Read the following questions and answer truthfully with a yes or no.
1. Do you walk with your head down in shame when buying non-organic fruits and vegetables at the grocery store?
2. Are you embarrassed when you buy meat that is not grass-fed?
3. When you can only find eggs from non-pastured chickens, do you keep it a secret?
4. Ever feel like you are going to Hell for eating a white potato?
5. Do you close the shades when you drink a beer instead of your homemade Kombucha with tequila?
6. Have you felt like you would be crucified if you use store bought stock instead of making your own?
7. Ever felt a tinge of panic when all you see in your fridge is regular butter instead of KerryGold?
8. When you shop at big grocers, like Costco, instead of farmers markets, do you feel like you are selling out?
9. Do you feel of inadequate because you have a traditional desk instead of a standing or treadmill desk?
10. If you have a newborn, do you feel like bad parents if you or your partner can’t breastfeed and have to give formula?
11. Ever not had fun at a party because you indulged and then felt bad about it for the rest of the night?
If you said YES to any the above, you may have experienced Paleo Catholic Guilt.
Hi, my name is Laura, and I am a recovering Catholic Guilt casualty. What is Catholic Guilt, those that didn’t face the demands of a Catholic upbringing may ask? Catholic guilt is a ubiquitous feeling of shame and remorse for not living up to incredibly lofty standards of what is right and wrong. Not only did I attend mass every Sunday, but my father was a deacon (and probably a saint too), and I am also a product of a first generation immigrant family who was taught we must work extra hard to be perfect and overcome our “disadvantaged past”. So unbenounced to myself, I thought my constant feeling of shame was normal. After years of struggling with this burden, I had finally gotten to a place where I could accept myself for the non-perfect person I am.
And then I went Paleo.
Suddenly the guilt was back. Instead of the scornful words at mass it was the avalanche of smug Facebook posts and Instagrams that presented this impossible standard of Paleo perfection. I just couldn’t compete, and it hurt.
I can go on, but I am here to tell you it has to stop. Feeling like you’ve committed a crime and have to defend yourself from the “Paleo Police” for eating a conventionally raised steak is exhausting and quite frankly unnecessary. This animosity is counterproductive. Instead of ganging up on each other we need to stick together. This is why I’ve lately been shying away from labeling myself as “Paleo.” Because if I do indulge in a Girl Scout Cookie (or cookies) or have a piece of cheese, I don’t feel the need to run and hide in the corner in shame. I am human, and I am not perfect.
We must ask ourselves, “What is our ultimate goal?” Is it to be “holier than thou”? There may be some that feel that way, but I believe the vast majority of Paleo followers are seeking the more fulfilling goal of being healthy and encouraging others to be healthy too.
I’m tired of feeling I have to go to confession every week. That is why I found Chris Kresser’s new book, Your Personal Paleo Code, so refreshing. He speaks about finding the happy medium for your lifestyle and sticking with what works for you. We don’t want to end up as part of the 95% of dieters who fail. We want this to become a permanent lifestyle. We must determine the best diet for OUR personal goals and withhold judgement on others’ choices.
As for me, I like the 80/20 rule. I’m Paleo 80% of the time, and the rest of the time I enjoy life rather than worrying about what I eat. In the end, I just want to raise a healthy family that would rather eat a bell pepper than a bag of Cheetos (wish me luck). If you disagree with MY Paleo, then let’s agree to put disagreement aside and just be friends.
So what is YOUR Paleo?
Learn more about Laura Cross at OurFullplate.com
Header photo: Michelangelo Buonarroti. Licensed under the Creative Commons.