An Open Letter to Critics

7 Nov

While on the computer today, I once again found myself on the huge time-suck that is Buzzfeed. I came across this piece from NY Mag online:

Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 1.11.26 PMNow, I’m all for people putting their opinions out there, but this article (really a review of an article?) does one thing: proves the ignorance of the author. The article she is talking about is from Men’s Health (click pictures for links). Read the subheading. That irks me to NO end.

Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 1.15.48 PMI have so many issues with these articles I don’t know where to start. I’m going to talk about the Men’s Health article first. Yes, it shows the habits and practices of the actual paleolithic man but does so in a “ugh gross!” light. The line “gag-worthy” is insanely offensive. I’m so tired of the gross-out factor. You all realize that meat comes from live animals, yes?  And that some of the MOST nutrient-dense foods are the organ meats? Meat isn’t just ground beef/turkey/pork wrapped in a pretty package marked with a price tag in the meat case at Ralph’s. The genuine disconnect between animal and our plate is truly disheartening.  Since becoming paleo, I don’t shy away from any part of the animal. Sean and I make chicken stock from backs, necks and any bones from the bird we have.  Tongue, heart, brain, liver – all of it. Those organs have so much to give to us, so much nutrition it’s crazy. Funny how the article leaves that out…

I realize it’s not easy to get over that mental block, and maybe you won’t like it after the fact (I, for one, have tried raw oysters many times and just don’t like them).  There are many shades to a paleo diet. I didn’t dive in head first to headcheese and beef tongue (a la tacos de lengua). So please don’t knock it until you give it a go yourself. I can’t tell you how offensive it is to have your lunch called disgusting.

I was a vegetarian for years, and as the meat-eater I am now, I’m more of invested in humane practices and animal rights than any of my soy/tempeh/tofurky days. Sure, I don’t plan on drinking buffalo pee or engaging in cannibalism, but these things happened to early man. And they did whatever they had to do to survive.  I gather this article is against what the name “paleo diet” implies. No, I’m not eating the same way as the primitive version of myself. But what I am doing is using that type of diet – meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds – as a basis for a new food pyramid that makes me feel much better than the traditional model.

Now for the NY Mag’s recap of the article.

One: paleo is not a strictly CrossFitter diet. Two: Stop with the “original paleolithic man didn’t have paleo cake” shtick. Anyone with half a brain would understand that and news flash: we don’t eat paleo cake day in day out. We also use cell phones, computers, internet, heat, refrigeration and many other comforts of the modern world. This isn’t about emulating the life of paleolithic man, it’s about living as healthy as we know how which happens to include a diet closer to what they ate. Three: I think the author was having thoughts of leaving grain behind…the threat to his/her precious breads, cereals, etc. Extreme grain addiction. Sugar, folks. It’s not that hard to understand. You don’t want to ‘give up’ your pasta, bread, etc etc because in its’ simplest form, it’s sugar. This is why once you cut out these items you have that moment when you would do anything to get your hands on a sandwich. Yes, there are carbohydrates in other foods than grains – and I indulge sporadically in potatoes (sweet potatoes, yams, and (gasp!) white potatoes) along with white rice because neither make me sick.  I’ll also have foods that contain the occasional dairy product – yes, I eat the highest quality I can find of full-fat dairy sometimes because it doesn’t upset my tummy.  And goat cheese – sooo tasty.  I’m getting off topic. Eat your heart out, Paleo Police (if you can stomach to eat heart that is).

If I have a gluten-containing food, I get sick almost immediately. I can detect it now even with slight contamination. I was tested in 2009 for food allergies, and results showed sensitives to soy, corn, wheat/gluten and yeast. Talk about a hit to a then-vegetarian like myself. Luckily my symptoms aren’t as severe as others. But the intestinal discomfort is real. The inflammatory response in my system is real. Sure, I know there are people would think “gluten-free” is a fad, and it’s only been around since 2010, but I’m 99% sure I’ve been gluten sensitive since childhood. I had SO many stomach issues – just a kid with a “sensitive stomach”. But those hospital trips and the traumatizing event of throwing up in the lunchroom in 3rd grade (yes, I remember that too vividly) among other incidents really makes me think that my gluten-heavy diet was a big part of my era as the “throw-up kid”. Yep.

Yes, we aren’t killing our food with our bare hands (although Sean does hunt a few times a year) and preparing for the winter by gathering as much as we can right now – but this whole “hey our ancestors didn’t have paleo cupcakes?! So you’re wrong.” argument is getting way old. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and no way is exactly the right way, I know that. But I’m tired of people rolling their eyes at me, at the true paleo community which is full of people who want to feel better, lose weight, reverse disease and possibly extend life. It’s not a ‘One Size Fits All’ lifestyle. I would love it if everyone could try, for a solid 30-days, to eliminate grains, dairy, refined sugars from their diet and see how you feel. Then gradually add in those foods and see what happens. What you do for your health is your own business – paleo or not. Passing judgment without doing so is, among other things, disrespectful.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got beef heart stew going on the stove and paleo muffins about to go in the oven…

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