I’ve been eating Paleo for almost a month now and I’ve really been enjoying it. The changes haven’t been drastic—I’ve cut out dairy (already wasn’t eating much), legumes (sad to see them go, but not a huge part of my regular diet nonetheless), and all grains (this one’s the toughest) pretty seamlessly. I eat lots of fruit, nuts, and meat, then skip all the babkas, bagels, beers, and Breyer’s thrown my way (most delicious throw ever). I don’t feel that different overall, but I definitely feel more full and less hungry most of the time. So that’s a thumbs up.
What’s been most interesting to me is how easy it is to avoid all those foods. There’s something very powerful about “I can’t.” It’s just way, way more compelling than “I don’t really want” or “I shouldn’t.”
Being inflexible for no reason is annoying.
But being inflexible for a reason of any kind is actually convincing.
I find people tend to respect you making choices. (Sometimes they’re the choices they wish they made too.) But if you waver, they’ll either consciously peer pressure you to give in to the desired shared experience or you’ll unconsciously go along with them.
Mindful and intuitive eating is really tough for me. I’m working on getting better. But I struggle to say, “no, I don’t want a second Bloody Mary” at brunch when everyone’s getting another. I like a good Bloody Mary, and there’s no really good reason for me to skip out this time other than a general sense of it possibly being wasted calories. Sorry, but I’m just not strong-willed enough to come out on the “no thanks” end here most of the time.
Enter Paleo. It’s extraordinarily easy to explain why I can’t have a Bloody Mary in the first place or the side of fries (“but you go ahead and get it, they’re great here!”) when it’s “because of Paleo.” People ask how it’s going, they ask how it works, they laugh about the whole caveman thing, and then stop giving a sh*t and go back to their fries.
(Same thing more or less applies to people who say they’re “gluten-free” or “mostly vegan” and don’t have Celiac’s or feel that strongly about animal rights. They’ve just found it’s easier to explain their eating choices with a reason, any reason, that justifies it.)
All this reminds me of The Copy Machine study, where researchers found people would be more likely to let you cut to the front of a copy machine line if you gave any reason at all, even if it didn’t make much sense (such as saying “because I need to make copies,” even if obviously everyone in line has the same need).
I don’t plan to stay Paleo forever (bring on the huevos rancheros, OK?), but there are a couple habits I’d like to continue doing: skipping bread and other processed grains when they’re just not that worth it, snacking on dried fruit and nuts instead of pre-packaged bars, and ordering tea as my “dessert” when everyone else orders something sweet.
So what’s my plan in a group setting to explain myself if I need to? What’s my “reason” if I think I need a reason? And how do I pull it off so people don’t feel like I’m judging them for their decisions? (“Er, I can’t get tacos because tortillas are processed, bad-for-you carbs. But totally go aheeeeaaadd and get them anyway! YOLO, amiright?”)
This is why I’ve come up with The White Lie Diet™ (not actually trademarked).
It’s the handy-dandy way to “explain” why you’ve decided you don’t want to eat that thing, but everyone else totally can:
“Sorry, I can’t split the avocado toast.”
“Sorry, no cheesecake for me.”
“Sorry, I can’t share the Outback Steakhouse Bloomin’ Onion with you because I can’t eat fried stuff. Also there’s only two of us. What were you thinking?”
(“But Derek, we came to Outback Steakhouse for this one and only reason. I was thinking we’d order one each and share this story with our grandchildren one day.”)
“Well, I’m on the White Lie Diet and can’t eat fried stuff. Let’s get the Dingo Dippers instead.” (Dingo dippers aren’t a thing, but they sound delicious.)
Yes, people will ask. But I’ve tried this already a couple times and The White Lie Diet’s something you can laugh about, explain, and then stick with your original choice.
Believe me or not, it works like a charm.