The title explains it all, I guess. I know that this question will probably not get an affirmative answer, because of the nature of this great website: it is for people looking for answers, and for people giving answers.
Why do I ask? Before the idea of an paleo-diet and evolutionary based lifestyle hit me (a real thought virus or meme, if you ask me), I never really thought about nutrition. I just ate.
Although I find reading and studying about paleo really interesting, and I have done it for over 2 years now, sometimes I wish I could just eat (and exercise). And I could have some more free time to spend outdoors and move, instead of searching pubmed and reading all the great blogs in the paleosphere.
And, lets face it, once you know the principles of paleo nutrition and lifestyle, it is simple. There's no real need to keep on reading and studying about it.
[edit: I want to make sure I don't get misunderstood, so I really am very comfortable with my paleo diet, and in that way it is normal to me. And I'm also not talking about the social aspects, where other people remind you that you are not 'normal', normal meaning the average person. My question was about normal, meaning it is not 'always' on your mind]
I don't think it does, and that's a good thing. As you pointed out, you never used to think about what you ate. When you're eating paleo, you ALWAYS think about it. The examined life is the one best lived because you know WHY you do things. Hopefully your mindfulness about your nutrition will spread out into other things.
I don't think much anymore... I don't count calories or carbs, but rather in general am eyeballing the amounts, so if I ate more naturally sweet things (fruit) one day, I try to avoid them the following and so on. But eating became quite natural. I don't read ingredients much anymore, 'cause I stopped buying processed foods.
The only time I am reminded about how "different" my way of eating is from the mainstream, is when I am visiting other people - like now. Suddenly I can't eat a lot of their stuff, and am tempted to eat grains and what not... I definitely dropped off the wagon and will have to be extra cautious when I come back to get back on track.
It's become very normal for me, after 6 months.
I constantly take stairs instead of elevators and I look for ways to do things (yard work, etc) the "hard way" so I can get a little free exercise out of regular life.
I flip a coin every morning before work - heads I'll bring some food for lunch, tails I won't - instant and random intermittent fasting (I always skip breakfast).
Hard shoes are unusual for me - I'm lucky to be able to work in my Vibrams.
I read labels instinctively when shopping at a real grocery.
I intentionally wander out in the sunshine every chance I get.
Counting calories, carbs, etc - I don't do. I just eat good paleo food when hungry in an amount that makes me not hungry anymore.
What do you mean by "get" normal? I think this is as normal as it gets. I don't think eating cheerios and pringles is normal. What I do, in my life, is -for me- normal.
OK, seriously: I think as soon as you've grokked (as in Heinlein's meaning of the word) this lifestyle, it's no problem at all. You probably won't stop reading and learning about nutrition until your life ends because after all, eating is one of the most intimate things you can do.
On the other hand, once you have understood what real food is and what crappy food can do to your body, and I mean really, really understand and grasp, then you will stop thinking about what you are eating most of the time and it feels just natural.
After relocating, I found a new farmer's market and they seem to sell really, realls high-quality baked goods there. That stuff must taste awesome, that kind of over-the-top-goodness smell is really rare and you can see that all the cakes and cookies are made with love. Still, I know I won't like them, too much sugar (I tried several times).
I guess it takes some time to re-learn what is right for your body and then letting go of having to think about what to eat all the time.
Well I certainly think about what I eat, but, at least for me, it's not really involved.
I like to learn more and more about the diet, but that's just a personal choice because I could easily go on with my life not learning any more science behind the diet and still follow the diet really well.
I think that when buying food at the butcher, fishmonger and farmers market becomes an habit and you don't bring any non-paleo foods back home it's quite easy to just do it without giving it any second thought.
It helps to have skills in the kitchen and to love cooking, but I think that for me this lifestyle is very easy to follow without thinking about it.
Family and friends will probably never understand fully though and they usually stress about it for me. They think that I constantly have to force myself to eat this way while it's just about the opposite. You would have to force me to eat bread.
I don't think it becomes 100% "normal" -- I presume by "normal" you mean "it happens without really having to think/Paleo on AutoPilot."
Now, granted, I'm only six months in. I still find myself having to think about what to buy, what to eat, hey-what's-in-that...in today's society, there's a need to be a little more "en guarde" about what you put in your face. But given that the level of concern has become commonplace, perhaps that's normal!
I dream of the day when it'll all become easy - I thought I was there last Christmas, but then a nerve-damage treatment screwed up my hormones again and I'm pretty much back at the same state of health I found myself at the end of 2008, before going primal. So I'm still having to monitor my calories and carbs, toying with elements to see how my metabolism responds.
However, I do consider Paleo as my 'normal' - I don't think about non-Paleo food options at all. This is the lifestyle I've chosen to support me for the rest of my life, although there's still things I can learn to help me find my ideal path within the wider Paleosphere.
Paleo is becoming more 'normal' for me after about a year. I do 'think' about what I buy at the store, what I order at restaurants (or not), but it isn't something that is strange anymore. About the only time it feels weird is when I'm eating with friends or family.
My first major slip-up came in the form of a Steak'n'Shake triple steak-burger with a side of fries and a chocolate milkshake (an alcohol-influenced decision, mind you). If anything, it felt more weird eating 'normal' food that night, and it felt more like I was getting a fix than eating.
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