Over the last few months I’ve read many articles criticising the paleo and sugar free movements. Actually scratch that…criticising everything to do with food. Why are we such food haters?
For example, it’s common to see posts on social media or forums label Pete Evans nutty and extreme and cite Sarah Wilson as causing eating disorders. Journalists love to get high profile celebrities to weigh in – Donna Hay recently said in an interview “extreme rules on food make her sad”. The Women’s Weekly published an article this week listing Paleo and Sugar Free as second and third place (only behind Urine Therapy) in the Worst Celebrity Diets of 2014.
I have many times been sucked into a time-wasting vortex of negative comments and abuse against anyone openly spreading the message about alternative ways of eating. It often makes me really sad, for many reasons. I suppose really this post could be about several things – why are we so mean to each other (i.e. a poor family loses their child and the first thing people do is jump on social media and start abusing them for feeding him bath milk – come on people), have we lost our empathy for each other…blah blah…but as health is “my” little passion, I will stick with food.
Before I go on, I’ll be honest; I started writing a post that become a little bit narky. And that’s not really me and is no different from people being critical towards how I eat! So, instead of making this a negative article criticising someone, I would like to discuss some misconceptions about following a paleo or sugar free lifestyle.
To illustrate my points I will refer to the Donna Hay interview, where she made some comments in relation to Pete Evans and Sarah Wilson. I’ll use this one as it is a classic example of some of the misconceptions about a Paleo or sugar free diet. Also it really bothered me when I read it, as I’ve always liked Donna Hay (and still do). I feel as though she was almost led into a trap with the questions she must have been asked during her interview…nether the less the answers were somewhat incorrect so I will refer to them. Sorry Donna – I still have “Instant Entertaining” on my bookshelf promise.
What is it that bothered me? I think what upsets me is when these sorts of dietary approaches are generalised. I guess I take it a little personally (my bad, I know). I don’t understand why we are knocking each other’s food choices. Aren’t you interested when you hear about someone eating differently, or someone who was sick, changed their diet and feels better? Don’t you want to know more? Don’t you want to feel better? Don’t you?
Calm Down Kristy – Back on Point.
Ok. So let’s get to what in particular it was that annoyed me.
What bothered me were comments made during the Donna Hay interview such as “people are so regimented about their eating that they choose to remove whole food groups from their diet”. Also “extreme rules on food makes me sad…They are so extreme which is odd for me. I think it’s about balance”.
She also doesn’t understand the “deprivation mentality” of the diets.
I think that’s what got me. Not because of this particular interview – it’s a common misconception. One that is quoted in the media often and I can understand how if you read bits and pieces about what paleo or sugar free is, perhaps you would see it that way too. So I thought I should explain!
Hopefully I can clear the air with these few points:
- The main thing to remember here is naturally we all must do what works for us. I did my research, what Sarah Wilson said made sense, so I followed her suggestions. Granted sometimes she posts things on her Facebook page I don’t necessarily love but hey I’m a grown up so I just ignore it.
- As someone who follows a low fructose diet I can confirm I don’t feel “deprived”. I don’t feel like I am missing out on anything. I have the healthiest relationship with food that I’ve ever had in my life. I eat really well – I’d say the healthiest I ever have actually!
- I’m not missing out on any fun in life because I don’t eat lollies. Whether we realise it or not, for the the majority of us we become accustomed from childhood to use food as a reward and to enjoy it as part of a celebration. What food you choose to celebrate with is not the point. It’s the celebration and company that matters.
- I choose what I eat – if I want to have something with sugar in it I do – I’m not scared Sarah Wilson is going to come banging down my door with the sugar police in tow, and whack me with a zucchini. I don’t ban anything from my diet. The truth is really that I don’t want to eat it most of the time. When you change how you eat, your tastes change….it’s hard to imagine, but it’s true!
- I believe we have a huge problem with “moderation”. It is very easy to say let’s eat everything in balance, everything is ok in moderation. It probably is! I just know myself I couldn’t eat sugary foods in moderation – I didn’t know how to. Given sugar is so addictive, it’s no surprise.
Is it that bad that I don’t eat food filled with sugar and I eat a low amount of gluten, instead opting for mostly fruit and vegetables? I don’t think so. It’s not extreme. Perhaps it appears that way to someone who hasn’t made that change – but I promise you it really isn’t that regimented! I ate some bread the other day and I’m completely ok with that. Because it’s my choice! Who knows, tomorrow I might get crazy and eat a Tim Tam.
Probably not…my homemade treats are much better…but I could if I wanted.
I guess maybe we are so negative about food of late because there is so much change regarding what we “should” be eating. Everyone is unsure and looking for somewhere to turn. It’s hard to fight what we have accepted as the “mainstream” healthy. What even is “healthy?”
How on earth do we know what we should eat?
I also understand people may be put off by Pete Evan’s and how he often goes on about the Paleo Way. He has said a few controversial things that everyone may not agree on. But he is passionate. The same can be said for Sarah Wilson and anyone with a health & wellness blog….maybe even me?! We are so happy with the changes we want to tell people so they can make them too. We want you to know you don’t have to accept how you feel – you can be healthier!
Maybe we should just give each other a break for awhile. Focus on ourselves and what works for us.
And maybe I should stop reading articles I don’t agree with, and stop the negativity?
The one thing Donna and I can agree on is that “soon there will be a big shift where food will be medicine”. Yep – totally!
What do you think? Are you someone who doesn’t follow paleo or sugar free (or any other dietary approach) and gets annoyed by all the hype in the media? Or should I get back in my box (again)?
Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.