I despise labels – labels on people, food labels, even diet labels: Low Carb, Smart Carb, Paleo, Primal, Ancestral Diet, Archevore, Whole 9, Warrior Diet, Caveman Diet, Functional Paleo, etc. etc. ad nauseum. Call it what you will; I don’t have a label for it because I do what works for me. Others are doing the same – which is what we’re supposed to do, right? We have to figure out what works for us because our bodies do not come in a “one size fits all” package.
Paleo seems to be the standard that communicates the essence of it to most folks so that’s what I use when forced to give it a name. When I’m not, I just say, “I eat REAL FOOD – things without a label – I buy my meat, eggs and veg (and occasional fruit, raw milk dairy products and butter) from local, organic, grass fed farms. I buy coconut milk, coconut oil, olive oil, spices and some wholesome things that do have a label so I’m not totally label free and, yes, I buy meat and produce from the grunchy store when I’m watching my pennies. I don’t buy processed crap and I don’t eat sugar in any form save the occasional fruit.” I think it gets the point across fine – even to those who like to argue accuracy and semantics.
When I read about someone saying there’s a need for a label, something other than Paleo or Primal, I find it amusing. Because 1) there’s no need for a label 2) we will start to sound like the vegetarian community 3) all it does is instigate arguments over semantics and minutiae. It reminds me of the Bible verse about straining gnats and swallowing camels. Do people really expect us to start saying, “I’m a lacto-paleo” or “I’m Paleo 4.0”? All labels do is facilitate pigeon holes and stereotypes. People who are familiar with Paleo/Primal eating know there are variations within the diet. Those who don’t only need the basics and instructions later on how to figure out what works for them so they can decide which elements work and which don’t in their particular situation.
There are some folks who need/want a hard and fast set of rules and they want everyone to be 100 percent accountable 100 percent of the time to following those carved-in-stone rules. Ambiguity and fluidity frustrate them. However, it runs contrary to the heart and soul of living the all encompassing healthy lifestyle that I’ve geeked out on and have come to love.
That lifestyle embodies flexibility and a keen knowledge of what works best for your body. I’m still figuring it out for meeself. There are times and ways to figure that out which is why my friends and I are embarking on the Whole 9 program for 30 days starting August 15. This will require regimented eating but will give us each the experience and n=1 knowledge of what works with us individually. I’m rather excited about it, actually. I don’t expect any of us to ride the Crazy Train to Carrot Town and I fully appreciate that we will call each other out should one of us buy a ticket.
What embarking on this lifestyle has done for me is teach me the value of play, quality sleep, real foods and eliminating stress in my life. It’s introduced me to many invaluable experts and bloggers on the healthy lifestyle that I choose to live from nutrition to medical to lifestyle management. Some of my favorite bloggers are labeled with a certain diet, but many aren’t such as Dr. Bernstein for his management of diabetes (I’m pre-diabetic), Julia Ross for her invaluable insight on addiction, amino acids and how diet affects our moods and addictions of every kind, Todd Becker with his Hormesis viewpoint and many of the other wonderful folks interviewed on Jimmy’s podcasts. In fact, Jimmy’s blog and podcasts is where I first learned of Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson, Tom Naughton, Nora Gedgaudas and many others in the Paleo/Primal community.
This is a lifestyle – not a diet. This is figuring out what works for you, personally, not following some set of rigid legalistic standards and arguing over semantics and what the caveman did or didn’t do. It’s starting from a base of sound scientific, biological, evolutionary evidence for healthy longevity and tweaking it to figure out what gives you optimal “feel, look and performance” in your life (with a nod to Robb Wolf for the variation of his phrase).