52 Days of Paleo, Day 13

This. Was. An. Amazing. Breakfast.

Not winning at Paleo

There is a tendency with this kind of writing to emphasize the positive and de-emphasize the negatives. I'm on a journey to clean up my nutrition in support of my goal of health, vitality, and longevity. Being public about a personal goal like this one brings up (for me anyway) issues about wanting to appear put together, strong, capable. This leads to a tendency to only share when things are going well.

But I’m sharing this journey only because I hope to help someone else who struggles with choosing food that makes them feel terrible for all the wrong reasons and wants to follow an example of someone who got themselves clean (so to speak). To be completely honest, at Day 13 of my 52-Day Paleo pledge, things aren't going as perfectly as I might have led you to believe. And it's all my own fault.

My youngest son finished 11th grade today. My wife got us all together to take us to lunch. His choice. Unfortunately, that choice was the kind of place where no matter how hard you try, there were no Paleo options. It was a Louisiana Fry restaurant.

I ate chicken strips and French fries. Chicken strips battered in white flour. With ketchup. I limited myself to that, but none of that menu (except the chicken itself) fits into the Paleo structure.

It’s not the only time in the last thirteen days that non-Paleo food has crept in. I've eaten lunch a couple of times at fast-casual restaurants where the lean-protein-and-veggies bowl I chose also came with rice. Rice is a grain, and all grains are to be avoided in a Paleo lifestyle. I've eaten at a couple of other restaurants where the sauce that came with the meal couldn't possibly adhere to Paleo ingredients.

Worst of all, yesterday, I didn't eat breakfast and made it all the way till about two in the afternoon, when hunger overtook me and bought an eight pack of mini Donuts at a Circle K gas station. Mini, chocolate-covered donuts are definitely not Paleo.

The point of Paleo is to eliminate processed foods from our diet and allow our body, which is only evolved to the point when we can easily process foods that appear in the natural environment; vegetables, nuts, and seeds, lean proteins, tubers like sweet potatoes and parsnips, fruit, etc. Paleo is pretty much any whole food and no grains, sugar, or heavily processed foods.

There’s all kind of dialogue online about whether or not to mix in a few non-Paleo meals when adhering to a Paleo diet. The original book, The Paleo Diet by Dr. Loren Cordain, addresses it by saying that as long as the majority of your meals are Paleo, you’ll reap practically all the benefits. On the website, they put it this way:

If the occasional cheesecake or ice cream sandwich helps you stick with a mostly healthy diet for the long haul. 95% Paleo for good beats 100% Paleo for 2 weeks before you give up in despair. In this case, non-Paleo food is actually benefiting your health in the long run. If the food is a central part of an occasional social, cultural, or religious experience that’s important to you. In this case, the food is benefiting your mental and emotional well-being.

The bottom line is this: be kind to yourself, do the best you can, and stick to your Paleo plan as much as possible, but accept that perfection is unattainable. If you make a misstep, correct it on the very next meal.

Breakfast: Black coffee sweetened with Sweet N Low. Two eggs, over medium, sausages, country potatoes, and a cup of fruit at the Black Bear Diner.

Lunch: Chicken Strips and Fries at Flavors of Louisiana.

Dinner: None.

Snacks: A Base Culture Cashew Butter Blondie. A banana.

Exercise: 150 minutes of intense road cycling.

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