All too overwhelming.

by (1584) Updated June 02, 2011 at 12:01 PM Created May 31, 2011 at 12:39 PM

The Paleo lifestyle in itself seemed pretty basic and easy to follow (been Paleo for about 6 months now). But when you throw in all the rest of the things like percentages, levels, fats, workouts, when to fast, when not to fast, eat carbs, don't eat carbs, medical stats and terms etc...

It can become very complicated and overwhelming and to me that in itself is not very Paleo in the simplistic sense of the idea. It's trying to get everything just right that becomes discouraging to me.

I do IF my own way some days fasting dinner and other days 36 hour fasts. But there are so many rules to the right and wrong way to do everything that really gets me stressed. And everyone has a different opinion. I really dislike the percentages/math to everything as well.

For me paleo was the only thing that made sense, because of my already organic lifestyle and my bad gluten allergy. I learned about the Paleo lifestyle from another friend with celiacs disease they turned me on to Marks Daily Apple. There were both pros and cons to his idea of "primal" living. The exercise I can not do, I am very restricted. But the eating was spot on! The problem is that more I read about the Primal and Paleo lifestyles the more they become difficult to understand. And that frustrates me. Eating should be natural and simple. I highly doubt that grok was watching percentages. This is where I feel like I am in the twilight zone, what should be simple eating is now made highly complex.

Can someone please hack my fustration?

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12 Replies

5239 · May 31, 2011 at 1:16 PM

Don't eat grains. Don't eat sugar / processed foods. Don't consume industrial vegetable oils.

Eat whole foods, grass fed / wild caught animals.

If possible, eat what's in season.

You'll become elite. Easy.

5852 · May 31, 2011 at 4:53 PM

I think it has a lot to do with context. Paleo itself isn't very restrictive, actually it's fairly simple. Just eat real food and avoid grains, legumes, vegetable oils, and for some, dairy.

Outside of that, things have context and this is where people get confused / frustrated. The wonderful thing about eating within the paleo framework is that it fixes a lot of the things that the SAD has caused. As such, there's a lot of people on the message boards and forums sharing their experiences and what has helped them get to where they are. For example, some people have insulin or weight issues, so abstaining from fruit, tubers, or nuts might have really helped them, but for a skinny person this might not be as necessary. Also, for a sedentary person, the need for a lot of starch might not prove as useful for a person who actively weight trains a few times a week. Fasting falls into this category as well - Good for some, not necessary for all.

Context always applies. Other than the basics, all the other recommendations have a purpose (to help fix certain things, weight, insulin, allergies, etc... )

In addition to context, is the spectrum of optimization. This is a whole different beast that is always changing and evolving. This is the confusing part. But this isn't necessary or required for being Paleo. Follow the simple paleo framework and you'll be much better off for it. Once you get that mastered, if you feel like optimizing, go for it. If not, you're still better off than most people. Enjoy it.

831 · May 31, 2011 at 12:56 PM

Don't get hung up about any of it. Anything you do towards improving your health is better than nothing whether it's 60%, 80% or more.

I don't count calories, percentages or anything like that, I just eat what I think is OK - meat, fish, veg, some (but limited) dairy and fruit (because I'm aiming for weight loss at present) but no grains.

If you don't want to eat, don't - if you set aside a specific time/day of the week to fast then it's no longer intermittant.

I'll get medical stats the next time I go to see my doctor (i.e. rarely) although B.P. gets checked every few months when I give blood.

Just apply common sense and do what you think is good for you - your body will let you know if it doesn't like something.

11049 · May 31, 2011 at 1:38 PM

Yes anything can seem overwhelming when we are first exposed to it and learning about it. Try to apply the KISS principle - "Keep it Simple and Straightforward". Avoid grains, legumes, most dairy, sugar and processed foods, move your body in ways you find enjoyable, get some sun, keep stress low, get lots of sleep and learn to 'listen' to your body, it will usually tell you what it needs as long as you do not have some metabolic derrangement that is interfearring.

One thing I have learned in Life is that the Universe is constantly giving us signs as to what we need to do, the trouble is most of us are so wrapped up in day to day stress and activities that we tend to miss these signs. If we slow down a little, take a few deep breaths and allow the mind and body to relax we will know what needs to be done. It is much easier to swim with the natural current of a river that to swim against it.

4171 · May 31, 2011 at 12:50 PM

It can be overwhelming, I feel that way too. But, you have to realize that there will always be people who like complicated or rather, what we find complicated - they find very helpful. My husband told me this weekend that it wasn't good enough that I make him good food to eat and portion it out for him, he wants to know the macro nutrient percentages! He wants to know exactly what he's eating, how many protein grams, fat, and carbs. He's a numbers guy and that makes him feel in control of things to know these numbers. Personally, I don't get it, I'm not a numbers girl. I eyeball most potions because at 40 years old I know what a cup of something looks like or a 4oz hamburger etc.

So I think it can be either as complicated or as easy as you wish it to be. I don't think you have to worry about all of those things to be successful. I think some people just choose to map everything out for their comfort. So choose what is comfortable for you and go with it, I think you'll be fine.

20762 · May 31, 2011 at 5:26 PM

The problem is that you're giving all of the "rules" equal weight in your mind. Some "rules" are more important that others.

