When I'm explaining my dietary choices in following paleo (only when solicited), I have found that people's default, when they decide it's too hard to not eat bread (duh), is "well.....everything in moderation." They shrug, the conversation ends, and they walk away feeling like well-balanced individuals......while I'm the healthy one. :)
What can I say to them that will not be nasty or snarky, but will challenge them? I want to get people to think more about what they put into their bodies, or even to come back later for more discussion. The last thing I want to do is turn them off by acting like a snotty, know-it-all a-hole.
"Everything in moderation!"
"Tell that to an elephant or a lion."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, they don't eat everything in moderation."
"No, that's because they are obligate herbivores or carnivores. We are omnivores, we can eat everything"
"Oh, so grass in moderation is ok?"
"Well, you know what I mean, not 'everything'."
"No, I don't know what you mean. Why is it ok for an elelphant to eat leaves, and not for us?"
"Elephants evolved by natural selection for a certain lifestyle, just like we did. And grains are not part of our evolutionary history, just as tree-leaves are not, and grass is not."
You're going to get people to throw "moderation" in your face when you follow rigid, dogmatic paleo principles. But the reality of the matter is that the majority of paleo benefits result from the very minimal initial efforts. The vast majority of people are concerned about getting the most "bang for your buck". The vast majority people are never going to be as dialed in as your average PaleoHacks user.
Honestly, ask yourself: why not paleo "in moderation"? (Yes, of course, there are reasons to be strict with paleo, but the overwelming majority has little need to be as strict as most of us are.)
I usually respond:
Yes, EVERYTHING in "moderation" (put up air quotes when you say the word "Moderation").
...including cigarettes and heroin...
then I repeat it: "Everything in "moderation!" (air quotes again)
I was talking with my father in law the other day and he can't grasp the idea of a lifestyle diet, he can only associate food choice with weight loss. Anyway, I told him about how I made a Meatza, and he asked why we would trouble with that when we can just have tiny pizzas made on tortillas. I explained we don't eat tortillas, he said well if it is a lifestyle choice, you can cheat with a little tortilla 3-4 times a month.
I put my hand to my head, and said it is a lifestyle choice not to make my body feel like crap. He responded you have to cheat occasionally otherwise it is just not healthy.
Hand went back to head and I said, ok but if and when I cheat, I make it worth it. It is going to be a heaping plate of pancakes, or something else ridiculous, maybe once every 3-4 months, not frequent tortillas.
His Reply: "Well thats not going to help you lose weight."
I gave up.
Ruth, in my opinion, many people want to stay in the dark. When I was a CCU nurse, I can't tell you how many people I saw who were deathly ill, maxed out on every single medication possible, but would not even consider changing their habits. I asked one of my patients about this (he was waiting on the heart transplant list), and he said to me, "Why should I do that. That's what the medicine is for." No lie.
Really - you want sickness in moderation, too??!! You want pre/diabetes, obesity, arthritis, osteoporosis, and heartburn in moderation, and all those diseases mentioned on the drug commercials too!
If it is a conversation worth continuing (sometimes it's just better to walk away), I usually point out that there are some things that shouldn't be consumed by anyone at any time in any amount. Transfats being one of those things. Most people who are even marginally interested in nutrition are aware that transfats are bad. Full stop. Even the U.S. government (who seems to find a way to defend every processed food), doesn't have a safe level of consumption for transfats because no one should be eating them. Ever.
I realize tranfats have nothing to do with the bread you were discussing, but it does prove their comfortable excuse false and forces them to examine what they really believe instead of just spouting out a trite saying.
It's not likely to cause an immediate conversion to paleo, but it is a small crack in the SAD shell they are living in and once that crack forms it's a lot easier to get new information inside. After all, how many of us went straight overnight from a full-on SAD diet of McDonalds and Banquet frozen dinners to a full-on paleo diet of all local grass-fed/pastured meats and local organic vegetables? It usually happens over time with smaller changes; crack the shell and the small changes will start to happen.
People will never ever change until they're ready to change. You can scream and shout until you're blue in the face, but you can't. Make. People. Change.
What you can do is be honest and open about the choices you've made and then hope they come to you when they're ready. For me, the answer to "everything in moderation" is "some things in moderation." Now that I've lost 63 pounds (OK, 6-1/2 of that was baby), I will sometimes eat cheese or even a little high quality ice cream. But other things I'm happy to never touch ever again (beer, for example) because I know it'll make me feel like crap. I tell people that. And then, when they're ready, they ask me more.
I've also had to come to terms with the fact that some people, like my mom, will probably never be ready. It drives me crazy. I still offer the occasional piece of advice, but I just drop it in an email and walk away. It's not my job to change her life.