Falling Off The Paleo Wagon
Sometimes we end up falling off the paleo wagon, and many of us beat ourselves up for it. The following is sage advice for someone who is feeling guilt or resentment towards themselves after having food that didn’t quite fit the Paleo Diet tenets:
1 – Nobody is perfect. Don’t beat yourself up for eating a cookie every other day, or even for binging. Paleo is hard enough to do without carrying guilt around at the same time. If you had a plan and it didn’t work perfectly, for whatever reason, set new (realistic) goals and get back on track, and stick to it. Repeat as many times as it takes. You will succeed. Try to sever the connection between guilt and food altogether.
2 – It’s a gradual process. If you are new to this and go cold turkey you are a lot more likely to want to binge than if you do it in steps.
3 – Other people may not like to hear this, but here it is: Consider setting up rewards for yourself for accomplishing longer and longer periods of perfect Paleo. Yes, Paleo itself is the reward, but if eating a chocolate cherry every time you no longer will better motivate you, I say do it.
Keep the rewards small because you will appreciate them more, and because you won’t carry around any guilt for indulging in them. If you keep increasing the length of time, eventually you will lose interest in it.
4 – This is something that has not been talked about enough: We are constantly bombarded by ads for food that is horrible for us. We are surrounded by people – including close friends – who are eating things that may kill them and are loving every bite, offering it to us to share. We can’t walk into a grocery store without thinking “at least 90% of the food in this place is off limits.”
We are an extreme minority who often have to struggle for legitimacy from our own physicians. Without real-life environmental, professional, or emotional support, or mainstream validation, and no one watching but ourselves, going Paleo can be very difficult because there is likely to be lingering doubt in either the lifestyle or in yourself, or both.
On the other hand: We are heroes. We are revolutionaries. We will be among the fittest who survive. We should be recognized for our efforts in this regard, even when we have a setback.
For now, we mostly only have one another to provide us with support. It’s hard to avoid negative feelings toward others and temptation, so seek out others who do Paleo and surround yourself with them.
The International Paleo Movement Group (IPMG) is an amazing source of support, but we all need real-life human support to thrive, too. And if you are inspired, try to convert others and Paleo It Forward— but don’t let it get to you if they resist. Some will want to learn and others won’t. Such is life.
Of course, there will always be those people who go cold turkey, have no problem, and never look back. Just like there are people who run their first marathon impromptu and under 2.5 hours. Don’t let their success bother you. Let it motivate you.
I needed to read this so much today. It’s been actually months since falling off the paleo wagon and it shows in my body and emotions. Thanks so much. Time to get a band-aid, turn over my wagon and get back in it!
Sometimes falling off the wagon can be very dangerous, especially if you have a hard time getting back up once you’ve fallen off. I can easily understand where the grief and self-flagellation comes from.
For me, if I fall off the wagon it is dangerous to my health. The same for my daughter. Sometimes it’s not the guilt that is the worst part, sometimes it’s knowing the damage that we do to our bodies when we don’t adhere to what’s best. Either way, it’s a choice. A choice to be healthy, or a choice to beat ourselves up over making mistakes.
Angela, you can do anything you set your mind to do. Including this. 🙂
Kleyer, I find that the more I know about what grains and processed foods do to my body, the easier it is to stay clean. Knowledge can make up the missing difference with reinforcement. And although it is also bad for my health, my heart goes out to all those who are more physiologically sensitive than me and who went through much more unpleasantness than I did before finding their path.
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I really enjoyed reading this and putting it into context. Sometimes friends and medical professionals shrug it off like it is a fad diet. But it truly is fantastic to see the change in energy with eating the right foods.
The amount of ignorance about what paleo is all about – particularly from the medical community – is nothing short of astounding. Glad you enjoyed it Kerry. 🙂
Thanks for the “falling off the wagon” article. After 7weeks of doing really well, had two extremely non paleo meals today. Your article was inspiring, and I want to get back on track. I am afraid I will backside and will lose all I have gained. Your article helped.
Happy to help! Remember that everyone has setbacks and the ones who succeed are those who don’t stop trying. 🙂