Real Life: Paleo-au-no-no

3 Apr

When I first got ‘into’ paleo I was working part-time, had a lot of spare time to cook, shop, work out, prepare fiddly SAD-substitute foods and generally make the paleo life the be all and end all of my existence.

That’s when I started this blog.

Now I work full time.

Ain’t so easy. Especially with the long commute, limited time to prepare meals (breakfast on the go, lunch at work, often time constrained, starving after work, get home and have to prepare dinner), need to shop and plan meals and cook and clean and exercise and look after the dogs and …


Well, as you can see, the burner approach applies: You have 4 burners, and to be moderately successful, you can only have 3 alight. To be very successful, only 2. The burners are:





I’d like to think I ‘cycle’ my burners – I cook the friends for a few weeks, then I cook work for a while, then go on a healthy binge of cooking good cookery, then I might even bung the family on the stove for a super burn-up of love.

But if I try to keep all these things on the boil at once… I’m the one that boils over, or burns out, or another like burner-y pun.

And so I have found with this paleo lark – Goddamn is it hard to be as strict with a more hectic lifestyle compared to the breezy days of paleo-obsessing and paleo-naval gazing.

During busier periods it feels like I don’t really care what is going on paleo-wise, as long as the weight stays off (which it has).

There is no doubt that I have taken away some extremely valuable lessons from paleo and implement them daily, but increasingly I find I have to apply a somewhat ‘pragmatic’ approach in order to get through the day.

I don’t know how mums like Nom Nom Paleo do it – working night shift and preparing gazillions of meals every day for a whole family.

I guess planning and preparation are the key, and as a friend of mine recently observed – a bigger fridge. It’s very very difficult to buy all those wonderful fresh ingredients, cook them up, and store them for later consumption in paleomergencies when your fridge is packed full to the brim with just the bare necessities.

Also, I find summer doesn’t lend itself to paleo cooking – you can’t just whip up a batch of stew and devour it gradually throughout the week, because your face melts off. Salads are great, but fresh ingredients don’t keep for an entire week so you need to shop more than once a week.

See, how it starts to get tricky?

Also, there’s something I like to refer to as ‘whimappetite’.

On Sunday afternoon it might seem like a good idea for Thursday’s dinner to be spaghetti bolognese (with zucchini spaghetti, of course), but what about when Thursday night rolls around and the last thing you feel like eating is a big sloppy warm mess of ragout? What about steak? Or burgers? Or Caesar salad? It kinda takes away from the joy food is meant to bring to you to be so regimented.

Of course the solution often ends up being: We eat out a lot more often. This can get expensive, unhealthy, and throw your lifestyle right out of whack. And of course, it means there is this looming prospect of frozen bolognese sauce and unused zucchinis, just waiting for their time in the sun.

So… how do you do it? How do you exert such microscopic control over everything you do and eat, whilst managing all the other aspects of your life?

2 Responses to “Real Life: Paleo-au-no-no”

  1. Erica Smith April 4, 2012 at 12:21 am #

    Your twitter friend lolfemme here!

    I think that when health/fitness enthusiasts who are generally known on the internets for their health/fitness enthusiasm make posts like this, IT IS SO REFRESHING. It’s so nice to know that I’m not the only one struggling with imperfect nutrition. Personally, I am at the very tail-end of a 30 day strict paleo “cleanse,” but I did it only because my nutrition had gotten SO HEINOUS leading up to that. I was sick with pneumonia-like symptoms for 2 weeks, and I knew that my compromised immunity was a direct result of my shitty diet. It’s not easy to be on point all the time, but you’d never know that from reading blogs in the (dreaded word) “paleosphere.” Not many people cop to falling off the wagon, or even to a regular old “indulgence.” I find, in particular, the Whole 9/Whole 30 site to be SO INTIMIDATING because they’ll be like “eating bacon is a cheat because sugar is involved in the curing of it.” Dude.

    I applaud this post. I, too, work full time and I do spend A LOT of time cooking and planning my meals. I am a single 32 year old gal with cooking skills that I’ve honed over time. I can’t imagine if I had children to feed and many other duties other than my job and my devotion to the gym. I do the bulk of my shopping on Saturday at the Farmer’s Market, but I find myself running to pick things up here and there. And I definitely don’t always want to eat my cooking. I like allowing for spontaneity to go out whenever the mood strikes, and that’s usually a few times a week, counting weekends. That said, I try to always have shit on hand, and when I don’t, I cook some more. It’s a never ending cycle to feed one’s paleo self, not to imagine all the dishes that I incur from cooking, taking food to work, etc. There are days when I find myself feeling “meh” over what I’ve brought to work, and I leave it in the fridge for the next day and go to the lunch trucks. It’s a constant adaptation.

    Eating paleo-ish/primal is hard enough, but when I let the Paleo Holy of The Internets get in my head about how paleo THEY are, it’s really hard. So thank you for this post.

    Have you ever read what John Berardi of Precision Nutrition has to say about paleo diets? It’s pretty interesting.

  2. cavelesbian April 5, 2012 at 12:31 am #

    Yes they do have an interesting spin on paleo/primal/ancestral… Good site, that!

    Thanks for your well-meditated response. Nice to see others are having similar problems! It’s so important to keep in mind that while being paleo seems so black and white, in reality we have to allow for some serious grey area to keep from going crazy!

    One factor that I didn’t really mention in the post was that, despite the fact that preparation and planning seem to be key, I don’t necessarily *want* all my spare time taken up obsessing about food and diet, and cooking meals in advance and being on guard against the evils of the SAD. It’s nice to just ‘turn off’ and stop worrying about all the things one ‘should’ be doing. Otherwise it verges on an eating disorder!

    Anyway, as I said, I think regardless of whether I am now forced to be pragmatic in the way I apply paleo, at least I have been mentally reprogrammed and approach the concepts of food/appetite/health/nutrition in a whole different way as a result of my paleowakening. For example, no matter how ‘pressed for time’ I am these days, I would NEVER just buy a Mars Bar or down an energy drink, as would have done in the past. I would simply ‘IF’ until a less kamikaze option became available. And there’s always coffee.

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