A couple of comments on the last post inspired me to further my explanation of the fundamental mind-shift I am pursuing personally. I responded in the comments, and want to add to those points here:
I always had a good attitude toward food. I always enjoyed fresh fruit & veg, loved meat, and treated junk food as occasional indulgences, but never really thought about it. Going low-carb, then primal, then carnivore, and eventually paleo - that's what screwed up my attitude towards food and, most of all, my body. Exercising 'mindful eating' immediately makes you over-think eating. Just eat real food, and your body will stop you when you've had enough. Counting anything will mess you up. I sure learned that the hard way.
So much of the primal/paleo movement revolves around humanity's return to earlier states of civilisation - even pre-civilisation - when it comes to how we eat and live. We're not eschewing the creature comforts of housing, electricity, transport, etc - the only area we really concentrate on is food. Yet, we seem to pursue this return to an animal, natural state in such an unnatural way.
Every pet I've ever had, growing up, was given big bowls of food, which were topped up as needed. There were usually a few animals living with us at any one time, yet there was always left-over food in the bowl. There was more than enough for everyone. The pets ate when they were hungry. They knew food was always there. They didn't overeat. They didn't eat as much as possible in case food was not going to be available later - they knew it would be.
We live in the exact same situation, and yet we spend so much energy over-thinking food. We use food as a crutch for when we are stressed, bored, stuck for something to say, etc. Whilst many health ills do come from eating the wrong kind of food - no one debates that living on refined carbs is unhealthy - most of us have enough money to ensure we can access and store a wider range of foods. We're not forced to subsist on the refined carbs that result in insulin resistance and physiological hunger. If you are eating meat, eggs, fruit & vegetables, but find yourself craving doughnuts, then the issue is more likely to be psychological. Even if you have a physiological disorder such as hyperthyroidism, diabetes, etc, and you need to take care with what you eat, you should not find your life revolving around food. I know people with severe food allergies who are more relaxed around food than I have been!
The attitude of being "strict" is a signal of neuroticism. A success/fail attitude is unnatural. Dieting does not make sense if it involves actively monitoring your food intake, actively denying yourself foods that your mind obsesses over. There's nothing natural about pushing yourself to do something your body doesn't want you to do. There may need to be a mind-shift to find yourself actually craving healthy foods, but if you're forcing yourself to be strict and dieting, you usually find yourself craving junk. There's a hint that something's wrong.
I'm not really saying that the individual is in the wrong; we're just products of this weight-focused culture. So few of us eat naturally - the media and societal-pressures consistently reinforce the idea that we're WRONG - the wrong size, eating the wrong food, thinking the wrong thoughts. Existing like animals is derided.
The primal/paleo movement is all about getting back to our natural lifestyles as evolution dictated, and yet we end up going further away from nature and into dark places of restriction and self-disgust when we make "mistakes", or covering our psychological issues with food in the guise that it's fine because it's paleo! Sites like PaleoHacks have certainly enhanced that perfectionist/neurotic attitude. Gosh, even Richard Nikoley of "Free The Animal" seems to be rapidly reversing the mind-set proclaimed by his blog's title, although he is still much more relaxed (I hope) than many other paleo endorsers out there. Hopefully as the hype passes, that attitude will recede and those of us who believe in evolutionary nutrition and medicine will find the groove of natural eating behaviours along with a relaxed lifestyle.
I'm not putting food up on a pedestal, like the vegetarian who dreams about bacon just because they won't let themselves eat it. Animals don't do that. Damaged, neurotic humans do. I can eat whatever I want. I desire healthy, nourishing foods because they give me energy and make my systems run smoothly. Sometimes I crave junkier food, and I'm permitting myself to satisfy that craving. Sometimes I feel fine after it, sometimes I feel a bit sick, but I never feel guilty. I am aiming to eat like an animal - food is there, and I eat it if I need it.
I aim to live like an animal as well - Mark Sisson advises us to play, to avoid poisonous things, to get enough sun, to avoid stress... My pets do all of this. I can too. I had been trying to off-set work stresses with relaxation activities like massages and sunbathing. I'm starting to think that this is the wrong mind-set as well - but there will be more about that as time goes on. In the meantime, I am spending time making and selling jewellery, and am also starting a new vocal group. These activities are my pleasures, and - if I wanted to - they could also be my primary sources of income. I do not find them stressful, or the minor stresses are far outweighed by the pleasure and relaxation associated with the activities. With two weeks left before teaching resumes, I will be living like an animal as much as possible. After teaching resumes, I will see whether the stressors outweigh the pleasures. If so, I might have some decisions to make...
I am still the Girl Gone Primal, and going primal now means a lot more to me than just following a diet. Maybe I should add a "now with more primality" sticker across my banner :)
Roasted Berry Parfait
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