Paleos and Food Fear Mongering

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I am circling back to an item that was a hot issue in the ancestral health community in early 2013: eating disorders, and how the paleo perfection community may in fact promote this among people who are predisposed to getting caught up in frivolous food obsessions.

I read this Dr. Emily Deans post, “Orthorexia in the Paleo-Primal Community,” which led me to this post, “10 Critical Issues the Paleo Community Must Address, ” by Jimmy Moore.

Moore correctly bashes the odd habit of “perfectionism,” which, in my definition, is the over-application of real food principles to the point where some paleo adherents are afraid of every bit of food that hasn’t passed the “paleo perfect” test. This strikes a nerve with me because I see it as a huge problem with people becoming obsessed with every bit of dogma that comes out of the paleo world. And often, what is said in the paleosphere may not be so dogmatic, yet the readers of otherwise good information will take it to a ridiculous degree of dogma completely on their own.

For instance, people obsessing on not eating gluten. Not eating gluten is a great thing, and everyone who is educated on the gluten issue should heed the principles of gluten avoidance whenever possible. But to say that you got sooo sick because you ate something that touched something that came from a package that touched another package that touched something with gluten is not only a stretch, it’s nutty. And this stuff goes on.

People are taking the general rules for ‘what is and isn’t’ sound food and they are puffing up the rules to ridiculous proportions. Folks doing paleo are now making up “long lists” of all these things that they absolutely cannot eat under any circumstance whatsoever. A potato? Gasp! Now that crosses a line. A potato has carbs, and it could have … touched something that had … gluten! And rice? Well, some paleo somewhere said that rice is not within the boundaries of the doctrine, so all rice is always out. One speck of rice will upset the entire paleo applecart in the minds of some of the “toe-the-line” paleos. Avoiding the worst of modern grains, such as wheat, does not necessarily mean you will hit the floor with convulsions if a piece of rice touches your lips.

These people are what I designate “afraid of food.” For instance, they have to inspect and interrogate and research the menu each time they go out to eat for fear that they will unwillingly ingest a dreaded forbidden item. It’s painful to go out to a restaurant with someone who has to cross-examine the waitress with a ridiculous series of 1,000 incoherent questions dedicated to understanding each and every ingredient in the proposed meal while sounding like a recording from any one of a number of paleo-dogma websites or books. I don’t know about the rest of you, but for me that is a moment of zaniness that just zaps my positive mental energy. A meal out with these folks is no longer an option for me.

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