation etc. but I find that going back to clean eating fixes that in just a day or two. It is amazing.

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    • #3
      Refer to Marks 80/20 rule.
      One time http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/forum.php

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      • #4
        It sounds like you are confusing "carb" with "grains". It can be a challenge at first to figure out how to do life without grains in a family that consumes them. But it actually isn't hard at all.

        You can eat any saucy thing served over grains with your family. They get their sauce over pasta or rice, you get yours over a sweet potato or just in a bowl with a spoon.

        You can eat any meat and side-dish meal your family eats. If the side dish is a grainy thing, you can just have the veggies and nuke up a sweet potato for yourself.

        Sandwiches/burgers: Wrap your sandwich fillings in lettuce leaves or just eat your sandwich as a salad with meat on it.

        One difficulty you may have is that without the bread/rice your meal is scanty. You may need to put more meat in the dinners. The other night I just opened a can of tuna and added that to my dinner. Another difficulty is a casserole/hot dish meal. You may need to just make your own dinner instead or decide if this is a night to eat off plan. I figure if the dish is potato-based it's fair game.

        But is it completely all or nothing, as in you can never eat anything non-paleo again without dire consequences? No, it's not. You will eventually find yourself in a situation where you have no choice. Make the best choice you can and do not feel like you did anything wrong. Take everything one meal at a time, one day at a time and you'll soon see how easy it really is.
        Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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        • #5
          Paleo maybe. Primal no.
          "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine

          B*tch-lite

          Who says back fat is a bad thing? Maybe on a hairy guy at the beach, but not on a crab.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by sbhikes View Post
            It sounds like you are confusing "carb" with "grains". It can be a challenge at first to figure out how to do life without grains in a family that consumes them. But it actually isn't hard at all.

            You can eat any saucy thing served over grains with your family. They get their sauce over pasta or rice, you get yours over a sweet potato or just in a bowl with a spoon.

            You can eat any meat and side-dish meal your family eats. If the side dish is a grainy thing, you can just have the veggies and nuke up a sweet potato for yourself.

            Sandwiches/burgers: Wrap your sandwich fillings in lettuce leaves or just eat your sandwich as a salad with meat on it.

            One difficulty you may have is that without the bread/rice your meal is scanty. You may need to put more meat in the dinners. The other night I just opened a can of tuna and added that to my dinner. Another difficulty is a casserole/hot dish meal. You may need to just make your own dinner instead or decide if this is a night to eat off plan. I figure if the dish is potato-based it's fair game.

            But is it completely all or nothing, as in you can never eat anything non-paleo again without dire consequences? No, it's not. You will eventually find yourself in a situation where you have no choice. Make the best choice you can and do not feel like you did anything wrong. Take everything one meal at a time, one day at a time and you'll soon see how easy it really is.
            This

            We always have salad (almost always) and another veggie or two, along with the meat. There's almost always cottage cheese in the frig if need be. We dont have vegetarians, but we have kiddos and teenagers that eat here. So there is something for everyone w/o feeling like a short order cook.

            Also, I freeze leftovers, so there is always that option if someone wants something different.
            65lbs gone and counting!!

            Fat 2 Fit - One Woman's Journey

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            • #7
              Think of it like this:

              In your past "eat whatever" life, you were hitting your head against the wall 5 times a day, now eating paleo, you're only doing so once a day - you're still better off.

              Don't over think it, just eat better most of the time, don't sweat the small instances where you can't or simply don't want to.
              I used to seriously post here, now I prefer to troll.

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              • #8
                Thanks for asking this,
                My boyfriend (who I live with) is skeptical about eating primal and doesn't want to (yet. We will see what he says once I'm on it for a while.) I'm doing a lot of the cooking, by virtue of being the one with the specifications in my diet, so I'm making a lot of high fat meals. I warned him of it though, so I guess ultimately feeding the significant other isn't like feeding a kid lol

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                • #9
                  I would say it's all-or-nothing for the first few months. Your body needs to convert its metabolism from fat-burner to sugar-burner, and that won't happen if you do it half-ass. After you're adjusted, you can cheat a little 80/20. But you can never go "off" the diet totally or the ailments will come back.
                  5'0" female, 45 years old. Started Primal October 31, 2011, at a skinny fat 111.5 lbs. Low weight: 99.5 lb on a fast. Gained back to 115(!) on SAD chocolate, potato chips, and stress. Currently 111.

