What I Think Makes Paleo Different…Control

12 May

In my practice I see tons of patients every week, and a large majority of them need to lose weight to become healthier overall.  Most of them are aware of this, they do not want to be overweight, and have often tried various diet plans over the years without success.  Through the course of our normal conversation about their health I typically hear lots of things like…

–> I just don’t know why I can’t lose weight, I don’t eat that much…

–> I did pretty good on diet “X”, but after a good start I stopped losing weight…

–> I’ve been doing really well, I only splurge a couple of times a week…

–> I just need to exercise more and I’ll lose weight…

There is a disconnect between the desires of what and how much they want to eat, and how much weight they want to lose to be healthier.  I hear things like “I want to lose weight, but I can’t give up my two cokes a day.”  The challenge is to help them see the disconnect in their thinking.  It’s not easy…

I’ll admit, there are some patients I feel useless doing so with, but at some point I have to decide to introduce the Paleo diet as an option to them, and then fight their pre-conceived notions about the dangers of fat and cholesterol.  Most see a cardiologist, and they have been preached to about for years about the low fat, high carbohydrate diet that is most “heart-healthy” for them.  One of our local heart doctors is a firm believer in a vegan diet for his patients.  Most hear what he has to say and say there is no way they can follow it.  They basically reside themselves to the fact that they will not lose weight, and that their next heart attack or stroke will happen inevitably.  This is the backdrop against which I get to approach my patients with about Paleo!  The story changes to…

–> It’s too expensive to eat that way…

–> What exactly do you eat if you can’t eat bread and rice…

–> I need calcium for my bones so I have to eat dairy…

–> I don’t eat red meat because it’s bad for me…

Ultimately what I have to do is prove to my patients that Paleo is different, that it WILL work for them.  Over time I’ve developed a few a strategies for talking with patients about this, so let’s go over a few.

A common response to hearing the restrictions (as seen by patients) of Paleo is to proclaim what they cannot live without!  I can’t live without bread, sweet tea, rice, gravy, potatoes, among others.  Some will defend their “healthy” food choices stating that yogurt is good for them, and they need milk for calcium (especially since they drink 2% milk!).  What about whole wheat pasta, EVERYBODY says it’s good for you right?!

So I carefully debunk all these misconceptions and present this scenario.  Take rice for instance.  I ask them “If a doctor came in the room today, and told you that if you ever eat rice again, you will die 30 days after, no questions.  Guaranteed death if you touch even a grain again.  Would you eat it again?”  The answer is (almost) always no!, “I would not eat it again if I was going to die”.  So, they just proved without a doubt that they could in fact live without rice.  Simple…check please.

Next is the concept of how RADICAL this lifestyle is.  They simply can’t imagine life without their favorite things.  I explain to them that it seemed that way to me as well when I first heard of it, but that the more I looked into it, the more sense it made to me.  I challenged myself to do it for 30 days and re-evaluate at that time.  I have not looked back for one second because of how many positive changes I saw in my health and life.  So I simply challenge them to the same thing.  I ask them to give me 30 days to change their life.  Can they honestly not do something for just 30 days?!  It is key that they understand that not only do I believe this is best for them, but that I actually DO IT myself!  That is the biggest thing they need to hear.  At that point it’s simply up to them, can they do it for 30 days?

After all this, many patients are still skeptical, they want the “hook”.  They need for me to tell them something they can really relate too.  So what is it?  What to me makes Paleo different to me?

It’s all about control.  For the first time in my life I do not in any way, shape, or form feel the least bit controlled by food.  Cookies, cinnamon rolls, King Cakes (a Louisiana Mardi Gras Tradition), gumbo…whatever! can go in and out of my station at the office and I honestly don’t give them a second thought.  In traditional diets food always seemed to be in control.  Goodies would enter the office and my attention turned to them, and more specifically that I could not have them.  It was all about what I could NOT eat, what I felt I could NOT have, what I was consistently depriving myself of.  So how am I not depriving myself of bread? Or rice? Or whatever?  In truth I guess I am, but it doesn’t matter to me because I’m not hungry anymore.  When you eat a certain way and stop feeling hungry or craving things, it’s hard to feel deprived.

Once you make these simple changes in your diet, you in turn slow down the insulin train that makes you hungry at all times…even when you are not hungry, and your emotional tie with food changes.  What I find most associated with obesity in my patients is emotion, depression, isolation, boredom, poor self-esteem, poor relationships, etc.  When you cut the fuel to these triggers, which I consider to be the hunger carbohydrate based eaters experience, you begin to be set free of all these negative things.  Hunger is a pervasive reminder of everything you find bad about yourself.  Despite knowing it’s not good for them, carb eaters feel the only path to feeling better is to satiate their hunger.  Once they do they get upset about their actions, and the cycle starts to go round and round.  Low-fat, High Carb diets lead to hunger and energy conservation through inactivity, which in turn leads to weight gain.  Yep, these diets make you gain weight in the long run.

Enter Paleo.  You cut the carbs, cut the insulin, and cut the hunger that leads to weight gain.  Once you start to succeed, and are not constantly thinking about food, you can start to cut the cord between you and your crutch.  In a nut shell your life is not controlled by food.  Food becomes a means to an end…you want to live, and to live you have to fuel your body, and you fuel your body with food.  For years I spent a life dominated by food.  Vacations were all about where we were going to eat, I spent the day wondering what would be for dinner.  I would eat out of boredom, not even worrying if I was hungry or not.  Now that I’ve erased the hunger, I just don’t care as much anymore.  Don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE food!  I love to plan and cook meals for my family.  I can’t fully explain it…but I’m no longer controlled by food…I can finally ENJOY food!  Now I hear things from my patients like…

–> That sounds exactly like me, and I had given up hope I could change…

–> It’s worth a try because I don’t want to feel like this anymore…

–> I finally understand why I’ve failed over and over again losing weight…

Obese people don’t want to be obese.  They want to succeed.  Once they hear that Paleo can set them free of hunger…that they can take CONTROL of their lives again…I finally see a sparkle in their eye…



Posted by on May 12, 2012 in Uncategorized


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6 responses to “What I Think Makes Paleo Different…Control

  1. robynbee

    May 12, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    Awesome post. I can relate to having the feeling of control with the Paleo diet, as opposed to the desperation I felt with food on any other way of eating.

  2. robynbee

    May 12, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    Awesome post. I can relate to the relief of the feeling of control with the Paleo diet. When I was eating SAD, I was desperately frustrated every day at the lack of control in regards to my diet.

    • erniegarcia76

      May 12, 2012 at 11:56 pm

      Thanks! I feel so poorly for my patients that just can’t get it together in their mind. I want them to feel what I feel…but it’s an ongoing process.

  3. Lorettaz

    May 14, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    I agree 100%. I wrote this first quote linked here and used the word “control” two times! It works.

    • erniegarcia76

      May 15, 2012 at 1:08 am

      It really is amazing isn’t it. I just want others to experience the freedom from food! Thanks for following 🙂

  4. Roger Peacock

    September 16, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    I’ve been a low carb eater for a couple of years, but the problem I have with paleo right now is giving up yogurt and cheese. I make my own full fat, plain yogurt. I’ve eaten plain yogurt for over 20 years quite regularly, I guess. And the reason I feel I need yogurt is to replenish the beneficial gut bacteria. I’m going to try making my own fermented veggies like sauerkraut soon. Then, after I have that source of beneficial bacteria, I’ll try giving up the yogurt.

    PS. I live in S. Korea, but I don’t really love kimchi, so it’s not that great of a source for me for beneficial bacteria.


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