I recently read the statement that the Paleo diet seems to elicit ‘cult-like’ behavior in its devotees. I thought it was an interesting point, and something I don’t deny. I have a few ideas why & wanted to blog about it.
1. Great Results
For those of us who’ve done the mainstream, or “conventional wisdom” (CW) thing (i.e. whole grains & low fat dairy, along with lean meats & veggies), Paleo has often been a PHENOMENAL improvement. I ate the CW way for years, and I’m SUBSTANTIALLY leaner on Paleo. I eat tons of food & don’t feel deprived & hungry, AND I still indulge occasionally in pizza, beer, & ice cream! It’s honestly HARD not to be intense & passionate.
2. Righteous Anger
I think many of us feel we’ve been misguided by the USDA. Until fairly recently, grains were the foundation of the US food pyramid! We were supposed to eat them the MOST. Cholesterol & saturated fats were demonized, but whole eggs are absolutely compatible with a healthy diet.
And oils were lumped in with sugars in the old food pyramid with the statement that we should, “Use sparingly.” That is just crazy! There’s such a thing as an ESSENTIAL Fatty acid – there are no essential sugars! Yeah, you should have a tablespoon of olive oil in your salad dressing, not a cup, but you shouldn’t avoid healthy oils like that. They’re a great part of a healthy diet, whereas sugars are best avoided & eaten only as an ‘indulgence,’ rather than nutrition.
I think pro-Paleo feelings can get lumped in with the righteous anger at the crazy food pyramid & other misguiding behavior of the USDA & contribute to the cult-like passion.
3. It’s tied with CrossFit
I don’t do CrossFit, so I could be wrong here. But I think lots of people are exposed to Paleo VIA CrossFit. I know that was the case for the blogger at PaleOMG.com. So often, especially for women, CrossFit is their first exposure to heavy lifting and a massive deviation from any exercise they’ve done before. Paleo is a part of that lifestyle change and their passionate love of Paleo probably mirrors their passionate love of heavy lifting, CF, Olympic lifting, etc.
Sometimes when you have people telling you the idea is stupid, it makes you cling to it and defend it a little harder. This isn’t a good thing, but I bet it contributes to it.
Another benefit I thought of is that it forces creativity. I never would have eaten kohlrabi & beets for breakfast before, or made Squoodles (Squash or zucchini noodles) to eat with spaghetti sauce. But I LOVE both now!