Don't eat grains. Don't eat sugar / processed foods. Don't consume industrial vegetable oils. (Credit Rhubarb from above)

That's the most important "rule". It's the easiest to remember and shouldn't be confusing or stressful to follow. Plus it will give you the biggest benefit. After you've adjusted to that "rule" and you want even more results, start to incorporate "rule #2":

Eat whole foods, grass fed / wild caught animals.

With those two "rules" you're probably have 99% of the benefit. Once that's fully ingrained into your lifestyle (such that it's not a "rule" you think about, but the way you just live). Then you can start playing with the minutia: IF, ratios, etc. But really, that's just super fine tuning and not worth worrying about it from the start (or at all if you never really care that much).

(Side note on IF: This is a rant that I post a lot on here, but I'm not a fan of IF as people here describe it. The way they describe it, I would call "scheduled fasting". To me IF is truly "intermittent" fasting. For example, I get busy at work and miss lunch. or I get home late and don't feel like cooking dinner. No big deal, just skip that meal. No planning, or trying to get exactly 16 hours between meals, or any of that. The benefit of paleo - or really high fat - is that you're not tied to the dinner table and can just live your life. Eat when you can, don't worry about it when you can't)

Anyway, I guess my point is, that not all "rules" are created equal or have equal benefit on your health, so don't give them equal space in your brain. Concentrate on what will help you the most. As you get more used to the lifestyle you can start to tweak. There's no way to be "perfect" with it, so there's no use in worry about being perfect, just try to make incremental changes that improve your health and performance.

8753 · May 31, 2011 at 1:36 PM

I have a theory about this, I refer to it as the varying degrees of paleo-ism.

First you start reading everything, analyzing it and trying to make the best decisions based on what you've learned. It can get complicated at this point because its easy to confuse it all.

Once you get this stage sorted, you start 'tweaking' things and become more focused and precise with your methods for your body--by counting calories and reviewing %'s, tweaking carbs, reducing-removing dairy etc. This is an eye opener to say the least unless you are already knowledgeable about calories, etc.!!

Then you find yourself at a stage of more exact ways of eating and start to cruse for a while....then comes the desire to IF.

A couple months of IF and you are again tweaking things because you are seeing awesome results.

At all these stages you continue reading, researching, analyzing the abundance of information out there.....so I dont think its easy to keep it simple without an effort. There is just so much 'learning' to be done with this lifestyle!!

As one is in a learning cycle things can easily become complex. Adding new things into your daily routine can rock the boat, so do it slowly and in stages. Don't try to change too much at once or it will make things complicated. Remind yourself to keep it simple and make it work for you!!

For me IF'ing comes naturally (but never over 18hrs for some reason) and I dont really plan it, but I do make sure i have a consistent routine so if there are surprises I can run with it as best as possible. I'm always shocked at how well I adapt to changes, even forced IF'ing.

If you find yourself complicating things, step back and break it down to its simpliest form and give that a try. If its still causing issues, walk away for a few days and come back later with a clearer mindset. Don't stress yourself out over any new ideas or methods, take it slowly until you get things working the way you want.

1884 · May 31, 2011 at 2:23 PM

You know the basics. Everything else is just a suggestion. If you need a rule to help you sort the rules, it's this:

If it sounds like fun, or something your body needs, it probably is. If not, not.

Happy hunting. :)

1321 · June 02, 2011 at 12:01 PM

Part of Paleo/Primal is avoiding poisonous things. Stress and some people are poisonous not just food.

2979 · June 01, 2011 at 6:27 PM

Ignore all the minor details!

Just do the super easy stuff which will handle 90% of all you need anyway. You'll see immediate improvement with very little effort or even thought. Once that's under your belt and semi-automatic, you'll naturally start looking for new things to consider and try, and the 'extra rules' and details are a good place to look for that.

The only variation I'd suggest at the beginning is that if you have specific allergens. For instance, if you actually are gluten intolerant, then make that a priority. But if you're not then don't worry about it for now - you'll have plenty of time later.

I think of all this stuff as entertainment. It's interesting in a delightfully geeky way how the Paleo philosophies (plural) work. But overdoing it right at the beginning will turn it into homework instead of fun.

Personally I got major results simply going very low carb. Then more from emphasizing meat and adding fats. Now I'm exploring allergens and other details, and adding new recipes. I find sites and articles with complex chemical explanations intellectually interesting, but not particularly useful - it's too easy to focus too much on a tiny detail (e.g., some obscure anti-leptinogenic reverse-uptake inhibitor) and miss the larger context (e.g., 'carbs').

77348 · May 31, 2011 at 5:09 PM

The people who get into the macronutrients and omega 6/3 ratios etc. may be ill and need to maximize the help they get from their food and minimize the known harm. If you are in a good weight range, and you don't have digestive problems or illnesses, you can keep it simple.

If you get symptoms of upset or illness or want to lose weight the details and tweaks are there for you to peruse. I personally find the details of Paleo (Nutritionism) fascinating but have little interest in wading deeply there.

4465 · May 31, 2011 at 3:59 PM

In an older question I posted some of my 'keep it simple' methods. I could never do the counting, measuring, obsessing version of paleo. :)

Relax and enjoy the ride!


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