It was early in the evening on a Saturday in mid-April in Oxnard, California. The second full day of Mark Sisson’s annual PrimalCon was coming to an end. I had spent the day attending workshops that covered subjects such as athletic technique, Paleo nutrition and cooking. Clad in gym shorts, a t-shirt and toe shoes, I shivered as the weather got chilly and overcast. When I noticed that a group of my fellow athletes were huddled around a propane heater, I hurried to join them. We flocked around it like a swarm of moths around a lamp.
“This feels nice,” said one person. “Now, all we need is some chocolate, Graham crackers and marshmallows for s’mores.”
“Yeah, that would be nice, but it would be so non-paleo!” I joked, in response.
Another person looked my way and said, with a serious look on his face, “Dude, are you so paleo that you won’t eat s’mores?”
I was not able to answer. All the resources of my brain were occupied with the analysis of that quote. What a great question.
This question scrutinizes the degree of seriousness taken by followers of some ways of thinking. Paleo is a diet, not a religion. I prefer not to call it a diet either; I do not even like the word “diet.” Rather, paleo is a set of ideas about nutrition that stems from certain scientific evidence. Some people choose to base their eating habits on those ideas. They do so as best as they can. The goal is to adhere to it with consistence, not with perfection. One celebrates the degree to which he or she eats according to the ideas; one does not condemn oneself (or others) for a single instance of eating something that the ideas do not condone. Like so many other things in life, the focus is on the wins, not the losses.
This question reminds us that sweet delicacies, though lacking in nutrition, are treats that make life worthwhile. Foods such as sweets, pastries and candies are in abundance today more than they ever were in the past. A cupcake was once a gourmet item that one ate on a rare (and usually special) occasion. Now, gas stations sell cupcakes for under a dollar apiece. This makes it easy for anybody with a sweet tooth and some pocket change to eat sweets on an impulse. Foods such as these are thin in nutrients, but Paleo does not demonize them. It encourages the idea that such foods should be enjoyed but, being what they are, should also be eaten in small amounts and at infrequent intervals. As Cookie Monster would say, they are “sometime foods.”
I subscribe to the Paleo set of ideas in regards to nutrition. Do I adhere to them without flaw? No. I am not perfect, and I believe that there is nothing wrong with the occasional treat. The above quote reminded me, especially with food and treats, not to take things too seriously.
Do you follow the Paleo set of ideas? What is your favorite dessert, treat or snack?
Finally, there is one thing I ask that you ask yourself: “Am I so paleo that I won’t eat [insert your favorite dessert/treat/snack here]?”