In a recent sermon, Dr. Matthew St. John describes a “Legalist Hack” as the self-appointed master of everyone’s spirituality. He says,”My definition of a religious legalist is one who measures everyone’s spiritual success by his or her own spiritual efforts and expectations.”
After listening to Dr. Matthew’s Sermon Series, I got to thinking and found a parallel between his message and that which I’ve experienced as Paleo Nick.
You see, when you have a Paleo website, people pay close attention to what you eat. They are swift to measure your “Paleo Success.” In most cases, this judgement comes from their expectations, and not so much from a comparison to their “own Paleo efforts”. Actually, it seems that those who are farthest from eating healthy are the ones to squawk loudest and point the finger quickest.
Those who claim to be Paleo or prescribe to the Paleo Diet look for some tangible evidence that they are better than you…
Have you experienced this? Or, maybe you are one of the finger pointers?
I’ll admit it, I’ve been that guy. At one time or another, I was a Paleo legalist, it’s an easy thing to do. Especially when you are learning about it, you get all fired up, no? The problem with this is that when you cross the line of judgement and call someone out, you do two things. One, you assume that you have the definition of what it is to eat/be Paleo. Two, you assume that you know what is best for the person who you are judging.
Now, clearly, there is no perfect definition of Paleo. In attempting to define it, you will find the same struggle that Glassman encountered when attempting to define fitness. Then, there’s primal, ancestral, archevore, etc… All of these diet models have their nuances, but at the base of them you’ll find whole, real foods.
Being a cuisinier at heart, I am passionate about searching out these very foods. I believe that the difference between great restaurants and the myriad of those mediocre can be determined not by their menu, but by their procurement practices. Forget about how fancy their menu is worded or how pretty the pictures are, let’s take a look at their food vendor invoices, how processed is the food when it enters the back door?
Back to the legalism issue. While I was at the CrossFit Games recently, I had a chance to talk with Tyson Oldroyd of HQ Media. We had a discussion on nutrition and the topic of judgement came up. We looked out to the stands and thought about how many spectators would claim to eat “Paleo?” Probably the majority would make this claim. However, if we were to get down and dirty and compare their diet to that which Dr. Loren Cordain describes(no salt, no nightshades, etc…), then we would find that only a small fraction would legitimately be “strict Paleo.”
The discussion led to the idea that we need to educate ourselves and understand what works for us on an individual level. Tyson explained that for him, one cheat meal can mean a difference of 5-7 pounds of body weight and take a week to recover from. On the other end of the spectrum, we’ve got the “hard gainers” like Chad Ochocinco who eats McDonald’s three times per day and has very little body fat.
The point of writing this article is not to tell you that I am perfect or have the perfect formula or that I’m better than you because I don’t judge others. My goal is to help you stop pointing.
Consider what you’re doing when you judge others. The “Bully Mentality”states that when you point the finger, you have some insecurity issues on your end and that you are making yourself feel better by making others feel bad.
Aren’t we all in this together? Why do we care so much about what others eat? And what about Paleo Nick? Shouldn’t his site preach strict Paleo?
Maybe. But maybe, I just like the word Paleo. Maybe I think it best mirrors, “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar.” That would be pretty hard to argue, no? Maybe I’ve done my research and experimented with my life and my diet and maybe, just maybe, I’ve found that I am happier and easier to live with when I eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s each week. Maybe it’s not worth it to me to be so strict that I turn down Grandma’s Scotcharoos. I mean, that’s her special recipe and she spent a lot of time making those bars. I don’t have the heart (or the self-control) to do it.
However, when I make those decisions, do I know how my body is going to react? Do I know what I can expect? Yes, I do. Furthermore, I recommend keeping some grains, dairy, and sugar in your diet. Not as staples, but as “alleviators of indulgence opportunity.” When these situations arise and you don’t want to be rude or you are unprepared and end up eating some processed food, you don’t want to be running to the bathroom or keeling over with stomach cramps, do you?
So what I am I saying?
Don’t judge the diet of others. Unless they ask you to. I remember at my Level One Cert, Adrian Bozman gave the nutrition lecture, he explained the 23 and 1 rule and then talked about counseling an athlete. The guy claimed that The Zone Diet didn’t work, so Adrian asked to see his food log. He started strong on Monday, but then on Tuesday night, a couple of beers turned good intentions into Nacho Night and then on Wednesday, he was hungry so he had Pizza, etc… Of course the Zone Diet didn’t work, because he wasn’t doing The Zone Diet! Educate yourself so you can help others if they ask, but don’t judge. Please don’t judge!
Figure out what works for you. This is only possible through education and experimentation. What works for others might not necessarily work for you, so you’ll have to do your homework.
Rely on Whole Foods as the Staples Of Your Diet. There is scientific evidence that no amount of micronutrient supplements can mimic the synergistic benefits of eating whole foods. This occurs in fruits and vegetables as well as meat.
Give yourself a break!Figure out what makes you tick. What is it going to take to Rely on Whole Foods a sthe Staples of Your Diet? Do you handle dairy well and enjoy drinking milk? Then do that. Is a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch every Sunday going to keep you on track for the rest of the week? What about bread? Do you love Ciabatta? Those large air pockets surrounded by a the hard crust, toasted up with some fresh butter and a sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano? Then make room for that, don’t kill yourself over it.
Ancient Wisdom says it best:
“It is better to eat the wrong foods with the right attitude than the right foods with the wrong attitude.”
Oh yah, then there are the Bible Verses on judgment:
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? – Matthew 7:3
Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. – John 8:7
And, the best advice of all:
Do what works for you. Keep It Paleo! And, as for the others, if they so choose:
“Let Them Eat Cake!”