With more and more wellness experts and major media preaching about which diets you should be on and which foods you should and shouldn't be eating, it can get confusing to distinguish which foods you should be incorporating into your diet and how much of them to be incorporating. We emphasize our bars to be Paleo friendly, but what does that mean? For some unique insight, we turned to Thunderbird Bar Ambassador, food blogger, Nutritional Consultant, and Personal Trainer Katie Merritt. 

Have you ever felt misunderstood? That someone just doesn’t get you.

That’s exactly how I feel when I explain the way I eat to those unfamiliar with that Paleo diet.

Maybe I’m tied a little too tightly to it. But, this way of eating has really changed my life for the better. So I absolutely hold it very near and dear to my heart.

When I take a step back and look through opposing perspectives, I get it. There’s a lot of information out there about the Paleo Diet – some good, some bad, some very confusing. There are those outliers that raise their fists or become especially militant or dogmatic and get your attention. I know because that’s been me. It’s a matter of perspective and experience. And I want to share my perspective in hopes it gives a new light to that Paleo Diet.

I was dogmatic.

I followed a strict online plan.
I paleo-fied everything.
I did all my research.

It was in control.

My personality provides me a lot of structure. I feel better with lists, research, facts, deadlines and plans. If not, anxiety often ensues. When I found the Paleo Diet, it provided me a very detailed and structured way of eating. Everything was so cut and clear. Yes to these foods. No to these foods. Plain and simple, cut and dry.  However, because my lack of perceived flexibility, I took every bit of information and every guideline as the absolute truth. I turned down dinners out or would bring my own food. I was militant. I often thought, if I don’t follow the plan, I’m going to ruin all my hard work.

As you can imagine, it was stressful.

The plan I followed was pretty strict, lots of fat and protein, which left little to the imagination. I found it online and the reviews looked great so I jumped in with both feet. And what a mistake that was. This is the problem with online plans: It’s never going to be personalized to you, the individual and your individual needs, ever.

Looking back, I must have been bored with the plan because I began “paleo-ifying” everything.  Paleo banana bread, Paleo cookies, Paleo brownies - you name it, I made it and ate it … all of it. But it was healthy! Was it really? Was eating an entire pan of anything healthy?

I had become that Dogmatic Paleo Dieter.

I let the diet and it’s general guidelines control too much. It played into my personality, I ate up all the research, and I believed that if I just became a little stricter and said “no” to a few more foods, I’d reap those promising benefits that were touted in all the Google articles I had read.

Those benefits never came.

About two years after I initially started the Paleo Diet, I came to my wits end. I was stressed, my body was tired, and I wasn’t receiving the benefits that the Paleo Diet was supposed to provide. I told myself instead of listening to these general guidelines, listen to your body and so I did.  

I didn’t follow the Paleo Diet how it was supposed to be followed. I didn’t give it a chance. I kind of ruined it.

So I instead allowed the Paleo Diet to guide me – not control me.

I followed the guidelines, but allowed flexibility for dinners out and healthy treats.  I felt better than ever. This was the Paleo Diet that I read about.

I learned very quickly that I went too far down the rabbit hole and lost sight of what a diet was really supposed to provide: a healthier relationship with food.

The Paleo Diet changed my life for the better. It’s been a roller coaster ride, but one that I’m happy I was on. It gave me both perspectives, both experiences and because of that, I came out on the other side with a better understanding and appreciation for what I was putting into my body, how I did so and what health really meant. It wasn’t about control; it was about healthy relationships – with food, with yourself and with others.

For more on the Paleo Diet and Paleo recipes visit: http://thewellu.com

Katie Merritt, NTC

The Well U

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