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                  • #10
                    I eased into primal over 3 or 4 months, at first accidentally as I kept cutting back on grain and other processed foods as a way to reduce calories, and then more deliberately once I found MDA. I felt (feel) better and better all the time. Every little step has been an improvement. I'm probably 80+% diet-wise now, but I still feel like I'm easing into it. Some people prefer to just jump in the deep end, which is fine if that works for them. I haven't found that approach to be necessary. The other 20% is for convenience, pleasure, whatever and I don't stress over it. Over time, I imagine that 20% will continue to shrink.

                    As for non-primal family members, IMO, any SAD stuff that gets replaced with something primal is a good thing. My DH and kids (14 and 21) eat primal dinners when I cook, which is most of the time. They have what they want for breakfast and lunch, which is usually primal stuff plus whatever grains and grocery store condiments they think are necessary. DS drinks Coke and Gatorade, but I can see the volume is slowly decreasing. DD has been eating Honey Nut Cheerios with banana and organic milk for breakfast, but has recently asked for a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich. I am pleased about the reduction in sugar and dairy and will start with thinly sliced organic white bread while looking around for an alternative that she's happy with. I don't care if their transition is 10x slower than mine. It's better than not at all, IMO. It's easier for me than someone with vegetarians in the family, though, since mine are all big fans of meat.
                    50yo, 5'3"
                    SW-195
                    CW-125, part calorie counting, part transition to primal
                    GW- Goals are no longer weight-related

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                    • #11
                      I eased into low carb first. It got to the point where I couldn't cheat without getting sick with diarrhea or something. So eventually the cheat meals went away. Then after reading "Wheat Belly" I dropped low-carb wraps from my diet and anything else that was processed (as much as possible).

                      I would eliminate foods for two reasons 1) I did research to justify why it was bad for me and 2) If I eat the foods, I get terribly sick.

                      So far, all I have left in my diet that I can tolerate is meat, eggs, cheese, coffee, cream, small amounts of fruit, veggies, and nuts. Starting to phase out splenda for stevia.

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                      • #12
                        I think that 80/20 rules is something that ALL diet promoters offer. It allows for people to feel like they can have their cake and eat it to. And it helps sell the diet (and more books incidentally) to those not willing to make a serious effort.

                        I don't prescribe to that philosophy. I don't understand how someone could be paleo, which includes an understanding of why we don't eat grains/legumes/seeds, and then think it "OK" to have them occasionally. Why then even be "paleo," ever?

                        But then I remember: a lot of people are just trying to lose weight or get jacked. While a small handful of us are trying to get healthy and remain that way.

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                        • #13
                          One question that keeps coming up for me is, if you do not meet the low carb benchmarks on a given day or indulge in a "bad food" are you doing more damage to the body then if you were not eating Primal at all?
                          Who ever said paleo/primal was low carb? Just eat real food. "low carb" is a guideline for fat loss. Eat all the carbs you need/tolerate to maintain the body comp you're looking for.

                          By avoiding wheat, soy and corn in all forms, I've cut down my refined foods and carbohydrate intake dramatically. But I don't pretend to eat "low carb"....I still get plenty of carbs from vegetables, fruit, starchy tubers, some dairy, etc. All carbs are not created equal.
                          Sandra
                          *My obligatory intro

                          There are no cheat days. There are days when you eat primal and days you don't. As soon as you label a day a cheat day, you're on a diet. Don't be on a diet. ~~ Fernaldo

                          DAINTY CAN KISS MY PRIMAL BACKSIDE. ~~ Crabcakes

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                          • #14
                            Paleo is not all or nothing.
                            What's better? Eating 80-90% real whole food or 20-30% real whole food?
                            A lot of people on this forum have an absolutists POV on Paleo. That if you're not doing 100% Paleo, you're not doing it properly and shouldn't even try.
                            This is palpable nonsense. You get massive, massive health benefits by moving from a SAD to a 80-90% Paleo diet.
                            That you can get these benefits and still enjoy regular things like pizza and beer (yes, they are enjoyable for many if not most), is a major selling point for Paleo. And if we're going to get more people to go Paleo (which I passionately believe in), we need to use this selling point more. I'd rather millions more eating 70% paleo than zero more because it's "all or nothing".
                            One step at a time. Get folks to 80% Paleo, THEN worry about the remaining 20%.

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                            • #15
                              I keep feeling compelled to answer such questions with the reminder that the diet portion is just one element of living a more Primal/Paleo life. It's equally important that you address the other facets of your life, particularly exercise patterns, sleep and stress. It's not JUST about diet folks.

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