The reasons diets fail are as numerous as there are failed diets: no fat and instead “heart-healthy” whole grains, not enough calories, no red meat, no carbs, no real food as you have nutritionally deficient frozen food food sent right to your door for ridiculous prices, no solid food as you drink powdered snake oil “supplements” which sit in plastic packs for months on end and you are fooled into buying by clever infomercials or faux-fitness pyramid schemes with scary fitness people screaming about torching fat, or, no food at all as you “cleanse” yourself to malnutrition or sickness with harmful “detox” protocols.
And while there may be many different “symptoms” of our mass dieting psychosis, that psychosis can be diagnosed neatly in one disheartening word: deprivation.
Think about it. Every single failed diet is about what you can’t have. I can’t eat this much; I can’t eat that kind of food; I can’t have this unless I exercise this much; everyone else is having this but I can’t because I’m on a diet. There are specific reasons why different failed diets indeed fail, but they are all guided by a mindset of disempowerment.
This is sad, particularly for people who make honest efforts at what they believe will work, but a constant focus on what you can’t do is doomed to failure — it’s depressing and psychologically unhealthy, and you have to deal with that while suffering with a diet that is bad for your body in the first place.
I always giggle on the inside when people ask me what I can eat on the “paleo diet.” Anyone who has lived the lifestyle has encountered this: “Well I just don’t know what you eat anymore!” “Are you going to be able to find something to eat if we go out?” Paleo peeps will know that the answer is pretty simple. First, there’s is plenty to eat. Second, choosing things to eat what will make me healthy and sexy and not fat and sick is not deprivation, it’s empowerment.
And if you think about it in terms of eating “food” (tough concept I know), who is eating “more,” the person that orders pasta and bread made of nutritionally void and potentially harmful hybridized wheat and topped with long-frozen or canned tomato sauce made with high-fructose corn syrup, or the person who orders salmon with greens instead of rice and a side of fruit salad?
In terms of real food, paleo allows you to eat much more, everything in fact if you think of “food” in the true sense of what we have evolved to eat: you know, crazy stuff like meat, fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts…And the only reason strict calorie counting is ever necessary is that you are eating the wrong foods in the first place: namely processed sugar and grains.
Of all the times I look forward to eating paleo, Thanksgiving is near the top of my list
So I ask you which is more empowering, choosing to eat delicious, wholesome foods that will make you feel and look good without obsessing over every last calorie or “point,” or instead eating things that will harm your body while worrying about not eating too many of them, because they will also make you fat? Crazy talk, right? Well that’s why I said “mass dieting psychosis,” and that’s why 70% of Americans are fat.
While I will say that I don’t really struggle with food cravings, this is also why cheating doesn’t make sense to me. Right now I’m eating things that taste good, make me feel good, and make my body look good. So instead I am going to eat something that won’t even taste that much better, will probably make me feel like crap, won’t make me any fitter, and might give me acne, cold sores, heartburn or indigestion? Maybe I’m weird, but there’s just nothing tempting about that to me, particularly when there are so many paleo-ized treat options that are just as good or better than the junk.
This is what is so great about paleo and what makes it a healthy, happy lifestyle and not a “diet:” it’s all about empowerment and what you can have.
And what you can have is not limited to all of the wonderful foods and recipes available to you, but what more you can get out of life with the wonderful base of physical and mental health paleo provides. I’ve done more and been happier in every area of my life since being empowered by the paleo lifestyle: my business, running FastPaleo.com, publishing a book, reaching new levels in Muay Thai, having a great, healthy relationship with my girlfriend, being able to be nicer to people in general.
Empowerment not disempowerment, happiness not depression, success not failure — paleo cures you of the sickness of can’t, to the health of can.