Paleo Revelations and the 80/20 Concept

So I’ve discovered the paleo subreddit on http://www.reddit.com (thank you Adam Howard) and there’s been some pretty interesting conversations on there that sparked some things in my mind that I figured I should talk about a bit here.

Also I just finished reading 4 lectures of anatomy and don’t want to get back to studying just yet.

Since starting the paleo diet I’ve read blog posts and rants and raves from all kinds of people who eat paleo and its occurred to me that paleo is really more of a lifestyle rather than just a diet. Sure the diet is a big part of it, but its really just a devotion to being healthier and feeling better about yourself. The most important part about this though is that being paleo doesn’t mean you have to be paleo all the time. Sure there are die-hards who eat only organic grass-fed meats, never ever eat any grains (even gluten free ones) and never eat any dairy products. And while that was mostly me (minus the organic grass-fed meat) for the last month, that was one of the things I didn’t like so much about the challenge.

That’s where the concept of 80/20 comes in, and I think its a concept that can really be applied to a lot of different areas in peoples lives. Essentially what it says is that you should try to be paleo 80% of the time and then leave the other 20% for everything else. Now you can take that in a literal way, or in a bit of a more liberal way. It doesn’t necessarily mean that 80% of everything you eat should be paleo and that you’re allowed to have 20% that isn’t. It really just means that you should focus on making sure you’re eating healthy things and getting lots of exercise and that unhealthy things once in a while are perfectly okay. For instance I had a really shitty midterm yesterday night, so I bought a small tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (on sale, total score!). I honestly couldn’t even remember the last time I had ice cream before that. The point is that even though chocolate fudge brownie ice cream is nowhere even close to being paleo, its okay to have once in a while.

Now the diehards would say “NO! there’s high fructose corn syrup and lactose and gluten in the brownies! None of that is good for you!” Which I would agree, however I’m eating ice cream and still maintaining just as high of a level of fitness as they are, so who’s the real winner here? Side point: I am going to try and stay away from gluten as much as I can, even on my “20%” just because I really notice the effects of eating it. That ice cream just so happened to be the only one left on the shelf, so I went for it.

Another thing I wanted to talk a bit about is the subject of genetically modified foods, or GMO foods (specifically vegetables). This stems from a conversation that I had with a friend earlier, in which I had stated that GMO vegetables are bad for you, but had never actually thought of the reasons why I would think that. Here I was caught under the “natural is better” umbrella of paleo, and as a man who prides himself on researching everything, I felt pretty stupid for doing that. Sorry, more to the point: After giving it some thought and doing more research, I don’t really see a problem with GMO vegetables, in fact I actually think its a pretty amazing innovation in technology. Sure in the Western world crops are modified to grow larger and make more money, but in third world countries crops are modified to be heartier, grow in unfavorable conditions and be more nutritious than regular strains of the same crop. All of this is done through simply changing how the genes of the crop are expressed. Its basically just gene mutation, the foundation of basically all evolution. There’s no deadly chemicals involved, nothing that’s going to give you cancer or anything like that. Now I knew all of these things, and knew exactly how gene mutation and expression worked, but still had the thought that GMO was bad. Boy I feel dumb.

FYI GMO vegetables is a completely different topic from modified meats because animals are modified using hormones, not altered gene expression. I’ve blabbed on enough for one night though, time to start studying Organic Chemistry.

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