By Jenn Casey
Reposted from my blog, Rational Jenn.
As lots of you know, I've been eating paleo/primal/real food for many years now, to the overall benefit of my health, and I am committed to continuing this good eating plan forever and ever.
But, that doesn't mean I eat 100% paleo 100% of the time! If you see me consuming something that is definitely not paleo, here are some reasons why that might be:
1. I'm traveling.
I find it difficult to eat 100% paleo when traveling, for various reasons. So I make travel-related compromises. I will sometimes eat fast food like french fries (made in god-knows-what-kind-of-oil). Generally though, I opt for a salad of some kind, but will usually forget to ask them to leave the cheese off. I won't use unknown salad dressings, so I often end up eating fast food chicken and dry lettuce. Meh. I usually have good snacks with me, too, of course, but sometimes it gets boring eating out of a cooler or only nuts and beef jerky, etc.
For me, travel is stressful enough (I've got kids, duh) so I choose not to add food stress on top of travel stress.
2. I am eating for joy, usually when I'm on a vacation, at a special event, or at ATLOSCon.
My sister-in-law is about to get married, and you betcha I'm going to eat some wedding cake! (Gosh, I hope they have wedding cake!) When I go to the beach, I love to try crab cakes and other local seafood (fried up in god-knows-what-and-I-don't-care-kind-of-oil). I drink wine, sometimes a LOT of wine (ahem, ATLOSCon).
Sometimes, eating is about taste and texture and celebrating.
3. I am doing a food experiment relating to my physical health.
Lately, I've been experimenting with my calorie intake and macro ratios because I'm in training for a kettlebell competition. I have been trying to consume more calories than I had been, and specifically, I have added in extra carbs post-workout. In addition to sweet potato (my favorite), I've been trying out how rice affects how I feel and/or my training. Oh noes! A grain!!!! I know, think of the children, right? It's actually been working out very well.
The VAST majority of the time, my eating decisions follow from this purpose: feel good and recover well while training hard.
4. I am doing a food experiment relating to my mental health.
Since my food issues have a mental health component due to bad eating habits in the past, I sometimes choose to eat something just to see how my brain handles it. So, at a family event back in the spring, I ate some cupcakes. Like a lot of cupcakes. Then I learned something—I have no self-control when it comes to cupcakes. I have also learned this lesson with candy corn. See? Now I know!
Knowing the kinds of foods that trigger binge eating makes it a million times easier for me to simply avoid going there in the first place.
5. I am making a conscious compromise on food products/quality due to budgetary reasons.
I would love to serve my family grassfed beef and free range eggs and fresh produce directly from a garden, or at least Whole Foods, every single day.
I have five people to feed, and a finite budget. Sometimes regular grocery store eggs must suffice. Sadly, a personal chef is also currently out of the budget.
6. I am making a conscious compromise on food products/quality due to reasons of convenience.
I would love to serve my family grassfed beef and free range eggs and fresh produce directly from a garden or at least Whole Foods, every single day.
I have five people to feed, a crazybusy schedule, and a distinct lack of gardens filled with fresh produce in my immediate vicinity (same problem with WF). Sometimes, produce from the regular grocery store must suffice. Sadly, a volunteer personal chef is also MIA.
7. I am super hungry due to training (and probably miscalculation of my calories/macros) and need to eat something—anything—NOW, because lives might be in danger.
Referring back to #3—sometimes I miscalculate how much I've eaten/need to eat and I'm really freaking hungry. So I will eat the paleo equivalent of a candy bar (a Larabar). Or coconut milk ice cream. Or even actual ice cream.
Interestingly, though this happens about once a week (I'm still new at this), I haven't noticed any major detrimental effects. And the body count remains at 0, so that's a win.
8. I want to eat cheesecake. Or pizza. Or drink a beer.
When we moved into Wildhaven (our home) two years ago, we ate our first family dinner on the back porch. It was pizza and beer, which, if I'm correct, is the traditional Moving Day meal all across the world. At that point in time, it had probably been six months since I'd had pizza and even longer since I'd had a beer. It was glorious. Okay, yeah, maybe that was a special occasion (or a combination of special occasion and eating for convenience). But here's the thing—sometimes I eat something just 'cause I'm a grownup and I wanna. But I generally take the time to make this decision with my eyes wide open.
Every once in a while, I consciously, deliberately, and delightedly indulge in a mood and eat for joy. No special occasion needed.
9. One of my kids is sick and I haven't been to the grocery store in a while.
A logistical fail that happens from time to time: one of the kids is indisposed such that I am unable to leave the house. This is inevitably timed for the day I was planning to head to the grocery store. Therefore, I am left with the choice between eating nothing or eating chips and salsa or leftover pizza or something.
John Lennon once sang, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." Yup.
10. I am eating carelessly and mindlessly.
By far, the least likely reason I might be eating non-paleo food. BY FAR. I have worked hard to overcome bad habits such as stress eating, and if I fall back into such a pattern, I'm home alone or with my family. Really, it's not such an issue any more (knock wood).
It is always best to assume that I know exactly what I'm doing and why in any given food-related moment.
I hate to feel defensive about what I'm eating, particularly as a non-low-body-fat-American. Happily, it doesn't faze me much any more if I get looks from others. But I've been thinking about this off and on for a while, and see, now I've got a blog post to point people to in the future! :)
Thoughts on this? I can't be the only one out there.
Also, stay tuned for my related post: "X Reasons My Kids Might Not Be Eating Paleo" (the X is because I don't know how many reasons I'll think up just yet)!
Jenn is a homeschooling mom of three, CrossFit Kids coach, kettlebell sport lifter, and all-around awesome person from Kennesaw, Georgia.